Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Gay Native American Murder Sentence Decried as Too Light; Mother Indicts Judge and Wyoming Court

David Moss, 25, gay Arapaho beaten to death with a bat and brass knuckles by teenagers.

David Moss, 25, gay Arapaho beaten to death with a bat and brass knuckles by teenagers.

Riverton, Wyoming – Santana Mendoza, the second teenage defendant in the September 2013 murder of a gay Native American was sentenced for manslaughter yesterday in the death of a gay Native American, and the victim’s mother is crying foul.  Her son’s murder was a hate crime, Victoria Moss said, and the sentences the court handed down to the teens who killed him show the world that the life of a Native American gay man is worth less than if he were straight and white.  County 10 reports that Ms. Moss declared that since this is National LGBTQ Pride Month, she would be honoring her son while gay people and allies celebrated Pride.  “This Saturday,” she said, “I will be celebrating the pride I have for my gay son.”

David Ronald Moss Jr., 25, was bludgeoned to death by teenagers Santana Mendoza and John Potter on the Rails to Trails Pathway behind a Riverton trailer park on September 4, 2013. Moss’s companion, Aleeah Crispin, was beaten into brain damage by the teens during the same attack, leaving her unable to speak for weeks afterwards. Mendoza and Potter, 16 and 15 at the time of the brutal assault, were both tried as adults. Both initially pled not guilty to all charges.  In April of this year, after a plea deal reducing the charge from second degree murder to manslaughter, Potter was sentenced, as reported by County 10.  After the same plea deal was accepted by District Attorney Michael Bennett for Mendoza, his sentence was handed down by Ninth Circuit Judge Norman E. Young after a one-hour sentencing hearing at which Crispin herself testified.  Mendoza’s sentence mirrors Potter’s sentence almost perfectly: 12 to 18 years for the murder of Moss, minus time served, and 8 to 10 years for the assault on Crispin, both sentences to run concurrently.  The sentence also mandates that the youths share a restitution of $12,000 to be paid to the living victim and the families. Moss’s mother is convinced that her son’s sexual orientation and Native American heritage played into the judge’s decision to hand down a light sentence that would never have been tolerated by the white, straight community if the victim had been one of their own.  Some say that the revelation of Moss’s sexual orientation came as a surprise to them.

Judge Young denies being influenced by the knowledge that Moss was gay.  He told County 1o that he now believes neither of the youths “intended” to kill Moss, who succumbed to blunt force trauma to his head according to the Coroner’s report. What Judge Young does admit to considering was the age of the defendants.  Both were born in 1997.  He said that he had never sentenced anyone in his career as young as they.

The attack was swift, terrifying and brutal.  Mendoza testified that he and Potter saw two friends eating fast food near the beginning of the pathway.  The Daily Ranger reported that while Mendoza watched Moss and Crispin, Potter left to retrieve a ball bat and brass knuckles that they used in the attack on Moss and Crispin. The teens beat them in the face with the bat, and repeated kicked them. When they left, Mendoza testified, both victims were unconscious, and Moss was making a “snoring” sound. The next morning, two unresponsive bodies were found on the trail.  Moss was dead.  Crispin was beaten mute, and left with significant brain injuries.

Hate crime was never considered during the investigation. Instead, law enforcement and the District Attorney sought for other motives for the senseless crime.

Moss was an enrolled member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe, and proud of it.  His obituary portrayed a young man who was devoted to family, especially to his niece, Morning Star, and liked by a wide circle of family and friends.

The accusation of David Moss’s mother still hangs in the air as the two youths serve out their sentences: What is the comparative worth of the life of a gay Native American?  Where is the justice in any of this senselessness?

June 26, 2014 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Bludgeoning, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Native Americans, Northern Arapaho Tribe, Racism, women, Wyoming | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Murdered Lesbian Couple: Did Daddy Do It?

James Cosby, father of  murdered lesbian Britney Cosby, and suspect in her murder along with her spouse, Crystal Jackson.

James Cosby, father of slain lesbian Britney Cosby, and suspect in her murder and that of her spouse, Crystal Jackson.

