A spokesman for the Gay Ex-Marines (GEMS) yesterday condemned Saturday's attack on a Capitol Hill bar for homosexuals and predicted gays would react more violently if such attacks recur.
GEMS spokesman Nick Maklary said the early-morning incident, in which two men wearing gas masks threw two canisters of smoke and tear gas into the Equus bar and restaurant, 7th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue SE, was the second attack on that establishment in less than a year. Maklary made his comments yesterday at a joint press conference with representatives of the Gay Activists Alliance at Dupont Circle.
Maklary said that after the first incident last August -- in which about two dozen Marines charged into the bar, assaulted one of the owners and broke windows -- gays who were more militant wanted to demonstrate in front of the Marine Barracks, but other gays, particularly older ones, advised against it.
"We'll never argue against that again," Maklary said.
He added that Washinton gays tend to be "more low-key" than those in other parts of the country. But he added that more violent protests against the harassment of homosexuals "can't be ruled out in any city."
Maklary and representatives of the Gay Activists Alliance stopped short of blaming Marines for the latest incident at Equus. But Maklary said no one was ever prosecuted for the August attack, which was tantamount to "passing on the word to the men that it was all right to do it."
Maklary also criticized Mayor Marion Barry for not putting more pressure on police to find the individuals involved in the August assault and for not appointing more gays to positions of power.
Equus is not far from the Marine Barracks at 8th and I streets, and the Marines and gays have had an increasingly tense coexistence in recent years.
Marine Barracks spokesman Capt. Richard Goodale said he could not comment on the Marine Corps' investigation of the August incident.
Witnesses at the latest incident said the men who threw the canisters carried military equipment and had close-cropped hair. Goodale said the canisters and gas masks could have come from any military installation or military surplus store.
Equus stayed closed Saturday and last night and is expected to reopen today. Co-owner Ric Holloway and friends turned on fans yesterday to clear the bar of the lingering odor of smoke and pulled up the rug to air it out.
"It's gotten to the point where I'm afraid for my life," Holloway said. "What's to stop some Marine from sticking a gun in my window and firing at me?"