Fight starts outside of LGBTQ+ event at The Well in South Bend

NOW: Fight starts outside of LGBTQ+ event at The Well in South Bend

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Jesse Davis was curious over the weekend, heading to The Well on Mishawaka Avenue where The LGBTQ Center hosted an all-ages drag show.

"Obviously, a lot of people figured there would be protesting because it was an all-ages drag show," Davis said. 

He told ABC57 he saw a small group of men walking toward the crowd outside the venue.

"Once they got about midway into the crowd, they started getting in people's faces, they were not really protesting the drag show, they were more or less yelling homophobic slurs in people's faces," Davis said.

ABC57 was not able to independently confirm what led up to the fight.

Davis said the men were asked to leave multiple times but did not. He said it didn't take long for things to get violent.

"There was a lady who had a big brass bell in her hand, and she was ringing the bell over her head. She was a smaller lady. Ringing the bell like this over her head trying to drown out the homophobic slurs they were saying, and their voices," Davis said. "The one gentleman was really close to her, it almost looked like maybe somebody got shoved, and he got apparently hit in the head with the bell. Whether that was on purpose or accidental, it's hard to say."  

He pulled out his phone capturing more of the commotion and showing the man hit in the head.

"Like I said, they were asked to leave numerous times, and they just refused," Davis said. "They were being very loud. Obviously, they were looking for trouble."

South Bend Police confirm they responded to calls for the fight, sending one man to the hospital for his injuries. Another man claims to have been pepper-sprayed, police said. No arrests were made but the situation remains under investigation.

H.R. Jung, the executive director of The LGBTQ Center, said there were people outside the venue not affiliated with The LGBTQ Center who showed up to protect the event from expected protesters.

In the past, community volunteers have been peaceful.

"We sold out, so you know, clearly the people who wanted to come and protest didn't deter people from coming to the event itself," Jung said. "Which I think is really the most important thing at the end of the day."

And it's just days before the South Bend Pride Festival, the city's biggest pride event, breaking records this year with over 160 vendors. 

"It's really important to have kind of a big, visible day where people can come in, enjoy themselves, really have that community because that doesn't happen everywhere else," Jung said. 

Jung said they don't anticipate too much pushback at Saturday's Pride Fest, but says they are working with the city and police to keep it safe and secure.

"Why it's so important that these events happen," Jung said. "Because if we cower to the people who are coming out and protesting and threatening violence against us, then our most important thing, which is visibility, and being able to build that community, gets stifled and it doesn't happen. Which is really what they're looking to do anyway. They want to push us back in the closet, and we're not going to do that."

Davis told ABC57 News there was no police presence outside The Well when the fight broke out despite protests like this in the past. Police confirm they responded to the scene because of a 911 call.

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