19 Apr

Hate Crime Leads to Civil Rights Charge

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Stop Hate Crime

While waiting for the commuter rail at South Station early on Saturday morning, a thirty-two year old man was viciously attacked by two Quincy residents. These two men, Colin Hayes, 21, and Derek Ruiz, 28, verbally attacked the victim with a string of homophonic slurs and then physically assaulted him. They also stole his iPhone. Transit Police’s incident report noted that the victim had not provoked these two men in any way.

Hayes and Ruiz walked past the victim and began to taunt him with homophobic slurs. The victim did not react, other than asking that he be left alone. At first, the assailants walked away, but returned five minutes later and started punching the victim in the face.

Hayes and Ruiz are facing charges of civil rights violations with injuries, unarmed robbery, and aggravated assault and battery. The victim suffered a nasal fracture and was taken to Tufts Medical Center for emergent medical treatment.

In light of the Supreme Court’s recent overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act back in June, the fight for equality regarding the LGBT community seems to be making strides. Incidents like this, however, seem to reinforce the fact that society at large has miles to go.

hate-crime2It is still unknown what motivated Hayes and Ruiz’s attack on this man. Perhaps these two men were experiencing what is known as Homosexual Panic, a claimed state of temporary psychosis caused by fear of unwanted sexual advances from someone of the same gender. Homosexual Panic is a legal defense used in cases of assault and murder and perhaps the assailants’ legal team will try to use it in this case. The Homosexual Panic defense is problematic for the LGBT community because it is an easy defense for homophobic attacks such as this one and it can be a form of “victim-blaming.” The defense is controversial at best.

Hayes and Ruiz were caught and have been arraigned and we should be thankful for that. There is no place in our society for this type of unsolicited and unprovoked physical response. Indeed, this attack is a reflection on a deeper issue within American society. The charges for violations against civil rights, however, will hopefully drive home the idea that words affect people. I am hopeful this incident will help to eradicate the normalization of homophobic slurs in everyday conversation and think bringing civil rights violations actions along with criminal charges is a step in the right direction.

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Written by Manish M. Mathur, 3L New England Law | Boston