Controversy surrounds alleged anti-gay Saturday night mob beating near Duluth

Categories: GLBT
proctor gay rally.jpg
Northland's NewsCenter
A pro-gay rally was held yesterday in Proctor to show support for Pelofske, who claims he was victim of a hate crime Saturday night.
Max Pelofske, a 21-year-old Duluth man, says he was at a graduation party shortly after 11 p.m. on Saturday night when he was brutally beaten by an anti-gay mob.

Pelofske told the Duluth News Tribune he had just arrived at the party, held in an abandoned gravel pit in New Independence Township, when a young man approached him, asked him to look him in the eyes, and asked -- 'Are you gay?" Pelofske says he confirmed that he is, asked the young man 'Is that ok?,' then was beaten by a group of at least nine men. Police made two arrests in connection with the incident.

But other party attendees say Pelofske is lying. Megan Bird, a Proctor High School senior, said Pelofske actually instigated the altercation by stealing drinks. Another Proctor student, Cody Mercier, told the Tribune, "I know for a fact no one would touch him just because he was gay. This all happened because he was stealing alcohol."

Pelofske's account of the incident is seconded by Kelly Johnson, a friend of his who went to the party with him. Johnson says she and Pelofske didn't drink a sip of alcohol at the gathering and even asked police to give them breathalyzers to document that they were sober.

"I though they were going to kill him," Johnson said, adding that the beating went on for five to 10 minutes before Pelofske was able to get to his feet and run away. "I was screaming, 'just let us leave!'"

The two men arrested in connection with the alleged assault haven't yet been charged with crimes. St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin said he'd take his first look at investigators' reports today.

Despite the he said-she said nature of the allegations, a throng of about 100 people held a pro-gay rally yesterday afternoon in Proctor to show their support for Pelofske.

One of the rally attendees, Duluth businessman John Goldfine, said he just wants to make sure law enforcement thoroughly investigates Pelofske's hate crime allegation.

"Local law enforcement needs to know they need to be responsible in investigating these kinds of cases, because that standard of responsibility has not always been talked about or met in the past," Goldfine said.

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Jaime
Jaime

gaaaaaaaaaa can city pages articles ever stop focusing on "controversy" and instead focus on things like *hate crimes against queer and trans people are WRONG*??

CinBlueland
CinBlueland

To guest - About attending (Why ok for straight vs gay).. It's called situational awareness.  I'm sorry, but that is reality. There are ethnic enclaves all over the cities where outsiders are not readily accepted. Going to a pit party anywhere up there is a roll of the dice (Duluth, Proctor, Cloquet, Hermantown).  They will fight just because you didnt go to the right school, or are of the wrong ethnic group.. It really doesnt take much for humans to single out the outsider and attack. 

Mike W.
Mike W.

You can see how this will play out - conflicting statements made to law enforcement by party attendees, many of whom were consuming alcohol.  If no charges are filed it will be due to that.  Makes one wonder if there is any video of the incident.  These are late teens/early 20-somethings after all.

Diane Henrick
Diane Henrick

This article IS NOT about someone's age or the inane suggestion that he purchased the alcohol! It is about an individual being beaten because of his sexual orientation!!!  If what occurred is true, then these weak-minded, hateful people need to prosecuted!  How insecure are these individuals to feel that they need to beat a gay man?!  Rather pathetic in my opinion!!!

Barlowmaker
Barlowmaker

 It's NOT about the things you don't want it to be about because you have a political agenda that needs to be pursued.

guest
guest

Thank you for your comment! At least there are decent people who can THINK here. 

SecretAgentX9
SecretAgentX9

So it's okay to beat people up if they take your alcohol?

TheBlob
TheBlob

It's encouraged in Proctor.  I've seen people get punched at the Powerhouse for much smaller offenses.

Guest
Guest

What is a 21 year old doing hanging out with High School Seniors?  Did he purchase the alcohol?

AJ
AJ

The 21 year old was with a friend who was a Proctor grad, and they were there to visit the friend's younger sister, who was part of the graduating class.  There are no reports that he brought any alcohol.  The kids at the party charged him with stealing alcohol, which makes no sense for a couple reasons.   First, he was 21.  Wouldn't be as hard for him to acquire as it would for all of those underage kids.   Second, he and his friend both said they'd been at the party about 5 minutes.  Not enough time to steal anything, much less be suspected of theft, confronted etc.  That says those kids were looking for a reason to fight him. Third, Both Max and his friend offered to take breathalyzers that turned up 0.  They hadn't had anything. All of that corroborates their story -- that they stopped by to wish the friend's little sister well, and before they left, Max was jumped. I know the investigators concluded that there weren't enough witnesses to corroborate Max's story.  Doesn't mean they got it right.  It means that those kids circled the wagons and protected their own.  Case in point: civil rights abusers from the 60's are still just now being brought to justice.  People knew then, but didn't talk.  Small towns protect their own.  Lesson learned.  If you're gay, don't show up at a gravel pit with a bunch of drunken redneck kids, unless you happen to be friends with the O line from the local HS football team.

TheBlob
TheBlob

I think no matter what your orientation, you should stay away from parties in gravel pits near Proctor.  And his friend said that they didn't have a sip of alcohol at the party?  So a gay 21-year-old just decided to go sober to a high school graduation party in the sticks with a bunch of amped-up rednecks because he thought he'd enjoy the company?  I do hope that a more accurate story comes to light, but as it stands, this all sounds pretty weak.

Rational-mind
Rational-mind

how come  it is okay for straight people to go to parties and gay people not? Just like saying that women should not go out at night in case of becoming victim of harassment. Your comment is full of assumptions. I'm sure there are 21- years-old student out there who go to parties being sober. This is not the point. The main point is that everyone should feel safe WHEREVER they want to go, regardless.

TheBlob
TheBlob

I guess you missed my first sentence where I said, "no matter what your orientation."  Also, I'm straight and I've been to my share of small-town woods parties, and I never really felt safe at those parties.  Feeling safe wherever you go isn't a constitutional right.  I wouldn't expect to feel safe outside a warehouse district club at closing time, which is why I never go there.  Obviously, gay people shouldn't be beaten just for going somewhere where the people aren't welcoming, and the kids who took part in the beating should be held accountable to the fullest.  But we shouldn't act like some mob was out hunting gays and just randomly targeted this guy.  Violence at rural parties is a well-known threat, and small towns aren't known for their open-mindedness, so it's fair to say that this guy put himself in a dangerous position.  It's horrible to think about what happened to him, though,  especially considering the likely reason he was beaten.  I do hope he recovers fully and gets some justice.

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