Ben Moores, left, and Gena Willenberg, right, were recently beaten in separate incidents in the UK — because of how they look.
When emo and heavy metal fans are stoned to death in Iraq, it’s easier to dismiss it as something that happens “over there.”
But in recent weeks, two people have been brutally attacked in separate incidents in the UK, revealing that violent mob behavior is still happening right here.
Gena Willenberg, an American expat, was surrounded by a gang of teenagers in Edinburgh, Scotland, in late March. First came the verbal abuse: “They started shouting at me and my friend that we were f****** goths and they were going to kick our f****** heads in,” she said.
Then the physical assault began.
“We turned our back and just kept going and that was when they attacked me. One of them tried to smash a bottle over the back of my head, but fortunately it didn’t break. Then they started punching and kicking me.
“I fell to the ground and they just kept on kicking me. My friend tried to stop them from stamping on me and they attacked her, too.
“There was one girl in the group and she pulled my hair back so one of her friends could kick me in the face.”
Not far from where Lancaster was attacked in a Bacup, England, park, metalhead Ben Moores was recently beaten in a similar incident. The 16-year-old was was called “mosher” and “freak” as he was punched and kicked to the ground by up to 15 people behind a Co-op supermarket in Waterfoot, 2 miles from Bacup.
Clumps of his hair were pulled out and his head and wrists were stamped on. He suffered bruising to his head and body but escaped serious injury.
“When they got me on the floor I thought I was going to die. There was no stopping them – they wouldn’t let me up. I had blood all over my face by the end. When I was getting kicked and stamped in my head and on my wrists and my hair was being pulled out, there was nothing I could do. Thinking about it now makes me shiver in shock. They were only doing it because of the way I look and because I’ve got long hair and like heavy metal music.”
Seven of his attackers are currently in jail.
There are some ways to fight this. If you see a group going after an individual for the way they dress, it might not be best to get involved — but calling the police is a good idea. Walking a goth or metalhead friend home can help keep attackers at bay.
On a more meta level, you can support the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, which has a number of campaigns working to end discrimination and violence against subcultures in the UK.