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Hate crime alleged outside gay bar

Sun., Oct. 9, 2011, 3:56 p.m.

A gay rights advocate and board member of OutSpokane says he was a victim of what he believes was a hate crime late Friday night, but Spokane police disagree.

Danny Hawkins said he was enjoying a night out with his friends at Dempsey’s Brass Rail, a popular gay bar in downtown Spokane. His fun night, however, ended with a fight and a visit to a hospital.

He said he and his partner left the bar and were in a nearby parking lot when he thought a car was going to hit him.

“I hit their car to say ‘Hey, don’t run us over’ and at that point they got mad,” he said.

The driver got out and beat Hawkins, leaving him with a black eye, a laceration on his head and a sprained ankle.

The man asked him if he was gay before continuing to assault him and calling him a derogatory name based on his sexual orientation, Hawkins said.

“I would say it was a hate crime,” he said. “It didn’t start as a hate crime, but it escalated into a hate crime.”

Spokane Police Officer Tim Moses said the driver initially tried to drive away after Hawkins hit the Jeep, but Hawkins kicked the man’s rear bumper twice, prompting the driver to exit the vehicle to challenge Hawkins. He said the driver punched Hawkins, who fell to the ground. Hawkins then comfronted the driver and the driver hit Hawkins twice more, Moses said.

Moses said police take hate crimes extremely seriously, but that Hawkins did not tell police Friday night that he believed the incident was a hate crime.

Moses said both the driver and Hawkins felt they were victims, and there wasn’t probably cause to arrest either.

Moses described the incident as “a little bit too much alcohol, a little too much emotion.”

The driver and Hawkins’ partner called police about the incident separately, Moses said.

“It’s not going to go away,” Hawkins said. “It’s just going to get dealt with one way or another. I hope the police step up and don’t have to be pushed to follow up and do something about it. Even if it’s not a hate crime, my face shouldn’t look like this.”

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