US: Journalist assaulted in Minneapolis “over perceived sexual orientation”

American journalist Matt Belanger was assaulted and physically attacked by a man who “perceived he was homosexual”. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns this cowardly homophobic attack against a journalist and expresses all its solidarity with the victim.

Screenshot of Matt Belanger's Facebook video

According to media reports and local police, KSTP-TV journalist Matt Belanger was walking across a light-rail station in Minneapolis on May 12 when an object hit him in his left eye.

The police arrested the man who threw the object, Vennie Jerome Williams, shortly after officers viewed surveillance footage that clearly showed the assault. The complaint filed by the police said that the “defendant made statements indicating that he had assaulted the victim because he perceived that he was homosexual”.

The attacker was charged with third-degree assault and harassment.

As a result of the assault, Belanger could lose his vision permanently in his left eye and has had to stop working. 

In a Facebook video, Belanger, wearing a black eye patch, spoke about the assault. “A man who I do not know, suddenly, from close range, threw something at my face and it had enough force to cause some damage to my left eye,” he said.

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “We stand in solidarity with Matt and wish him a quick recovery. We deplore this homophobic attack against him and expect authorities to deliver justice and compensation to our colleague”.