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DULUTH-Controversy continues to follow the case of a Duluth gay man who says he was targeted for a beating by a group of people because of his sexuality.
On Saturday at 3 p.m on the steps of the St. Louis County Courthouse-Duluth, Outfront Minnesota (a LGBT advocacy group) will rally to have a disorderly conduct charge filed against 21-year-old Max Pelofske dropped.
Event organizers say Pelofske was only defending himself when a group of people at a Proctor High School graduation party allegedly fought him in a New Independence Township Gravel pit.
Parts of the criminal complaint, however, tell a different story.
Many witnesses in the St. Louis County Sheriff's Department investigation say that Pelofske is actually the one who instigated the fight and some of his attackers had no idea he was gay.
But Outfront Minnesota still contends the exchange classifies as a hate crime and the gay victim should not be punished.
"Along with Kelly Johnson I have been charged by the St. Louis County Attorney's office with 5th degree assault and disorderly conduct for being attacked at a party over Memorial Day weekend because of my sexual orientation," Pelofske said in a Youtube video posted by Outfront Minnesota.
But the criminal complaints do not include charges of crimes of bias.
Although Pelofske alleges he was attacked after "He was approached by an unknown male who had asked if ... [he] was gay" a recorded story from another witness reads "[he] only heard something about alcohol being stolen...but heard nothing said regarding defendant Pelofske's sexual orientation."
The St. Louis County Attorney's office charged seven people for their involvement mostly with disorderly conduct and fifth degree assault.
Outfront Minnesota event organizers say they later connected with Pelofske and his friend Kelly Johnson.
"We did the right thing," Johnson said. "We called the police to report a crime and now we are being victimized by the very people who are supposed to be protecting us and helping us."
Outfront Minnesota now calls on County Attorney Mark Rubin to drop the charges on the pair and say the action dissuades other victims from coming forward after hate crimes.
Rubin release this statement on Friday: "The county attorney's responsibility is to seek justice on behalf of all citizens. Advocacy that is as well–informed as it is well–intended is welcomed and respected."
But criticism of Pelofske, especially online, has called for the charges to stand - not condoning the fighting or underage drinking but calling the 21-year-old the instigator in the situation.
Pelofske, who event organizers say has read some of the more heated comments, says his fears are real.
"I'm scared all the time. I look over my shoulder and I constantly feel alone," Pelofske said.
All involved in this case will be back in court within the next two weeks including one alleged attacker who, according to the criminal complaint, tried to drive away from the scene with a 0.11 blood alcohol content.