Savannah’s “unfortunate history” of anti-gay attacks and city leaders’ “blind eye” to the assaults risk undermining efforts to boost the economy by attracting high-tech businesses, four Savannah-based gay and lesbian organizations argue in a letter to the editor released this afternoon.
The FBI is investigating the alleged assault on a gay man in Savannah by two U.S. Marines as a possible hate crime under the federal hate crimes law. The Marine Corps is also conducting its own investigation as is the Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Department.
The two Marines, Keil Cronauer and Christopher Stanzel, were arrested in Savannah over the weekend and charged in the beating of Kieran 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.
High-profile beatings of gay men also occurred in Savannah in 2007 and 2006.
Here is the full letter, signed by Georgia Equality – Savannah Director Kevin Clark and three other local LGBT organizations:
Letter to the Editor
Another tragic beating has occurred in the historic district, leaving a 26-year-old gay man unconscious and suffering from seizures and bruises to the brain. The alleged perpetrators ran away after the attack and when apprehended told police a version of the attack that did not match witness accounts. The cowards struck the victim in the back of the head as he was walking away. They were charged with a misdemeanor and released to military police, while the victim lies in the hospital.
Savannah has an unfortunate history of gay assaults in the historic district and, worse yet, a history of its leaders – including those in law enforcement, City Hall, in the business community and in the military – turning a blind eye to the violence. Nothing has changed in over 30 years!
We find it ironic that money is being spent to attract creative and high tech business, while a broader message is being sent that if you are educated, creative and gay, there’s a chance you will be assaulted, and that Savannah’s leaders will avert their eyes.
We expect city leaders to hold the attackers accountable for their actions.
Kevin Clark, Georgia Equality – Savannah Chapter director
Co-signed on behalf of the following organizations:
First City Network – Jesse Morgan
Armstrong Atlantic State University GSA – Laura Cahil
MEGA Families, Savannah Chapter – Charlene Waldron & Tracy DuBois