Attorney General’s Office Takes Up Case on ASU Attack, Vows to Protect LGBTQ+ Community

The office met with community leaders on how it could protect LGBTQ+ people in the coming legislative session.

Attorney General’s Office Takes Up Case on ASU Attack, Vows to Protect LGBTQ+ Community
Kris Mayes speaking with attendees at an Attorney General candidate forum hosted by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry at the Arizona Commerce Authority in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

The Attorney General’s office has taken up an investigation looking into the attack on David Boyles, a queer ASU professor who was attacked by two people associated with Turning Point USA, a conservative group that has made anti-LGBTQ+ comments and homophobic remarks.

Arizona Deputy Attorney General Bill Mundell mentioned the office taking up the case during a meeting with a select group of community members within the state’s LGBTQ+ businesses and nonprofits, who met with the Attorney General’s office last week in an attempt to understand how it could help in combatting anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and hate-motivated behavior. 

Present at the meeting were Bridget Sharpe, the Arizona state director for the Human Rights Campaign, Gabe Hagen, co-owner of Brick Road Coffee in Tempe, and Mundell. LOOKOUT was also invited to join the conversation, and Executive Director Jake Hylton was present and made remarks. 

During the meeting, Mundell doubled down on previous statements and comments Attorney General Kris Mayes made regarding the LGBTQ+ community, including how the office was not defending the state’s position on banning transgender school girls from playing certain youth sports, Mayes’s position on trying to end the ban on gay men and trans people donating blood, and her statement denouncing the U.S. Supreme Court decision that allowed religious exemptions for private business owners from doing business with LGBTQ+ people. 

Mundell said that the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Division was taking on the investigation into Bowles’s attack, but he wouldn’t explain as to why the state office took the case opposed to the county attorney.  

Hagen noted that his business, which is one of the few queer community spaces in the East Valley, has been the target of several far-right attacks, and was worried about how the office would be responding to the prospect of more attacks in the future. This past year, his business received a bomb threat for hosting a drag story hour for children, where members of far-right militias showed up. 

Mundell said that the civil rights office would investigate all identity-related hate crimes as prospective cases, and urged people to come forward and file a complaint with the civil rights office. Complaints can be made here.

He also noted that investigations into cases can take years, and was sympathetic to complaints from the community that the office hasn’t been as active as it could be in regards to discriminatory actions and possible hate crimes. 

In regards to the next legislative session, which many LGBTQ+ political leaders expect to be just as divided as last year with multiple anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ+ bills passed by both the house and senate, he said that in the event that districts enact their own rules that go against the state’s anti-discrimination law prohibiting discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity, Mayes’s office could be in a position to enact her own opinions that could force municipalities to reverse their decisions. 

In Cottonwood, for example, local elected leaders recently floated a local ordinance that would ban drag in public spaces, making it possibly illegal for trans people to exist publicly. Mundell wouldn’t commit to Mayes intervening in that scenario, but said that the situation would warrant the attorney general’s attention. 

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