News :: Crime

Kentucky LGBT Activist’s Car Vandalized

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Wednesday Mar 27, 2013
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The director of Kentucky’s Fairness Campaign says he was the victim of a hate crime after his car was vandalized with a swastika.

As reported by Louisville radio station WFPL, Chris Hartman, campaign director for the statewide LGBT activist group, had just left its annual dinner with the ACLU on Friday at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville when he discovered that his car had been sideswiped while parked on the street.

A side-view mirror was damaged, and one side dented and scratched. After police arrived, they in turn discovered a swastika drawn in black marker over a Fairness bumper sticker. Two Obama campaign bumper stickers had also been defaced with the words "Fuck You" on one and devil horns and superimposed on the president’s face on another sticker.

Hartman told the radio station Louisville police are investigating the incident as a hate crime. He said he would contact the Kentucky Human Rights Commission and would probably also file a hate crime report. It may be difficult, however, to determine if the vandals were specifically targeting Hartman’s because they know its owner was gay or if they knew he’s one of the state’s most visible LGBT activists; or whether it was a random hit on one of the attendees.

"I think it again puts light upon how these things are still occurring," Hartman told WFPL. According to police spokesman Dwight Mitchell, Louisville Metro Police are continuing their investigation but thus far don’t have any suspects.

The latest incident comes on the heels of a 2011 incident in Eastern Kentucky in which a gay man was lured into a situation where four people tried to beat him to death. The Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader reported that in April 2012, Alexis Leeann Jenkins and Mable Ashley Jenkins pleaded guilty to one charge of kidnapping and one charge of aiding others in causing bodily injury to Kevin Pennington because he is gay.

The convictions were the first in the nation under prevision of the federal law covering crimes motivated by a person’s orientation.

Also charged in the attack were the teens’ cousins David Jason Jenkins and Anthony Ray Jenkins. A federal indictment maintains that the two men wanted to attack Pennington and convinced the women to lure him to go with them so he could buy Sbuoxone, a pain medication used to treat addiction to opiates. Prescription drug abuse is rife throughout the region.

The four allegedly lured Pennington to a secluded spot in a state park, where they beat him, according to court documents. Their intent was to kill him. The two women egged on the attack, yelling, "Kill the faggot!" Pennington told the Herald-Leader that he was finally able to escape during a lull in the attack, after which he hid in the woods until they had finally given up looking for him.

The men have pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, and kidnapping and assaulting Pennington because he of his sexual orientation. David Jenkins’ lawyer
told CNN that he had trouble with classifying the attack as a hate crime.

"It’s hard to say how you get in someone’s head and say this has to do with homosexuality," Stevens told CNN. "It’s quite a burden for the government to prove, and I have a suspicion we’re in for a fist fight."

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