Police are investigating after two men were assaulted and called an anti-gay slur in northwest Washington, DC.
The suspect called the men "monkeypox f-----s" before fleeing the scene, according to a police report.
The suspect is not yet in custody as police view the incident as a suspected hate crime, the Metropolitan Police said.
Police are investigating a suspected hate crime against two men who were punched and called an anti-gay slur, according to a police report obtained by Insider.
On Sunday, two men were out walking on a sidewalk in northwest Washington, DC, when they were approached by the suspects, who punched them multiple times. The suspects then called them "monkey pox f-----s," according to the police report.
The suspects fled the scene and are not yet in custody, according to the report.
"This case remains under investigation and it is being investigated as potentially motivated by hate/bias," a representative from the Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement. The MPD's LGBTQ Liaison unit is also investigating the incident.
The suspected hate crime comes as the nation sees a rise in anti-gay sentiment brought on by the stigma prompted by the monkeypox outbreak in the US. The illness has mainly been impacting gay and bisexual men. However, monkeypox can spread between any two people, typically through skin-to-skin contact, regardless of sexuality.
In a statement on Tuesday, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser said she was "extremely disturbed" by the suspected hate crime.
"Whenever a hate crime happens in our city, it is our collective responsibility to understand the role we each play in building a safer community for every person who lives in and visits DC," Bowser said in the statement. "We must stand up for our friends and neighbors, especially right now when there is too much anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric sweeping our nation."
"We must call out the people in our circles if they promote hateful or ignorant ideology, especially right now when people are using public health to stigmatize and discriminate against members of the LGBTQ+ community," the DC mayor continued. "We hold our DC values dear, but protecting and advancing our values is a collective and intentional effort."
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