OKLAHOMA CITY – One of the state’s first openly gay politicians is attacked in a possible hate crime.
Police said Jim Roth, former county commissioner and one-time member of the corporation commission, got assaulted by three men outside a metro bar earlier this month.
Roth suffered some scrapes and bruises but is otherwise fine.
Legally speaking, it’s hard for local police to classify these kind of assaults as hate crimes but Roth and others said there’s no doubt the crime was fueled by bigotry.
Police said Roth got into a verbal altercation with a man who made some anti-gay comments.
When Roth later walked outside the bar, he found himself attacked by three men.
“The victim was assaulted, he was not seriously hurt, but he was struck several times,” Oklahoma City police Master Sgt. Gary Knight said.
The bar’s Facebook page includes a scathing editorial.
The owner of Grandad’s condemned the alleged hate crime writing, “We will not tolerate bigotry and hate. You don’t have to love everyone who walks in the door like we do but you do have to tolerate them. Gay, straight, black, white, plumber, politician, whatever… let’s just all have a drink and be cool.”
Oklahoma City police said, right now, they can’t classify what happened at Grandad’s hate crime.
“It’s definately an assault case,” Knight said. “That’s what we’re working is an assault.”
“Often local law enforcement is simply not equipped to deal with hate crimes,” Scott Hamilton said, with the Cimarron Alliance.
Hamilton said the incident on 23rd St. reflects a growing trend, as the fight over gay and lesbians rights gains more attention.
“As minorities gain rights, there can be an increase in violence and sadly we’re seeing that in Oklahoma City,” Hamilton said.
The bar owner identified the suspect to police but no arrests have been made.
Gay rights advocates said anyone who thinks they’ve been the victim of a hate crime should report it to the FBI.
For his part Roth declined to talk about the case.