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Neb. Woman Brutally Attacked in Possible Hate Crime

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Saturday July 28, 2012

A 30-year-old woman from Lincoln, Neb., told authorities she was violently attacked in a recent home break in and alleged the incident was a hate crime, the Lincoln Star reported.

The woman, who remains anonymous, said three men wearing masks assaulted her after they broke into her home. She claims the attackers bound her with zip ties, cut her and carved anti-gay epithets into her skin. The masked men also poured gasoline on her floor and lit it with a match.

Erin Thompson, a friend of the victim, told the Omaha World - Herald the woman was naked and bleeding but managed to crawl from her house to a neighbor's home. She confirmed that the woman is a lesbian and said that the attackers carved the word "dyke" onto her arms and stomach.

ABC news affiliate KLKN-TV reports that friends say homophobic slurs were also spray-painted on the walls of the victim's basement.

Police have not stated if the attack was motivated by hate based on the woman's sexual orientation but the incident did deeply upset LGBT groups in the community. Tyler Richard, the president of Outlinc, a LGBT support group in Lincoln, said, "We are shocked and saddened by the report of an alleged hate crime involving a member of the LGBT community early Sunday morning."

"I have a lot of faith in our police department," Richard said. "We have a long history of support within our community. "Our hearts go out to the victim, her family and close friends. Many in our community are understandably experiencing a great deal of sadness, anger and confusion. We look to our entire community to pull together in this difficult time."

The community came together as hundreds of people attended a vigil in honor of the woman. Karen Bratton-Cranford, the president of the LGBT advocate group Star City Pride, spoke at the event.

"Don't go out and act on your own," she said, referring to people who may want to seek revenge. "Don't give them the power to control your actions."

On Wednesday, hundreds of people attended an event at First-Plymouth Church, which is located just three blocks from where the attack allegedly took place in order to promote peace and love, the Star points out.

"We're here to claim love is stronger than fear, hatred and violence," Rev. Nancy Erickson said.

After participating in songs and prayer, attendees, who were made up of gay and straight individuals, left the church for a silent prayer walk.

"The fact that it happened in the first place made me want to vomit," Beth Loofe, a 42-year-old woman from Lincoln who works as a chaplain at Inclusive Life Church in Omaha, Neb. said. "When you're a part of a community, you support your family through good times and bad times."

Rev. Greg Stewart, who is gay, spoke at the event and said the attacks upset him a great deal. He claims the attacks cause him to wake up at night to make sure his family has not been harmed and to make sure his windows and doors are locked.

"Nothing good comes from shrinking back and barricading myself when hate lies at my door," Stewart said. "Hate, hate, hate backs down when love stands up."