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'I Have Nightmares,' says D.C. Man after Homophobic Attack

Thursday October 21, 2021


A Washington, D.C. man was attacked earlier this month in what is being deemed a "suspected hate crime," reported the Washington Blade. "The victim, Antonio Zephir, 51, told the Washington Blade the incident began after the mother began shouting anti-gay slurs at him as he walked past her and his roommate outside the Northwood Gardens Apartments at 4870 Fort Totten Dr., N.E. at about 12:40 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 13."

Zephir identified the mother as Aurlora Y. Ellis. Both the victim and the perpetrator lived in the apartment complex.

Zephir acknowledged this wasn't the first time she has called him homophobic slurs. "For several months, every time Ms. Ellis sees me, she shouts homophobic slurs and I continued to ignore her," Zephir told the Blade in an email.

On October 13, Zephir said Ellis called him a "Jewish faggot" when he walked past her as she was talking to his roommate, Steven Johnson (Zephir is Jewish).

"I responded with not-so-kind words. She ran towards me and assaulted me with hard punches toward my face," Zephir wrote in his email to the Blade.

"I punched back in an attempt to defend myself," he wrote. "Mr. Johnson tried to break us up when her daughter Latera Cox and [Cox's] father assaulted me," according to Zephir's account of the incident. "Ms. Ellis yelled, 'Call the police, you bitch faggot. They're not going to do anything. This isn't over yet." But the trio fled the scene.

The D.C. police incident report listed the assault as a suspected hate crime. Zephir went to a local emergency room where he was treated and released. The Blade reported he was "diagnosed as having a fractured nose; a fracture of the 'interior orbital wall,' which is the bone surrounding one of his eyes; subconjunctival hemorrhage or bleeding of his left eye; and 'laceration of oral cavity' which means an injury inside his mouth caused by trauma from the assault."

Zephir expressed fear that Ellis may have access to a gun. That along with her threat of it not being over led him to file a restraining order against Ellis, Ellis's daughter, and Ellis's roommate, Linda Miller, who Zephir says in the complaint acted as an "enabler" for Ellis' hostility toward him.

"I have nightmares," Zephir told the Blade. "I can't believe it happened. I keep reliving the experience over and over and over in my head," he said. "And I feel like I'm a prisoner in my own apartment. I don't feel safe because I, honest to God, feel like she is going to bodily harm me and I might be, God forbid, murdered."