Violent attacks at the 2009 Outgames

The World Outgames, an LGBT sporting event, was the target of a bombing this week.

A member of the Seattle Frontrunners was injured from shrapnel when an explosive device was thrown onto the track during competition at the World Outgames in Copenhagen.
Dean Koga’s right hand was injured and he required stitches after the bomb, believed to be a small incindinary device, exploded right before the start of the men’s 4×200 relay at Osterbro Stadium, according to eyewitness reports.

Copenhagen police were criticized by participants for their slow response time – they took 30 minutes to arrive on the scene. Eventually they apprehended one suspect and are looking for another.

Danish police arrested a 31-year-old man caught after tossing the third bomb and charged him with a hate crime, according to Danish media. The suspect was carrying a backpack containing another half-dozen or so bombs, Koga said he was told by the police. The devices that exploded on the track were described as being powerful, about 9 inches in length, with a blue plastic covering and a fuse that was burning after it landed.

Participants and attendees were understandably shocked and frightened by the attack, but the games went on and Koga was back on the track the next day.
This follows another incident earlier in the week when three Outgames attendees were attacked by two men shouting “homo pig.”
This violence is a reminder that even a relatively mainstream event like the Outgames is not just a chance for queer folk to have some fun together. It’s still a political statement in a world where our communities are faced with such an intense amount of hate.

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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  • Eurekamoment

    WTF is wrong with people?
    I’m a bit ignorant about “Outgames”. I think I get the gist but what’s the story? Can anyone explain?

  • Eurekamoment

    Never mind…found some info

  • Ariel

    Jos, after reading your earlier post about it, I’m wondering how you feel about the bomber being charged with a hate crime. What’s your opinion on the optimal sequence of events here? (I.e., if not a hate crime, what would you see happen to this guy?)

  • eva_g

    I’d like to offer a Danish perspective on this – the vast, vast, vast majority of Danes are absolutely horrified, ashamed and shocked that these hateful idiots attacked our guests. I followed this closely and have not heard a single voice dissent from that view (what people think in the privacy of their own head I can’t vouch for)
    One thing that has not been mentioned is that the man who threw the explosive device (not a bomb in the usual sense of the word, more like a very powerful firework) was not only arrested – when he tried to flee the scene he was apprehended by outraged bystanders, all of them members of the largest running club in Copenhagen, Sparta!
    I like the picture of all these outraged, super fit Danes – straight and gay alike, men and women – easily running up this violent, apparently out of shape, hateful idiot, and surrounding him peacefully until the police got to the scene.
    I also hope it shows the world that while there are homophobic Danes out there, these incidents *are* isolated in Danish society, does not characterize the overwhelming part of Danish society and most importantly, mainstream society does not tolerate them and will act spontaneously and swiftly to try to stop them.
    These incidents have been hugely reported in Danish media, and the tone has been appropriately disgusted, ashamed and angry with the hate criminals, drawing serious comments from members of Parliament and the most senior Mayor of Copenhagen. Everybody is just…shocked that this could happen in little peaceful Denmark because there has been very little open homophobia, it’s simply not a hot-button issue the way it can play out in the states. I think the general tone in the media has been that of seeing this a wake-up call about the violence that can unfold in our midst etc.
    The members of the running club are rightly considered to be the heroes of the day and it has spawned a national conversation about hate crimes, homophobia and how to deal with it better. Just wanted to let you know that this is not taken lightly back home and that a lot of efforts are underway to broaden the dialogue about homophobia and how better to combat it.

  • eva_g

    I reread my post and decided I needed to clarify – When I say “not a bomb in the usual sense of the word”, I’m informed by my Danish vocabulary – in Danish the word for bomb means something on the scale of a nuclear bomb, or what fell over Dresden – the explosive device being thrown at the athletes are covered by another word that does convey how serious and dangerous it is. I think the English word “firework” makes me think of …sparklers and it sounds minimizing – that was really not my intention. English is not my first language and at times I get these nuances wrong, especially when reading a lot of Danish primary sources just before posting. Hope this clears matters up.

  • rustyspoons

    If not “firework” maybe “firecracker” or “dynamite” (depending of the size of what he had.)
    Whatever exploding thing the homophobe had, I hope they throw the book at him.

  • Jos

    I oppose the prison-industrial complex in general, not just hate crime sentencing. I believe in community-based forms of restorative justice, some examples of which I outlined very briefly in a comment on the original hate crimes post.

  • vhs

    (another Dane here…) well, it’s a kind of modified firecracker, where you just keep the gunpowder and not the sparkly-shiny things, and it just makes a loud ‘bang’. It is dangerous and harmful but not (or rarely) lethal.
    When I read the English word ‘bomb’ I might think of a nail bomb or something that is intended to kill. But the word ‘fireworks’ is inadequate. This is something that was meant to disrupt the event, threaten everybody and maybe harm an individual.
    Just saying this so we get an idea of what it was: It’s a homemade explosive that might blow off your hand or an eye if you’re holding it or something like that. It can blow up a mailbox but not a mall.
    There’s been a few incidents during the Outgames but all in all it’s been good. That said, some reports say that violent homophobia is actually rising in Denmark. There is not adequate information or awareness / care from the political system, and whereas the Danish society overall is generally pretty tolerant about sexuality extreme right-wingism is on the rise and is unfortunately mainstreamed by the government. The government supports and mainstreams the extreme right when it comes to racism and immigrant-bashing but that also means that the extreme right is encouraged in general – even though the government might not “intend” to support homophobia – “only” racism.
    The debate about hate crimes has been going on for quite a while in Denmark though, also before the Outgames. We are yet to see political action, but there is at least a (slightly) increased awareness that the problem exists.

  • proudfeminist

    The suicide bombers gave other people Ideas. Had to happen sooner or later.

  • vhs


  • proudfeminist

    what ?

  • vhs

    Did you read the post? Do you know what it’s about? I don’t know what your comment is about and how it relates to the post. What “suicide bombers”? Do you know what “Denmark” is? “Outgames”? What are you talking about? I suspect that you have this thing confused with a different story (yesterday an Israeli gunman killed people in a gay bar in Tel Aviv – that has nothing to do with this story except it being about homophobia, but could that be what you had in mind?). Please elaborate and explain. Your comment makes no sense.
    Tell us, please, how “the suicide bombers gave other people ideas” to throw fireworks at the 2009 Outgames in Copenhagen. Are you saying there would be no (violent) homophobia in Denmark if it hadn’t been for some mysterious suicide bombers? Or that you know there’s a secret group of Danish suicide bombers who gives people ideas, a group so secret and ineffective that no Danish media has ever reported it? Unless you can somehow make your comment make sense, it sure does sound loony to me… like something Glen Beck could have made up ;)
    I don’t mean to be rude. Maybe you just had some stories confused (in which case you still need to explain, though, because if you’re saying that Palestinians are somehow to blame for an Israeli homophobic gunman’s actions, that is just plain racist). And maybe it does make sense. But please explain and clarify how it’s all connected.