An Atlanta Police Department report states the victim in an alleged gay bashing Aug. 4 in Atlantic Station kept telling police it was “not a big deal” and did not want medical treatment.
The report also indicates surveillance cameras were located in the area.
The victim, John Mark Parker, 50, of Decatur, told police a white male punched him in Atlantic Station on Aug. 4 after asking him, “Are you gay?”
The report further states Parker, a white male, was walking in the West District of Atlantic Station when he stopped a couple to ask for directions. The alleged victim was attending the Fenuxe Fire Party located in the old Fox Grill.
The male asked him, “Are you gay?” When Parker said, “Yes,” the male punched him in the face, according to the report.
“Mr. Parker stated he fell to the ground and struck his head. Mr. Parker advised several times that it was not a big deal and did not want medical treatment,” the report states. The report states abrasions and bruises were visible on Parker’s head.
Parker eventually agreed to medical treatment and was transported to Emory Hospital for treatment, the report states.
APD Investigator Niya Mitchell said today she has tried to reach Parker but he has not returned her repeated calls.
On Sunday, Paul Swicord, a friend of Parker, recounted the incident to the media in a detailed written explanation. Swicord is a co-founder of Lost-n-Found, an emergency homeless shelter for Atlanta LGBT youth.
Swicord said however that the Atlantic Station security guard was trying to kick him and Parker out of the venue instead of calling police for 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.
Swicord added, “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.”
Swicord said Parker received five stitches for a puncture wound under his right eye.
Philip Rafshoon, a member of the Atlanta Police LGBT Advisory Board, was at the party and said he walked up to the venue and witnessed the security guard trying to evict Swicord and the victim from the party.
“I was outside when Paul and the guy were being thrown out of the party. I heard Paul ask why they were being thrown out,” Rafshoon told GA Voice. “Somewhere along the way the security guard perhaps at best didn’t understand the situation.”
Rafshoon was with Josh Noblitt, also a member of the advisory board, and the two intervened on behalf of Parker along with Swicord, he said.
“It seemed to take quite awhile to convince the security guard to call the police,” Rafshoon said.
Eventually, the manager of the Old Fox Grill, the venue where the party was taking place, agreed that the police should be called, Rafshoon said.
In the meantime, Swicord had called Atlanta Police LGBT liaison Brian Sharp on his cell phone to ask for his assistance to help Parker and to have the APD respond to the scene.
Rafshoon said it his understanding there are surveillance cameras located throughout Atlantic Station and he hopes they can be used quickly to determine exactly what occurred.
“I hope they track down where the incident occurred and see what exactly happened,” he said.
Atlantic Station management issued one statement late Sunday stating that the safety of its visitors are its top priority.
“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,” the statement read.
A second statement from Atlantic Station was released Monday saying it was cooperating with the APD in the investigation and that its security officers followed 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.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story voluntarily withheld the name of the alleged victim while GA Voice attempted to contact him for comment on the alleged incident. His name was added to this report after he had more than an hour to respond and he was named in other media.