CLEVELAND– A mob of young men with their faces covered attacked and beat a man, who is gay, as he walked up to a gay bar on Cleveland’s west side, Saturday night.
“I told them I didn’t have anything and they just surrounded me. They were everywhere, and just started beating me,” said Jared Fox, 26, who has a black eye, along with bruises and abrasions all over his head from a brutal beating Saturday about 11 p.m. outside of Cocktails bar, a gay bar on West 93rd Street and Detroit Ave. on Cleveland’s west side.
Cleveland police are investigating the beating as a robbery and hate crime.
“I fully believe it was because I am gay,” Fox said.
The attack was caught on the bar’s surveillance cameras.
“What hurt the most and when I got the most scared is when one of them said, ‘Do you want to die?’,” Fox said.
The video shows the mob in the street, moving towards the sidewalk where Fox is walking up to the bar.
Then they attack Fox, knocking him to the ground, beating him some more.
Fox said, the whole time they were using hateful gay-slurs.
“I got up and I started running and they got me down a second time, right at that house on the corner and they just started pummeling,” Fox said.
Fox was finally able to escape and run into the bar, after he threw his cell phone and told the men there were credit cards inside the cover, which diverted their attention for a few moments, he said.
Witnesses said they saw the young men lurking outside the bar for up to an hour before the attack.
“They were wearing bandanas to hide their faces and pulling their t-shirts up over the face so no one could see them,” Ric Scardino said.
Scardino and several others said they called police three times up to an hour before the mob attacked Fox, because they were concerned for their safety, but no officers responded until after Fox was attacked.
Monday evening, a Cleveland police spokesman said he could not immediately confirm the number of calls made.
Police are still looking for the suspects.
Monday afternoon, a crowd gathered in front of Cocktails to show support for Fox, and call attention to crimes against members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
“It raises our awareness to the fact that we still get targeted,” said Phyllis Harris, executive director of the LGBT Center of Greater Cleveland.
Harris said the Detroit Avenue center is offering support and counseling for anyone affected by violence or bullying.
Fox, a former teacher, said he has no hate for his young attackers. He only hopes they will change their hurtful ways.
“I would love to see these kids go to school,” Fox said.