Galveston, Texas – The father of a lesbian has been arrested by the Galveston authorities in relation to the murder of his daughter and her spouse.  The bodies of the two young women  were dumped outside a Port Bolivar convenience store and discovered early on March 7, according to KHOU News.  James Larry Cosby, 46, father of Britney Cosby, has been arrested by Galveston Sheriff’s officers and charged with two counts of tampering with evidence related to the murder of his daughter and her life partner, Crystal Jackson.  Officials say that the charges may be shortly upgraded to murder.  KTRK 13 reports that incriminating evidence linking the murders of the lesbians led investigators to arrest Britney Cosby’s father, an ex-con and sex crime offender, and hold him in the Galveston County Jail on $500, 000 bond pending other charges.

The suspect was part of a large crowd of friends and family at a community vigil held on Wednesday for the two young women, and investigators interrogated him at the conclusion of the vigil.  “His house was a secondary crime scene, from the evidence that we saw when we went to interview him and we did recover certain parts of evidence that are here at our sheriff’s office now to be sent to the lab,” Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset said to reporters.

Autopsy reports say that Britney Cosby died from blunt force trauma, and that Crystal Jackson was shot to death.  Investigators believe the two women, both 24, were killed at another location, and then transported to the quiet coastal town and left beside a garbage dumpster as if they were no better than trash.

KHOU’s reportage uncovered Cosby’s violent past.  His ex-wife Loranda McDonald said that she left him because he was so violent, and she and other Cosby family members say that he was “unhappy” about his daughter’s being a lesbian.  “He said it to me a few times that he did not like the idea of her being gay,” said McDonald.  Detectives indicated that, in addition to blood stains in Mr. Cosby’s home, they found a copy of the Holy Koran open to a passage some fundamentalist Muslims use to denigrate and condemn homosexual conduct.  Mr. Cosby is not cooperating with his interrogators, and since no motive has been officially established, no hate crime has yet been charged against him–but anti-gay hate crime charges are definitely on everyone’s mind who knew of Mr. Cosby’s animosity towards gays and lesbians.

Vigils and commemorations are being planned throughout Texas. Later in the coming week, a vigil is being organized in Dallas by c.d. kirven, a local advocate for LGBT justice and equality.  On a Facebook post, c.d. said, “I still plan to hold vigils next week and will keep those interested update! Please pray for families!”  The couple leaves a 5-year-old daughter behind to face life without her moms.

While the language of caution and hesitation is still being used in relation to this heinous crime, should the allegations against James Larry Cosby prove true, there should be little doubt of the horrific potency of heterosexism, patriarchy, and homophobia–powerful enough to invade the most sacred and intimate of human relationships, that of a father and his daughter, and to leave a small child parentless.

March 14, 2014 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bludgeoning, GLBTQ, gun violence, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Koran, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, religious intolerance, Social Justice Advocacy, Texas, Vigils | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nebraska Lesbians Attacked with Crowbar for “Shaming” Muslim Family

Tuma allegedly attacked his sister and her fiancée for bringing shame on the himself and his parents.  Marks aided and abetted in the assault.

Tuma allegedly attacked his sister and her fiancée for bringing shame on the himself and his parents. Marks aided and abetted in the assault.

Lincoln, Nebraska – Two lesbians were attacked Thursday by a man wielding a crowbar for supposedly shaming his family.  When the attack failed, he and his friend rammed the women’s car with a pickup truck, attempting to push the women’s vehicle into oncoming traffic.  KLKN TV reports that Ahmed Tuma and his accomplice, Nathan Marks, both 20 years of age, took offense when Tuma’s sister announced she was a lesbian, and became engaged to her fiancée.  Tuma allegedly believed his sister’s relationship with a woman shamed his family, enraging him to the point he enlisted Marks to accompany him on an ambush.  Prior to the attack, Tuma had made death threats against his sister.  Lincoln Police Department spokesperson Officer Katie Flood confirmed, “They were in fear for their lives, he had made some verbal threats to kill the sister.”

Gay Star News says that the lesbians had pulled their car near their home, and had just gotten out to enter the house at approximately 5 p.m. on Thursday when Tuma rushed them, brandishing a crowbar.  The women escaped back to the safety of their car just as the brother swung the weapon.  They frantically tried to start the car as Tuma hit the vehicle’s windows repeatedly, trying to smash them out.  When the lesbians succeeded in starting their car, Tuma rushed back to Marks’s pickup, and the two men rammed their victims’ auto in an apparent attempt to push it into the traffic speeding by.  The couple was able to get away from their assailants, and called police.

