Several hundred University of Virginia students and community members turned out Thursday to protest a recent anti-gay attack on the university grounds, reports the Charlottesville-based weekly C-Ville.

School leaders and students spoke out against hate crimes at the event organized by Queer and Allied Activism (QUAL) and held outside the McIntire Amphitheater.

“We hope that you call out hatred wherever you see it in your life. It's not just enough to attend vigils like this,” Seth Kaye, president of QUAL, told the crowd, many of whom were holding white candles donated by the UVa Student Council.

The event was prompted by the April 4 attack on an unidentified male student and a friend by five young men.

Police allege the pair were jumped walking home from a friend's house around 3:30AM outside the university's Scott Stadium by five white males between the ages of 16 and 20.

The men snatched a cell phone being used by one of the men to call for help and smashed it as they yelled anti-gay slurs. The two attempted to escape but the pack chased down the UVa student and hit him in the back of the head. The eighteen-year-old student was treated at the university's medical center for minor injuries.

University leaders called the attack an instance of gay bashing.

“Based upon the facts as we currently know them, we believe this to be a bias-motivated crime, in that the perceived sexual orientation of the two victims appears to have motivated the assault,” wrote UVa Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Allen W. Groves in a statement.

Virginia does not include sexual orientation in its hate-crime law.

Also speaking at the event was Associate Vice President and Dean of Student Life Allen Graves, who told the crowd that hate crimes “strike at the most cherished values of society.”

“If I am assaulted solely because of who I am, then I come to fear I will never be safe, for how can I change who I am?” Groves told the crowd.