Hands Across Hawthorne

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Hands Across Hawthorne participants spanning the Hawthorne Bridge in Portland, Oregon, on May 29, 2011

Hands Across Hawthorne was a rally held at the Hawthorne Bridge in Portland, Oregon, on May 29, 2011, in response to an attack on a gay couple one week prior for holding hands while walking across the bridge. According to the couple and Portland Police Bureau, a group of five men followed Brad Forkner and Christopher Rosevear along the bridge before they were attacked. News of the assault, which was condemned by Portland's openly gay mayor, Sam Adams, and its police chief, Mike Reese, spread throughout the Pacific Northwest and the United States. The attack prompted volunteers from the Q Center, a nonprofit organization that supports the LGBT community, to form street patrols as a means of monitoring downtown.

Several LGBT and human rights organizations sponsored Hands Across Hawthorne in response to the attack. With the purpose of linking hands across the entire span on the Hawthorne Bridge, more than 4,000 people attended the rally despite its being publicized by only a single Facebook page just 72 hours prior. Forkner and Rosevear spoke at the rally, as did Mayor Adams and other community leaders. The event received attention throughout the United States, and Instinct magazine acknowledged Portland's ability to gather a crowd of 4,000 in support of the LGBT community despite rainy weather. On June 5, residents of Spokane, Washington, held a similar hand-holding rally called "Hands Across Monroe", crossing the Monroe Street Bridge in Riverfront Park.

Background[edit]

Hate crimes in Portland[edit]

Police bureau statistics show a decrease in the number of "bias crime assaults" from 26 in 2007 to 15 in 2009.[1] In 2010, however, 20 (of more than 50) hate crimes relating to gender or sexual orientation occurred in Portland, far outweighing those related to race.[2][3] In May, a group of men in drag were harassed and assaulted by a group of five men.[1] The filing of a police report resulted in a community forum at Portland's Q Center (a nonprofit organization supporting the LGBT community) attended by more than 100 city residents, Portland Police Chief Mike Reese, Mayor Sam Adams, and Deputy District Attorney Rod Underhill.[1] The attacks led to the formation of the Queer Patrol (or Q Patrols), groups of foot patrols specifically designed to protect the LGBT community in downtown Portland, in July 2010.[4][5] Sarah Mirk of The Portland Mercury attributed the rise in the number of crimes related to gender or sexual identity in 2010 to an increased number of filed police reports, due in part to the Q Patrols.[2] Not all hate crimes were prevented for the remainder of the year, however. In November 2010, a man perceived to be gay was severely beaten and left unconscious while walking home in southeast Portland.[4] According to Portland Police, eight bias crimes were reported between January 1 and April 30, 2011, half the number reported during the same time frame in 2010.[6]

Assault[edit]

Rally participants crowd at the intersection of Tom McCall Waterfront Park, where the events leading to the attack began, and the Hawthorne Bridge

Brad Forkner and Christopher Rosevear (aged twenty-three and twenty-four, respectively) were attacked on the Eastbank Esplanade on May 22, 2011, after holding hands while walking across the Hawthorne Bridge in Portland, Oregon.[7] Details of the attack were released by Portland Police on May 24.[8] Forkner and Rosevear said a group of five men followed them from Tom McCall Waterfront Park across the bridge then beat them as they came down a ramp along the Esplanade.[9] According to the description released by Portland Police, "as [the couple] walked they knew several men were behind them talking, laughing and pointing but they were not sure it was directed at them."[8] Three of the five men attacked the couple from behind.[10] Forkner was pushed into a railing and punched multiple times before breaking away to call 9-1-1. The attackers reportedly stopped hitting Rosevear on the head, face, back and ribs once Forkner was able to call police.[8] Forkner later recalled that he did not hear clearly homophobic remarks, but believed the attackers may have been yelling in a foreign language.[11] He had swelling on his face, while Rosevear received stitches in his lip.[9] The victims claimed several witnesses were nearby but did not offer help in any form.[8] Police immediately began investing the case as a "bias crime", noting the couple's lack of provocation.[11] The five men who attacked Forkner and Rosevear have not been arrested.[12]

The attack was reported by newspapers in the Pacific Northwest and by gay-oriented media outlets nationwide.[13][14][15] Sam Adams, Portland's openly gay mayor,[16] and Police Chief Mike Reese both spoke out against the attack. According to Reese, "Portland is an open and welcoming city where everyone should feel safe."[17] Adams expressed similar sentiment: "We seek to be the city of the most equal opportunity, and we can only be that city if all people are safe and have a sense of safety on our streets and in our parks."[14][18] Cascade AIDS Project, where Forkner was Pivot Center Coordinator at the time, launched a Facebook campaign following the attack called "Holding Hands, In Solidarity", encouraging people to post pictures of hand-holding.[10][17] The Q Center also condemned the attack.[11] The assault once again prompted Q Center volunteers to form Q Patrols as a means of monitoring the streets and reporting hate crimes to police.[10][19] Initial plans were to have Q Patrols available between 11 pm and 3 am until the weekend of Halloween.[20]