Police arrested Tuma for attempted 2nd degree assault, criminal mischief, two counts of terroristic threats and use of a weapon to commit a felony.  All of the charges except use of a weapon carry a hate crime enhancement. Marks was arrested and charged with aiding and abetting a terroristic threat, and aiding and abetting the use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony.  Both men have been arraigned, and will stand trial for the hate crimes in a Lincoln court.

November 11, 2013 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Bludgeoning, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Muslims, Nebraska, religious intolerance | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Notorious Gay Panic and Trans Panic Legal Defenses Must End, Says American Bar Association

Gwen Araujo's mother, Sylvia Guerrero, cradles her portrait. Thanks to the ABA, the so-called Gay and Trans Panic excuses for violence may one day be a thing of the past.

Gwen Araujo’s mother, Sylvia Guerrero, cradles her portrait. Thanks to the ABA, the so-called Gay and Trans Panic excuses for violence may one day be a thing of the past.

San Francisco, California – Gay Panic and Trans Panic legal defenses must go, says the House of  Delegates of the American Bar Association at their annual meeting this past week.  The delegates voted to follow the lead of California legislation calling for the cessation of excuses for violence against gays, lesbians, and transgender persons allegedly because of fear of homosexuals or the identity of transgender persons, according to eNews Park Forest.  The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the President of the National LGBT Bar Association, D’Arcy Kemnitz, sponsor of the cessation resolution at the ABA convention, called upon lawmakers throughout the United States to frame legislation banning the use of the Gay Panic and Trans Panic defenses, saying, “Legal professionals find no validity in these sham defenses mounted by those who seek to perpetuate discrimination and stereotypes as an excuse for violence.” 

The Resolution, 113A, which had previously been vetted and passed by the ABA’s Criminal Justice Section, says in part that the ABA  “urges federal, state, local and territorial governments to take legislative action to curtail the availability and effectiveness of the ‘gay panic’ and ‘trans panic’ defenses, which seek to partially or completely excuse crimes such as murder and assault on the grounds that the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for the defendant’s violent reaction,” according to the report of Gay Star News.  The Resolution goes on to say, “Such legislative action should include requiring courts in any criminal trial or proceeding, upon the request of a party, to instruct the jury not to let bias, sympathy, prejudice, or public opinion influence its decision about the victims, witnesses, or defendants based upon sexual orientation or gender identity; and specifying that neither a non-violent sexual advance, nor the discovery of a person’s sex or gender identity, constitutes legally adequate provocation to mitigate the crime of murder to manslaughter, or to mitigate the severity of any non-capital crime.”

Californians passed their 2006 law banning the use of Gay and Trans Panic defenses in response to the infamous 2002 slaying of transwoman Gwen Araujo of Newark, California by four male assailants who claimed that they panicked in “the heat of the moment” when they discovered Araujo’s biological identity.  The trial uncovered the truth, that both main defendants had sexual relations with Araujo for months prior to the gruesome murder, which they perpetrated by bludgeoning her into unconsciousness with a can of tomatoes and an iron frying pan.  Her attackers finished Araujo off by strangling her with a rope and beating her with a shovel.  Gwen’s murderers then drove her body four hours away from the San Francisco Bay area to bury her in a shallow grave in the Sierra Nevado mountains, where her remains lay undiscovered for several days.  All four defendants were found guilty of the killing, and were sentenced to prison after a series of three trials.  The two main defendants were sentenced to 15 years to life for second degree murder.  The consensus of legal opinion is that the Araujo trials went a far distance toward discrediting the Trans Panic defense for perpetrating violence against LGBTQ people.

In 2009, on what would have been Gwen Araujo’s 25th birthday had she lived, her mother Sylvia Guerrero called upon the American public to commemorate her transgender daughter’s life.  Speaking to the Examiner.com, Ms. Guerrero invited everyone to honor her child though acts of joy and service: “Light a candle, release a balloon, or do a good deed for someone less fortunate than yourself.  Thank you for keeping her memory alive.”  Now, Gwen Amber Rose Araujo has an even more lasting legacy with the ABA’s campaign to end the Trans Panic and Gay Panic excuses for violence in the American legal system forever.  Rest in peace, Sister.

