Members of Washington, DC’s LGBTQ community lit battery operated candles, gathered in winter coats, and hung flags in Stead Park Thursday night.
The “Vigil Against Violence” was the community’s response to the country’s latest anti-gay assault, and reportedly the second of such attacks in the city in recent weeks.
Michael Creason and Zach Link were attacked just after 12:31 am Sunday morning, the assailants yelling homophobic slurs as they punched and kicked the two gay men at Vermont Ave and U St.
According to the police report, Creason was knocked unconscious during the attack. Link suffered a broken nose and a chipped tooth. A Go Fund Me set up for the Link and Creason also says that Creason suffered a concussion.
The report does not indicate what, if anything, incited the attack. Creason and Link could not be reached for comment.
According to police, the two were transported to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
“The Metropolitan Police Department is investigating this offense as potentially being motivated by hate or bias,” said police in a statement to INTO.
Police have released footage of the attack in hopes that the public will help identify the assailants.
The video depicts one man kicking another man from a street curb into a crosswalk as seemingly tries to stand. At the same time, another man lies splayed in the same crosswalk while a man standing over him walks toward him. The video then cuts to blurry photos of the suspects police are seeking to identify.
Police are also offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and indictment.
Community response to the attack has been quick. The GoFundMe for the victims has already raised more than $19,500 toward its $25,000 goal.
“Hate will never win,” wrote on contributor. “Period.”
On Thursday night, attendees at the vigil passed around police fliers with the blurry surveillance images of of the attackers.
Community members say that another attack happened in the area, home to a handful of gay bars, just two weeks prior.
That attacks comes during a time of reported unprecedented anti-LGBTQ violence in the U.S. Less than two weeks ago, four men attacked a gay couple just after Miami Beach Pride in what is being investigated as a possible hate crime. Just 20 miles from that attack, a Florida man allegedly killed his roommate because he thought he was making sexual advances toward him last week.
Last year was the deadliest for LGBTQ people ever recorded by the National Coalition for Anti-Violence Programs, but signs indicate that 2018 could outpace that due to increased violence against transgender women of color.