Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Update to Philadelphia Gay-Bashing Story: 15 Involved, Not 12; 3 Have Been Charged and Turned Themselves In

More developments are taking place re: the 11 September gay-bashing crime in Philadelphia, in which two men were accosted by a crowd of 15 people (15 and not 12, according to the latest reports), who taunted them with gay slurs and then beat them so badly that they sustained multiple serious serious facial injuries. I've blogged previously about (and see here) the reported connection of the crowd of thugs to Archbishop Wood Catholic high school near Philadelphia. Media reports state that the group who accosted the two gay men were all friends who had attended the Catholic school together, and who had gathered for a party at a local restaurant before they beat the two men.

As Aubrey Whelan and Mike Newall report this morning for the Philadelphia Inquirer, three people turned themselves in this morning to face charges in the gay-bashing incident — Philip Williams, Kathryn Knott, and Kevin Harrigan, all of Bucks County. Whelan and Newall note that there is considerable dissatisfaction right now on social media that, though all 15 have been identified by the police, only three members of the gang who are said to have attacked the two men have been charged. Police are stating that not all of those in the group participated in the attack.

As Whelan and Newall indicate, Kathryn Knott is the daughter of Chalfont police chief Karl Knott. According to a report this morning at the website of WPVI (ABC) Philadelphia, several neighbors of the Knotts interviewed by WPVI reporters told the media that they are "not surprised" at the news about Knott's involvement.

As David Badash reports at The New Civil Rights Movement website this morning, Fortunato Perri, Jr., attorney for Philip Williams, maintained in a media statement today that the attack was not related to the victims' sexual orientation, and that the gay-bashing incident was a "mutual confrontation." Media reports have stated that a number of those under investigation for the crime had immediately obtained legal counsel, and were insisting that the two men assaulted them.

But as David Badash wrote yesterday, in an anonymous interview he has given to Philadelphia Magazine, a veteran Philadelphia police officer interviewed by Victor Fiorillo casts cold water on the claim that the two men were the aggressors, stating,

You have two little guys who are gonna pick a fight with a mob, a bunch of meatheads? I haven't seen that happen.

The police officer who spoke to Fiorillo confirms that the suspects had been "coming in with lawyers, all lawyered up," and states that he thinks "absolutely" that none of the 15 suspects will face any jail time for the crime, since Pennsylvania has no hate-crime laws criminalizing assaults on people due to their sexual orientation.

As Badash indicates in another NCRM article yesterday, Pennsylvania state representative Brian Sims, who is openly gay, has been pointing to this gay-bashing incident as he excoriates his state legislature's refusal to pass a hate-crimes bill that would protect LGBT citizens. Sims states,

I want to say it very loudly. There's no place in Pennsylvania that people pretend we don't exist more than here in the Capitol.

I'm grateful to several good readers of this blog who have close ties to Philadelphia and have been sending me updates and links to news reports. I hope these Bilgrimage readers will continue to keep us all well informed about what's going on with this case, and will keep their ear to the ground about aspects of the story many of us may miss, since we live at a distance from where it's unfolding.

The graphic is an instagram photo of the injuries sustained by one of the two men attacked in Philadelphia on 11 September, from this 18 September article of David Badash.

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