GetEQUAL TX is holding a March Against Hate event in Austin on Saturday for one of the victims of an anti-gay hate crime last Friday.
Andrew Oppleman was ordering pizza at a food truck during Austin Pride with friend Nick Soret when a man began asking Soret if he was looking at him. The man became enraged and attacked Soret, so Oppleman stepped in.
Oppleman was hit so hard six of his teeth were knocked out and it was believed he would need oral surgery for his fractured jaw. Austin police are investigating it as a possible hate crime.
Oppleman will talk about his experience at the event, which begins at 11:45 a.m. Saturday at Republic State Park. Attendees will then march to the Capitol at noon and listen to speeches at 12:30 p.m.
Other speakers include Michael Diviesti of GetEQUAL TX, Chuck Smith of Equality Texas, Paul Huddleston of Austin Pride, Sami-Di Williams of Grrlz Will Be Boiz, as well as victims and community members.
Oppleman’s story, as told in the press release announcing the event, is below:
My name is Andrew Oppleman and this is my story…
Little did I know, last Friday night Sept 22th 2012, I’d be changed forever.
I was in town for Austin Pride. It was one of my many trips to enjoy all that Austin has to offer; great entertainment, outdoor recreation and most of all the people; laid back and easy going. My welcome started like this…My buddy Nick Soret was ordering pizza at 4th and Colorado at about midnight as I just arrived from a 3 hour drive from Houston. As I waited for Nick to grab his pizza and leave, another patron started screaming at Nick “What are you looking at?” over and over again. As he grabbed Nick’s hot pizza and threw it on Nick’s face, arm and body the man proceeded to start punching him. I immediately tried to quell the suspects rage and told the man to “STOP HITTING MY FRIEND!” With that he turned around and pushed me down into the construction on the street. I got up and as I turned back to the Pizza Truck I was immediately met with the amazing force of his fist hitting me square in the mouth. I then saw the man wildly punching Nick’s skull, and body as Nick fell to the ground in a fetal position trying to protect his face and head. As quickly as it started the suspect ran away, while his friend who is an Austin local just stood there and laughed as blood gushed from my mouth. I then spent 8 hours at Brackenridge Hospital. In the end Nick sustained a black eye, a busted and bruised lip and additional bruises on his body. I left Austin with a busted lip and 6 missing teeth.
I invite you to join us and the rest of the Austin community this Saturday at 11:45am at Republic Square Park to raise awareness and March Against Hate to the Capitol. Spread the word to take Austin back!