A YouTube video that shows a group of teenage boys harassing a man amid a torrent of anti-gay slurs in Minneapolis has been widely circulated online this week.
In the video, Adam Schreifels, 37, is seen walking along Grant Avenue in downtown Minneapolis shortly before 8 p.m. on Saturday.
Schreifels said he was leaving the annual Pride Festival in Loring Park with his friend Justin Grey Day when a group of about 10 teenage boys moved toward them.
"As we approached the curb to cross the street, one of them asked me, 'Are you gay'?" said Schreifels, of St. Louis Park. "I said 'yes, I am and proud of it'."
That's when Grey Day, 35, pulled out his digital camera -- which he said he had taken to the festival -- and started to record the exchange.
In the video, the boys can be heard saying "I hate gay people," "gay is not the way" and "gay is not good." They followed Schreifels for about a block, and at one point, started tossing rocks at Schreifels, he said.
At one point during the exchange, Schreifels said he asked the boys where they were from, and they said they were from Somalia.
Omar Jamal, a Somali community activist, issued a statement on Tuesday denouncing the boys' actions.
"It is unacceptable behavior to harass someone based on their sexual orientation," Jamal said.
Jamal, who serves as the executive director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center, also said some members of the Somali community had sent him the link to the video suggesting that Schreifels provoked the boys as a way to get publicity.
On Wednesday, Schreifels sent a letter to Jamal demanding an apology and saying it was "absurd" to think the incident was setup.
"I am insulted by your response, and by those in your community who would imply the ridiculous possibility that this was a frame-up," Schreifels said.
The incident lasted just under two and a half minutes, about the length of the video.
Grey Day said he started recording because he became alarmed and didn't know if the verbal exchange would escalate.
"I wanted to make sure it was all recorded, just in case there was some kind of physical altercation," Grey Day said.
Sgt. Jesse Garcia, spokesman for the Minneapolis Police Department, said the boys' verbal remarks, while disturbing, are not a crime. Neither Schreifels nor Grey Day has filed a report with police.
Garcia said he's also received numerous calls asking about two men who appear in the video wearing badges and walk through the scene without intervening. He said they are private security guards from a nearby building, not Minneapolis Police officers.
"This is unacceptable behavior that would not be tolerated by the Minneapolis Police," the department said in a statement. "Action would have been taken immediately to stop the harassment that is depicted in the video."
Community organizer Hashi Shafi, executive director of Somali Action Alliance, said Somali leaders in Minnesota condemn the actions of the young boys.
Shafi thinks at least some of the youngsters were of Somali descent because they can be heard in the video speaking Somali. Shafi and other activists are trying to identify the boys and reach out to their parents to alert them of their sons' behavior.
"This is not something we agree with," Shafi said. "We share our sorrow with the victim, the young man that experienced this."
Shafi said he was horrified to watch the video, especially because Somali-Americans themselves have been the subject of cruel taunts and prejudice.
"That's what we experience day in and day out, so we don't want to discriminate against another community," he said.
As of Thursday morning, the YouTube video had received nearly 50,000 views. Grey Day said he posted the video on Sunday, and since has received dozens of e-mails of support from members of the gay community. In its e-newsletter, OutFront Minnesota, the state's leading gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered group, denounced the verbal harassment.
"OutFront Minnesota decries all hate- or bias-motivated violence and harassment, regardless of who is targeted; we are glad the targets were not physically harmed," the group said.
In Minnesota in 2007, 27 hate crimes motivated by victims' sexual orientation were reported to police, representing about 17 percent of all hate crimes, according to federal statistics.
Schreifels said he'd been gripped by the incident.
"I think we've been lulled into a sense of complacency that somehow this sort of bigotry doesn't happen in the United States," Schreifels said.
(MPR reporter Laura Yuen contributed to this report.)