Words: Alastair James; pictures: Twitter/@amberfriastv
Police in San Diego are investigating an attack on a gay man as a hate crime after the victim was left with several injuries and requiring surgery.
Gersson Saavedra was left with a spinal cord injury, a fractured eye socket, and a broken nose in the incident in San Diego’s Barrio Logan neighbourhood on Sunday 12 September.
Saavedra is currently in hospital and has begun a crowdfunding campaign to help pay for his hospital bills.
"Just be yourself"
He told NBC San Diego that he remembers little of the incident and has had to rely on the accounts of his friends who he was with.
“I was at the pier over by Cesar Chavez Park in Barrio Logan. When we were leaving the event I fell behind my friends, Martin and Sunny,” at which point he was approached by two men who asked for a lighter Saavedra says.
He told the US outlet that his friends then heard homophobic slurs, including "f****t", and then turned around to see Gersson hitting the floor unconscious after being attacked.
Continuing, he says the first thing he remembers after waking up in hospital was being asked if he was gay, which he says he found unusual. Answering that he was, he says the doctor said: “Okay, you were a victim of a hate crime.”
As he recovers from the brutal assault, which will involve being off work for at least six weeks, he had a message for other victims of such hate crimes: “It's easy to kind of blame yourself, think could have prevented this, maybe by being less of yourself, but I would definitely say don't let anyone or even this type of situation dim your light. Always, you know, just be yourself.”
A San Diego man was brutally beaten in what police are investigating as an anti-gay hate crime. While he has nothing to say to his attackers, he has one message for all those who have fallen victim to a hate crime:https://t.co/UdXqnIjN1C pic.twitter.com/KMqWBcg9X6— Amber Frias (@amberfriastv) September 20, 2021
Gersson is due to have surgery on his nose next week.
California’s Attorney General released figures in June showing a 31% increase in hate crimes in 2020, with 1,330 recorded incidents. The number regarding sexual orientation actually dropped from 233 to 205 whereas transphobic hate crime jumped from 29 to 54 between 2019 and 2020. The report, which was inaccessible, was reported by the Associated Press.
You can donate to Gersson’s GoFundMe here.
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