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Reports: Attacker Who Injured Minneapolis News Anchor Assumed Victim Was Gay

by Kilian Melloy
Friday May 22, 2020

An assailant who attacked a Minneapolis television reporter and left him with a potentially permanent eye injury had no other motive for the unprovoked attack than the assumption that his victim was gay, media reports say.

NBC News reports that Matt Belanger, a news anchor for Minneapolis station KTSP, was assaulted on May 15 as he walked along a light rail platform on his morning commute to work.

The police report detailed that the attack was die to Belanger's "actual or perceived sexual orientation."

According to KSTP's coverage of the incident, Belanger recounted that "a person he did not know suddenly crooked his right arm back and threw what he thought was a rock directly at him. Matt was about 3 feet away when the object was thrown and it struck him in the left eye."

The damage to his eye included internal bleeding and abrasions to the cornea, which could leave his vision impaired permanently, news reports said. Belanger received medial attention and is currently wearing an eye patch. He has received medical advice to remain sitting upright at all times and to restrict his movements in order to bolster his chances of making a full recovery.

Security cameras caught the attack, and police were swift in apprehending the suspect, 39-year-old Vennie Jerome Williams.

KTSP's story made o mention of the suspect's motives, but NBC reported that following his arrest, Williams launched into an obscenity-littered tirade in which he blamed the victim, saying he thought that Belanger was gay.

Belanger posted a message of thanks to well-wishers at Facebook, describing the assault and thanking supporters for their messages.

"I do expect to make a full recovery," Belanger said.

"It's hard, honestly, to be at home, sidelined right now at a time when our viewers, I feel need journalists on TV perhaps now more than ever.

"Once again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for your kindness, for all of your prayers - they mean so much. I miss you all, and I'll be back very soon."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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