A young Montana man pleaded guilty on Tuesday to giving a false report to police officers. The 22-year-old Joseph Baken called authorities early on Sunday morning reporting that three men had beaten and attacked him outside of a local Missoula bar. A video of the young man’s face, bruised and beaten, spread like wildfire across the internet appearing on multiple LGBT rights pages, like Wipe Out Homophobia.
In his original report, Baken had made it sound as though the attack was made upon him because he is gay. He reportedly named his attackers outright and said they attacked him after he asked where the gay bar was, according to Queerty. What actually happened on Sunday morning made many of those very LGBT activists who were outraged on his behalf feel anger and frustration. Baken finally confessed to authorities on Tuesday that he had made up the anti-gay attack completey.
A video surfaced on Tuesday that showed Baken trying to complete a back flip off of a curb at around 2:30 in the morning. The Missoulian reports that the video shows the young man fall, bruising and scraping his face. The video made Baken quickly confess that he had concocted the entire anti-gay beating during his original report.
At this moment there are no answers as to why Baken decided to make up the story, although many news outlets hoped to get answers. Many activists and commentators working on LGBT rights feel particularly upset about the recent change in the story. Originally, many people in the community of Missoula felt fear and concern about the safety of the city. Derek Lactaoen of the blog Unicorn Booty had this to say about the sudden shift in the case:
And because we take care of our own, we rallied around him on Wipe Out Homophobia’s Facebook Page after they posted the image.
So I’m sorry if I’m a little peeved at hearing the news that the dude made the whole thing up.
According to reports, Baken received a $300 fine for lying to authorities about the incident. Many people in the LGBT community worry that this story could hurt the credibility of people who have sustained serious attacks. Just a few weeks ago, a woman was mercilessly attacked in her home in Nebraska for being a lesbian. A huge rash of internet doubters caused the woman to make a statement about the hurt and fear that the attack caused her.
The reality of her physical scars and fears cannot be understated. Who knows why Baken decided to lie about his own attack in Montana. Was he trying to force greater awareness of discrimination onto the public through a false account? In any case, Wipe Out Homophobia and many other LGBT outlets feel betrayed by the turn in events.
James Greer of the Montana Human Rights Network had the most positive take on the whole string of events, telling the Missoulian:
Members of the Missoula community responded to reports of an anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) assault in a productive and swift way, and that is great news for this community and all the people who live here.
Photo Credit: Micah on Flickr
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