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Crime

Five people attack patron of Philadelphia gay-friendly bar

Sofia Lotto Persio January 30, 2019
Participants of the 2016 Pride Parade march through Philadelphia's so-called gayborhood, one of the most well known gay and lesbian spaces in the city.

Philadelphia's LGBT area, knows as the Gayborhood. (Jessica Kourkounis/Getty)

Five assailants attacked a 50-year-old person outside a gay-friendly bar in Philadelphia.

The attack took place in the night of Sunday (January 27), outside the Toasted Walnut venue in the 1300 block of Walnut Street, an area in central Philadelphia known as the Gayborhood.

Police said the assailants were four men and a woman, who assaulted the victim and fled the scene in a car before the officers’ arrival. Officers were unable to provide a description of the suspects or their car.

Josh Schonewolf, who was bartending at the Toasted Walnut that night, described the attack in an interview with local news channel WPVI.

“If this is happening at 13th and Walnut I don’t know where we’re supposed to feel safe.”

— Josh Schonewolf

“All of a sudden a car full of guys decided to jump out and attack one of the patrons here right in front,” he told the broadcaster on January 29.

The bartender recalled the attackers uttering homophobic slurs: “It seemed random but they were definitely calling him some gay slurs as they were beating him up.”

Some people who tried to intervene also got hurt. “The [general manager] happened to be outside and he was also punched in the face,” Schonewolf said.

Attack took place outside Philadelphia area known as Gayborhood

Schonewolf reflected on the significance of such an attack taking place in what is the heart of Philadelphia’s LGBT+ area.

“Some people refer to this part of town as Midtown Village but to me—I’m from Philly—it is always going to be the Gayborhood. And if this is happening at 13th and Walnut I don’t know where we’re supposed to feel safe,” he said.

The attack took place in the heart of Philadelphia's gayborhood, where streets are named after LGBT icons like Edie Windsor.
The street where the attack took place is in the heart of Philadelphia’s Gayborhood, where streets are named after LGBT pioneers. (Judith M. Kasen-Windsor/Facebook)

The Toasted Walnut opened in 2017 and its owner Denise Cohen wanted the venue to be as inclusive as possible.

“It’s lesbian owned, there has been no lesbian bar [in Philadelphia] since 2013 so I’m trying to put the L back in the LGBTQ community without shunning anyone else. Everybody is welcome, gay, straight, male female, people of color…” Cohen told Eater at the time.

Following the attack, Schonewolf called on Philadelphia’s LGBT+ community to support the venue.

“Please go out tonight and support Toasted Walnut. It’s honestly run by the best in the city. And the staff is phenomenal. Let’s show our support as a community. And show them, we won’t back down,” he wrote on Facebook on Tuesday.

PinkNews has contacted Schonewolf and the Toasted Walnut for comment.

Victim of assault outside Philadelphia gay-friendly venue is in stable condition

Philadelphia police told PinkNews the victim was brought to the Jefferson University Hospital reporting a head injury, but is now is in stable condition.

The authorities have yet to decide whether to treat the attack as a hate crime, as the investigation is still active and ongoing.

“Incidents are thoroughly investigated and at the end of the investigation, not the beginning, detectives can recommend that a hate crime charge be applied to the underlying charge. The District Attorney’s office will make the final determination,” a police spokesperson said in a statement.

 

More: gayborhood, Homophobia, Philadelphia, The Toasted Walnut, US, US

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