News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Akron General

Meaden & Moore

Hennes Paynter Communications


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Courts and Crime




Recent hate crimes have the LGBT community on edge on the eve of the Gay Games
Two recent hate crimes targeting gay men in Cleveland have activists, politicians and police working together on strengthening relationships, awareness and laws.
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ
This story is part of a special series.


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

Northeast Ohio enters the new year as host of the 2014 Gay Games. Organizers have spent the better part of four years preparing for the Olympic-style event that’s expected to draw 30,000 athletes and spectators to the region next August.

But several recent hate crimes in Cleveland have the LGBT community on edge, and have put the city in a negative light. WKSU’s Amanda Rabinowitz reports on how the city and its LGBT residents are responding.

LISTEN: Community, police and activists respond to recent hate crimes

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (5:03)


Two hate crimes in one week
The last few months have been rough for Cleveland’s image as a city ready to welcome thousands of gay athletes next summer. Within one week in September, two hate crimes -- attacks on gay men -- occurred outside a popular gay bar in Cleveland’s west side. Twenty-eight-year-old Jared Fox, a Cleveland native who now lives in New York, posted a video on YouTube detailing the beating and showing the cuts on his face. A 17-year-old boy was arrested in the attack.

Five days later, a group of teenagers threw rocks at and taunted Cocktails bar patrons and employees with anti-gay slurs. A 13-year-old boy was later arrested.

Speaking up
Since the incidents, Fox and others in Cleveland have become outspoken activists, trying to increase awareness of and penalties for hate crimes. They’re pushing for changes in state and local laws and for better police relations and neighborhood watches.

The man leading the charge at the neighborhood level is Ric Scardino, who, after witnessing the second incident at Cocktails bar, formed a Facebook page calling for a community gathering. He says 250 people showed up. "No one knew what to do and no one what to say. And all of the sudden they looked at me. So, I started speaking. And a lot of people are afraid to voice up and so, I just didn’t gave a damn," he said. Ric Scardino talks during a recent town hall on the issue of hate crimes in Cleveland

The grassroots level is what matters most to Scardino. That’s because most state and local hate crime laws don’t include sexual orientation or gender. Cleveland’s city charter includes a sexual orientation clause in its ethnic intimidation ordinance, but it only applies to misdemeanors.

With the help of the LGBT Center of Greater Cleveland and the advocacy group Equality Ohio, Scardino organized a town hall on the issue at the end of October. It brought together residents, political leaders and police to share ideas.

Blogger, candidate and Cleveland resident Tim Russo stood up and spoke out: "This is our city. We got a city about to be filled with thousands of gay athletes. This is not about what we’re going to do about this five years from now or one year from now…We’ve can do something NOW," he said.

Strengthening the relationship with police
One aspect the LGBT community feels it can address now is its relationship with police. Jared Fox, in his YouTube video, blasted officers for failing to quickly respond to Cocktails bar and for not taking his claims seriously.

Cleveland police say they are equally interested in improving the relationship. imageEarlier this year, the department reached out to the LGBT Center of Greater Cleveland for training to prepare for the upcoming Gay Games. Center Director Phyllis Harris says she’s now given ‘LGBT culture competency 101’ to 1,600 Cleveland officers. She sees the recent hate crimes on the eve of the Gay Games as an opportunity. 

"If the world is looking because the Gay Games is coming to Cleveland next year, then let’s show them who we are. We’re no different in that there are other cities and places where LGBT people are discriminated against but how are we going to respond to it? We’re going to say, 'No more," Harris said. 

Harris is also calling on the city to hire or train an LGBT police liaison, as other metro cities have done, including Cincinnati earlier this year.

Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath says he’s open to that idea. He attended the recent town hall and insists his department already takes the issue seriously. Still, he says the meeting was eye-opening.

