Pride Parade participants allegedly attacked

July 3, 2013 3:21:14 PM PDT
Several violent incidents took place during and after Chicago's Pride Parade this past weekend and a group of parade participants say the man driving their float attacked them while shouting a slur about their sexual orientation.

Organizers spread out the Pride Fest and Parade over two weekends this year in an attempt keep the incredibly popular events from straining police and the neighborhood.

By and large, a police spokesman says, that experiment was a success for law and order, but there were still incidents that victims say shouldn't make anyone proud.

More than a million people and only 52 arrests. Chicago Police call that a success.

"It's painful to see myself like this," Justin Hoekman said.

Hoekman had a different experience. At 9:30 Sunday night, he said he was heading back to Boystown when two strangers passing him on the street did "this."

"I don't think it was just a coincidence," he said. "I think it had everything to do with that I fit that stereotype that most people have of gay people."

Hoekman said he was wearing glitter and eye makeup when the blitz attack left him with cuts so deep he required stitches.

"They didn't rob me, I had my wallet, I had my phone," Hoekman said. "I think it was based on the way I was dressed."

Earlier Sunday as the main event marched down Halsted, cyclists supporting AIDS Ride Chicago say the man hired to pull their float began pulling punches, spitting and shouting sexual slurs after they complained about erratic driving.

"He heard me smack the side of his truck," said Matthew Swenson. "He got out and punched me. I turned around and tried to get away quickly and he grabbed me around the neck."

The company that supplied the float and driver says that kind of behavior is intolerable.

A spokesman told ABC 7: "We've been dealing with the Pride Parade since its inception. In no way does this represent our views. Never again will that driver work for us."

Faced with abandoning the float or carrying on, Swenson and his group decided to continue.

"I collected myself and got back on the float because I had worked too hard over the last six months to miss this," Swenson said. "I was going to be involved in this no matter what."

A police report was filed in that incident.

As for the one involving the young man hit on the street, he says officers immediately arrested two people, but police weren't able to confirm that.

Police couldn't say whether this year's 52 arrests during and after the pride parade is an increase or decrease over last year.

By comparison, the Blackhawks rally which drew twice as many people had just six arrests.


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