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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Alabama Sheriff's Department Ignore Lesbian Hate Crime?

Laura Gilbert, a 25-year-old openly lesbian woman from Alabama, was attacked by roughly a dozen people outside a straight bar in Opelika, AL. Gilbert and her high school friend, Sheila Siddall, say they went there to sing karoake. “As soon as we walked in the bar, I felt uncomfortable,” Gilbert said. “I felt everybody staring at us, but you know, it was her birthday, I didn’t want to ruin it for her.” Gilbert and Siddall say as they were about to leave, a woman confronted them and started to fight with them. The fight grew to include about a dozen people, including two men, and moved outside, according to the women.

It was Sheila Siddall who called the police, expecting them to come and arrest the group. However, when a police officer arrived, Gilbert was the only one who was arrested, and was charged with disorderly conduct. Out of the dozen people at the scene, many of whom were intoxicated, and all of them were engaged in “disorderly conduct,” but Gilbert says that she wasn’t even interviewed by the police. The only statements that were taken down were from her attackers. The police say this is because Gibert was too intoxicated to give a statement, although they did proceed to take statements from other drunk people.

Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones says, “The arrest that took place was a result of a law enforcement officer actively and presently observing what he at that moment in time perceived to be a violation of the law.” However, the witnesses agree that the fight was already over by the time any law enforcement arrived, so the officer actually observed no crime.

Alabama’s state hate crimes legislation does not include sexual orientation or gender identity as a protected class, and this isn't the first time that the law officials have overlooked these type of hate crimes.

Below is the news clip from this incident, it is definitely worth taking a look at.

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