• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Hundreds protest Long Beach hate crimes

August 4, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Hate crimes are on the rise in Long Beach. Hundreds came together Thursday to protest a string of attacks against gay men and call for peace.

Along the Broadway Corridor, an area where members of the city's gay and lesbian community normally feel safe, there's concern after three separate violent attacks on gay men in two weeks.

Only one of the crimes has been confirmed as a hate crime, but that's one too many for Long Beach residents. They gathered to express their anger and show their unity.

"That angers me a lot and it makes me worried, you know, that it's not safe to go home from a bar late at night," said Long Beach resident Anthony McDonnell.

One of the victims, Martin Sanchez, was attacked after he left The Falcon bar with his friends on July 24. Authorities said a man approached the group and asked if they were gay. When Sanchez said yes, the suspect allegedly punched him.

"One of his front right tooth got knocked out. He had three cracked teeth on the top. There's some bodily injury done, but I think more importantly, he had psychological damage done as well," said Sanchez's friend, Eric Avila.

Avila chased the 21-year-old suspect, Jorge Ibarrias of Torrance, who was then arrested by police.

Ibarrias has been charged with felony battery with a hate crime enhancement.

"I believe these kinds of hate crimes are a form of domestic terrorism," said Rep. Janice Hahn (D-San Pedro).

Hahn joined around 200 people at a rally organized to send the message that hate crimes won't be tolerated in Long Beach.

"I don't think anybody deserves anything like that no matter what orientation they are," said Seal Beach resident Michael Hastings.

Long Beach police said two other attacks on gay men are under investigation, but those may not be hate crimes.

"In the second incident, we have reason to believe that the victim's actions preceding the assault is what prompted the assault," said Sgt. Rico Fernandez.

Anyone with information about the attacks is urged to call Long Beach police at (562) 570-7250.


Load Comments