Rick Jones, his family, and their business, are under attack in Delta Utah simply because Rick is gay. There’s no other explanation.
Last week, while taking out the trash at the family restaurant, Grand Central Station Pizzeria, Rick Jones was beaten, robbed, nearly forced to drink bleach, and had the words “Die Fag” carved into his arm with a knife.
“I went out to take out the trash, and when I came back in, I thought it was strange that I didn’t hear the door close. I turned around to shut the door, and someone grabbed me by the head and slammed me to the wall. … I remember waking up and I was lying on the floor. Someone was on my chest and legs and they were trying to force me to drink bleach.”
Rick passed out and when he woke up later, in the hospital, a medical team was considering life-flighting him to Salt Lake City, He was treated for the wounds, and the carvings into his flesh, held overnight and then released.
"I've lived here my whole live with my family. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before. I don't have any known enemies, but obviously I have one somewhere." — Rick Jones
But it wasn’t over; five days later, the words “Die Fag” were spray-painted on the family home, and then last week a Molotov cocktail was thrown through Rick’s bedroom window, and the house was spray-painted again, this time with “You’ll Die. Burn Fag.” The family restaurant was also hit by burglary, theft and vandalism that morning.
Millard County police are having a hard time finding suspects, because the young man, his family and his pizzeria seemingly have no enemies. And, sadly, in the town of Delta, little to no media attention has been given to the incidents, and the police are stretched pretty thin as they cover 7,000 square miles of land in Millard County. But Sheriff Robert Dekker has called the case a priority for his agency, and has assigned multiple detectives to the investigation.
"So many things go toward somebody trying to get somebody in the gay community. All of the cases indicate that's what they're after, that's what they're mad at. I would classify it as a hate crime." — Millard County Sheriff Robert Dekker
It’s very clearly a hate crime, and, luckily, the Utah Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce has stepped in with an offer of a $5,000 reward for new information leading to the successful apprehension and prosecution of the perpetrators of the attack. Those with information about the crimes committed against Rick Jones should contact Lt. Morris Burton of the Millard County Sheriff’s Office at 435-864-2755.
Terri Jones, Rick's mother, says she and her family refuse to be intimidated by the attacks:
"When you attack any member of our family, you attack everybody here. This is not just against my son, it is against every single one of us. We're not going to back down, we're not going to close the restaurant if we can keep from it. We're not going to move from Delta, we're not going to be afraid. … The only thing we can do is stand strong as a family."
And the local community, small though it may be, has also rallied behind the family, who opened their business just six months ago. Residents have approached the family to offer support, prayers and sympathy, and have made a point of patronizing the pizzeria to help the family stay open, and to show that this kind of crime will not be tolerated.
Even Lt. Governor Spencer Cox issued a statement:
"I was horrified and heart-broken to learn of this cowardly and barbaric assault. The Jones family is an upstanding, well-respected and beloved part of the Delta community. ... This will not stand."
Seriously. Is this what we can expect in any part of this country simply because a young man is gay? As I’ve said before, and before and before and before, if someone just beat up and robbed Rick Jones and the family business, that’s a hateful crime, but when they carve into his skin the words “Die Fag” and spray-paint the same words on his home, it’s Hate, pure and simple.
And it needs to be dealt with, quickly, and severely, to send a message that this will not be tolerated anywhere in this country.
It’s Hate, and it needs to stop.