Couple Says They Were Attacked With Pepper Spray At Folsom Street Fair Simply For Being Gay

Graham Gremore

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Two men claim they are the victims of an unprovoked hate crime that occurred over Folsom weekend in San Francisco.

Neil Frias and Jeff White were visiting from New York for the weekend when they say they were pepper sprayed by a gang of assailants simply for no reason other than they are gay.

Related: Behind The Harness: The Extraordinary History Of The Folsom Street Fair

“I’m trying to make sense of it,” Frias told the press on Sunday. “I would think what happened last night would happen somewhere else, not here.”

The alleged attack happened around 9 p.m. last Saturday night outside a McDonald’s not far from where the festival was being held. Frais says he and White were leaving the restaurant when five guys pulled up in a blue minivan and shouted, “You fags are destroying family values!”

“I said I didn’t want any trouble, and one of them got out of the van,” Frais recalls. “I thought he was going to take a swing at me, but he sprayed me across the face.”

Related: Kick Off Folsom With These Awkward S&M Family Photos

A second man then jumped out and sprayed him again, while a third assailant went after White, who dropped to the ground and curled up in a ball to protect his face.

“I was completely vulnerable,” Frais, who became temporarily blinded, said. “I thought they were going to start beating me.”

It wasn’t until a woman nearby told the attackers she was calling the police that the mob got back into the minivan and sped off. Police and paramedics arrived shortly thereafter and the men returned safely to their hotel.

A spokesman for the San Francisco Police Department said they are currently looking for surveillance video that may have captured the incident.

“We take these crimes very seriously,” said Officer Carlos Manfredi. “If anybody feels they can attack someone based on their sexual preference, we’re going to go after them and hold them accountable.”

Related: PHOTOS: Lost Tourists Wander Into Folsom Street Fair & More From The Wild Weekend

As for Frais and White, they refused to let the incident prevent them from enjoying the rest of their weekend. By Sunday, they had recovered from the pepper spray and were geared up to hit the fair.

“I’m mad that I didn’t get to go out last night,” White said. “It’s Saturday night in San Francisco Folsom week!”

h/t: SFGate

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