August 15, 2013 Posted by | American Bar Association (ABA), anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Blame the victim, Bludgeoning, California, gay panic defense, GLBTQ, Gwen Araujo, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, LGBTQ, National LGBT Bar Association, Strangulation, trans-panic defense, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oregon’s “Pink Poodle” Gay Bashing Draws Federal Hate Crime Charges

Gay Bashing victim David Beltier (l), partner Jeremy Mark (r), and their poodle Beauty.

Gay Bashing victim David Beltier (l), partner Jeremy Mark (r), and their poodle Beauty.

Hillsboro, Oregon – A bizarre anti-gay crime case at a busy highway street crossing has attracted national attention as Federal prosecutors issued hate crimes charges against a man whose homophobic rage was sparked by the sight of a pink poodle.  The assailant, George Mason Jr., 22, was charged this week with a violation of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act for attacking a gay man with a heavy bolt cutter and screaming anti-gay slurs during a peaceful, midday stroll with his boyfriend and their pink-dyed poodle on March 1.  Multiple witnesses say Mason shouted slurs at the gay couple from his SUV, did a U turn, raced back to the intersection, and allegedly attacked David Beltier with his fists and the bolt cutter. Beltier sustained blows to the upper arm, and to the back of his head.  The assault could very nearly have cost Beltier his life.

Portland, Oregon court documents record the hate crime in legal language, but preserve the horror of the assault, coming from a complete stranger: “(Mason) willfully caused bodily injury and, through the use of a dangerous weapon, attempted to cause bodily injury to (Beltier), who is gay, because of (Beltier’s) actual and perceived sexual orientation.”  The Associated Press, in a story carried by the Columbus (IN) Republic, also reports that Mason faces Oregon state charges including second-degree intimidation, second-degree assault, unlawful use of a weapon, and reckless driving. The intimidation charge is a bias-motivation charge in the Oregon state code. Mason’s wife, Saraya Gardner, who was in Mason’s vehicle at the time of the attack, has also been charged in the case for obstructing justice.

George Mason Jr.  Alleged gay basher enraged by the sight of a pink poodle.

George Mason Jr. Alleged gay basher enraged by the sight of a pink poodle.

In an interview in Komonews.com, Beltier and his partner, Jeremy Mark, recounted that they were crossing the street with their pink-dyed poodle, Beauty, when the attack occurred.  Beauty, explained Beltier and Mark, had been harmlessly dyed pink with Kool-Aid for a bit of pre-Easter fun, and to match their two other pastel-dyed dogs. The sight of the pink poodle proved too much for Mason, who screamed profanities at the couple from his moving vehicle.  The intersection was filled with witnesses who blared their horns in protest of the attacker.  Beltier credits the witnesses with saving his life.  “If I didn’t hear all the other people honking, all the people seeing what was going on, he could have probably severely hurt me, maybe even killed me right there and then,” he said.  The New York Daily News reports Mark’s account of the slurs Mason hurled at his boyfriend. “[Mason] was saying, “Your poodle is a weird color and that’s just un-American” and “f— you, you f–s” and shouting,” Mark said.

Beltier then picked up the story for Komo News: “After that, [Mason] turns around, he goes back to his car, runs back to his car and brings out this long wrench-looking crowbar tool or something like that, and he comes back after me.”  Mason then struck Beltier on the upper arm and in the back of the head. Beltier’s boyfriend was frantic with fear for his lover’s life.  “I just couldn’t believe it,” said Mark. “I was shouting at the guy to stop. There’s no need for violence. There’s nothing to provoke him. … I was fearing for his life.”

As Mason raced away from the scene of the crime, witnesses tried to block his vehicle, and one witness took off after him, capturing Mason’s license plate number.  The information led to the arrest of Mason and his wife, Gardner.

Though officials advised the gay couple to eliminate the bright pink color from his pet’s fur, Beltier and Mark remain adamant.  They say that they did nothing wrong, and they are not going to let fear dictate their lives.  They just allowed Beauty’s fur to grow out naturally over time.

