Members of a gang of about 12 twenty-somethings are claiming they were acting in self-defense after attacking two gay men in Philadelphia.
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On September 11, two gay men were attacked by a gang of about 12 friends in their 20's. The men were on their way to dinner, the group was leaving a posh downtown Philadelphia restaurant. Police describe them as "a group of approximately 10-12 white male and females all in their early 20's, clean-cut and well-dressed." Other reports have described them as "preppy."
According to multiple reports, the two men, 26 and 28-years old, were asked by members of the group, all friends who had attended a local Catholic high school together, if they were a couple. Not in a nice way.
"Is this your f***ing boyfriend?," was one of the questions one of the 12 had for the two men. "Are you a dirty fag?" was another.
And then, according to the victims, "I said yes I am a dirty fag and he punched me in the face."
That was just the beginning.
"The victims say the group of attackers were yelling homophobic slurs during the beating," WTXF-TV reported. "Then, they took off leaving one of the men in a pool of his own blood."
"When I saw 3 or 4 of these guys on me, I turned around and saw his head hit the ground like hard and didn't come up and I was horrified. I thought he was dead," said the victim.
This image was taken by Caryn Kunkle. "This is what a hate crime looks like," Kunkle writes on Instagram. "Detectives and media are all over this case, which happened to my two gay friends in Center City, Philadelphia, on Thursday night."
But now, according to multiple sources, the attackers -- who have been interviewed but not arrested by police-- are claiming the 12 against two fight was self defense.
Philly Mag's Victor Fiorillo interviewed a witness who saw the attack from his third floor apartment.
Geoff Nagle says there's no way it was self defense.
"I don't see how it could be self-defense," Nagle says. "There were 12 people there. The self-defense thing is a little crazy to me. It wasn't like a guy just threw a punch to protect himself and ran away. That's not what happened here. There were multiple punches to the one guy's face — on both sides of his face."
Nagle says the entire group was not directly involved in the violence. (Although there were many who stood and watched without calling the cops. Nagle did and notes police were there "within a minute.")
"There was really one guy that inflicted what I saw. The punches I saw from him were what knocked the one guy out. You see those kinds of punches in boxing matches a little bit, but you don't see them in person. It really connected. The guy got knocked out cold."
"I could also hear some slurs like 'fucking faggot' and I also heard someone say 'I am sick of this fucking faggot.' If you saw the victims, they were small, not as large as the two guys."
Pennsylvania is one of many states that does not include sexual orientation in its hate crimes law, so even though the police originally characterized the attack as a hate crime, it cannot be prosecuted as one.