Some Gay Activists Want Lighter Sentence for 3 Men Sentenced for Videotaped Atlanta Brutal Gay Bashing
Three men from Atlanta have been sentenced to five years in prison for attacking a gay man on the street, videotaping the incident and then putting it online. Some gay activists are urging officials not to send the men to prison despite the brutality of the crime and the fact that they were specifically targeting the victim because of his sexual orientation.
In February, a video of a group of men attacking Brandon White, 20, went viral. The men physically assaulted White, who is openly gay, and hurled homophobic epithets at him as he walked out of a convenient store.
On Friday, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jackson Bedford sentenced defendant Dorian Moragne and co-defendants Dareal Demare Williams and Christopher Cain to five years in prison and another five years of probation.
"Y'all are the ultimate bullies, and you bullied somebody and you hurt him," said Jackson. "To me there is no question you did it because of his sexual orientation."
Before the young men were given their punishment, they apologized to White, who was in the courtroom.
"I am disappointed in myself because I know better and know right from wrong," Williams said.
Jay Abt, the defendants' attorney, told the newspaper that they would have intensive community service and sensitivity education once they are released from prison.
"I think it was a reasonable sentence under the circumstances," Abt said.
But not everyone agreed with the sentence. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that several gay activists have said that the men should have been dealt a lighter punishment.
"There were a lot of people of the LGBT community that wrote letters in support of leaner sentences," Abt said. He went on to say that gay activists wanted the attackers to be educated on gay rights instead of being put behind bars.
Members of Project Q Atlanta, an LGBT rights group based in Atlanta, published a letter asking for just that.
"Our primary interest is seeing an end to the homophobia that seems to have been a dominant factor in the attack on Mr. White. We do not believe that this will be accomplished by a long sentence of imprisonment.... We believe that the time each of these young men has already spent behind bars has been a significant loss of freedom. We ask that any additional term of imprisonment you impose be probated," the letter reads.
The activists also write that they want the young men to finish high school or get their G.E.D. so they have a chance to "move their lives in a positive direction that can ultimately serve their community."
Police are still looking for Javaris Bradford, 24, who allegedly recored the incident, the article notes.
Watch the video of the attack below (warning: the video contains violent content):