DELTA, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – Utahns came together as one today, as several supporters loaded up their cars and headed down to Delta, Utah, to show their support and help raise money for a young man who in recent weeks has been the target of multiple hate crimes.
“It’s 2015! We should be above this kinda crap, not in our state! We’re too good for that,” said Courtney Moser.
Participants of the event met up at Club Try-Angles, a local gay bar near 251 W. 9 S., this morning and packed into cars as they made the 2 hours drive down to Delta. What originally began as a Facebook event intended for a small group of 20-30 people quickly snowballed. Within hours the event had over 3,000 invites and dozens of people committed to joining the “Caravan to Delta.”
Several people commented on the page offering their love and support for Ricky Jones and his family. Well wishes coming in from all over the country – the story reaching as far as Europe.
Richard’s story quickly went viral after news got out that he had been the victim of multiple hate crimes. The first attack occurred on April 25, 2015. He had just finished taking out the trash at his restaurant when his attacker came in through the back door, and smashed his head against the wall. The next thing Ricky knew, his attacker was pressed against his chest and was attempting to force him to drink a bottle of bleach. His mother and sister later found him laying on the floor, covered in bleach with anti-gay slurs carved into both of his arms. Since then his house and restaurant, Grand Central Station Pizzeria and Grill in Delta, have been burglarized and vandalized several times. His attacker(s) have spray-painted anti-gay slurs on the walls of the restaurant and stolen over $3,000 from their safe. His garage door has been graffitied with the same hateful words that were etched into his skin. Recently, a Molotov cocktail was thrown through his bedroom window.
Organizers expected over 200 people to show up at the restaurant, and several people from other cities across the state joined them at the restaurant.
But the fundraising efforts didn’t end there as organizers brought several pizzas back with them and encouraged community members who couldn’t make the trip down to Delta to meet at Try-angles to support the cause and stay for the great food.
“We’re hoping to raise some money to help them out, trying to rebuild their life after it’s been shattered, but also just to show that our community even though we are two hours away from each other, we come together as one,” said Christopher Rose.
Many who participated today felt it was their duty to help, as they had been victims of anti-gay crimes in the past.
“I’ve been bashed before in the past and at the time I wasn’t out and didn’t feel like I could go to the authorities and report it, if something like this happens to one of us it happens to all of us,” said Moser.
While the fundraiser has now ended their fight has just begun. What began as a grassroots movement has now inspired several to take a stand for change. Their goal is to reach out to the community and leaders of the state to combat hate in all its forms.
“The lieutenant governor has committed to sit down and talk with us. Lets start figuring things out, lets work things out so that we can become a better Utah,” said Scott Fausett, who helped organize the event.
The group has also created a GoFundMe account to help the family. And have even created a Twitter and Instagram hashtag, #helpstophate, for people to share their stories and raise awareness.