Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Lesbian Mutilated in Nebraska Hate Crime Speaks Out To Doubters

Charlie Rogers, victim of alleged anti-LGBTQ hate crime, speaks out for the first time.

Lincoln, Nebraska – “I am not a pawn in a game, you know. I am a person.” Charlie Rogers, the victim of an alleged hate crime mutilation in the Nebraska capital city spoke out for the first time in an extended interview on KETV Omaha on Thursday.  Rogers, a 33-year-old small business owner who lives openly as a lesbian, said she decided to grant the interview in response to media reports that police were investigating if her report was a hoax.

The five-minute interview shows the passion and hurt Ms. Rogers feels as the victim of a horrific home invasion, allegedly by three masked men early on Sunday who stripped her, bound her with zip ties, carved anti-gay slurs into her flesh, and then attempted to set the house on fire.  Her harrowing experience did not end with a stay in the hospital and then in a safe house where she has been recovering since the attack.  Now Ms. Rogers has to deal with the suspicions unleashed by doubts about her report of what happened to her in the dead of night in her own home. “It feels like a kick in the stomach,” she told KETV, even though she understands that there will always be doubters. “Being a victim in situation like this or a survivor and then having your integrity questioned, I guess, it feels very victimizing again,” Rogers said. “It makes an already difficult situation more difficult because my world has been changed forever by these events.” Lincoln Police Officer Katie Flood suggested to NBC  that they were investigating all aspects of the case, including whether Ms. Rogers made the whole thing up. The media seized on the suggestion of a hoax immediately, sensationalizing the story of this outrage into an inquest into the victim’s credibility.

Investigators found three spray-painted anti-gay epithets in Ms. Rogers’ home, including one that read, “We Found U Dyke!”  Coupled with the victim’s report that the attack was motivated by homophobia, and the slurs sliced into her skin, all these factors have led police to proceed as if this case was a hate crime based on sexual orientation.

But the hate crime investigation notwithstanding, Lincoln’s populace is reportedly plagued by doubts.  Speculation mounted in the days before Ms. Rogers’ interview–“what if…?”

Ms. Rogers’ attorney, Megan Mikolajczyk, told CNN that her client wanted to dispel as much of the doubt as she could.  Mikolajczyk said she wasn’t surprised that there were people who wondered if the attack really ever happened at all. She also said that Ms. Rogers was not answering any one person’s doubts in particular. “I don’t think it’s safe or necessary to point the finger at any one individual,” Mikolajczyk said. “I think it’s par for the course for any sort of high-profile incident for people to question what happened.”

Sadly, Ms. Rogers’ attorney is right: it is “par for the course” for doubts to be raised about the veracity, mental state, motives, and character of LGBTQ hate crimes victims whenever they are targeted by violent attacks.  Such suspicion may or may not aid investigators to arrive at the truth in cases like this one, but it surely re-victimizes the person wounded or killed in such attacks.  “We-doubt-you” stories in the press and on TV also rob many of these outrageous crimes of their news worthy power to draw badly needed national attention to the soaring increases in anti-LGBTQ hate crimes.  Blame and besmirch the victims of hate crimes is one of the leading ways heterosexist communities control gay people, as dozens of stories on the Unfinished Lives Blog show. One has to wonder whether statements of police officers to the media about hoaxes are less about the search for forensic truth than the desperation of the status quo to stay intact when revelatory events begin to disturb the public.

Ms. Rogers, an avid LGBTQ advocate, community volunteer, and former University of Nebraska basketball star, deserves a great deal of credit for coming forward to set the record straight, and to quell as much of the doubt as she can. Time will tell who is right, but time is also of the essence as the trail of the alleged attackers grows increasingly cold. Many in Lincoln, hundreds of not thousands, do believe Charlie Rogers, and support her full recovery even as they remain watchful that police investigators carry out a thorough, speedy search for the truth in this case, and expeditiously bring these hate criminals to justice.

July 28, 2012 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Blame the victim, gay bashing, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, home-invasion, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Media Issues, Nebraska, Slashing attacks, Slurs and epithets, Torture and Mutilation, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gay Hate Crime in Nebraska Capital Draws Ire From Hundreds

Hundreds rally to protest alleged anti-gay hate crime at the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln. [Journal Star photo]

Lincoln, Nebraska – A woman’s report of a horrendous anti-gay hate crime has galvanized the progressive community in the Nebraska capital city to demand a stop to the violence.  Social media spread the news of a break-in at the woman’s Lincoln home on Sunday, drawing hundreds to the steps of the capitol building for a vigil in a show of support for all victims of LGBTQ hate crimes.

The Lincoln Journal Star reports that the woman was seized early Sunday morning in her home by three men in masks who stripped her, bound her hand and foot with zip ties, and proceeded to slice her skin all over her body. The victim told police that her attackers cut homophobic slurs into her flesh before splashing gasoline on the floor and setting it aflame.  As they fled the scene, the victim managed to flip and roll outside where her screams caught the attention of neighbors. Her name has not yet been released, and police are not yet speculating on a motive for the crime.

