Local filmmaker, former city-council candidate, Stranger contributor, and monorail activist Grant Cogswell claims that in the early morning hours of August 9, he and a friend were victims of a gay bashing in Belltown. The neighborhood has been the site of a number of violent incidents in the last year, including a gay bashing in August 2007 and more recent attacks on a Microsoft employee and a University of Washington surgeon.
At about 1:30 a.m., Cogswell alleges, he and a friend (who was in drag) were leaving a party at the artist collective Free Sheep Foundation at Third Avenue and Battery Street when a group of men in a late-model, red Dodge Magnum wagon began harassing them. Cogswell claims one of the four men in the car shouted, "You fucking faggots." (Cogswell says his friend is straight and he is "mostly straight.") Cogswell yelled back, "Go back to Yakima if you don't like seeing people in drag."
The car stopped. As the four men piled out, Cogswell says he sat down on the sidewalk, hoping to avoid a physical confrontation. He asked them, "Guys, what's up? There's four of you [and] my friend's in high heels." Then one of the men kneed him in the face and kicked and punched him several times. Cogswell ran out into the street, turned back, and saw the men were attacking his friend. Bystanders approached the attackers, who jumped back into their car and drove away.
Cogswell and his friend were taken to Harborview, where Cogswell received five stitches in his cheek. His right eye socket had been fractured and his front teeth badly chipped. Cogswell's friend was left with scrapes and bruises.
Police say they're not looking into Cogwell's case as a hate crime. Under the state's bias crime law, Cogswell's assailants could be charged with a hate crime if they attacked Cogswell because they believed he was gay. The police report makes no mention of Cogswell's claim that he was called a "faggot" and does not state that his friend was in drag. SPD was not able to explain the discrepancy between Cogswell's account and the police report. JONAH SPANGENTHAL-LEE
Bagging the Bag Fee
The grocery industry has put a hit out on Seattle's upcoming bag fee. Washington Food Industry (WFI), a trade group representing independent grocers around the state, has hired signature gatherers to collect the 14,374 signatures needed for a referendum to overturn the city's Styrofoam container ban and plastic- and paper-bag fee—which will require grocery, convenience, and drug stores to charge 20 cents for every plastic and paper shopping bag—that was signed into law July 30.
WFI president Jan Gee believes the fee will hurt business and force grocery-store employees to bear the brunt of impending consumer outrage. Gee says WFI has already collected 2,500 to 2,800 signatures. WFI has until August 28 to collect the required number of signatures. The bag fee goes into effect on January 1, 2009. JONAH SPANGENTHAL-LEE