In wake of beating, Northampton council denounces hate crime in resolution
Daniel J. Couchon, 25, of Easthampton, suffered a severely broken nose and five other facial fractures after he was allegedly attacked on Strong Avenue early Saturday morning. PHOTO COURTESY OF DANIEL COUCHON Purchase photo reprints »
NORTHAMPTON — The City Council took a forceful stand against hate crimes Thursday night in the wake of a brutal beating outside a downtown lounge last weekend, warning those who commit such acts will have “no sanctuary here.”
A strongly worded resolution written by City Council President William H. Dwight and unanimously approved by the council called hate crimes an affront to the community. The resolution said the city will not abide such attacks, whether they are verbal or physical, on any person because of who they are or who that are presumed to be.
“It is an assault that injures the victim, but more than that it is an assault on the members of the group that is being targeted and by extension an assault on the entire community,” the resolution states.
The council moved to act this week amid speculation that the vicious attack against a 25-year-old Easthampton man Saturday was a hate crime because the victim is gay and was leaving an event at a bar that was advertised as gay friendly.
Daniel J. Couchon suffered a severely broken nose and five other facial fractures after the attack by an unknown assailant just after 1 a.m. outside Bishop’s Lounge on Strong Avenue.
Couchon told the Gazette earlier this week he had no idea why a man he did not know would attack him. He was knocked unconscious and later had to have reconstructive surgery to his nose at Baystate Medical Center.
Ward 7 City Councilor Eugene A. Tacy reiterated at least one part of the resolution when he said the attack is beyond his comprehension.
“I can’t even imagine this,” he said.
Dwight was careful to note that police are still investigating the assault and have not determined whether it was a hate crime. But given the sentiments around the larger issue of hate crimes, he and the council felt it was appropriate to take a stand.
Even though Northampton is known as a tolerant community, “we will not tolerate this,” Dwight said.
“Regardless of the outcome of this specific episode, it is appropriate and imperative now that we assert in the most emphatic way our abhorrence for crimes motivated by bigotry,” the resolution reads.
Suzanne Seymour, the executive director of the LGBT Coalition of Western Massachusetts, lauded the council for adopting the resolution. She said her organization was contacted by the victim’s brother, who was concerned that the matter wouldn’t get the attention it deserves.
“I’d like to publicly thank the mayor, the Northampton Police Department and councilman Dwight for their strong stance against violence and letting it be known that these acts will not be tolerated,” Seymour said. “We cannot afford to become complacent in the face of violence.”
Ward 6 City Councilor Marianne L. LaBarge supported the resolution and noted that hate crimes have occurred at other times in the city, including in her ward. “The language in here is very, very valuable,” she said.
Couchon has put out a call for anyone with information about the incident to contact police.
Anyone with information can contact the Northampton detective bureau at 413-587-1133. Anonymous tips can be set by text message to 274637 by including the word “protect.”