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Salt Lake City Police Question Alleged Assailant; Video Shows Man Ask 'Are You Gay?' Before Striking

by Kilian Melloy
Tuesday Feb 19, 2019

Police in Salt Lake City questioned a suspect who could be seen striking a gay man in a video that the alleged victim recorded and later uploaded to Twitter.

Sal Trejo and some friends were waiting for an Uber in the city's downtown area on the evening of Feb. 16 when a young man approached the group and began to harass them with homophobic and misogynistic remarks, reported local news station KUTV.

According to a Washignton Post story on the incident, the alleged assailant was was on his phone while standing nearby and told whoever he was talking to that he was near a "gay guy."

The man's behavior seemed threatening enough to prompt Trejo to begin taking video with his phone.

The video shows the encounter plainly; the young man, smiling, asks, "Are you gay, though?"

"Oh, I am," Trejo can be heard replying.

"All right, then, you're gay," the young man repeats, still smiling, before striking Trejo.

The Post story noted that the blow landed on Trejo's arm, and knocked his phone from his grasp.

"Are you fucking kidding me?" one of Trejo's friends can be heard in the video.

The New York Post reported that at that point, Trejo's friends "got in the goy's face," and in response, they claim, the young man pulled a knife. He also reportedly shoved one of Trejo's female friends.

Trejo posted the video to Twitter the following day with the message, "Anyone know him? The police are interested in having a chat with him."

Trejo told the media that he is "very proudly gay" and added that "I never hide that part of me." He went on to say that by putting the video on social media he was looking to "hopefully shed some light on this and get something happening to protect people."

The Post reported that Utah has no hate crimes laws, but that a state lawmaker - Derek Kitchen, a member of the state Senate and Utah's only openly gay state legislator - called for such a statute to be enacted in the wake of the incident.

The Salt Lake City police told the media they had identified the man and scheduled to meet with him about the encounter. In a tweet, the police department said that the suspect was "cooperating fully."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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