Openly gay employee at Chesterfield Amazon shipping facility attacked
RICHMOND, VA – An employee of a Amazon shipping facility located in Chesterfield County, Virginia, has claimed that he was severely beaten for being gay by a coworker while at work.
The 24 year old male victim, in a phone interview Friday with GayRVA, said that he had only been working for Amazon for a few months before he was assaulted at the facility during his normal work shift last Friday evening.
The victim said that he was in the packing department when a coworker came up behind him and hit him 3-5 times on the left side of the face without provocation.
“It all happened so fast I didn’t really know what was going on,” he said adding that he thought something had fallen on him, but when he “turned around and looked at the man and he was just mad. He turned around and walked back to work like nothing happened.”
He added that he didn’t know the man who assaulted him – never worked with him, never spoke with him, had only seen him in passing maybe once or twice. “It was unprovoked, I did nothing to him,” he said.
He said that immediately after the attack he went to the facility’s on-site clinic with blood streaming down the side of his face where he was given medical attention.
While he was being treated, he said that the head of the facility’s security department approached him and said that the alleged assailant had been fired. He then decided to press charges of assault and battery after security told him the assailant said he attacked him because he was gay.
“That’s correct,” he told the Security head clarifying his sexual orientation. “But that doesn’t give him a right to just randomly [attack me]- Never in my life have I experienced this kind of discrimination. This is a first.”
The Chesterfield County police were called and he gave them a statement and the responding officers took photos of the wounds. He later spoke with the Officer Elliot Anderson, Chesterfield County Police’s LGBT Community Point of Contact Officer, who told him that his alleged assailant has numerous past convictions and is currently on federal probation.
Anderson told GayRVA Friday;
“While the crime was horrific, the level of injury to the victim is a misdemeanor… ” which Anderson noted carries a maximum penalty of a 12 months in jail.
“Most people in the [LGBTQ] community would prefer to see the suspect charged with a hate crime. But if the hate crime doesn’t bring a larger penalty than a different crime with a different title, we would prefer the suspect get the bigger penalty.”
The alleged assailant, James William Hill, 34, has since been released from the Chesterfield county jail on a $5,000 unsecured bond.
Anderson said Amazon had contacted him every day since the incident to check in, they also requested additional police on site after the event.
He has since spoken to several higher-ups at his local Amazon facility – “They’re very apologetic… they’re very upset about the whole situation.”
Aaron Toso, a spokesperson for Amazon Corporation, said in an email statement,
“Amazon does not tolerate any type of violence, harassment or discrimination in our workplace and we are appalled at the behavior of this now terminated individual.”
The victim also reached out to the FBI’s Richmond Field Office and said that he had filed report with a member of their hate crime unit. about proceeding with the charge as a hate crime under the terms of the Federal Shepard-Bryd Hate Crimes Law.
Virginia does not include sexual orientation in its list of protected classes for hate crime charges, however federal hate crime laws do cover such instances of violence targeting sexual minorities.
“Crimes committed against LGBT people are one of the most frequent kinds of hate crimes in America.” said James Parish, Executive Director of Equality Virginia (EV) in response to the attack.
“EV fully supports updating the Virginia Code to include crimes against gay or transgender people under the definition of hate crimes, and we also know that the most powerful change will come from the ground up.”
GayRVA is withholding the name of the victim at the request of Chesterfield County Police.
The attacker told police that he assaulted the victim because he was gay.January 20, 2016
- Anti-LGBT attack at Amazon shipping facility to be first use of Federal Hate Crime law’s sexual orientation provision in Virginia history, January 19, 2016
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