Local News

Chapel Hill Police Investigate Assault Near UNC Campus

Posted March 1, 2005 9:16 a.m. EST

— Police are investigating an apparent hate crime near the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. The attack seriously injured a student. On Tuesday, a rally is planned to show support and raise awareness.

As bars were closing Friday on Franklin Street, 21-year-old Thomas Stockwell said a group of men yelled insults regarding his sexual orientation.

They beat him until he was bleeding and had broken bones -- then they ran off.

"It's an act of terror," said Elizabeth Basnight, a sophomore. "And it's trying to scare people."

The only description the victim was able to give police of the suspects was that they were 6 or 7 white males who look to be about 20 years old, said Jane Cousins, a Chapel Hill PD spokesperson.

While police call it a hate crime, hate crime laws in North Carolina don't include sexual orientation. Any charges would simply be aggravated assault.

"A lot of people take for granted that sexual orientation is a protected class and it's not," said Alex Ferrando, a campus gay rights leader.

A campus gay rights group is leading a march hoping to change those laws and change attitudes.

"You'd think in 2005 we'd move beyond this and clearly we haven't yet," Basnight said.