Two Miami University of Oxford, Ohio, students were assaulted at an LGBTQ student group event Friday night after hate slurs were shouted at them.
Ben Collins, a Miami University junior, and his boyfriend attended a charity drag show hosted by SPECTRUM at Stadium Bar and Grille near campus. Collins entered the restroom, and a group of men were inside making threatening and derogatory statements toward LGBTQ people, including, “Faggots do not belong in society.”
“Tensions escalated, I go to use the restroom, I get pushed, a fight breaks out in the restroom and it kinda filters outside, more people get involved,” Collings told WCPO.
According to SPECTRUM co-presidents Mat Hall and David Morgan, the scene quickly escalated from hate speech to violence:
Eventually, a fight ensued and more people became involved as it spilled out into the street. The instigators eventually left the scene, while the victimized students followed them to make sure the police would find the perpetrators. The instigators gathered with some friends and turned back on the victims, who were then quite outnumbered.
The victims tried to defend themselves the best they could. Police eventually arrived and the perpetrators fled. A few students ended up in the hospital as a result of their injuries.
Collings suffered multiple injuries including a broken cheek bone and nose, as well as two black eyes.
Many of Miami’s students, including Collings, are calling this incident a hate crime under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. This legislation expands upon the 1969 United States Federal Hate Crimes Law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. Currently, this case is not being investigated as a hate crime and police maintain that Collings instigated the attack.
UPDATE: SPECTRUM has planned a response to the assaults, by way of a rally, march and town hall meeting regarding next steps to fighting all forms of hate at Miami University. For more information, see the group’s Facebook event.