UPDATE: See the end of the post for an update to this story.
On Facebook, James Melanson reported that he was assaulted, called “faggot,” and claims he was not taken seriously by a police officer at the scene. “If you’re queer,” he wrote, “Get a tazer. It’s the only protection you have here… Queer people are not safe in Portland. We’re not.”
The following is sourced from Melanson’s origin message. He gave me permission to repost it here.
So, long story short, but I was physically assaulted by a homophobe from Maryland today. I’m fine. My chest still hurts from where he punched me (also punched me in the face, but my face takes a punch better. :)). Here’s the worst part…the police officer did NOTHING. Apparently calling someone “faggot” is “freedom of speech”, and if you ask the person what they’re damage is, that’s “disorderly conduct”. The cop completely sympathized with the psycho, and I was tempted to ask the cop how often HE used that word.
Interesting side aspect…the cop’s partner, who is African-American, identified with me. He said he got called the N word all thew time here, and when the white cop wasn’t around, he said that he got it. And I think HE did.
But the cop ‘handling it’, just kept saying nothing would be done by the DA, and basically just kept trying to get me to drop it. When I pressed him that I wanted the guy written up, he brought up the “disorderly conduct” thing (because I was just sitting in a coffee shop minding my own business, so you can see how I was a part of it. Oh, the guy admitted calling me a faggot, and that he had instigated everything, but claimed he ‘pushed’ me… apparently that’s not assault. I had a witness who told the cop the guy had twice said “faggot” to me… [My significant other] mentioned that we have a human rights ordinance in Portland, and the cop said, “oh yeah, that’s just a civil thing”.
Queer people are not safe in Portland. We’re not. There’s this whole veneer of Portland being so liberal, blah, blah,blah. But I’ve known many people who’ve been verbally and/or physically assaulted, chased, and even propositioned in a threatening matter. Which would be one thing if the cops here cared at all and were willing to do something about this sort of assault. But most of them don’t.
honestly, I almost asked the cop how often he used that word, since he seemed pretty comfortable with it, and didn’t seem to think it was a big deal.
Again, it was interesting to see his partner step up at one point to try to mediate things. It felt like my main confrontation was with this white cop.
Oh, did I mention that the psycho did this in front of his kids, then went into the Children’s Museum? Yup.
If you’re queer, get a tazer. It’s the only protection you have here. And keep in mind that I had a witness. And it still did no good at all.
If my chest still hurts tomorrow I’ll go to Quick Care. But I’m mostly fuming about how I was treated by [the officer].
UPDATE [Wednesday, August 12, 2015 at 5:13 PM]: I received the following message from Melanson at 4:30 — “Your blog found its way to the chief of police, and I was contacted this morning by a very nice officer. A detective will be contacting me at some point so I can finally fill out a police report. I’ll let you know how that progresses…”
PHOTO CREDIT: Jen Sablon-Taylor