Charles Wright, a 50-year-old gay man and former vice-president of
Cleveland’s National Organization for Women, regularly escorts women
into the Akron Women’s Medical Group, along with his partner, Tom Reke.
Women seeking care are often confronted by hostile right-wing
protesters opposed to a women’s right to choose.
But on July 18, things became violent when Wright was physically
assaulted by one of the right-wingers, who broke six of Wright’s ribs.
The assailant, whose name is unknown, is a member of the extreme-right
religious group Jericho Riders Motorcycle Ministry, which regularly
preaches homophobic and anti-women rhetoric. The Jericho Riders arrived
at the Akron, Ohio, clinic to join protesters harassing women seeking
The assailant saw Charles and Tom embracing each other and began
yelling homophobic slurs at the couple. When Charles vocally expressed
his offense at the comments, he was assaulted. His aggressor rode off
on his motorcycle immediately after.
The Akron Police Department, whose precinct is across the street
from the clinic, did not respond until long after the assailant had
left the scene. The protesters refused to give the name of the
assailant, claiming that they did not know him. However, Charles and
Tom both witnessed the protesters greeting the assailant with a
familiar "welcome, brother!" The Akron police are treating the incident
as simple assault—as opposed to felonious assault—which means they will
make no effort to investigate the crime.
A protest was held on Aug. 1 to demand justice for Wright and call
for an end to the attacks on LGBT and women’s rights. The Party for
Socialism and Liberation joins the Akron community in its struggle
against homophobia, women’s oppression and all forms of bigotry.