Atlanta gay man’s alleged attackers could go on trial May 29

Georgia is one of only five states without a hate crimes law, but local law enforcement have been working with federal authorities to determine if the case qualifies as a federal hate crimes.

Atlanta FBI spokesperson Stephen Emmett said today the crime is still being looked at as a federal hate crime.

In response to the May 29 trial, Georgia Equality issued a press release saying it hopes justice can be found for White.

“An assault prosecution is not enough in this case. It is important to make a statement to would be offenders, as well as to the gay and transgender community, and other targeted communities in Georgia, that bias motivated crimes intended to intimidate and terrorize an entire community will absolutely not be tolerated and will receive maximum punishment,” said Georgia Equality Deputy Director, Melinda Sheldon in a prepared statement.  

“It is time for lawmakers in Georgia to pass hate crimes legislation – give our local law enforcement agencies the tools and support they need to investigate and prosecute bias motivated crimes and build safer communities for all Georgians,” she added.

White has spoken out publicly for justice as well, saying he would like to see his attackers — who called “monsters — prosecuted to the full extent of the law. He also said in an interview that he would be willing to forgive the attackers so he could move on with his own life.

Greg Smith, an LGBT activist who founded in response to White’s beating, said in a press release, “In our meetings with the Fulton County DA’s office and U.S. Attorney’s office, we are excited about this hate crime case moving forward. Our goal has always been to seek justice in the court of law not in the media, while creating community awareness about the unspoken of and non-reported violence against the LBGT community.”

A rally was held in the Pittsburgh community near the location of the attack and White himself wanted to become a spokesperson for a campaign against LGBT violence called Speak Out with Brandon. However, Smith said recently that White is not participating as much in the organization and Smith is instead focusing on a Speak Out Georgia project to bring awareness to LGBT violence.

Photo: Brandon White, 20, was brutally attacked Feb. 4 by gang members who repeatedly called him faggot. The suspects are slated to go to trial May 29. (by Dyana Bagby)