Protestors rally for hate crime protection

Reported by Max Winitz - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Protestors gathered near the New Hanover County Courthouse Thursday to show support for victims of a violent attack.

In July, Chaz Housand and Chet Saunders were beaten on Front Street.  Investigators believe they were targeted because they are gay.

"They were leaving a bar after celebrating their graduation and were assaulted and sent to the hospital by three men who are now facing felony charges," said Tab Ballis.

Melvin Spicer, Jong Chung, and Daniel Lee have all been charged with felonies in the attack.  The men made an appearance in court Thursday, but their cases were have been continued until later in September.

Protestors said they feel the three men won't be given an appropriate punishment.  They're upset North Carolina is 1 of 16 states that doesn't have hate crime protection for homosexuals.

"It makes me very concerned," said Terri Nunley.  "I wouldn't say it makes me angry.  I just wish that our rights are protected."

District Attorney James Blanton is trying the case and said the state doesn't appear to be in line with the trends in the nation as far as protection classes are concerned.

Protestors feel crimes against homosexuals will continue to happen and go unnoticed until the law is changed.

North Carolina State House Bill 207 would add hate crime protection to victims based on their sexual orientation.

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