Rally[edit]

Hands Across Hawthorne participants gathered on the Hawthorne Bridge

Sponsored by Basic Rights Oregon (BRO), Cascade AIDS Project, Pride Northwest, the Q Center and local churches, the rally was publicized by a single Facebook page just 72 hours prior.[7][12][21] This campaign was separate from Cascade AIDS Project's hold-holding photo gallery and was specifically for promoting the rally. Stephen Cassell, event organizer and Q Center board member, reportedly "thought of the action plan in the middle of the night and quickly posted the idea on Facebook."[22] The organization Progressive Oregon, which advocates for progressivism within that state, also advertised the event.[23][24] The purpose of the event, which began at 7:30 pm, was to link hands spanning the length of the bridge.[9]

More than 4,000 people attended the event.[25] Members of the Community of Welcoming Congregations, a coalition of more than 100 congregations in Oregon that welcome members of the gay community, and the Portland chapter of the Human Rights Campaign also attended the rally.[26][27] Demonstrators gathered at the west side of the bridge and started the rally listening to Forkner and Rosevear speak.[28] Forkner described the attack and said the following of discrimination:

This is not the first time I have feared for my safety or my life and, sadly, I don't expect it to be the last. What I want to talk about is a much larger cultural issue we have with making different people feel like they're worth less than normal people, as if there is such a thing as "normal". In this instance, it was because we are gay... Thousands of people walk the streets of America and yes, even Portland, feeling like they are less than human, that their life is not as valued by society as their other, supposedly more "normal", peers. The effects of this internalized hatred are endless. They contribute to gang violence, to depression, to self-medicating via alcohol and drug abuse, to sexuality that people feel must be kept secret, explored in dark alleys and bathhouses rather than openly and safely. How can we talk about keeping ourselves safe, about being healthy, about being loved, if we are doing so in secret, if we are hurting in silence?[28]

Following Forkner's speech, Basic Rights Oregon executive director Jeana Frazzini thanked the couple, spoke of the symbolism of the hand-holding rally, and encouraged supporters to volunteer for the Q Patrol.[28] During the rally the crowd sang The Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand".[12][29]

According to Cassell, Hands Across Hawthorne marked one of the first times Portland's major LGBT rights organizations worked together on an event other than the Portland Pride Festival.[22] Details of the rally were reported by various gay-oriented national publications.[25][30] Instinct magazine noted Portland's ability to gather a crowd of 4,000 in support of the LGBT community in rainy weather.[30] The Huffington Post contributor Chuck Currie, a church minister from Portland, used the attack and rally to question the impact of conservative evangelical religion and other anti-gay rights organizations.[26] Progressive Oregon and Just Out (an LGBT newspaper in Portland) noted the failure of the city's largest newspaper, The Oregonian, to cover the rally; the former sent a letter and petition to the paper's publisher N. Christian Anderson III in response, requesting "fair and balanced" coverage.[31] Peter Bhatia, editor for The Oregonian, responded to the criticism and petition of more than 1,400 signatures by claiming the lack of coverage was a "mistake" caused by "human error".[32]

