CLEVELAND– Surveillance video captures what appears to be the second hate crime against a local bar in less than a week.
A 13-year-old boy is under arrest, accused of targeting the bar because most of its patrons are gay.
“They started taunting us, yelling gay slurs and so on and so forth,” explained bar patron, Ric Scardino.
Scardino said he and several other people were enjoying the outdoor enclosed patio at Cocktails Bar around 8:00 p.m. Friday. It’s a bar that’s popular in Cleveland’s gay community on West 93rd Street and Detroit Avenue.
The bar released surveillance video that appeared to show a group of teenagers walking up and throwing rocks at patrons over the fence.
“I kicked open the gate and I ran out when I ran out all the kids scattered,” Scardino said.
He said two kids came back and confronted him.
“The one with the white shirt had a broom in his hand and he told me what he was gonna do with; he was gonna beat me with the broom and what he was gonna do to me with the broom afterwards,” he said.
That’s when Scardino pulled out his mace.
“They thought this was a gun. They saw the black and they said the (bleep)’s got a gun and they took off running,” he said.
The incident happened less than a week after Jared Fox was attacked by a group of teens while walking to the bar, Labor Day weekend. He was left with bruises and a ruptured eardrum. That incident was caught by surveillance cameras, as well.
“It’s not necessarily about the business; it’s just about us calling this out to make sure everybody in Cleveland is safe– not just gays, not just straights, not just blacks, not Hispanics, everybody,” said bar manager, James Foster.
“I’m even scared when my wife sits out on the front porch by herself,” said neighbor, Rick Pazicni.
Neighbors of the bar welcome their efforts to try to get increased lighting and police presence in the area.
Ivey Malone has put up flood lights and fences to prevent crime. “Some areas are very, very dark. You go down near 91st and you can’t see down to the middle of that road,” Malone said.
Bar patrons and city leaders said they want Cleveland to be as welcoming as possible to athletes from around the world participating in the Gay Games held here next August.
Ric Scardino hopes the incidents remind people that everyone should be treated with respect.
“Now that’s disgusting to me. That’s upsetting. That means someone taught this kid to hate,” said Scardino.
Cleveland police said they are still investigating the incidents.
They are trying to determine whether the 13-year-old under arrest was involved in both incidents and whether he can name other suspects.
Mayor Jackson’s office issued a statement saying that hate crimes should not define Cleveland as a community.
Police increased patrols in the area this past Saturday and Sunday.
They said they processed 33 arrests or citations, ranging from marijuana possession, traffic infractions and curfew violations.