Georgia Equality joins coalition to mourn shooting victims
Atlanta police are investigating a violent robbery that occurred recently in Midtown, in which an unidentified assailant pistol-whipped a gay man, sending him to the hospital with facial lacerations.
Mamdouh Shawky, 28, and a friend had left the Caribou Coffee at 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue and were walking down Argonne Avenue on the way to the Atlanta Eagle around 11 p.m. on June 9 when two men confronted them.
“This one guy came behind us and came really close holding his gun and then another guy came around the front of us and then they just asked us to give them everything,” Shawky told Georgia Voice.
Shawky said he gave them his wallet and phone, but then things got worse.
“The guy that came in the front started hitting my friend and then the other one behind my back, he came with his gun and put it near my face,” he said. “After that he hit me in my face, in my eyebrow.”
The suspects fled and the victims went to a nearby house for help, where neighbors called 911. The two went to Grady Hospital, where Shawky received stitches for a facial laceration caused by the suspect pistol-whipping him.
Shawky said there was no indication the crime was motivated by his sexual orientation. The experience has left him second-guessing himself.
“I don’t know why I didn’t just take an Uber or something. Argonne Avenue is not very safe, obviously,” he said, adding, “I go out in Midtown a lot and yeah, I would not walk again in Midtown or anywhere for that matter. It’s not a good experience.”
The incident comes as another in a long line of crimes in Midtown, with a recent 11 Alive report showing a major spike in the area in the first four months of 2015 compared to 2014.
Atlanta police have reported no bias crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity so far this year.
Statewide LGBT advocacy organization Georgia Equality joined with the Rainbow PUSH Coalition in a June 19 press conference to mourn the victims of the Charleston church shooting and make a renewed call for hate crimes legislation. The Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a civil rights, social justice and political activism organization founded by Rev. Jesse Jackson in 1971.
The press conference followed the June 17 incident in which Dylann Roof, 21, sat through a prayer meeting at the historically black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, before opening fire, killing nine people, including the pastor, Clementa Pinckney, who was also a state senator.
Roof, who is white, is in custody and has confessed to the murders, saying he wanted to start a race war, according to CNN.
“I think as we’re seeing across the nation, particularly with different people with different perspectives coming together, we’re seeing that when there’s a difference in culture, whether it’s a difference in the color of skin or difference in beliefs, there are forces at will that we feel…are promoting hate and they’re creating a culture of hate. And we stand against any form of hate,” said Amanda Hill-Atkisson, deputy director of Georgia Equality.
Rob Woods, senior field organizer for Georgia Equality, added, “There are five states in the nation that don’t have hate crime laws, and that is where we see an absolute link of where we need to be more cooperative. We felt that by coming out and supporting Rainbow PUSH and speaking out against the violence, this is a good intersectional place for us to start a dialogue and work towards issues in the legislature and in our communities and overall build a stronger human bond versus this ‘us and them’ relationship that we have.”