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Man's beating at Detroit gay pride festival caught on tape

By Melodi Smith, CNN
updated 2:34 AM EDT, Thu June 12, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Video captures beating of 20-year-old man at Detroit gay pride festival
  • Group of men kicked and punched man when he was taking pictures with a friend
  • Detroit police are characterizing the attack as a hate crime

(CNN) -- The beating of a gay man during a gay pride festival in Detroit over the weekend was caught on camera.

Christin Howard, a 20-year-old hair dresser, was attacked by a group of men on Detroit's Riverwalk during the Motor City Pride event on Sunday. A video shot by a bystander shows the group kicking and punching Howard.

Christin told CNN affiliate WXYZ he was taking a picture with a friend when things suddenly turned violent.

A group of men began to "gay bash" him, he said, hurling anti-gay slurs his way. Then they started to physically attack him.

"I just thought I was going to die. At one point I thought they were going to kill me," Howard said.

The attack left Howard bruised with a bloody eye, cuts and a broken finger, leaving him unable to sleep or work.

David Wait, chair of Motor City Pride, called the incident troubling, adding that he'd noticed "record attendance on Sunday and we took steps to increase security." Wait praised police for their "swift efforts" at investigating the crime.

Other advocates for the LGBT community in Michigan say this attack means there is more work to do.

"No one should have to endure an attack like Christin Howard did ... pride celebrations offer people in our communities an opportunity to feel safe in expressing our authentic selves," said Yvnoone Siferd, director of victim services for Equality Michigan.

As for Howard, he is on the fence about returning to the festival next year.

"I'm kind of iffy about it now, because I don't want that same incident to happen again," he said. "What if the same guys (are) down there?"

The Detroit Police Department is investigating and calls the attack a hate crime.

"We know about the video. We are seeking public assistance in identifying people in the video," said Nicole Kirkwood, a public information officer for the Detroit Police Department.

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