This Labor Day weekend was, in the eyes of many, a perturbing and disturbing weekend with regards to social tensions and acceptance. While anti-Mexican notes were spread across cars in Belmont Shore, an altercation between four Marines and gay bar patrons outside of the Silver Fox near 4th Street and Redondo Avenue is currently being investigated as a possible hate crime.
On September 2 around 2AM, Silver Fox bartender Sky Sunday says that while attempting to get patrons out of the bar, he noticed a rowdy pair standing in the middle of the street.
"It was a busy night, so I didn't know how they were behaving in the bar beforehand," Sunday told the Long Beach Post. "I didn't know if they were drunk or what they were saying—they were just in the middle of the street. The light was changing and I noticed cars coming, so I grabbed them both in order to usher them back."
Sunday's seemingly caring action turned sour when another man associated with the pair that was blocking traffic came over and shoved Sunday, claiming he was bothered that Sunday was touching his friends. Despite Sunday's protestations that he was simply a worker attempting to remove the patrons from danger, the group of four men remained in the middle of street and began to derogatorily refer to Sunday as a "fag" and insult the fact that he worked at a gay bar.
According to Sunday, more shoving occurred and he soon found himself surrounded by the men. Another Silver Fox bartender, John Barnes, witnessed the situation and swiftly told Sunday to step inside.
"John Barnes basically saved me from being beaten," Sunday said, a clear shaking in his voice. "The things these guys were saying were just horrific. The guy in the hat was the worst: instigating everything. He just wouldn't stop. You can't help but be taken aback when someone in Long Beach tells you they're gonna punch your faggy face."
As Sunday went inside, two patrons of the bar exited with a warning from Sunday. However, despite the warning, one of them was attacked by the group, with Barnes and the other patron attempting to fend off the attackers.
Sunday ran down the street to where a police officer had a car pulled over. After informing the officer of the incident, Sunday entered into the back of the car, where the police officer informed Sunday that a truck with some men had been pulled over nearby. Sunday positively identified two of the men in the truck as the attackers.
The suspects were then arrested under pending charges of assault and were released the following day. It was later determined that the suspects are members of the Marine Corps and the LBPD is cooperating with the Corps as it conducts its own independent investigation.
One of the victims was transported to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries while the other victims sustained either minor or no injuries.
The Long Beach Police Department is handling this case and are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime. The case will be presented to the LA County District Attorney's Office today.
Anyone who may have information relating to this investigation should contact Violent Crimes Detective Ben Vargas at 562-570-7250. Anonymous tips may be submitted via text or web by visiting www.tipsoft.com.