 

June 28, 2013 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Bludgeoning, FBI, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Matthew Shepard Act, Oregon, Pink poodle, Slurs and epithets, U.S. Justice Department | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Matthew Wayne Shepard: Honor and Educate in His Memory


Thank you to the Sacramento Gay and Lesbian Center. Never forget!

Laramie, Wyoming – Wednesday, October 12 will be the thirteenth anniversary of America’s archetypal gay hate crimes victim.  Matthew Shepard was brutally attacked and beaten into a coma by two locals who targeted him for abduction, robbery, and murder at the Fireside Lounge on the night of October 7, 1998.  They left him trussed to the base of a buck fence, exposed to the freezing cold after stealing his shoes.  When Matt was discovered the next day by a passing mountain biker, he was so brutally disfigured that his discoverer at first assumed what he was looking at was a broken down scarecrow that had been put out for Hallowe’en.  Matt’s injuries were too severe to be treated at the local hospital emergency room, so he was transported to Fort Collins in neighboring Colorado where a state of the art trauma center fought to save his life.  For five agonizing days, Matt lay close to death with an injured brain stem–a terrible wound from which he could never recover.  His family, mother Judy, father Dennis, and younger brother Logan stood vigil beside him while the life force ebbed.

For thirteen years, Matt’s memory has been honored, invoked, and ridiculed by a nation wrestling with heterosexism, homophobia, and transphobia–a culture of anti-LGBTQ violence that has claimed the lives of over 13,000 queer folk whom we know about (and God knows how many others whose murders have never been reported to anyone keeping records).  Nothing will ever bring any of them back to us.  They are gone, but to memory.

Those of us who labor for the better angels of our national character to emerge have a responsibility to remember Matt and all the rest, to honor them by never forgetting the cost of being sexually different in these United States, and to take up the mission of educating the LGBTQ community and the general public that difference of any kind is no warrant for ignorance,prejudice, and violence, but rather is an occasion for understanding and neighborly solidarity.  The anniversary of Matt’s untimely death is a good time to erase hatred from the American psyche.

In that spirit, I offer this short excerpt from “The Second Death of Matthew Shepard,” Chapter One of my recently published book, Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Victims:

“Matt Shepard died in a Fort Collins, Colorado hospital in the wee hours of October 12, 1998 with his parents by his side. Ironically, it was the day after America’s observance of National Coming Out Day. His team of doctors and nurses, professional as they were, could not undo what hate had done to Matt.  He never woke up from his coma. His heart gave out. The ventilator switched off, and Matt was gone. Our memory of him,however, cannot rest in peace. Not yet” (page 3).

Our memory of all the dead whose “unfinished lives” calls out to us to do the work of justice.  May Matt and the 13,000 rest in peace. God being our strength, we must not.  Grace and peace to all on this National Coming Out Day 2011.  ~ Stephen V. Sprinkle

October 11, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Asian Americans, Beatings and battery, bi-phobia, Bisexual persons, Bludgeoning, gay bashing, gay men, gay teens, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Matthew Shepard, Matthew Shepard Act, Matthew Shepard Foundation, Native Americans, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia, Unfinished Lives Book Signings, Wyoming | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is History: We Must Not Forget Its Cost

Washington, D.C. – Today marks the advent of full repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the 1993 law making gay and lesbian servicemembers liable for discharge if they admitted their sexual orientation.  While there will be celebrations and night watch parties throughout the nation marking this historic day in the struggle for LGBTQ equality, we cannot afford to forget the terrible cost anti-gay discrimination has wrought in the Armed Forces of the United States.  So, today, we lift up the lives and patriotic service of four gay men who died because of the ignorance and bigotry of other servicemembers, and the systemic bigotry of the services themselves which at best permitted these murders, and at worst encouraged them.

Seaman August Provost of Houston, Texas, was shot to death on duty in a Camp Pendleton guard shack, and his remains were burned to erase the evidence of the deed on June 30, 2009 in San Diego, California. He had recently complained to his family that a fellow servicemember was harassing him because of his sexual orientation.  He feared speaking with his superiors about the harassment because of the threat of discharge due to DADT.  His partner in life, Kaether Cordero of Houston, said, “People who he was friends with, I knew that they knew. He didn’t care that they knew. He trusted them.”  Seaman Provost joined the Navy in 2008 to gain benefits to finish school, where he was studying to become an architectural engineer.

