According to the Palm Springs Police Department, local gay activist George Zander and his husband Chris were victims of an alleged anti-gay hate crime Sunday evening.
The attack caused George, 71, to undergo hip surgery. His husband received staples in the back of his head, stitches in his lip and suffered a concussion.
According to Chris, the couple left a gay bar Hunters Nightclub around 8:15 p.m. holding hands. A man bumped into them and started shouting slurs. Chris said he remembers saying, “That’s totally uncalled for” and was pulled down before the man fled.
The couple continued walking, but then the man returned with at least one more person. Chris was hit on the head with an object and blacked out. George was pushed to the ground and fractured his hip.
“Hate crimes against an LGBT individual – or anyone in our community – is a hate crime against our entire community and it will not be tolerated,” U.S. Rep Raul Ruiz said.
Openly gay Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet says the city has “become a model of diversity where this kind of discrimination will not be tolerated,” he said. “We have worked very hard to make sure our residents and visitors feel safe as they work and play in our city.”
CEO of the LGBT Community Center of the Desert, Mike Thompson, said that hate crimes can happen even in the most accepting of places.
“It’s especially sobering when it happens here, in Palm Springs, on Arenas Road, both places where LGBT people are beyond accepted, we are celebrated,” Thompson said. “George has worked tirelessly throughout his career to ensure that those who are most marginalized in our communities are protected.”
An online fundraising campaign has been set to fund rewards for information about the suspects.
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