Vigil counters 2nd anti-gay attack on a Georgetown student

By Jenna Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 3, 2009

For the second time in a week, a Georgetown University student has reported being attacked and called an anti-gay slur while walking near campus, prompting yet another student gathering Monday evening to show support for the victims.

"A lot of people are really hurt and are trying to figure out what the next step is," said Robert Byrne, a Georgetown junior who organized Monday's Vigil Against Assault. "We want to use this time as a healing moment and to express solidarity with the victims."

Attendees estimated that at least 100 students, staff members and others gathered in the middle of campus on a chilly night, listening to a university vice president and representatives from several student organizations.

"This is a unique moment in Georgetown history," Byrne said. "We all just sort of came together. . . . It was a very organic experience."

About 1:30 a.m. Sunday, a male student was walking near 36th and N streets NW when a man with his face painted red and white repeatedly harassed him verbally, according to police. The man then assaulted the student before fleeing, according to the Georgetown Department of Public Safety.

The student was treated at Georgetown University Hospital and released, university spokesman Andy Pino said.

On Friday, about 50 Georgetown students rallied on campus to show solidarity for another victim of an anti-gay assault. A female student was walking on Canal Road near the entrance to Georgetown's campus about 9 p.m. last Tuesday when she was confronted by two white men in their late 20s. The men shouted anti-gay insults at the student, who was wearing a gay rights T-shirt, according to campus police.

The assailants grabbed her book bag, pushed her to the ground and hit her with the bag.

Both cases were referred to D.C. police because the incidents occurred off campus. Neither victim has filed a report with police, but officers are working with gay groups on campus in hopes of encouraging them to do so, police spokeswoman Traci Hughes said. Without a report, she said, police cannot investigate.

University officials have offered counseling to the victims and sent campuswide safety alerts, Pino said. In a letter to campus members Monday evening, university officials called the acts "unacceptable." Last year, Georgetown opened its gay resource center, thought to be the first of its kind at a Jesuit university in the United States.

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