GRAND FORKS – Police are investigating allegations of a hate crime at a UND fraternity after a non-student says he was stripped of his clothes, assaulted and pelted with anti-gay slurs early Sunday outside the fraternity house.
Haakon Gisvold reported to the UND Police Department Monday he was assaulted by multiple men in the early hours of Sunday morning outside the Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity, 515 Harvard St. while the men allegedly hurled insults regarding his sexual orientation at him.
UND Police said they believe the incident may be connected with a 911 call Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity members made at the same time regarding a “physical altercation” that broke out on the fraternity’s property, according to a news release issued Tuesday by the policing agency.
Gisvold, who is gay, told the Herald he went to a party at the fraternity with friends Saturday night, the same weekend organizers held Grand Forks Pride. He alleged a fraternity member told him he needed to leave the fraternity because of what he was wearing. The fraternity member later called Gisvold an anti-gay slur, the victim alleged.
Gisvold claimed another fraternity member approached him and told him he needed to leave because of his sexual orientation.
He did not know the names of either person, he said.
When Gisvold went onto the front lawn, he said, a person who he thought to be a friend of one of the fraternity members pushed him, and a fight broke out between the two of them.
Gisvold told the Herald during the altercation, someone else started choking him and put him on the ground, where he says he was held down by four men, stripped of his clothing and hit once with his own belt, all while they were allegedly making anti-gay slurs. Gisvold alleged the unknown men also took his bag, which contained his phone and wallet.
Gisvold said police began to arrive at the scene, at which point he went to hide behind some bushes. He said while hiding there, an unknown man approached him and offered to lend him clothes.
“I was crying at this point because I was so overwhelmed this happened,” he told the Herald.
Gisvold said at first he did not want to go to police, but at his father’s urging, decided to talk with investigators.
“(My father) told me, ‘Do you want this to happen to anybody else?’ And I said, ‘Absolutely not,’” Gisvold said.
The fraternity initially was going to release a statement Tuesday but later said national Lambda Chi Alpha officials had directed the chapter not to release any statements. The fraternity declined to comment, saying all media inquires were to go through a national spokesperson.
By the time the Herald was told to contact the national spokesperson on Tuesday, the Lambda Chi offices were closed.
The investigation is ongoing, and the UND Police Department asks anyone with information pertaining to the incident to call its offices at 701-777-3491 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.