Springfield, Mass. Gay man beaten, others watched and cheered

June 29, 2011
By: Christine Nicco/TRT Reporter
A Springfield man was beaten by a group of nine teenagers at Springfield City Park around 3 a.m. on June 28th, according to reports from WWLP (http://bit.ly/kM5iGq).

Nineteen-year old Shay Andre Edwards was arrested for the beating on charges or unarmed robbery and violation of civil rights with injury, according to WWLP. Five males and 4 females, ages 12-19, were in the group of attackers. The other teens, whose identities have not been released, also face the same charges in connection with the attack.

The 30-year-old man whose identity is being withheld was taken to Baystate Medical Center where he was treated for serious injuries and later released.

According to Out Now and Arise for Social Justice’s press release (local youth organization), “the victim reported that slurs were being used during the beating, including one of the alleged perpetrators saying, ‘That’s what we do to faggots.’”

Amaad Rivera, Springfield City Councilor, said to Out Now that “hate is not a Springfield value.

Only together can we create a community that safe for everyone. No one should have to suffer violence for being who they are.”
A youth community organizer for Out Now, Michael Hall, expressed concern about the incident.

“It just really reminded me of how one incident like this that is motivated by the hating of gay people can leave us feeling afraid all over again,” Hall stated. “I just really believe there needs to be institutional education/curriculum that focuses on LGBTQ people, at every level of the public school system, for starters.”

Holly Richardson, an Out Now, and Arise for Social Justice’s community organizer, said that the incident was of concern and sought greater explanation.

“If we are to truly tackle anti-gay violence we must treat this beating not as an isolated incident. With people living and working in our community like Scott Lively, an internationally recognized anti-gay minister; and this kind of extreme violence occurring a week and a half after Springfield’s Pride/Visibility Week, I believe it’s important to address homophobic violence (and oppression, in general) with a root-cause analysis, starting with asking ourselves what would cause a group of young people to act in such a way toward an openly gay man?” Richardson stated.

In response to Lively’s anti-gay messages and ministry in Springfield, The Stop the Hate and Homophobia Coalition was formed in January 2011. Lively is president of the Abiding Truth Ministries, which has been classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and he has been running the Holy Grounds Coffee House on State Street, right near Commerce High School.

Out Now held a protest at Barrows Park in Springfield on July 5th calling for Community Support to Stop All Violence Against Sexual Minorities. The Rainbow Times’ June 2nd edition ran a story titled The bitter truth in the Sacred Grounds that exposed anti-gay pastor Scott Lively. For more updated information about the protest, stay tuned to TRT’s website, www.therainbowtimesnews.com.

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