Hate Crimes are Criminal Actions Intended to Harm or Intimidate People

Hate crimes are criminal actions intended to harm or intimidate people because of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, or other minority group status. They are also referred to as bias crimes. Last October, a gay couple went to Burger King located in South Beach, Fl. Raymond Ortega, a gay bartender, and Toni Llerena, a transgender woman, were eating when an employee ordered them to leave and called them “f—ing faggots.” When they protested, a security guard repeated the slur, sprayed Ortega with mace and beat him, busting his jaw and seriously injuring his knee, they say.

The two have now filed a lawsuit against Burger King over the October incident, which left Ortega walking with a limp and with more than $10,000 in dental bills. Their lawyers, Matthew Ladd and Robert Pelier, say once Burger King reveals the names of the employee and the security guard, they plan to report the attack to Miami-Dade prosecutors. Authorities do file charges under Florida’s hate-crime law. Ladd said the Miami-based restaurant chain has surveillance video of the attack. “These two are going to get justice,” Ladd said of his clients. “We are going to hold everyone accountable.”