Posted By Eric Ethington (Author) on April 27, 2010
Claremore, OK – A gay college student was bashed almost to death, but now the police are ignoring the case and trying to make it go away.
Claremore, OK – A 24-year-old gay college student was beaten late last month by three men screaming anti-gay slurs as he took out the trash at his apartment complex. Phillip Nelson, an out and open gay man, was jumped and thrashed in the quiet town of Claremore, approximately a half hour drive north of Tulsa. Investigators have basically blown off the incident, leaving Nelson emotionally wounded in addition to his physical injuries (see photo at left).
EDGE reports that Nelson is struggling to cope with the combination of brutal attack and police indifference to a hate crime against him. ”I keep calling them and leaving voice mails but I never hear anything back,” Nelson said during an EDGE interview. “No one ever returns my calls, which has me wondering if they’re kind of trying to let this thing die out and go away, or if they are going to do anything about it.” Media coverage outside the gay blogosphere has been sparce. Besides the EDGE report, which according to Michael Lavers grew from a tip given by one of their readers, only one other story has appeared in the news media. Oklahoma lawmakers aver that laws protecting LGBT people are not needed in their state, and in a notorious move by State Senator Steve Russell, legislation has been introduced to circumvent the James Bryd, Jr. and Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, signed into law by President Obama in October 2009. The Oklahoma House of Representatives has not yet voted on the bill, which passed the State Senate last month. Nelson’s case is a clear reason why protection statutes for LGBT Oklahomans is urgently needed. Nelson’s three attackers who remain unapprehended by local police as of this writing, assaulted him while screaming “You are going to die!” and “Faggot!” leaving him with multiple bruises and cuts on his face and over his body. Days later, his antagonists broke into Nelson’s apartment and scrawled “Fag” on the walls. Though Nelson reported the beating to Claremore police, no police report of the attack was filed until Nelson called in law enforcement for the break-in. Then, in what may have been an attempt to cover their tracks, the police insisted that Nelson file separate reports on both crimes. The whole ordeal has shaken Nelson, but as he told EDGE, he has had to face homophobia all his young life. “I’ve been called names all my life, even by my family members; and after a while I learned to get numb from it,” he said. “I just got numb from a lot of things. I’m happy with myself and that’s all that matters.” LGBT Oklahomans grow tough in the Sooner State. They have to.
Thanks to Jacob Whipple for the tip on the story.