Chico resident Brian Denham is still shaken and recovering after he was assaulted outside the Jack in the Box on Broadway. Denham and several friends were coming from the Maltese Bar and Tap Room after a drag show last Friday night, two of his friends were still dressed in drag when a group of men started yelling anti-gay slurs at the group. " They were waiting for us outside, they started yelling at us and from there things just escaladed," explained Denham.
Denham stuck up for his friend's, and that's when he was hit. Denham says, " Someone sucker punched me when I had my back turned, took off running after him, I fell and someone jumped on the back of my head." Denham was taken to Enloe Medical Center, and treated for an orbital fracture above his eye, and a head wound. Many are calling the assault a hate crime. " They were throwing hate around like water balloons," said Matthew Cottrell, a friend of Denham.
But Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey says hate crimes can be hard to prove. " We have to prove that inside this person's hate filled noggin, it was because of a person's perceived class that this crime occurred," explained Ramsey.
Ramsey says hate crimes must show a motive. He also says the fact that Denham was not dressed in drag may make it harder to classify the attack as a hate crime. " That certainly could change the dynamic, if the person that stood up for them is not of the protected class, or the suspects did not believe that they were part of the protected class, then it's an ordinary crime," said Ramsey.