Robert F. Kennedy Jr.: My son was defending a friend over gay slur
A 22-year-old member of the Kennedy family arrested after a bar fight early Thursday was defending a gay friend who was being bullied, his father said.
“Conor has always reacted against bullying,” said Robert Kennedy Jr. “I’m happy he stood up for his friend.”
John Conor Kennedy — who goes by Conor — had asked a group of four men to apologize to his friend for calling him a common homophobic slur an hour before the fight erupted at about 1:40 a.m. outside the Bootsy Bellows nightclub, Robert Kennedy said.
One of the men did come over and apologize to his friend at that point, he said. But when the crowd began leaving the club an hour later, at least two of the men began using homophobic slurs against Conor Kennedy’s friend again and he told them to stop, Robert Kennedy said.
One of the men asked what he was going to do about it and took a swing at Conor Kennedy and the fight broke out, he said. No physical contact occurred between the men and Conor Kennedy’s gay friend, Robert Kennedy said, terming the incident “menacing.”
“I’m very sorry it turned into a police incident,” he said. “(Conor’s) not liking the attention.”
Aspen police are continuing to look into the situation, said Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn.
“We are aware of some of those allegations and we are following up on them this evening,” he said Thursday night. “At the moment, there have been no allegations of additional crimes given by witnesses or those involved in the incident.”
Police spoke to Robert Kennedy and Conor Kennedy later Thursday about the incident, Linn said. However, no one has contacted Aspen police claiming to have been menaced or threatened for being gay, he said.
Aspen police officers were called to the scene about 1:40 a.m. to help with Bootsy Bellows patrons who wouldn’t leave, said Aspen police Sgt. Rick Magnuson. Officer Andy Atkinson was outside in front of the club when he saw a fight break out between two men across the street, he said.
Atkinson reported seeing Conor Kennedy grab another man by his shirt, pull him down so he was bent over and hit him four or five times in the back of the head with his fists, Magnuson said. Officers attempted to break up the fight but Conor Kennedy — listed in the affidavit as 6-foot-3-inches and 200 pounds — continued to try to attack the man, prompting Atkinson to restrain him, he said.
“Kennedy and I fell back onto the snow bank on the south side of (Hyman Avenue) where Kennedy attempted to pull away from me and stand up,” Atkinson wrote in his report. “I held onto Kennedy’s arms and rolled him over with assistance from a bystander on to his stomach.”
The unidentified bystander also helped Atkinson handcuff Conor Kennedy, according to the report.
Conor Kennedy apologized to Atkinson after he was arrested, the report states.
“Kennedy then said, ‘He called my friend the F-word,’” according to the report, which does not specify what “F-word” Conor Kennedy meant.
Kennedy was charged with disorderly conduct/fighting, a municipal offense treated as a misdemeanor. A more serious case of assault or disorderly conduct would have been charged in Pitkin County Court, a higher level court, Linn said.
Matt Ferguson, Conor Kennedy’s lawyer in Aspen, released a statement Thursday saying “multiple witnesses to the incident have reported that two men assaulted Conor Kennedy after he rebuked them for directing a homophobic slur and threats to his close friend.”
Robert Kennedy said his son was out with a group of friends while in Aspen for the Christmas holidays. He said he regretted Aspen police having to get involved in the incident because of the way officers treated the Kennedy family when his brother, Michael Kennedy, died Dec. 31, 1997, on Aspen Mountain after skiing into a tree.
“The Aspen Police have been extraordinary to my family,” he said. “When my brother was killed, they were on the scene and treated us with incredible kindness my family will never forget.”
Conor Kennedy is the oldest son of Robert Kennedy Jr. and his second wife, Mary Richardson, according to People.com. Robert Kennedy Jr. is the second son of former President John F. Kennedy’s brother, Robert F. Kennedy. Conor Kennedy briefly dated Taylor Swift in 2012 when he was 18, according to the website.