Increased Restorative Justice Practices Called For In Response To Midtown Atlanta Attack

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Charles Stephens, Executive Director
Telephone: (404) 550-4697
Email: charles.stephens@counternarrative.org

Atlanta, GA, October 13, 2017 - The Counter Narrative Project (CNP) is deeply saddened to hear about the recent attack on Oliver Jesse and fellow patrons leaving the Bulldog Nightclub, a popular Midtown Atlanta establishment frequented by the Black gay community. We hope for a rapid recovery of health and wellness for Mr. Jesse, who was shot in the stomach, and for the mental well being of the victim's friends who were reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as present and also threatened with bodily harm despite Mr. Jesse giving the perpetrator $5 to help aid him in his perceived homelessness. While the story is still unfolding and motive is not entirely clear, that these threats followed a sexual proposition by the alleged shooter-in-custody, Elijah Payton, and a collective refusal by the group, provides some evidence that these men may have been targeted by Mr. Payton possibly because they were seen as gay, vulnerable, and open to exploitation. 

This would not be unusual, as reports of violence against Black gay bodies are disproportionately high and often go unreported. Even the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs LGBTQ and HIV-Affected Hate Violence in 2015: 2016 Release Edition Report, reports that the 60% of LGBTQ people of color who experience a hate crime (21% of whom are Black) is likely an undercount of the actual violence experienced by queer communities of color, particularly as survivors of color are two to three times more likely to experience physical violence than their white counterparts. 

Fortunately, in this instance, local law enforcement took the matter seriously and the alleged assailant may have been caught fairly quickly, having also been reportedly involved in at least one other recent robbery and shooting in the area. In response to these tragic events, the CNP calls for the use of increased restorative justice practices such as greater community policing in the area and asks that Black gay community look out for one another with greater vigilance, particularly when entering and exiting well known gay establishments, as hate violence against all minority groups has notably increased according to the Southern Poverty Law Center since the 2016 election. This shooting is reminder that even in areas seen as progressive and sympathetic toward the plight of Black LGBTQ people, Black gay men are still incredibly vulnerable to crime and violence.

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The Counter Narrative Project (CNP) mission is to build power among Black gay men (BGM) and work in solidarity, partnership, and coalition with other movements committed to racial justice and anti-oppression work.  Founded in 2014 in Atlanta, GA to harness the power of BGM, serve as a catalyst for social and cultural change, and create an advocacy network that could rapidly respond to issues impacting our community.

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Atlanta, GA 30307