SAN ANTONIO - A Pride Center San Antonio official said he's worried that the alleged staging of a racist and homophobic attack by gay "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett may affect the local LGBTQ community.
Following three weeks of mounting suspicions, Smollett was charged with felony disorder conduct, a charge that could bring up to three years in prison and force the actor to pay for the cost of the investigation into his report of a Jan. 29 beating.
"People under report or don't report crimes that happen to them because of many different reasons," said Robert Salcido, executive director of Pride Center San Antonio. "One of them being that people don't believe them. It's unfortunate that one incident that occurs, such as this one, that people are going to use it as a reason to say that didn't happen because it was misreported or not reported correctly."
Salcido said he never had a reason to doubt the actor's claims because of previous hate crimes committed throughout the country.
"The Southern Poverty Law Center just showed that recently within the last four years there's been a 30 percent increase in hate groups across the U.S.," he said. "A 7 percent increase just within the last 12 months, so we know that the hate is out there," Salcido said.
Salcido is hopeful the community sticks together and continues to fight injustice and not be afraid to report hate crimes when they happen.
"Be authentic and tell us what happened to you. There are people in the community that support you and believe you. We know that these things happen," Salcido said.
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