Jared R. Olson was left battered, bloody, bruised and in need of reconstructive surgery after he was badly beaten by a man while the man and others shouted homophobic slurs outside a Denver-area hookah bar early Monday morning.
Olson, or someone associated with him, posted on his Facebook page “This is the aftermath of my assault that happened this morning at Sams Hookah Lounge!”
The twenty-three year old explained to 7NEWS what happened. According to Olson, he and two friends were leaving Sam’s Hookah Lounge at about 2am Monday morning. They were followed into the parking lot by a group of men who used homophobic slurs. When the three tried to get into the car, Olson and one of his friends were grabbed and Olson was repeatedly beaten in the face.
The third of the three friends was unharmed and apparently had safely gotten into the car and locked the door when the attack occurred. Both of the men who were beaten are openly gay.
Olson was left covered in blood and has broken bones in his face that will require reconstructive surgery. He also lost several teeth in the attack. Olson told the reporter Marc Stewart that “I didn’t think that I looked that bad, until my mother had taken the picture and shown me. I didn’t think it would ever happen to me. I thought people were more sensible than that in this day in age.”
The attack on Olson comes as anti-LGBT crimes have spiked and within a couple of weeks of the murders of two trans* women.
Olson does not have health insurance, and the surgeries are expected to cost about $50,000.
Olson stated on Facebook that “I’d like to thank everyone that came to visit me today and for those that have expressed your extremely kind words! Hopefully tomorrow we can figure out when I can have surgery! Here goes night #1 with a broken face.” Olson also said he feels sorry for the man who attacked him and added that “People don’t like what they don’t know.”
Melody Olson, the young man’s mother, wept about the attack and stated “You hurt someone’s child. I mean, you hurt another human being, who should have human rights.”
Denver Police Spokesman Sonny Jackson said that the attack is under investigation as an alleged hate crime, but that whether or not it is a hate crime will have to be determined by the Denver District Attorney’s Office.
Scott L. Levin of the Anti-Defamation League issued a statement saying “The Anti-Defamation League is disheartened to learn of this tragic instance where a victim was allegedly targeted because of his sexual orientation.”
He went on to say “We applaud law enforcement officials for taking quick and decisive action to investigate whether this was a bias-motivated attack, and if the evidence supports it, we urge them to prosecute this crime to the full extent permitted under Colorado’s hate crimes law.”
And added “Hate crimes have an impact far beyond the individual victim of the crime. When a victim is chosen because of his or her sexual orientation, other members of that group feel unsafe and unwelcome. Hate crimes resonate throughout the victim’s community and threaten the safety and well-being of every member of that group. ADL calls upon the Denver community to speak out loudly against hate crimes and declare Denver no place for hate.”
Here is the news report from the station: