HOUSTON VOICE www.houstonvoice.com
DECEMBER 12, 2003
NY (lancer attacked in Montrose
Police not yet classifying
attack a hate crime
By JOSEF MOLNAR
Allan Koren Tibbetts saw an opportunity to offer a helping hand when a young
man got out of his car near the corner of
Avondale and Whitney in Montrose,
looked quizzically at street signs, then
asked for directions.
Tibbetts was visiting Houston from New
York over the Thanksgiving weekend to perform at a DiverseWorks World AIDS Day
event the following week, and he knew what
it was like to be unfamiliar with the area. He
pointed the way to the street the man asked
about before turning and walking away
What happened next, Tibbetts said, he
will never forget. Thirty seconds later, the
first blow from a pipe split the skin along
the right side of his head.
"I had absolutely no idea what it was,"
Tibbetts said. "I wasn't expecting to be
attacked by someone I had just had a pleasant conversation with."
He called for help and tried to run, but
the man kept hitting him before wrestling
him to the ground between two cars. The
assailant continued to beat Tibbetts before
demanding his money.
In all, Tibbetts sustained at least seven
blows to his head and back. With the
money in hand, the man jumped into the
passenger seat of the car and it sped away.
At the hospital, Tibbetts received 37
stitches on his head, and it was there that he
said a technician told him his was the sixth
assault the hospital had seen that weekend.
Silvia Trevino, a public information officer with the Houston Police Department,
said HPD has only received an assault report
from Tibbetts and is waiting to finish its
investigation before determining whether
Tibbetts was the victim of a hate crime.
"They're definitely going to look into
whether it's a hate crime or not," she said,
"but at this time there is no reason to label
it as a hate crime. We don't want to start
second-guessing this situation."
Trevinio said the pattern of the attack
will help determine how it will be labeled.
Tibbetts has said his attacker did not use
homophobic remarks at any time during
or after the attack, meaning HPD will likely classify it as an assault and robbery
Tibbetts, for one, isn't convinced that
his attack is simply a case of robbery and
assault. He points out that the attacker
concealed his weapon. Also Tibbetts was
wearing a baseball with a Human Rights
"If you want to mug someone, you do it
with your weapon shown, and maybe you hit
them once to show you mean business,"
Tibbetts said. "It really felt like the mugging
was an afterthought. If you want to take someone's money you don't keep hitting them."
HPD follows the lead of the
International Association of Chiefs of
Police, which broadly defines a hate crime
as "a criminal offense committed against a
person, property, or society which is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender's
bias against an individual's or a group's
race, religion, ethnic/national origin."
The assault on Tibbetts is the only case
reported to police thus far, but reports
drifting through the Montrose community
speak of several attacks. The reports have
prompted the Q Patrol, an organization
that relies on volunteers to patrol the
Montrose area, to add reinforcements.
"We want to get the awareness up to prevent people from being attacked, help them
when they're being attacked, and raise awareness about reporting to let other know so
hopefully there's not going to be another person," said Chris Arasin, Q Patrol chairman.
Ray Hill, a gay activist, said the disparity between the number of people now
claiming they've been assaulted and only
one report is disturbing. He said hospital
assault cases are investigated immediately
by a police officer, even if the victim doesn't file an official report.
"The hospital and police reports can't
verify that many people in the community
who have been attacked," Hill said. "If
these people are assaulted and didn't get
medical aid, what's that about?"
District D City Councilwoman Ada
Edwards has expressed concern about the
assault reports, as has newly elected At-large,
Position 4 City Councilman Ron Green.
Street lights are few on the streets of Montrose
where assaults on gay men have been reported.
Thirty seven stitches were required to close wounds
Allan Tibbetts sustained when he was assaulted
with a metal pipe on a darkened Montrose street
over the Thanksgiving weekend. (Montrose photo by
Because many gay men are not open
about their sexual orientation, they may be
unwilling to report being a victim of a hate
crime. For that reason, Councilwoman
Edwards has said her office will receive
reports from anyone reluctant to file an official police complaint.
While Tibbetts was willing to file a
police report and speak with the media, he
acknowledges that many victims would
prefer to avoid the publicity.
Trevino agreed, and said that unlike
sexual assault files, which are largely confidential, the law requires files associated
with these kinds of crimes to be classified
as public information.
"Complainant information is public
information," she said. "Maybe that's why
they don't report crimes like this."
Trevino encouraged anyone who has
noticed anything or who may have been a
victim of a similar crime in the to call
HPD. She added that associates can also
report the crime; but not knowing the
first-hand details keeps the department
from doing little more for that victim than
filing a report. Still, she said an incomplete report is better than no report.
•f) MORE INFO
Houston Police Department
HPD Online General Safety Presentation
City Councilwoman Ada Edwards
OUT ON THE BAYOU
NO REGRETS: Officials at a Louisiana school that
disciplined a 7-year-old student for saying that
his mom is a lesbian claim the boy is owed no
apology. Page 5
HOLIDAY STYLE Photos chronicle a week's
worth of holiday events in Houston. Page 7
CONJOINED WITH ASHCROFT: What would
Cher do to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft
if she were his conjoined twin? Page 18
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