Georgia Equality, the state's largest gay political group, and its Savannah chapter released a statement this afternoon from a gay man who said he was the victim of a hate crime in February.
The announcement and written statement from John Takats comes as Savannah LGBT activists are planning an "Equal Protection Rally" on Sunday in response to the beating of Kieran Daly, a gay man who was allegedly attacked by two Marines last weekend.
In a signed statement given to Georgia Equality, Takats said that after seeing media reports with photos of the Marines allegedly involved in Daly’s attack, he felt that one looked familiar.
“I believe that at least one of my attackers may have been one of the attackers in the June 12 incident but I cannot be sure,” Takats said.
Kevin Clark, director of Georgia Equality’s Savannah chapter, said in a press release that the alleged attacks are part of a “long history” in Savannah.
“There is a long history of frustration and mistrust of the Chatham-Savannah Police Department within the local LGBT community,” Clark said. “There are several past instances of violence against LGBT individuals in the Savannah area in which the local police have been unresponsive or slow to respond.”
Georgia Equality is calling on Georgia to pass a statewide hate crimes law and asking Savannah police “include information from Takats in their ongoing investigation of the attack on Kieran Daly.”
The two Marines, Keil Cronauer and Christopher Stanzel, were arrested in Savannah over the weekend and charged in the beating of Daly, 26. They were charged with misdemeanor battery charges by the SCMPD and then released to military police. They remain under restriction at their base, the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in Beaufort, S.C.
“The FBI is assisting our department to determine if it fits into the federal hate crimes law passed in October,” Tracy Walden, the LGBT liaison for the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department, told the Georgia Voice this week. “We are focusing all our attention on the investigation itself.”
In the new case, John Takats claims he was attacked by two men and two women on Feb. 27, 2010. They allegedly called him “faggot” before hitting him in the back of the head. Takats said he did not immediately report the attack to police because he was scared, and they were “unresponsive” when he tried several days later. He said he has also tried to contact the LGBT liaison this week.
The Rally for Equal Protection is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Sunday at Johnson Square in Savannah.
Here is Takats’ full account as provided to Georgia Equality:
On or about February 27, 2010, I was with my partner enjoying a night out at Club One. We left Club One, somewhere around 2:30 a.m. We proceeded walking. I remember losing a glove and when noticed it missing, asked my partner to go retrieve it.
I was then standing alone near the corner of Bryan and Barnard Streets (near the new Ellis Square). At that time, a group of two males and two females began approaching, on foot, near my location. One of the men began shouting “What are you looking at?” I looked around and noticed that I was the only other person in the area and assumed that he must be talking to me. He then proceeded to begin calling me a “faggot” and various other slurs.
As the males approached me they started swinging. I immediately put up my hands, in front of my face, to protect myself. At that time, clearly out of nowhere, one of the males struck me in the back of my head. I was kicked till I fell to the ground by either the same (or the other) male. At that time, I heard one of the females scream “Stop that!” The group ran away from the scene. I was completely shocked, hurting and confused and I began crying.
At that point, my partner returned and found me on the ground crying. I called my mother immediately to let her know what had just happened. She urged me to call the police right away. Because of my emotional condition I simply did not feel that I could do it at that time.
Upon my mother’s urging, I subsequently went to the main police barracks on Oglethorpe and Abercorn, the following Monday or Tuesday to make a report. I entered the barracks at the front entrance and went to the main desk at the glass window, on the left. A female officer was there. I explained that I had come to file a report about a crime that had already occurred. She began questioning what kind of crime.
During my conversation with her a male police officer from the other side of the lobby interrupted and said “I’ll take care of this.”
He asked me to step outside with him to discuss the matter. He lit up a cigarette and began asking about details of the incident. Early on, in our discussion, he interrupted and began saying, “You must have somehow provoked this attack. You must have done something to upset these individuals. There must be more to this story, etc. etc. You must know that there are lots of military types around here and this thing happens a lot. Don’t worry about it. It really won’t do any good at this point, so let’s just forget the whole matter.”
I was very dismayed, felt that I had no further recourse and left the barracks, without them accepting my formal complaint.
I then felt that not only had I been assaulted on the street, but that I was further violated by our Police just because of who I am.
I did nothing further about this matter because I truly felt that nothing could be done. When my mother heard about the incident of June 12th, she called my attention to a report that displayed a picture of the attackers.
I was surprised to find that one of the attackers looked familiar. Furthermore, the circumstances surrounding the June 12th attack strongly resembled the circumstances revolving around my attack. I believe that at least one of my attackers may have been one of the attackers in the June 12th incident but I cannot be sure.
My mother then called Jeff Graham, Executive Director of Georgia Equality in Atlanta, and told him about my incident in Savannah and the similarities. Jeff Graham then called Kevin Clark, Director of the Savannah Chapter of Georgia Equality, who then called me and to whom I gave this account.