Hate crimes hit home
What other words can I use to describe what I'm feeling after the turn of events in the last 24 hours? Heavy hearted, incredulous, enraged, disillusioned, and the biggest of them all- indignant.
Last night I met up with some friends- new and old- at my friends C & S's lounge bar.
When most were calling it an evening, I found myself obliging some of the "out-of-towners," three to be exact-- Kaohsiung Boy- who is from Kaohsiung but now lives in the states, American in Kimen- my American friend who teaches English in Kimen, and Mystery Military Man- who lives in Taipei and does top secret military work in Taiwan. Hardcore Party Girl- a 20-something-year-old Taiwanese college girl wanted to dance the night away. So the five of us ended up going to a local dance club, located behind the Sogo and Mitusoki Department Stores in downtown Kaohsiung. I haven't been there in about six months because I'd heard about a number of incidents involving Caucasian foreigners being beat up or hit over the head with a beer bottle for simply talking to, or dancing with a local Taiwanese woman. I felt some hesitation and asked Hardcore Party Girl if she thought the place was ok and how it would be on a Thursday night. She said she went there regularly and that it would be a good time.
I had my misgivings, but brushed them aside thinking that perhaps what I'd heard was an isolated incident. Once we arrived, we settled into a booth/table and started drinking watered down whiskey and vodka shots, and the occasional orange juice/whiskey drink. It wasn't yet midnight; the dance floor was still completely deserted. As I'd predicted it started hopping just before 1 am. Kaohsiung Boy and I hit the dance floor a few times and chatted with my friend the American in Kimen and Mystery Military Man- who had both remained comfortably beated at our booth the entire night in deep conversation. About an hour later, Kaohsiung Boy and I decided that was time to get going. The American in Kimen wanted to hit the dance floor with me, so we started to "get down" on the dance floor and ended up dancing on one of the platforms. Admitedly, I know how to shake this booty and was just having some fun- the way a girl can when she's in the hands of someone she knows and trusts. Trust me, I can shake it and grind it- but not like that with complete strangers. After dancing with the American in Kimen, I resumed dancing with Kaohsiung Boy and finally we decided to make our exit. Kaohsiung Boy went to look for Hardcore Party Girl and say goodbye.
On the way out, I realized that there had been several rounds of drinks going around, so I looked around for the American in Kimen, wanting to give him some cash for my share of drinks. He was no where to be found, so I returned to our booth where I found Mystery Military Man. I asked if he'd seen the American and if I could give him something for all the rounds of drinks that had gone around. "No, no," he said. He told me not to worry about it that that it would all be taken care of.
Kaohsiung Boy, Hardcore Party Girl and I walked out of the club to Kaohsiung Boy's car. We said our goodbyes. Hardcore Party Girl went back into the club and Kaohsiung Boy drove me home.
Thursday was a long night of harmless, good fun... It's somewhat cathartic "getting it all out" on the dance floor and fortunately I don't have to teach on Fridays. I can take a "backseat" since I'm in the role of a student only having to go to my Mandarin Chinese class on Friday mornings.
Today (Friday) afternoon, at home after class, the phone rang and it was the American from Kimen. He began cautiously by asking me if I'd noticed anything strange or out of the ordinary last night at the club. "No," I said. "What are you talking about?"
Then he began to tell me that shortly after we'd danced, some men told him that he had to go i.e. leave the club. Some men took him outside and before he knew it there were three men beating him up with a baseball bat and baton. They hit him in the face, on his back, stomach, legs and knees. They told the American that a woman he'd danced with in the club was pressing charges of sexual harrassment; that she had gone crying to security claiming that he'd grabbed her breast. (*Not that, that could justify roughing someone up!) It was all mostly blur for him. At some point the police picked the American up and he made it to a police station where he reported the incident and made a statement with the help of a Taiwanese friend who translated for him. He also had to go to a hospital for treatment of his injuries. He was in pretty bad shape, his glasses were broken, face messed up, body bruised, head and body aching.
My friend the American from Kimen asked me if he had done anything at all inappropriate last night and if I had felt uncomfortable or upset with him. I was the only woman that he'd danced with all night and he couldn't imagine what he could have done to offend me or that I'd press charges against him.
I assured him that everything that had happened last night was in friendly, good fun and that I had no reason to press any charges against him. Apparently this whole ordeal had done a number on him, making him second guess what had happened and now he wondered what exacly had happened and why.
I met the American nearly a year ago and know him to be a very gentle, kind person. This couldn't have happened to a less deserving person.
I asked him what I could do if anything and he said he only wished that this wouldn't happen to anyone else and that others know the truth of what happened. We agreed that the club should also be closed down. (Whether or not that can be done is another story)
I offered to go to the police station to state for the record that he had not harassed me. Kaohsiung Boy had been with the American and I the whole time. Actually Kaohsiung Boy was standing nearby when I was dancing with the American. Kaohsiung Boy agreed to go the police station with me this evening.
When we got to the station this evening the police only had a report with the American's account of what happened. There was no record of the accusations of sexual harassment made against him. Kaohsiung Boy and I tried to explain the situation, that we were all friends who went to the club together, that I was the only woman that the American had danced with, and that there was no woman pressing charges against the American. No official statements were taken from me or Kaohsiung Boy because there was no record of any accusations filed against the American.
Someone I know with connections had arranged for a city councilor (*who is responsible for the district in which the club is located) to accompany us to the police station. The city councilor demanded to see other statements and/or documents that may have been written up or filed last night. Perhaps the police on patrol at the site had taken statements from the witnesses or perpetrators at the scene.
It was all rather disappointing. I mean, you could kill a person with a baseball bat! I shudder to think what could have happened if things went too far and people were even more out of control.
Well, at least we were able to establish that nothing incriminating about the American had been documented in the police report filed at the police station.
The more I thought about the whole situation and pondered throughout the day, the more I began to suspect and question the actions and character of all the people involved. I'd only met Hardcore Party Girl and Mystery Military Man for the first time Thursday night, so all of their actions through out the night and after the incident were now under scrutiny.
Before going to the police station, I had spoken to the American twice about the incident, getting the details of his account clear. And I thought about how trying it must be for witnesses, defendants and plaintiffs to be grilled repeatedly over certain details. I was impressed that my American friend was able to recall what he did after having gone through the ordeal he'd been through!
I haven't been able to reach him since coming back from the police station and I'm leaving for Korea on a short vacation tomorrow. This couldn't have happened at a worse time. I don't know what else there is I can do.