Private First Class Michael Scott Goucher, a veteran of the Iraq War, was murdered near his home in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, on February 4, 2009 by an assailant who stabbed him at least twenty times. Known locally as “Mike on a Bike” by neighbors and friends, Goucher was an assistant organist for a congregation of the United Church of Christ, and Captain of the neighborhood Crime Watch.  He also was a selectively closeted gay man, hiding his sexual orientation from his community. Goucher survived deployment in Iraq, only to meet death at the hands of homophobes back home.

Private First Class Barry Winchell of Kansas City, Missouri, was bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat as he slept in his barracks by a member of his unit at Fort Campbell, Kentucky on July 6, 1999.  Winchell had fallen in love with a transgender woman, Calpurnia Adams, who lived in Nashville, Tennessee.  In the fallout from his murder, President Bill Clinton ordered a review of DADT, which resulted in the addition of a “Don’t Harass” amendment to the policy, but little else. The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, who represented Winchell’s parents in litigation with the U.S. Army, demanded to know who in the upper ranks of Fort Campbell knew of the murder and its subsequent cover up.  The commandant of the fort was promoted over the objections of many human rights advocates. Winchell’s story has been immortalized by the 2003 film, “Soldier’s Girl.”

Petty Officer Third Class Allen R. Schindler Jr. of Chicago Heights, Illinois was murdered on October 27, 1992 in a public toilet on base in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan. His killer was a shipmate who despised Schindler for being gay. He had been outed while on board the U.S.S. Belleau Wood, and was supposedly under the protection of his superiors until he could be separated from the service.  Schindler had called his mother to tell her to expect him home by Christmas.  Instead, the Navy shipped his savaged remains home to Chicago Heights before Thanksgiving.  The only way family members could identify his remains was by a tattoo of the U.S.S. Midway on his forearm.  Otherwise, he was beaten so brutally that his uncle, sister, and mother could not tell he was their boy.  Schindler’s murder was presented as a reason DADT should never have been enacted, but authorities in Washington brushed his story aside and enacted the ban against gays in the military anyway. Schindler’s story is told at length in Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Victims, authored by the founder of the Unfinished Lives Project, Dr. Stephen Sprinkle.

We at Unfinished Lives celebrate the repeal of DADT tonight with thanksgiving for the courage of lesbian and gay servicemembers who chose to serve their country in the military though their country chose not to honor them.  More than 13,500 women and men were drummed out of the service under DADT.  But in addition to the thousands who faced discharge and shame, we cannot forget, we must not forget, the brave souls who died at the hands of irrational hatred and ignorance–the outworking of a blatantly discriminatory policy that never should have blighted the annals of American history.  The four lives we remember here are representative of hundreds, perhaps thousands more, whose stories demonstrate the lengths to which institutions and governments will go to preserve homophobia and heterosexism.  We will remember with thanksgiving our gay and lesbian dead, for to forget them would be to contribute to the ills wrought by DADT.

September 20, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Blame the victim, Bludgeoning, California, DADT, Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT), gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, gun violence, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Illinois, immolation, Kentucky, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, military, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Protests and Demonstrations, Remembrances, Repeal of DADT, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Slashing attacks, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, stabbings, Stomping and Kicking Violence, Tennessee, Texas, transgender persons, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Marines, U.S. Navy, Vigils, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gay Cowboy Stoned To Death in Apparent Revenge Killing