One week after the rally, Mayor Sam Adams and his staff linked hands in solidarity.[33] On June 5, residents of Spokane, Washington, held a similar hand-holding rally in solidarity with the Portland community called "Hands Across Monroe", crossing the Monroe Street Bridge in Riverfront Park.[34] The event was sponsored by The LGBT Center.[35]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Mirk, Sarah (June 10, 2010). "Hate Comes Out of the Closet: Recent Gay Bashing Reveals Hurdles to Reporting Crimes". The Portland Mercury (Index Publishing). Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Mirk, Sarah (December 6, 2010). "How Many Hate Crimes Are Reported in Portland?". The Portland Mercury (Index Publishing). Retrieved May 31, 2011. 
  3. ^ Mirk, Sarah (June 3, 2010). "Public to Police: Portland Gay Bashings Often Go Unreported". The Portland Mercury (Index Publishing). Retrieved May 31, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Mirk, Sarah (December 2, 2010). "Breaking: Hate Crime Reported in SE—Man Perceived as Gay Beaten While Walking Home". The Portland Mercury (Index Publishing). Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
  5. ^ Mirk, Sarah (July 22, 2010). "In the Shadows: Barhopping with the Queer Patrol". The Portland Mercury (Index Publishing). Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Police: Men Holding Hands Attacked In Portland". Portland, Oregon: KPTV. May 24, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011. 
  7. ^ a b "'Hands across Hawthorne' protests bias attacks". Portland, Oregon: KGW. May 29, 2011. Retrieved May 31, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c d Mirk, Sarah (May 24, 2011). "Breaking: Anti-Gay Hate Crime Reported on Hawthorne Bridge". The Portland Mercury (Index Publishing). Retrieved May 31, 2011. 
  9. ^ a b c "Folks gather for 'Hands Across Hawthorne'". Portland, Oregon: KATU. May 29, 2011. Retrieved May 31, 2011. 
  10. ^ a b c Rook, Erin (May 24, 2011). "Two Gay Men Assaulted Sunday Night Near Hawthorne Bridge". Just Out (Portland, Oregon). Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
  11. ^ a b c Jung, Helen (May 24, 2011). "Assault on gay men walking on Portland waterfront investigated as a bias crime". The Oregonian (Advance Publications). Retrieved June 7, 2011. 
  12. ^ a b c Gordon, Tim (May 30, 2011). "Thousands rally at Hands Across Hawthorne". Portland, Oregon: KATU. Retrieved May 31, 2011. 
  13. ^ "2 men attacked in Portland after holding hands". The Columbian (Vancouver, Washington). May 24, 2011. Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
  14. ^ a b "Men holding hands in public attacked in Portland, Ore.". San Diego Gay & Lesbian News. May 25, 2011. Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
  15. ^ Melloy, Kilian (May 26, 2011). "Ore. Gay Men 'Attacked for Holding Hands'". Edge (Washington, D.C.: EDGE Publications). Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
  16. ^ Larabee, Mark (December 30, 2008). "Sam Adams' goal is to be 'mayor of everybody'". The Oregonian (Advance Publications). Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
  17. ^ a b Kalkstein, Meghan (May 25, 2011). "'We were attacked because we were holding hands'". Portland, Oregon: KATU. Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
  18. ^ "2 men holding hands attacked". The Register-Guard (Eugene, Oregon: Guard Publishing). May 25, 2011. Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
  19. ^ Gordon, Tim (May 30, 2011). "Night volunteer patrols a welcome sight for gay, lesbian couples". Portland, Oregon: KATU. Retrieved May 31, 2011. 
  20. ^ "Q-Patrols Set to Hit Streets of Portland". Portland, Oregon: KPTV. May 27, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011. 
  21. ^ "Hands Across Hawthorne". Q Center. Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
  22. ^ a b Mirk, Sarah (May 25, 2011). "Against Hate? Hold Hands Across the Hawthorne Bridge This Sunday". The Portland Mercury (Index Publishing). Retrieved May 31, 2011. 
  23. ^ "Hands Across Hawthorne Bridge – Oregonians Respond to Gay Hate Crime". Progressive Oregon. Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
  24. ^ Heller, Noah (May 28, 2011). "Oregonians to Respond to Attack on Gay Men for Holding Hands with Massive Rally". Daily Kos. Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
  25. ^ a b "Portlanders Line Bridge to Protest Violence". The Advocate (Here Media). June 1, 2011. Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
  26. ^ a b Currie, Chuck (June 1, 2011). "Questioning the Roles of Religion and Talk Radio in Promoting Hate Crimes". The Huffington Post. Retrieved June 7, 2011. 
  27. ^ Wagner, Tony (May 31, 2011). "Hands Across Hawthorne, A Success in Portland". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved June 7, 2011. 
  28. ^ a b c Rook, Erin (May 30, 2011). "Thousands Hold Hands Across Hawthorne Bridge to Protest Anti-GLBT Violence". Just Out (Portland, Oregon). Retrieved May 31, 2011. 
  29. ^ "Hands Across Hawthorne: Photos From the Portland Rally". Daily Kos. May 29, 2011. Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
  30. ^ a b "4,000 Gather on Portland's Hawthorne Bridge in Solidarity with Hate-Crime Victims". Instinct (Instinct Publishing, Inc.). May 31, 2011. ISSN 1096-0058. Retrieved June 6, 2011. [dead link]
  31. ^ Rook, Erin (June 2, 2011). "Campaign Calls Oregonian Out for Ignoring LGBT Community". Just Out (Portland, Oregon). Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
  32. ^ Rook, Erin (June 9, 2011). "Oregonian Cites 'Human Error' in Failure to Cover Rally Against Anti-Gay Violence". Just Out (Portland, Oregon). Retrieved June 10, 2011. 
  33. ^ Sandhu, Amreet (June 2, 2011). "Update: Hands Across Hawthorne Bridge". City of Portland, Oregon. Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
  34. ^ Harms, Tiffany (June 3, 2011). "A couple of Pride Week events to check out this weekend". The Pacific Northwest Inlander (Spokane, Washington). Retrieved June 7, 2011. 
  35. ^ "Pride Celebration Schedule 2011". OutSpokane. Retrieved June 7, 2011. 

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