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Ten shot at Halloween street party in Castro district

Violence erupted at the Halloween street party in the Castro district of SF last night, resulting in at least 10 people being shot. (365gay):

The shootings occurred around 10:40 p.m. Tuesday, as authorities began dispersing thousands of revelers under a new curfew that was aimed at controlling the traditionally raucous event.

Two people were being questioned early Wednesday in the shooting, though it was not immediately clear if they were suspects or witnesses, said police spokesman Sgt. Neville Gittens. No arrests had been made, and the motive was unknown, he said.

…At least some of the victims were innocent bystanders, according to witnesses.

The once-spontaneous and unsanctioned party was taken over by the city four years ago after police recorded five stabbings and a number of assaults in a crowd of 500,000.

Officials and members of the district’s gay community said the party began attracting gay bashers along with colorful costumed characters, and many gays and lesbians stopped coming.

The jury’s still out as to what exactly went on, but that last bit about gay bashings is what was on Blender and gay activist Paul Barwick’s mind late last night. He sent me this piece and gave me permission to post it. Paul:

All day Tuesday people were asking me if I was going to the Halloween party in The Castro.  My answer was the same to each.  “Hell no.  That’s the last place I want to be.  I’ll be home where it’s safe”.

Why would I avoid San Francisco’s most lavish gay party? It’s because that for the past few years gay bashers, emboldened by the chance to hide their cowardly faces behind masks, have been streaming into our city from suburbs far and wide for their chance to do a little fag bashing. The problem is so bad that the simple assaults are rarely mentioned in the press. It is only when weapons are wielded and large amounts of blood are spilled is the story considered newsworthy. Two years ago 5 people were stabbed by an individual or individuals who worked their way through the crowd. That made the news.

This year not only were there multiple stabbings, but as the press says “at least” 7 people were shot in the middle of the crowded street party.

Now call me old fashioned but when I hear of masked assailants shooting and stabbing multiple victims in a queer neighborhood where fag bashing is considered a year around sport by some, and where every Halloween known anti-gay assaults take place, I am going to assume Hate Crime until it’s proved otherwise.

It makes me want to pull what little hair I have left out by the roots when I read comments such as these left over at Dailykos.

Don’t be so quick assume hate crime

the annual Castro Halloween bash has been increasingly plaqued by crowd control problems and assaults. It’s not just a gay event either. Many San Franciscans of all persuasions attend. Assumptions of any kind are as yet premature…

–What, it’s not gay bashing because this party is always plagued by assaults? Yes, people of all persuasions do attend. That is the problem. Some of them are of the anti-gay persuasion.

Not Likely Gay-Bashing

Violence in general has been on the upswing in SF and I doubt that this was an anti-gay action.

–Because just why? Because it’s easier to think that those kind of things don’t happen?

Well

Beyond that, it’s not likely gay-bashing because so many straights come to the official Castro Halloween. I’ve been in years past and some really disreputable people who don’t really have much to do with the Castro show up.

–I think that many folks who live in or near the Castro assume that folks from out of town know what we do, which is that many gays avoid the party because it has turned into the day when its OK for out of town straights to come drink and get obnoxious. Hey, just because you and I know that there are more hets than gays in the crowd, doesn’t mean that Frank Fagbasher from across the bay is up on all the nuances of gay social life in the city. The f*cks are assuming that everyone in the crowd is gay and that it is OK to come into town and do what their preachers, coaches, and the President are all giving them a wink and a nod to do.

probably a robbery gone wrong

Any time you have a crowd of approx. 200,000 people, it’s going to attract some predators & parasites out to rob and steal, pick pockets, and so on. Also in a big city you’re going to get gang members.

I suspect this was just a typical mindless dumb-fuck street criminal, who started shooting because the victim didn’t hand over the loot, or other people tried to intervene, or something of that sort.

If there were organized righties out to do hate-crime terrorism at an event like this, they would not stop at five victims. Think of a few hand grenades or molotov cocktails or an automatic weapon, in a crowd like that.

–What, do you think that the only hate comes from those who think large? Naw. We’re talking about the losers here. There is a hell of a lot more of them than there ever will be of the organized mass murderers. Most of the hate crimes that occur aren’t committed by organized groups. We are getting beaten, stabbed and shot by groups of two to three. Read the gay press, the stories from around the country and beyond our borders. Occasionally it is individuals, but most often small groups are committing these crimes.

So maybe I’m wrong to assume that these are hate crimes, but that’s OK. It makes up for all those cops I read about who refuse to even entertain the idea of a hate crime in cases that obviously are such. I’ve had to face down those who would do me injury because of my sexual orientation more than once. (God I’m glad my shotgun was close at hand that one time…). That’s probably why I’ve given up on that whole “Turn the other cheek” thing too.

Discuss and debate — does an assumption of “urban violence” when the facts aren’t yet clear make it easier for law enforcement to avoid considering it as a possible hate crime?

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding