'Chronicle' Coverage of Hate Crime and Assault Lacking

RECEIVED Wed., June 16, 2004

Dear Editor,
   Usually I commend the Chronicle for its coverage of Austin antics and news – thanks for a quality publication. However, I am deeply disappointed by the coverage of the "brawl" involving Jack Culverhouse and several hate-mongers that occurred outside of Emo's ["A Gay-Bashing in the East Sixth 'Dead Zone,'" News, June 11]. Of course it is important to expose and discuss the facts and failings of the Austin Police Department – that subject has been plumbed many times in the Chronicle. In this particular instance, though, the issue at hand is not really the police presence – what is shocking and sickening is the sexual assault and horrific hate crime that went down in our fair city. First, a woman is violated by a random stranger gloating on his cell phone. When her friend, who happens to be transgendered, is unwilling to stay silent about this unacceptable behavior, the perpetrator makes hateful comments and proceeds to physically assault this person on the basis of his gender presentation. Those were not just some guys "looking for a fight." This is not just one of many incidents involving neglectful police. This entire awful story illustrates the narrow-mindedness, misogyny, and hate that plagues towns even as enlightened as Austin purports to be. Those are the true issues at hand. We citizens of Austin should be saddened and disgusted that such a terrible hate crime could tarnish our own precious Sixth Street, and we should take this opportunity to raise awareness and speak out against sexual assault and hate crimes here and everywhere. If our city refuses to tolerate such despicable behavior, the police presence will follow.
Katie O'Neil
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