Family members, friends and a number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights advocates are crying foul after the alleged victim of an anti-gay hate crime in Atlanta received a prison sentence.
Luke O'Donovan, 21, will reportedly spend the next two years in a Georgia prison, followed by eight years of probation, after agreeing to a plea deal on Aug. 11, Vice is reporting.
O'Donovan, who is identified in media reports as a "queer anarchist," was charged with attempted murder and five counts of felony aggravated assault in a 2012 incident. O'Donovan had reportedly been attacked by at least five men, who shouted anti-gay epithets at him after seeing him dance with several men at a New Year's Eve party.
As The Sparrow Project noted, O'Donovan defended himself with a pocket knife and fled the scene, and was arrested by Atlanta police hours later. In a situation that Vice writer Natasha Lennard compares to that of transgender activist CeCe McDonald, only O'Donovan was charged in the altercation.
Eyewitnesses cited by media at the time of the attack offered few details.
"Things were kind of starting winding down," witness Lily Chambers told Georgia Newsday. "I mean, it was a late New Year's party. And then all of a sudden, some stuff happened in the street, I guess."
Added witness Cheryl Watt: "Someone got stabbed. It was just a blur."
A group of O'Donovan's family members, friends and supporters have called his case "the epitome of a hate crime."
The Luke O'Donovan Support Committee added that "the demonization" of O'Donovan's actions represented "a growing trend: criminalizing those who successfully defend themselves from hate crimes.”
Meanwhile, O'Donovan himself has released a statement through the committee, noting:
It is regrettable that anyone had to come to harm, but given the choice of whether to lose my life to a hateful attack or fight for the chance to live, I will always choose the ferocious refusal to go quietly into the night. This refusal was not fueled by hate for my attackers, but by my love for life.
It is this passion for life that came in conflict with my attackers, and this same passion that was arrested by the cops and is being punished by the courts. It is this passion that they are trying to chain, to cage, to rehabilitate me away from, but it is this passion that will pull my gaze -- always forward -- through the dark. I can already glimpse the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ll be home soon.
Meanwhile, a group of self-described anarchists smashed windows and vandalized police cruisers in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on Aug. 14 to show "solidarity" with both O'Donovan and rioters in Ferguson, Missouri, according to Chapel Hill News.
At least one member of the group spray-painted a car with the words "For Luke," the report noted.