It is a rare occurrence that in Key West, a town known as much for its tranquility and scenery as for its parties, crime becomes the talk of the town.
A few weeks ago, Chris Tanner, 26 and his boyfriend James were riding their moped towards Duval Street, the town’s entertainment hub, when three men on scooters nearly collided with the couple. The men described by Tanner to be in their early 20’s appeared to be “playing a game” of chicken. “They were trying to come as close as possible to us without crashing,” Tanner explains.
After a few words were exchanged between opposing sides, both parties continued on their separate ways, as so it seemed to Tanner. As he and James turned onto Catherine Street to meet some friends at a local bar, they were attacked by the three men. “It can only be speculated that they had followed us to where we were going and when they had the opportunity, managed to get ahead of us,” Tanner recalls.
According to Tanner, James was attacked first. “I threw my scooter down and went into fight mode.” Trying to draw the gang’s focus from James, Tanner confronted one of the men, when the third man attacked him from the side.
After finding refuge in a bar, they called the police and made a subsequent visit to the emergency room the following morning.
Sustaining a few scrapes and bruises, Tanner speculates that the three men are locals and not tourists due to the fact that they were not riding rental scooters. He also tells SFGN that crime has become an issue in Key West in recent months.
“Locals who have lived here for long periods of time are shocked and amazed at the recent happenings because it’s so out of character for this island,” says Tanner.
Following the attack, Tanner posted photos of his injuries on Facebook and garnered tremendous community support. “The goal then became raising awareness and getting the right people’s attention.” After contacting local media and granting a few interviews, a NOH8 campaign was shot, depicting locals with bruised and battered faces. Look for the images to surface in the coming weeks.
Originally from New York, Tanner relocated to Key West to escape the harsh northern winters. He embraced the Key West philosophy “One Human Family” and in light of the attack, gained the support from the Key West chief of police, city commissioners and heads of the LGBT business community.