The only eggs you should have near your face on Wilton Drive are Benedict.
But over the last two weeks, the police department in Wilton Manors, Florida—a Fort Lauderdale suburb proud to be known as the “second gayest city in America”—has received reports of “several incidents of individuals throwing eggs from passing vehicles at victims as they walked along [Wilton Drive] and adjoining roadways,” according to a press release issued last Friday.
Wilton Drive is a mile-long stretch lined with LGBT-friendly restaurants, shops, and clubs, stretching from the burger bar Rosie’s on the north end to the newly-opened lesbian bar G Spot—with the motto, “If you’re here, you found it”—on the south.
Because the surrounding city has 140 gay couples per 1,000 households, the road has become a major draw for locals and visitors looking for an accepting atmosphere in which to dance, eat decadent grilled cheese sandwiches, or preferably both.
The Wilton Manors Police Department wants to be sure the Drive stays that way.
“We’ve had extra patrols throughout our city—mainly in the area where these incidents have been occurring—because we don’t tolerate any type of crime, especially crimes of this nature that could be targeting the LGBT community here within our city,” WMPD Public Information Officer Jennifer Bickhardt told The Daily Beast.
Since April 2, there have been “over five instances of an individual throwing eggs from vehicles” WMPD Commander Gary Blocker told WSVN, noting that they want to “determine whether or not these crimes are motivated by a dislike of our LGBT community.” Pointing in that direction is a report from Alex Haywood, the owner of the restaurant Mind Your Manors, who told WSVN that “an anti-homosexual slur [was] yelled” during one egging incident at his establishment. Haywood was not available for comment Tuesday.
Police reports obtained by The Daily Beast describe some of the incidents. On April 2, shortly before one in the morning, a man reported being struck in the face with an egg thrown from a moving vehicle near the country western gay bar Scandals Saloon. Later that same day, a man sitting outside Mind Your Manors reported being struck in the back with an egg, accompanied by the shout "f**king homo."
On April 8, a man outside the Greek restaurant Ethos next door to Mind Your Manors reported being egged from a moving vehicle and "had a small cut on the back of his neck from the broken egg shell." And on April 13, along the busiest stretch of Wilton Manors, two friends said they "saw an egg land next to them" and then "a black car proceeding thru the area." Most of the reports mention a gray or black vehicle.
Officer Bickhardt confirmed to The Daily Beast that the reported anti-gay slur was being taken into consideration as the police try “determine the reason behind these incidents,” adding that they are “seeking more information from anyone who was involved.”
José Vázquez, manager of the Out of the Closet thrift store located a few doors north of Mind Your Manors, told The Daily Beast that his assistant manager discovered their front windows had been egged on April 3. At first, he didn’t think anything of it.
“I just thought it was some kids not having anything to do,” said Vázquez.
The storefront has remained egg-free since then, Vázquez told The Daily Beast, but in light of the other reports, he believes the situation “might be more serious” than high schoolers with too much time on their hands.
Indeed, Haywood told WSVN that two of his customers have been directly hit with eggs “one standing at the bar, one just walking down the street”—and that “other establishments have been hit as well.”
The Daily Beast phoned several other businesses along Wilton Drive; some employees and managers were aware of the egging incidents near Mind Your Manors, others were only just finding out about them.
If the individuals responsible for the egging attacks are apprehended, they could face serious charges. The WMPD noted in the press release that “crimes of this nature can be considered a 2nd degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.”
“Throwing any type of object [at someone] is a serious crime,” Officer Bickhardt told The Daily Beast, noting that it “could hit them in the face or the head,” potentially causing serious injury.
Indeed, egging incidents can be charged as felonies in some jurisdictions depending on the damage done. And as Time Inc.’s breakfast website Extra Crispy reported in a detailed post on the potential legal penalties of egging, the crime can cause both property damage and serious physical damage—as proved by a 2005 Long Island case in which a 13-year-old boy was left blinded in one eye by an egging prank.
Fortunately, as Commander Blocker told the Sun Sentinel, no one has been seriously injured in this string of drive-by egging incidents, although people have been hit directly. But whether it’s upping security after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando last June or increasing patrols after a Facebook account made violent threats to “clean up Wilton Manors from all you AIDS infested losers” last August in a case that the federal government has since dropped, the WMPD takes any potential threat to their city seriously.
“We take pride in our community and in protecting the residents, visitors, employees, and everyone who comes into Wilton Manors,” said Officer Bickhardt. “We do take it seriously.”
4/19/17: This story was updated with new information from WMPD police reports.