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Gay man assaulted in Castro

by Sari Staver

Michael Levy. Photo: Sari Staver
Michael Levy. Photo: Sari Staver  

An assailant screaming anti-gay slurs kicked a gay man in the head at Harvey Milk Plaza in the Castro last weekend.

Michael Levy, 53, had just gotten off Muni and was on his way home from a fundraiser Saturday, August 25, at 10 p.m., when a man, sitting on a brick ledge, kicked him in the head, Levy told the Bay Area Reporter this week.

The incident was reported to the San Francisco Police Department, which confirmed those facts.

Levy, who was with his husband, Michael Golden, "was totally stunned" when he felt the painful blow to his forehead.

Levy stumbled but decided to continue walking up Market Street toward his home.

But after walking a short distance, Levy heard the man screaming, "Suck a dick you fucking faggot" at him, and decided to get a picture of the suspect so he could report the incident to the police.

The suspect, listed in the police report as a while male, in his 40s or 50s, wearing jeans and a sweatshirt, left the scene before police arrived.

An arrest has not been made in the case.

The incident, categorized as a battery and considered a misdemeanor, could be punished more severely if prosecutors classify it as a hate crime, according to an SFPD media relations spokesperson.

Levy, a corporate program manager who has lived in the Castro for the past 19 years, said he still liked the neighborhood. This is Levy's second encounter with neighborhood crime, the first occurred several years ago when someone broke into his garage.

"The whole city has gone to shit," he said, "given the volume and aggressiveness of the crimes."

The Castro may be an appealing area for crime, he said, because "its centrally located and easy to get here."

Levy said the police responded within five minutes and told him he did the "right thing" by not engaging with the assailant.

"I realize that the people who are homeless or mentally ill are not getting the services they need in the city. I don't want to blame them, but they must be held accountable," said Levy.

"I don't know the answer" [to stopping the crime] but as a city, we need to find a better way to handle these things," he added. "I feel very lucky that [the attack] wasn't worse."

Similar sentiments were echoed by gay District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman in a phone interview with the B.A.R.

Mandelman, who had already been briefed on the incident by the SFPD when he was called for a comment, said that recently he has been "hearing way too many stories about people being assaulted or feeling unsafe" in the Castro.

"We know we have a serious mental health and addiction crisis and dealing with it is a priority for me," he said.

This year's budget for the police department will bring a "significant increase" in the number of police officers, he added.

"But we also know that oftentimes people will be sent to the hospital or arrested but will soon be back on the street. When that is the case, we haven't gained any ground," he said.

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