“We should begin to see difference as an opportunity to grow, to understand something that is new to us, not as an invitation to violence.
“Atlanta is the home of a historic movement that was centered upon respect for the dignity and the worth of every human being. We have a responsibility as the citizens of this great city to teach our children that history, to pass on the legacy of peace, the way of love and non-violence,” Lewis added.
“It is tragic that the perpetrators have found themselves in a world of trouble, and I hope they will come to understand that violence is not the answer. I have reached out to the victim of this brutal encounter to offer my support and am making arrangements to meet with Brandon White in the near future.”
Lewis will also attend a community rally on Saturday, Feb. 11, at the store where the attack took place — 1029 McDaniel St. — organizers announced late Friday.
The rally, named “Communities United for Safety,” is a “partnership with the citizens of the Pittsburgh community and LGBTQ organizations in an effort to make Pittsburgh’s homes and businesses safe and free of hatred and violence, for all people regardless of race, sexual orientation or socio-economic status,” states a press release from organizers.
Devin Barrington-Ward of Change Atlanta said he hopes the rally will set the tone for how the community moves forward from the Feb. 4 attack of Brandon White.
“It is my hope that everyone finds their voice and their task in this fight for justice, equality, safety and change after Saturday’s rally. Let us not allow Brandon White’s brutal attack go without proper action to deliver the change needed to make Pittsburgh, members of the LGBTQ community and the entire City of Atlanta safe. It started in Pittsburgh and it will end in Pittsburgh,” he said.
In addition to Lewis, also planning on attending the rally are Atlanta City Council Members Michael Julian Bond, Cleta Winslow, Fulton County Commissioner Joan Garner and State Sen. Vincent Fort. Partnering organizations include Change Atlanta, the State of Black Gay America Summit, Pittsburgh Community Improvement Association and Georgia Equality.
Mayor Kasim Reed has offered a $15,000 reward to information leading to the arrests of the suspects, who are believed to be members of the Jack City gang. Atlanta City Council member Cleta Wilson is also putting up $1,000 of her own money.
Atlanta police investigators and the FBI are also working to determine if the attack is a hate crime. The attackers repeatedly called White “faggot” as they punched and kicked him.