(WXYZ) - A 16-year-old has been arrested in connection to the beating of a gay man at the Detroit Motor City Pride festival.
The beating was caught on video. Detroit Police are still asking the public for help in identifying the other individuals who participated in the attack.
The video shows 20-year-old Christin Howard, a gay man, fighting off attackers along Detroit’s Riverwalk as the gay pride festival happened in nearby Hart Plaza.
Howard says five to eight men attacked him. At one point, all the young men joined in on the attack as Christin was on the ground, helpless.
Howard says the attack was unprovoked and that he was getting a picture taken with a friend when the young men started circling, commenting on his long hair, calling him homophobic slurs and threatening violence.
“Then somebody said they had a gun,” said Christin.
Christin, who is a stylist, can no longer cut hair until his hand heals. He says he is emotionally damaged and hasn’t slept since the Sunday attack.
He’s strong in his gay pride, but doesn’t know if he’ll return to the gay pride festival.
“Will I go back to pride? I’m kind of iffy about it right now, because I don’t want that incident to happen again, what if the same guys are there?”
The advocacy group Equality Michigan, which represents Michigan's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and HIV communities, sent out the following statements in response to the beating.
No one should have to endure an attack like Christin Howard did this past weekend. Equality Michigan is saddened and disturbed to learn of this alleged anti-gay hate crime right outside the gates of the Motor City Pride celebration. Pride celebrations offer people in our communities an opportunity to feel safe in expressing our authentic selves. Unfortunately, this is a tragic reminder that we still have a lot of work to do to ensure that LGBT people can walk down the street without fear of violence. Violence directed at LGBT people because they are LGBT is disproportionately high in this country, and LGBT people of color are at an even higher risk of more brutal and vicious attacks. It never ceases to amaze me that others are so concerned with how we live our lives that they feel emboldened to violently attack us for simply being ourselves. Our elected officials can send a powerful message that this type of hate is not tolerated in Michigan by speaking out against attacks like these and amending Michigan's hate crimes law to include LGBT victims.
Yvonne Siferd, Esq.
Director of Victim Services, Equality Michigan
I was sorrowful and troubled when I heard of Mr. Howard’s attack. Motor City Pride’s number one goal is to provide a safe space for our communities. Our team works closely with Tricon Security to address issues that arise at the festival. When we noticed record attendance on Saturday, we took steps to increase security. We are already taking steps to work with the Detroit Police Department to review and revise our safety and security plans for next year. We also appreciate the swift efforts of the Detroit Police Department to investigate the attack.
Chair, Motor City Pride