Monday, January 26, 2009

Uptown Attack

It's things like this that really shock a neighborhood. A local resident - a woman walking home from work, stopping in at the store to get some ice cream before bed - is beaten by men who call her a lesbian. How could this, a hate crime, happen in Uptown of all places? Here, where we pride ourselves on being open and accepting? I don't know the latest, or if they've caught the jerks who did this. I have no idea where they live, or what they have against lesbians. It could just have been that they were out driving (walking?) around looking for trouble, and this woman was the unfortunate victim who first crossed their path.

There's only so much that Uptown can do to protect our streets. Uptown isn't a bubble; even if we rid the area of our own in-house criminals (and unfortunately they do exist) we can't block out others coming in from elsewhere. It's a trade-off - as long as Uptown is a desirable place to visit there will always be both wanted and unwanted visitors. That doesn't mean we should give up. People should be able to walk home from work even late at night. We should be able to stop by the store to pick up a late night quart of rocky road. Gay people, straight people, young people, old people - we should all be able to walk the streets of our own neighborhood without being mugged or assaulted.

Let's avoid the temptation to make this into a "hate crime" issue. Yes, she was possibly attacked because she was (or was perceived to be) a lesbian, but I doubt that this one incident suggests a rise of anti-gay sentiment in Minneapolis or Uptown. I don't care why these guys attacked her - what matters is that they did. Whether it's someone being mugged for $20, a woman beaten because of her sexual orientation, or someone attacked or assaulted for any other reason, the end result is the same. It's not just lesbians who are scared by this horrible attack; these men have shattered everyone's sense of safety. Let's leave it to others to focus on the sexual orientation aspect of this incident; as Uptowners we should be concerned about any such attacks on a fellow resident (or anyone else passing through our streets), regardless of motive. Let's focus on making our streets safer for everyone and make it clear that crimes - hate crimes or otherwise - are not welcome on these streets.