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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 18, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 25
Two Marines arrested for Gay bashing in Georgia
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Two Marines arrested for Gay bashing in Georgia

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

On June 12, two Marines - Keil Cronauer, 22, and Christopher Stanzel, 23 - were arrested in Savannah, Georgia for attacking a Gay man reportedly because they thought he was 'winking' at them.

The victim, Kieran Daly, was struck in the back of the head shortly before 4 a.m. on June 12, following an altercation with Cronauer and Stanzel.

According to news reports, a police officer saw the Marines running, and then received word of the incident. The officer investigated the scene where Daly lay on the ground being given CPR by his friends. The officer then chased after the Marines and arrested them.

The Marines reportedly told the officer that Daly had come on to them, saying sexually suggestive things and following close behind them. Their story, however, was contradicted by witnesses who said that Cronauer and Stanzel were the aggressors and accused Daly of winking at them.

Daly claims his attacker yelled anti-Gay slurs at him.

"The guy thought I was winking at him," Daly told reporters from his hospital bed on June 12. "I told him, 'I was squinting, man & I'm tired.' The last thing I remember was walking away. I remember the feeling of getting hit, but I only kind of remember it."

According to witnesses, one of the Marines punched the back of Daly's head as he was walking away.

Daly was diagnosed with bruises to the brain and suffered seizures from the attack. Doctors have advised Daly, a truck driver, not to return to work.

Cronauer and Stanzel, both stationed at Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufront, South Carolina, were booked on a misdemeanor charge of battery. Their bond was set at $1,850. The men were released to Marine police, who are also considering charges.

The FBI has reportedly launched a preliminary investigation into whether federal charges of a hate crime should be pursued in the case.

Georgia has no state law that provides hate crimes protections for LGBT persons.

Georgia Equality, an LGBT advocacy organization, issued an action alert saying, "Although there were multiple eyewitnesses who confirmed that the attack was unprovoked, local police authorities charged the men with a misdemeanor and released them into the custody of military police. Georgia Equality is working with members of the local community in Savannah to coordinate a response to this vicious attack, the third in less than five years."

The release encouraged recipients to urge state lawmakers to pass a measure that would put a hate crimes law on the state's books.

Local Gay activists are planning to hold a rally on Sunday at Johnson Square in Savannah near where Daly was struck. Activists are saying the crime warrants more than misdemeanor charges.

"What happened this weekend is another reminder that we have a problem here," said Kevin Clark, a Georgia Equality board member. "We hope this is the straw that breaks the camel's back and the law enforcement and judicial leaders will make an example of this case. This has really got to stop. The violence is so uncalled for. We are all feeling frustration and anger here. And while we get a lot of support from the LGBT community, we don't see a lot of support from the community at large - we need to see shock and outrage from city officials."

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