A statement from APD spokesperson Carlos Campos referred to a “gay couple” being attacked:
“It appears a gay couple was walking near 361 17th St. (Atlantic Station) when they were approached by an unknown male. The male asked the couple if they were gay. When the couple replied yes, the male punched one of them in the face, then fled on foot. Officers responded. The victim was advised to go to the hospital for examination. Nothing further as to extent of injuries. No arrest has been made. LGBT Unit notified,” he said.
But Paul Swicord, an activist with Lost-n-Found Youth and a friend of the victim, said only one person was attacked. Swicord said he was not present during the attack, but the victim came into the Fire Party, where Swicord consoled him, stayed with him while he spoke with Atlantic Station Security and Atlanta police, and accompanied him to the emergency room at Emory Midtown Hospital, where the victim was treated and released.
Swicord said he is not revealing the name of the victim because the man asked for time to notify his family and his employer of the incident.
“He is out of the closet, he just wants to be the first to tell his mother so she does not read it in the media first,” Swicord said in a statment to media on Sunday evening.
Swicord submitted the following summary of the incident:
The victim was on his way to attend the Fire Party. After parking on one of the lower levels, he came up the stairs to the main level and asked a person on the street for directions. This man responded by asking, “Are you a fag?” The victim answered, “yes, I suppose I am” and received a punch in the face so hard it threw him to the ground and requiring medical attention.
According to Swicord, the Atlantic Station security officer who he and the victim spoke with was reluctant to help.
After taking some information, the security guard said it would be 3-6 weeks before a report could be made available and to review the video footage. I tried to take a photo of the security guard so that I would have a record of who we had spoke with. He held his hand up and blocked my camera phone and blocked the photo. There was no compassion in this security officer for the victim. He was reluctant to take a report and document the incident.
Swicord said they insisted that Atlanta police officers be called to take a report, and that Swicord also called APD LGBT Liaison Officer Brian Sharp, who spoke with an off-duty APD officer on the scene. After that, an on-duty APD officer and ambulance were called.
“I worry for other victims who may not have Officer Sharp on speed dial, needing assistance and would also be put off and not go through the process of filing a report when this happens,” Swicord said. “My issues are with the Atlantic Station private security guard, not APD.”
Swicord said he went to the emergency room with the victim, who required five stitches for a puncture wound under his right eye. The victim also suffered a strained wrist, he said.
The victim later remembered more details of the attack, which Swicord said must have happened between 9:26 p.m. on Saturday evening (the time on the victim’s receipt for entering the parking deck) and 10:27 p.m., when Swicord called Sharp. The window may be narrowed to 10:15 p.m. to account for the time Swicord spent talking with the victim and Atlantic Station security before calling Sharp.
The victim, according to Swicord, described his attacker as “white male, short brown hair, with a muscular build,” who is between 5’9″ and 6 feet tall. The attacker was accompanied by an attractive white woman with brown hair, Swicord said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story, based on the police report, referred to a gay couple being attacked. The article was changed to reflect one victim based on the report from Paul Swicord.
UPDATE: Late Sunday night, the Atlantic Station management issued a statement:
The safety of all guests at Atlantic Station is our top priority. Witnesses have given both Atlantic Station Public Safety officers and APD officers conflicting information regarding this incident. We are currently cooperating in the investigation.
UPDATE 2: Monday afternoon Atlantic Station management released a little bit more information in a second statement, saying their security guards acted according to protocol.
We are committed to serving the diverse Midtown neighborhood, including the LGBT community, a commitment that has been demonstrated by our partnership with events such as the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus Big Wig Party and the Fenuxe Magazine Best of Atlanta Fire Party and the diversity in our own management team. In the case of Saturday’s incident, witnesses have given both Atlantic Station Public Safety officers and APD officers conflicting information. We are cooperating in the investigation and will share information as it becomes available. Our own public safety officers handled the incident according to protocol and were respectful to all parties involved. The safety of all guests at Atlantic Station is our top priority.