[dropcap]A[/dropcap] 23-year-old woman and her girlfriend were attacked and robbed by a group of men late Saturday on the city’s West Side in what police are calling an anti-gay hate crime.
The women, ages 23 and 25, were beaten and robbed of their cash and cellphones — while their attackers yelled derogatory terms about their sexual orientation — around midnight near the intersection of North LeClaire Avenue and Madison Street in the South Austin neighborhood, authorities said.
So far, police have arrested and charged one man, Terry Glover, 24, of the 0-100 block of N. Parkside Ave., who has been charged with two counts of felony robbery and two counts of felony hate crime in connection with the attack. But his accomplices remain at large as of Thursday while area detectives continue to investigate the incident, according to Chicago Police News Affairs Officer Jose Estrada.
Update: No additional arrests have been made as of Friday afternoon, according to Estrada.
The women were walking down North LeClaire Avenue when they were approached and followed by one of the men, who proceeded to harass them by yelling anti-gay slurs. After several attempts to to make him stop, the women tried to flee, but were punched and kicked by another man, who also made derogatory comments about their sexual orientation. Several other mean joined the attack, punching and kicking the women, according to a report by the Chicago Tribune.
“It was punches, kicks, everything being thrown at us,” one of the victims told the paper. “We just held each other until somebody said, ‘Here come the police.’”
Equality Illinois, a Chicago-based LGBT rights and advocacy organization issued a statement Thursday condemning the attack and urged law enforcement, elected officials and community leaders to denounce the incident “in the strongest terms.”
The organization’s CEO, Bernard Cherkasov, commended the police for arresting Glover and thanked the Cook County State’s Attorney for adding hate crimes distinction to the charges he faces.
A total of 69 hate crimes were reported to the FBI by authorities throughout Illinois in 2011 and about 25 percent of those crimes were motivated by the victims’ perceived or actual sexual orientation. Cherkasov said that community outreach and education can eventually curb these hateful attacks.
“Now it is time for elected officials and community leaders to denounce the attacks and lead a conversation in the neighborhoods about the unacceptable stigmatizing of people because of their sexual orientation, which can lead to such crimes,” Cherkasov said. “The more people we reach and the more we break down biases, stereotypes, and prejudice, the more we reduce hate and resulting hate crimes.”