Jason "Cowboy" Huggins, from his Facebook page

San Diego, California – On June 22, a wounded 31-year-old gay man struggled out of a gorge near the 1300 block of Washington Street, San Diego, and flagged down a passing motorist. He managed to tell the driver that he had been attacked with blows to his head from a rock before he fell unconscious from his injuries.  Police and paramedics responded, and Jason “Cowboy” Huggins was rushed to the Mercy Hospital trauma center where his condition deteriorated rapidly.  Huggins, a well-liked member of the San Diego LGBTQ community, fell into a coma, and two weeks later, on July 6, died from massive injuries to his head and brain from blunt force trauma.  He had been literally stoned to death. 10News.com reported that police arrested Joshua James Larson, 37, two days after the stoning, and charged him with the Huggins attack and a second assault charge in another case.  He is being held on $1 million for the crimes, and could serve from 33 years to life in prison if found guilty of the charges. Investigative reporting uncovered that Huggins had testified against Larson two years prior to the attack, alleging that Larson was guilty of drug possession and grand larceny. Though police have not issued a motive in the killing, and have not labeled the case a hate crime, revenge is suspected to be the motive.  Was the murderous attack motivated by anti-LGBTQ phobia?  The facts seem unclear about whether and to what extent that may have been a contributing factor. The nature of the attack, however, a prehistoric homicide with biblical overtones, caught the attention of the press. Even though sexual orientation has not been identified by the police as an aggravating factor in the murder of “Cowboy” Huggins, the San Diego LGBTQ community has rallied to his memory, and have raised money to help his relatives come to his funeral all the way from his native home in Clarksville, Tennessee, according to the San Diego Gay & Lesbian News. Huggins, who was easy to spot in the LGBTQ scene, was over 6 feet tall, and wore a cowboy hat, jeans, western shirt, boots, and a large, rodeo-style belt buckle.  In his Google Profile, he wrote, “I am a true cowboy from TN now living in sunny San Diego, CA. I am gay and have HIV too. Came out of the closet to all my redneck friends back in TN and was accepted because I am still a great friend that never overstepped my boundries.”  The New Civil Rights Movement notes that friends and family in his hometown of Clarksville knew about his sexual orientation and loved him very much. “We remember him being a kid with no aggressiveness in him at all,” Jennifer Sanders, Huggins’ aunt, said. “He was a fun-​loving, joking-​type of person, a very good kid. I call him a ‘kid’ because he was like my third child. We still can’t believe that it happened. It’s still a shock. He was only 31 years old. He’s going to be well missed by all of his friends out there in San Diego and his family.”  Faithful friends stood vigil for Cowboy Huggins from June 22 until his funeral day. So, Jason Baron Huggins was committed to his eternal rest on July 11 at Hillcrest in San Diego, attended by his family, friends, and a loyal LGBTQ community who loved him.  As one commenter on the Facebook event page wrote for all the world to see, “Rest in peace, Cowboy.”

July 17, 2011 Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Bludgeoning, California, funerals, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, HIV/AIDS, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Media Issues, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Social Justice Advocacy, Tennessee, Vigils | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Convicted Murderer of Gay Man Gets Parole; LGBTQ Community Vows to Fight It

Convicted Killer Jon Buice to be paroled in October 2011

Houston, Texas – With less than half his sentence served, the convicted murderer of a Houston gay man is to be paroled.  The LGBTQ community and crime victims’ advocates are up in arms to stop it.  Jon Buice, the last incarcerated member of the infamous “Woodlands Ten” who murdered 27-year-old Paul Broussard on July 4, 1991, is going free unless the Parole Board changes its mind.  In a 2-0 decision handed down on Friday, the board unanimously acted to approve Buice’s parole over the protests of his victim’s mother.  Nancy Rodriguez, who has stalwartly advocated for Buice to remain behind bars throughout the years, has told KHOU-TV that she has asked the members of the board to reconsider their decision.

Paul Broussard’s killing made national headlines in 1991 as a clear case of cold blooded hate crime murder.  A gang of teens traveled from the Woodlands, an upscale northern suburb of Houston, to the Montrose neighborhood, looking for gays to bash.  Their ploy was to ask a man on the street to direct them to a gay bar, and then, assuming his answer would incriminate him as a gay man, to assault and abduct him for a night of terror. Broussard, a young, unsuspecting banker, became their target.  The youths dragged him to a park where they savagely attacked him with their fists, steel-toed boots, nail-studded two-by-fours, and a knife.  Buice, who wielded the knife, stabbed Broussard three times with vicious efficiency, and “gutted him like a deer,” according to one commentator.  Of the ten in the gang, five received significant jail time.  Buice was sentenced to 45 years in prison because he did the slashing and stabbing of the innocent gay man.

