A Minneapolis man was charged with a homophobic attack on a local news anchor because of his “actual or perceived sexual orientation.”
NBC News reports: “Vennie Jerome Williams, 39, was charged Friday with third-degree assault and harassment with the intent to injure after police said he threw something at KSTP-TV journalist Matt Belanger. Belanger was walking across a light-rail station in Minneapolis on May 12 when he was struck in the eye, according to the complaint filed by the Hennepin County Attorney’s office.”
KSTP reports: “According to the criminal complaint, officers responded to Fourth Street and Marquette Avenue near the Nicollet Avenue light rail platform. There, officers met with Belanger who stated that while walking across the Nicollet Avenue light rail platform, a person he did not know suddenly cocked his right arm back and threw what he thought was a rock directly at him. Matt was about 3 feet away when the object was thrown and it struck him in the left eye. … Officers reviewed surveillance footage of the incident and were able to identify the alleged assailant, who was found near Sixth Street S. and Marquette Avenue. According to the complaint, Belanger was transported to the area and he positively identified Williams as the attacker.”
Belanger addressed viewers and supporters in a video posted to Facebook: “A man, who I do not know, suddenly, from close range threw something at my face. It had enough force to cause some damage to my left eye. And that’s why I’m wearing the eye patch here, to protect my eye as it heals. …. The impact to my eye did cause some internal bleeding that does need to heal before I’m going to be able to go back to work. … It’s hard, honestly, to be at home sidelined right now at a time when our viewers, I feel, need journalists on TV perhaps now more than ever. I miss you all, and I’ll be back very soon.”
Belanger thanked supporters and said he is concerned about damage to his vision long-term.