In northern Minnesota, two young men aged eighteen and nineteen were arrested for participating in a group assault on a gay male. The vicious beating occurred during a party at a gravel pit near the New Independence Township.
Peter Passi and Brandon Stahl report for the Duluth News-Tribune:
Max Pelofske, 21, of Duluth, said he came to a party at the pit to offer his congratulations to a friend's sister, who will graduate from Proctor High School in several days. The friend, Kelly Johnson, also 21, said she and Pelofske had been at the unsanctioned gathering of about 50 people, mostly current and former Proctor students, for about five minutes when a boy or young man approached her and Pelofske. "He told me to look him in the eyes, and I was really confused because I'd never seen the guy before," Pelofske told the News Tribune. "He asked me: 'Are you gay?' And I said, 'Yes. Is that OK?' "
After that, Pelofske said he was struck in the head by a flying beer can, and a crowd of young men surrounded him, threw him to the ground and began punching and kicking him. "I tried to get up, but I kept getting knocked back down," said Pelofske, who described his alleged assailants as "all laughing and smiling." "They were trying to throw me into the fire," he said. Johnson said at least nine young men were involved in the attack. "I thought they were going to kill him," Johnson said, who estimated the beating went on for five to 10 minutes. She said she tried to intervene but was pushed away. "I was screaming, 'Just let us leave!' " Pelofske said he was finally able to get to his feet, ducked a punch and took off running, stopping at last to vomit.
The victim and his friend had been at the gathering for less than fifteen minutes when Pelofske was attacked. It's important to note that unlike the youths at the gravel pit, Pelofske and Johnson had not been consuming alcohol. To prove this, they both requested breathalyzer tests when law enforcement arrived.
Only one of the attackers is being charged with assault in the fourth degree, which is a bias crime according to Sgt. Brent Donahue of the local Sheriff's Department. The assailants, whose names haven't yet been released, were also cited for possession of illegal substances.
Pelofske's ribs are bruised, his torso and legs are covered with cuts and shoe marks, and his face is swollen. A physician at the hospital who viewed Pelofske's CT scan told him he was lucky to be alive.
Let's see if county prosecutors have the cojones to pursue an indictment against the perpetrators of this vile anti-gay hate crime, instead of taking their usual boys-will-be-boys approach to criminal justice.
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