Samantha Soper is organizing a march and rally after five alleged anti-gay beatings in Asheville. Courtesy: ABC News 13 still
Samantha Soper is organizing a march and rally after five alleged anti-gay beatings in Asheville. Courtesy: ABC News 13 still

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — A community member has alleged five separate incidents of anti-gay bashings in and around Asheville recently. In response, she’s organizing a march and rally.

According to WHNS Fox Carolina, Samantha Soper will hold her awareness event next Wednesday, May 12.

“I just want to bring everyone together and promote anti-violence,” Soper told the station. “A lot of it, to me, is just that I feel as if there’s been a lack of collectiveness within our community. Not just the queer community, but in Asheville in general.”

Soper said she’s been made aware of five bashing incidents. She told ABC News 13 that a red Volvo with three white men were connected to at least two of the attacks. She said one man had been beaten with a metal pipe and another occurred outside Izzy’s Coffee Den in West Asheville.

None of the alleged bashing incidents have been reported to police. Asheville Police Chief Bill Hogan said that doesn’t necessarily mean the attacks didn’t happen.

“We have no factual information that any assault occured,” Hogan told ABC News 13. “That’s not to say it didn’t happen, just no one has called us, no one has communicated with us. We haven’t even gotten it second or third hand.”

The owner of Izzy’s Coffee Den also says she didn’t know of any attack.

Soper said hate crime victims are fearful and, like rape victims, might be hesitant about contacting police.

“You don’t want people to know that you were beaten up because of your sexuality or sexual orientation,” she told Fox Carolina. “Same thing with a rape or even a mugging.”

And, even if the events never happend, Soper says it is time for the community to come together.

Soper’s march and rally, dubbed “We Are Not Bashful,” will begin at Tod’s Tasties on 102 Montford Ave. at 6 p.m. on May 12. It will continue through the Montford neighborhood and end at the Vance Monument in downtown Asheville. Only five days before the event, Soper’s Facebook event page has garnered 260 confirmed RSVPs.

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.