Paul Broussard and his mother, Nancy Rodriguez

In the years since the trial, all but Buice have been released into society.  Because of the heinous nature of the stabbing, Buice had been successfully kept in prison until now.  In prison, he has earned college degrees, and some say he has been a “model inmate.” Based on the assessment of his advocates, Buice has claimed he has been rehabilitated and no longer offers and threat to society. Paul Broussard’s mother is not buying it.  As reported in this blog last year, when parole was denied her son’s killer, Nancy Rodriguez has said that any remorse on Buice’s part is too-little-too-late, and is fabricated by his desire to get out of jail. Mrs. Rodriguez has often said that she prayed her son’s killer would stay in prison for at least 27 years–one year in captivity for each year of Paul’s unfinished life.

Reaction to the Parole Board’s decision was swift.  Andy Kahan, crime victims’ family advocate, told KHOU: “We had anticipated, and certainly hoped, that it would be denied. Our efforts were in seeing how long it would be denied. It was stunning.” Kahan went on to say that he and his organization will fight the decision, vowing that, even if they lose, they will go down “kicking and screaming” because of the implications of the decision for other victims’ families and friends. “This decision sends chills down not only to Nancy’s family but to other families of murdered children in hoping that they don’t have to undergo the same ordeal,” he said.  Noel Freeman, President of the Houston Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Political Caucus, says that Buice needs to remain behind bars, and he will work to flood the parole board with “thousands” of letters appealing to board members to reverse their decision. “There are people on death row who have done far less heinous crimes that what Jon Buice did,” Freeman said to KHOU. “We’re going to encourage all members of the community to write the parole board, write their representatives, write their state senators. We will mobilize the community. The community mobilized when Paul was murdered back in 1991.”

The two members of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles assigned to Huntsville, where the decision was made to grant Buice a parole are Rissie L. Owens (term expires 2015) and Thomas A. Leeper (term expires 2013). They do not have to reconsider what they have done under law. But if Nancy Rodriguez, Andy Kahan, and Noel Freeman have anything to do about it, they will have plenty of mail to read from across the Lone Star State and from around the nation.

Huntsville Board Office, Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles contact information:

1300 11th St., Suite 520 

P.O. Box 599

Huntsville, TX 77342-0599

936-291-2161
936-291-8367 Fax

July 6, 2011 Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Bludgeoning, Gang violence, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Social Justice Advocacy, stabbings, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

6 New York Teens Charged with Murder as Hate Crime

Anthony Collao, 18, fatally mistaken as gay, (l), pictured with his girlfriend, Wendy Vargas

New York City – Six teenagers have been charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime in the fatal March attack on an 18-year-old male perceived to be gay.  365 Gay reports that the youths attacked and stomped Anthony Collao of Bethpage on Long Island to death as he was leaving a birthday party on March 15 in Woodhaven, Queens. The suspects, none of whom are older than 18, crashed the party, breaking windows, shouting “homophobic remarks,” and scrawling anti-gay slurs and epithets on the wall with a red marker. Collao and his cousin, sensing trouble, tried to leave the home, but were chased outside where the assailants threw Collao against a car, and savagely beating and stomping him until he no longer moved.  His cousin screamed for them to stop, saying that Collao was not gay and had a girlfriend, but the attackers continued pressing their assault with their fists, shod feet, and a metal pipe. Collao fell into an irreversible coma and died two days later at a Jamaica hospital when life support was removed from him. Four suspects — Alex Velez, 16, of the Bronx, Christopher Lozada and Luis Tabales, both 17 and from Queens,  and Nolis Ogando, 18, also from Queens – were arrested soon after the attack. A fifth suspect, Calvin Pietri, 17, of Woodhaven, who allegedly bragged about the killing on Facebook, was arrested within a day of the attack. Jonathan Echevarria, 16, of Brooklyn was also arrested and charged.  Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown told news reporters that each suspect has been charged with a 21-count indictment of murder as a hate crime.  The charges were upgraded after new evidence in the case came to light.  The suspicion that someone might be gay, or even an unsubstantiated accusation of it, as in this case, carries the potential of death. Homophobia and heterosexism are deadly to straights as well as gays.  The defendants in this case could each face as much as 25 years for the crime if found guilty.

June 24, 2011 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Bludgeoning, Gang violence, gay bashing, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Mistaken as LGBT, New York, Slurs and epithets, Stomping and Kicking Violence | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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