Victim of assault, bias crime in Eugene shares story

The bias crime happened at Sizzle Pie in downtown Eugene on Dec. 15 2019.

Posted: Aug 22, 2020 4:18 PM
Updated: Aug 22, 2020 9:45 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- A Springfield man was sentenced this week to 10 days in jail after shoving a person to the ground and calling them a slur regarding their gender. The bias crime happened at Sizzle Pie in downtown Eugene on Dec. 15 2019.

Eric Medina, who uses the pronouns ‘they’ and ‘them,’ was getting pizza at the restaurant. Medina said they were called an offensive slur and shoved to the ground by a man later identified as Christian Larson, 25, of Springfield. Medina helped police identify Larson after they recalled having attended school together years ago.  

Medina identifies as gender non-binary and said they believe the crime was motivated by their appearance, noted in court documents as wearing a ‘female’s shirt, high heels, and facial make up.”

“I wish I didn’t have to see my existence as something radical but it is,” Medina said.

Medina said being openly non-binary and appearing feminine requires courage, and an attack makes them question their safety.

“You begin to irrationally feel like anybody could just hit you because they want to, because they disagree with who you are and it almost makes you feel like you have to change parts of yourself so these kinds of things don’t happen again,” Medina said.

Medina said they still have pain in their back and hip. Larson was convicted of fourth degree assault and second degree bias crime. In addition to 10 days in jail, he was sentenced to two years of probation.

According to the latest Hate and Bias Report from the City of Eugene in 2018, there were 81 reports of hate and bias activities in the city, down 42% from the year prior.  Most of the incidents are reported near the downtown core.

“My hope is for the community in Eugene to recognize that these things are happening on their doorstops. People feel they can get away with doing things that are not right,” Medina said.

Medina said they hope their story serves as a lesson that you can successfully get justice for bias crimes.

“Nobody should have to feel unsafe, and nobody should have to adjust who they are simply because people disagree,” Medina said.

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