NEW YORK, NY – The most popular gay nightclub in San Juan, Puerto Rico, was bombed with incendiaries Saturday night, police said, igniting a small fire inside the establishment.
Witnesses say a group of men wearing masks and clad in all-black attire, hurled Molotov cocktails into the Circo Bar, and fled, as patrons scrambled for safe cover. No injuries or deaths were reported, but the incident sent shock waves through the island’s LGBT community, already hard-hit from the devastation of Hurricane Maria last month. Circo was using a generator, as most of Puerto Rico is still without electricity, and police said the ongoing recovery from the hurricane was making investigation of the attack difficult.
Local LGBTQ activists, including Pedro Julio Serrano are calling for the attack to be classified as a hate crime. “We think homophobia is the likely motive,” Serrano said, “and we hope the investigation will focus on this motive.”
The club’s reopening was seen as a bright moment in an otherwise dark time for local LGBT people, who “have been forming their own support networks,” Serrano noted, “because we lack essential services“. FEMA and local authorities have been coordinating efforts to bring medications and supplies to “many thousands” of residents, who lost everything when the Category 5 storm blasted the Commonwealth.
“It’s sad to think that with all the destruction, people still find time to hate,” said Ernesto Loy, a community organizer.
Police have made no arrests in the case, but have asked the public’s help in identifying the suspects.