Tarek "Terry" Kamal considers himself one of the gay beach bums at Hollywood Beach. Hollywood Beach, on the far northern boundary of the city, has become one of the gayest beaches in Chicago.
But Kamal feels the camaraderie of the beach is sometimes only skin deep.
In the early evening hours of Aug. 12, Kamal and at least two other gay men witnessed at attack on a 52-year-old gay white man familiar to those in the park.
Kamal, 35, now says it was clearly a hate-crime, but at the time he and the others were paralyzed by fear, and did not know how to react.
That inaction would come back to haunt Kamal, as he was attacked by the same man later that evening.
Outlines spoke with both Kamal and the other victim, who does not want to be identified. Kamal reported the incident to police, but the other man said he will not. Kamal also contacted the Chicago Anti-Bashing Network, seeking their help in dealing with police and educating people about the attack.
The other victim, who we will call Harry, said he was in the bathroom at Hollywood Beach, using the urinal. Suddenly, he saw a man behind him. The man started calling him a "faggot" and "fucking faggot." Harry responded with "Excuse me, what's your problem?" Harry walked out of the bathroom, and tried to walk away, all the while telling the man he was going to get police.
The attacker was described as partially inebriated, a white hispanic in his mid-20s, with brown hair combed back, with facial hair and tattoos on his hand, possibly gang tattoos. He continued to follow Harry, punching and pushing him on his back, calling him more anti-gay names.
"I did not provoke him in any way," Harry said.
Kamal was watching the man pushing Harry, but he said at the time it wasn't clear what the dispute was. He did hear the anti-gay comments, including "You damn faggot, what are you doing here," but did not intervene. He said it also occurred to him and others that the man was from a gang and could have more friends in the area-or he could have a gun.
Kamal assumed Harry went to get police, and he headed south on his bike to Foster beach. He met up with another beach friend there, and warned him about the attacker. But Kamal and the friend then headed back north.
Soon, the attacker was behind him, yelling "Hey, what are you doing here?" The guy with Kamal took off running. "I don't blame him for running off. Hey, I didn't do anything to help the first guy."
Kamal said he tried to protect his bike, and the man was trying to intimate him with a bottle he had in his hand. Kamal said the man hit him with his fist, then Kamal pushed the bike into the attacker. The man got up and swung the bottle into Kamal's head, and took off on the bike.
Kamal called the police, who took him to the hospital, where he received three stitches. Kamal did not tell the officer on the scene about the anti-gay comments the attacker made to him or the other man-he said in the past he has had bad experiences with cops when he's told them he's gay. Kamal did tell detectives later about the "faggot" remarks, but one detective told him they can't determine if it's a hate crime until the attacker is caught. No suspect had been arrested as of Monday.
CABN said incidents are often classified as hate crimes before a perpetrator is caught.
Kamal seemed perhaps most upset that he and his fellow beach bums did not know how to react when one of their own was being harassed. Should they have helped? Would their actions escalate the incident? CABN representatives tried to reassure Kamal that there is no "right" way to react to a crime. CABN itself is about empowering and educating people about what to do the next time.
Call CABN at (773) 878-4781.