Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Incident in Salem NH Sparks Hate Crime Outcry

The Anti-Violence Project of Massachusetts
138 Chandler Street, Number Four
Boston, Massachusetts 02116

Prosecutors Urged to Treat Attack on LGBT Ally Scott Herman as a Hate Crime
For Immediate Release: Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Boston-based Anti-Violence Project called on state and police attorneys in Salem and Rockingham County, New Hampshire to prosecute the July 29, 2011 attack on fitness expert and LGBT ally Scott Herman as a hate crime. In a letter-brief filed on August 23, 2011, the Anti-Violence Project cited New Hampshire’s anti-hate crime statute to argue that alleged offenders Dean Bidgood and James Leavitt of Atkinson, NH should be met with the enhanced penalties prescribed for bias crimes, after perpetrating the hate-laced “road rage” incident.

According to the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune, Herman was flagged down—stopped at a red light—by Bidgood and Leavitt in the early morning hours of Friday 29 July. He pulled over because he thought he knew them. They charged his car (which advertises his fitness studio), threw open the doors, and goaded him to get out and fight, taunting him as a “faggot.” Bidgood kicked at Herman from the passenger side of the car, but Herman kept his cool and called 911. Bidgood, who has a prior criminal record, has a probable cause hearing in the Salem, New Hampshire District Court scheduled Wednesday, September 7.

Anti-Violence Project Chairperson Don Gorton stressed the bias indicator evidence which is the signature of a hate crime. As they accosted Herman, the alleged perpetrators yelled, “You want to get fucked up tonight you faggot!” Herman is a visible ally to the LGBT community on issues including bullying prevention and marriage equality—and allies of targeted groups are themselves exposed to hate crimes. Herman believes that he was identified and singled out. Moreover, Bidgood and Leavitt made no attempt to rob Herman. According to Gorton, “the only plausible motive for what happened to Scott was anti-gay hostility. Bashers don’t have reliable ‘gaydar.’”
Gorton continued: “The LGBT community must stand with our straight allies as they too can become targets of homophobia. The attack on Scott was an attack on all of us.” Gorton praised Herman for remaining calm in the circumstances and not responding with violence himself. “Scott is demanding justice under law, which is the civilized way to deal with outrageous behavior like that exhibited July 29th.”
The Anti-Violence Project will be monitoring the prosecutions as they go forward, and raising community awareness of Scott’s cause.

For more information: Don Gorton 617-285-8965 or

Thursday, August 11, 2011

My Fellow American