Hate crimes: How to protect ourselves

By Frank Roberts
April 1990; page 5; Volume 1, No. 5
No to Nazism, fo real yall

Since the start of the year a number of hate crimes have occurred against the gay and African-American community that have gone completely unreported. On February 10, a gay couple was assaulted and robbed of their jewelry right outside of the Boathouse danceclub. Then on February 24, an African-American man was assaulted by a gang of nazi skinheads (particularly one named Mark Dagger, backed by a Dallas gang) in the Liberty Lunch parking lot. Two other attacks on gay people have also occurred during this time.

According to a member of Austin ACT-UP, the victims of these attacks have avoided calling the police because of their record of violence against both gay people and people of color. Calling the police for protection is often counterproductive, since cops harass innocent people while the attackers are left on the scene. This is what happened at Liberty Lunch when the police refused to arrest the skinheads, and actually gave the attacker medical attention.

How can a gay couple be beaten up outside a gay bar less than a year after 20,000 people participated in an Austin march for Gay Power? Why time and again are a handful of nazis allowed to intimidate hundreds of people at shows into submission, crash our parties, and beat us up because of our race, sexual preference, hair length, etc.?

Certainly we are vulnerable as individuals to their organized violence, but we are far from powerless. We can organize ourselves and create a presence where their hate crimes occur. By organizing ourselves to respond en masse we can defeat the one advantage these racists and homophobes have against us: the fear of the individual against their wrath. We can act together against such repression, as many have done successfully here in the past and in other cities. We can and must stop it.

We need to document and spread the word about this violence. Write down the details of every instance of violence and send it to Hate Crimes Alert at the address below so we can document it in the alternative press. Or write a story or letter yourself or make flyers with the details and paste it up around town. Tell the bands to speak out against violence and make it unwanted at their shows.

It isn't that we need to start something entirely new as much as we need to circulate and expand what is already being done. Organizing against this violence goes on daily in Austin. The African-American community has extended its campaign against police violence to the University of Texas as well as around the city. The Women's Alternative Times magazine and University NOW organize against sexism. And ACT-UP is on the frontlines of a vigorous battle against homophobic repression.

It is hard to believe we can go on performing or enjoying music if we live in fear of violent hate crimes because of what we look like or what gender we're attracted to. We would all rather concentrate on developing the positive projects in our lives rather than struggle against hatred. However, we must do both.

c/o Hate Crimes Alert
[defunct address redacted]