For several hours this past Saturday, protesters closed down Wilton Drive and Oakland Park Boulevard with an anti-Trump demonstration. It drew many members of the local LGBTQ community. Unsurprisingly, given that the protest took place in the heart of Wilton Manors’ gay community, there was little pushback — although some residents complained it took longer than normal to return to the bars.
After the protest ended, however, things took a turn for the worse. Matthew Glass, age 44, was leaving the Dairy Queen on Wilton Drive and heading toward Andrews Avenue with a small group of friends when a driver slowed down and shouted “Fuck you, faggot!” and threw a stick. It hit Glass in the face.
Glass, who has Parkinson’s disease and walks with a cane, was thrown off balance and knocked over by the impact. Fortunately, his only injury was a small cut on the side of his face that he describes as “embarrassingly stupid-looking, like I’d cut myself shaving.”
Since he and his friends weren’t holding signs, Glass isn’t sure whether the attack was a direct response to the anti-Trump protest.
“It might have been politically motivated, or they might have just been mad they were diverted by the traffic,” he says.
Following the advice of friends who suggested he report it as a hate crime, he sought out help from one of the police officers assigned to the protest only to be brusquely dismissed.
“He said, ‘Yeah, I’m busy directing traffic, buddy, I can’t do anything,’” Glass says. “He didn’t care.”
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He recorded the car's tag number, but on Monday he discovered he’d gotten some numbers wrong; thus, he can't file charges. But Glass is undaunted by the attack.
“I came out when I was 13 in the ’80s, and I’ve had my ass whooped many times,” he recalls. “I’ve had live chickens thrown at me from cars... It’s hardly anything that’s going to stop or hardly anything I’m not used to. It just hasn’t happened in a while.”
And while he's shaken, he’s already looking forward to his next protest.
“It’s going to take more than that to make me stop,” he says. “I went home like, ‘Okay, I’ll go back. I’m not scared.’”