Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pittsburgh rallies for Brandon White; hate crime legislation to be introduced

Posted By on Sun, Feb 12, 2012 at 4:34 PM

Residents of Atlanta's Pittsburgh neighborhood and Atlanta's LGBT community on Saturday gathered at Iconium Baptist Church in support of Brandon White, the 20-year-old victim of a recent anti-gay attack outside a nearby convenience store and posted online.

Saturday's many speakers, including Congressman John Lewis, D-Ga., several elected officials and LGBT activists, told the crowd that the beleaguered neighborhood can no longer tolerate such senseless violence, no matter the victim's background.

"We must turn toward each other and not against each other," Lewis told the approximately 150 people who gathered in the bitter cold across the street from the convenience store where the attack took place. "People must not be allowed to get away with beating an innocent young person, elderly person, or any human being."

Speakers noted that simply capturing the culprits in White's case would not solve Pittsburgh's problems and stressed that preventative measures must be enacted to save the neighborhood. In addition to calling the police when they notice suspicious activity, community leaders said residents must work together and with public officials to strengthen the community burdened with vacant homes and crime. A common refrain during the event was "This isn't Jack City, this is Pittsburgh" — a reference to the gang White's attackers mentioned and identified themselves with on the videotape.

"We hold the solution," said longtime LGBT activist Pat Hussain. "In the long term, it's about making us safe and able to walk the street."

State Rep. Rashad Taylor, an openly gay Democratic lawmaker who represents parts of Atlanta, told the crowd that he would introduce hate crimes legislation in response to the attack.

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