"When we make our reports in our record management system, we insert ‘hate crimes’ so we can track them. But until you come out to the community meetings and then you find out, well guess what? Half the people in the room aren’t reporting it. Well then if they’re not reporting it, then guess who’s out of the loop? I’m out of the loop, because I don’t understand what’s going on," McGrath said. 
image

LGBT residents at the town hall say speaking up is difficult because they sometimes fear losing their jobs or getting kicked out of their apartments. So, people like Anthony Kelly hopes more people take the initiative to build better neighborhood relations and understanding.

"What me and my roommate have decided to do in our local community is we are actually going to have a block party next summer so that we can get to meet the neighbors and see where we are," said Kelly. 

Others, like Jerome Littlejohn, say it's going to be a long fight. "It’s going to take more than one group and it’s going to take lifelong commitments to reaching that goal," he said. 

Keeping the conversation going
The LGBT community, political leaders and police have agreed to continue holding regular town meetings to talk openly about the issues, to give people a safe place to share their concerns.

The next one is tentatively set for Sunday, after two transgender women were killed in Cleveland last weekend.

On the state level, State Rep. Nickie Antonio, of Lakewood, recently introduced a bill that would add sexual orientation to the state’s hate crime law. Past efforts to expand the statute have failed, but Antonio and other lawmakers expect the bill to garner more support this time because of the 2014 Gay Games.

 




Related WKSU Stories

Portman backs LGBT workplace protection bill
Thursday, November 7, 2013

Cleveland welcomes 2014 Gay Games athletes, and announcing 2018 host city
Monday, October 7, 2013

'All gay, all day' charter school in Ohio
Monday, March 25, 2013

Politics affect gay life in Northeast Ohio
Thursday, July 21, 2011

Listener Comments:

Amanda,
We are also planning another Town-Hall Meeting for 7pm January 23, 2014. We are waiting on confirmation of a Larger Venue to hold it at.
Nickie Antonio has confirmed she will be there.
Ric Scardino
Founder of "Step Up or Step Down"


Posted by: Ric Scardino (Cleveland Ohio) on December 12, 2013 9:12AM
Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook





Stories with Recent Comments

HOF's Canton expansion could take an island and make it a village
I live in the block from Broad St to the Hall of Fame and will be impacted by the expansion. I am in the process of selling my home and planned to long before i...

Cleveland redeploys police to replace rejected red-light traffic cameras
Periodic rotational enforcement without warning does NOT change behavior and the city officials know that. This is the basis of all officer-run enforcement trap...

New enrollment period offers more insurance options
The removal of federal funding for healthcare CO-OPs may limit the growth of the CO-OP movement. http://www.healthcaretownhall.com/?p=6381

The family of Boardman vet killed in Vietnam receives his medals
My name is Mike Eisenbraun. I am Larry's brother. I was 14 years old when Larry was killed in Vietnam. He has been gone for 46 years but it seems like yester...

Cleveland seniors are creating new wealth -- and facing new challenges
Why is anyone surprised that we people over 65 are not retiring? If you have been paying attention, defined company funded pensions were phasing out in the eigh...

Ohio company cuts off a dairy supplier after allegations of animal abuse
these people should be held accountable for their actions. i would be more than pleased to see a year or more behind bars. i will NEVER eat anything that comes ...

Goodyear recruits thousands of vets
What a wonderful interview! Excellent reporting skills by a talented young reporter! I look forward to hearing more from Ms. Schley!

Ohio Democratic Party begins the rebuilding process
I agree 100% with Sen. Brown. I think it is absolutely critical for the Democratic Party in Ohio to engage in the long, tedious, hard task of re-building from t...

They're talking again in the Macedonia bridge dispute
Norfolk Southern says the Ledge road bridge meets regulations for train traffic, however it was built as an overpass for a roadway and/or farm usage. I think t...

Cleveland City Council to consider transgender public restroom law
this is sick. I do not want my daughter in the same bathroom as a perverted 45 year old man. this proposed legislation could seriously damage the security of ch...

Copyright © 2014 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University