May 22, 2013 | by Steve Charing
Anti-gay slurs used during Md. stabbing
Howard County, Maryland, gay news, Washington Blade

Seal of Howard County, Md. (Image public domain)

The FreeState Legal Project expressed concern that an attack on a man in Ellicott City that allegedly included anti-gay slurs was not investigated as a hate crime. According to a report posted on ellicottcity.patch.com, on April 21, a man was attacked and stabbed in the forearm in Ellicott City. The perpetrator allegedly “[used] slurs against homosexuals” during the attack. The assailant was charged with first-degree assault and reckless endangerment, but not with committing a hate crime.

In response to the incident, FreeState Legal Project sent a letter to the State’s Attorney’s Office requesting more information about the circumstances and the decision not to investigate it as a hate crime in spite of the alleged use of anti-gay slurs.

“Not every crime in which hate speech is used can properly be considered a hate crime, though use of such language constitutes strong evidence in such cases,” said Aaron Merki, FreeState Legal Project’s executive director. “We thought the incident in Ellicott City warranted further discussion to ensure that anti-LGBT bias isn’t going unnoticed.”

Sherry Llewellyn, spokesperson for the Howard County Police Department, told the Blade, “This was a case where intoxicated individuals were engaging in ‘trash talk,’ for lack of a better term, as the area bars were closing. In all of the back and forth name-calling, one of the slurs used was one that has connotations to homosexuality. However, there is absolutely no reference in the report to any of the parties involved being gay, or that anyone was actually specifically targeted for any reason. I’ve confirmed that information [on May 15] with the officers’ commander. The stabbing occurred when the exchange escalated to pushing and shoving and one of the parties had a knife and cut another subject on the arm.”

She added, “We take hate bias incidents and hate crimes very seriously in Howard County and, in fact, have a “multicultural liaison officer” assigned solely to address matters related to race, religion, sexual orientation and ethnicity, and to work with groups that care about those issues.”

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