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South Florida Man Wants Hate Crime Charges after Alleged Homophobic Assault

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday April 20, 2022

A South Florida man who says he was attacked because he's gay is calling for the attacker to face hate crime charges, local news station WSVN reported.

James Garcia told the news channel that he was walking his dog on the morning of Easter Sunday, April 17, when the unprovoked attack took place just outside his home.

"He came up to me and asked me, 'Are you gay?' and then punched me," Garcia recounted. "I didn't respond, it just happened so quickly that I didn't have time to react except falling down."

Garcia was covered in so much blood he could barely hold onto his cell phone as he tried to call 911, according to Local 10.

Garcia suffered a broken nose and needed 10 stitches, media reports detailed.

Police have a suspect in custody. "Thirty-six-year-old Maurice Antwan Charles of Fort Lauderdale, a man with a lengthy criminal history, is now facing a new charge of aggravated battery," WSVN noted.

Garcia told the media that Charles should also face hate crime charges.

"This is a crime of hate," Garcia said. "Whether he was targeting me, someone else he suspected as part of the LGBTQ community... Yes, definitely a crime of hate."

Local 10 said that police are "still investigating the case" and, at this point, it is "unclear if Broward County prosecutors will be charging [Charles] with a hate crime."

Garcia also spoke of the psychological injuries he suffered along with the broken nose and the contusions on his lip and forehead that needed stitches.

"I think about the attacker when I close my eyes. I can hear his voice, so those wounds will take time to heal."

Charles, who has served at least two previous jail sentences, was released last December. He "was convicted of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon in 2017 in Miami-Dade County. He also had an aggravated battery case in 2008," according to Local 10.

To watch the WSVN news clip, follow this link.

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.