Gay Leader of National Animal Rights Organization Brutally Attacked in Apparent Hate-Motivated Crime
Police Investigating Felonious Assault Case
Victim Hopes Attack will Lead to Inclusion of Gays in Ohio Hate Crime Law
Dayton, OH – Nathan Runkle, the 24-year old openly gay founder and Executive Director of the national animal advocacy organization, Mercy For Animals, was brutally assaulted on Saturday morning in an apparent hate crime. Runkle is a nationally recognized leader in the animal protection movement, who was recently named one of the world’s “25 Most Fascinating Vegetarians” by VegNews Magazine. The assault, which occurred at Masque, a gay night club in Dayton, Ohio, was completely unprovoked.
The attacker, believed to be a heterosexual white male with no previous relationship to the victim, has not yet been identified or apprehended. Runkle was briefly hospitalized after sustaining two facial fractures, a broken nose, deviated septum, and severe facial bruising. The incident has been labeled a felonious assault and is currently under investigation by the Dayton Police Department. Runkle believes the assault was motivated by hatred toward gays and was intended to send a fearful message to the local gay community.
Sexual orientation-motivated crimes are currently not addressed under Ohio hate crimes laws. The laws address only crimes motivated by race, color, religion, or national origin. Gay rights advocates have long urged state legislators to follow the lead of 31 other states who have already enacted specific legislation protecting gays from hate-based violence.
Runkle is the founder of Mercy For Animals (MFA), a national organization with over 25,000 members. The organization focuses on protecting farmed animals from cruelty through undercover investigations at factory farms and slaughterhouses and through public education and advertisement campaigns. Earlier this year MFA made national headlines after releasing shocking undercover investigation footage of hens at a California egg farm crammed into filthy cages suffering numerous cruelties and neglect. The investigation resulted in grocery giant,Trader Joe’s, dropping the cruel farm as a supplier. MFA’s most recent investigation at California’s largest egg farm helped pass California’s historic Proposition 2 in November, which requires that by 2015 farm animals in the state be given enough room to stand up, lie down, and spread their limbs.
MFA has long worked to bridge the gap between the common prejudices which lead to oppression and abuses faced by both animals and minorities. In recent years MFA has joined gay advocates in gay pride marches by forming human rainbows preceded by banners declaring, “No one is free when others are oppressed.” The organization has also been a lead opponent of gay rodeo events, citing the community’s obligation to protect animals from needless violence.
Contact: Dan Foley – 614-519-1729
For more information on Mercy For Animals visit, www.MercyForAnimals.org