Police informed reporters for KVNO News that the victim was treated at a local hospital and released. The Lincoln LGBTQ community, who believe she was singled out because of her sexual orientation, has rallied to the victim’s support.  One local source, frustrated at the foot-dragging of the police on naming  hate crime as a motive, claims that the message, “We found you, Dyke!” spray painted in the basement of the victim’s home.

At the “Vigil Against Violence” Sunday night at the State Capitol, leaders of the LGBTQ and straight-allied community, already empowered by the recent Star City Pride Festival and a vigorous debate on the “Fairness Amendment” that would ban discrimination in housing and employment against LGBTQ people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, came out to let their voices be heard in droves–over 300 by the start of the vigil, according to the Star Journal.  Tyler Richard, president of Outlinc, a group that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Lincoln, called upon the community to support the investigation with calm and resolve.  “We are shocked and saddened by the report of an alleged hate crime involving a member of the LGBT community early Sunday morning,” Richard said. “Our hearts go out to the victim, her family and close friends. Many in our community are understandably experiencing a great deal of sadness, anger and confusion. We look to our entire community to pull together in this difficult time.”

No one has been arrested as of late Sunday night in connection with the crime.

July 23, 2012 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, home-invasion, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Nebraska, Outlinc, Slashing attacks, Slurs and epithets, Unsolved LGBT Crimes, Vigils | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lesbian Lover and Mom Shot Dead by Girlfriend’s Enraged Father

Lesbian murder victim, Norma Hurtado

Austin, Texas – A lesbian and her mother were gunned down in Southeast Austin Monday evening by a teenager’s father, furious over his daughter’s queer relationship.  Norma Hurtado, 24, and her mother, Maria Hurtado, 57, were shot to death in their home, while Norma’s 18-year-old lover, the gunman’s daughter, was in the back of the house.  José Alfonso Aviles, 45, and an unidentified second man, allegedly knocked on the door of the Austin residence in the 7100 block of Dixie Drive, and when the Hurtados answered the door, Aviles opened fire.  Witnesses told police they saw two men flee the scene in a Nissan. Both Norma and Maria were killed in the hail of bullets. Aviles was apprehended in the St. Hedwig section of San Antonio on Tuesday where he surrendered to officers of the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force.  An investigation of a green Nissan turned up a pistol thought to be the murder weapon. Aviles has been charged with capital murder and is being held in the Bexar County Jail without bond.  Details of the murder are slowly coming to light as the investigation proceeds. Norma Hurtado and the Aviles girl (whose name is not being released ostensibly because of her age) had been in a dating relationship for several months, much to the chagrin of Aviles.  According to an arrest affidavit made available to KVUE News, witnesses testified to police that Aviles had threatened Norma Hurtado and her family over the lesbian relationship. Lt. Gena Davis of the Austin Police Department told KVUE, “We do know that the father had threatened harm toward Norma previously. This has been a dispute between these two individuals and subsequently we have suffered a horrific act of violence in our community.”

The Dallas Voice broke the story in North Texas.  The Austin Police have not classified this case as a hate crime. Reporter John Wright opined that though Austin has a lesbian District Attorney, she is unlikely to pursue a hate crime angle in the double homicide.  Although Texas has a hate crime statute on the books that lists “sexual preference” as a protected class, it offers no sentence enhancement in cases of capital murder.  Texas is notorious for leaving its gay/lesbian hate crimes law uninvoked in seemingly obvious cases of homophobia such as this one.  Texas D.A.’s reason that the hate crimes law raises the bar of proof, burdening a prosecutor who is likely going for the death penalty anyway. An attempt is being made to tamp down the story, reminiscent of other LGBTQ hate crimes investigations where the authorities want to minimize the sexual orientation motive for a murder that otherwise bears all the classic marks of an anti-lesbian honor killing.  Your News Now (YNN) reports APD’s Lt. Davis as saying, “This was a very isolated incident. There is no fear to the community.” Austin, long considered “safe” for LGBTQ people, has in recent months experienced a spate of anti-gay and lesbian violence, including attacks on gay softball players and on gay community leaders outside popular gay bars. The nature of murder aimed at lesbians and gay men by straight killers may seem “isolated” as the police wish to portray it, but the brutality, rage, and callousness of the crimes bespeak a message to the whole LGBTQ community of Travis County and Central Texas. The Unfinished Lives Project Team would be very surprised if lesbians and gay men in Austin are buying the line the APD is trying to sell them.  Austin is no longer safe and secure for its LGBTQ population.

April 20, 2011 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Austin Police Department, death threats, gay teens, gun violence, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, home-invasion, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Legislation, Lesbian women, multiple homicide, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Texas, women | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Transwoman’s Murderer Gets 111-Year Sentence in Puerto Rico

Ashley Santiago, hate murder victim; Emmauel Ayala, insert (Primera Hora photo)

Bayamón, Puerto Rico – A man who confessed stabbing a 31-year-old transgender woman in her Corozal home has received a 111-year sentence for the crime. Emmanuel Adorno Ayala, 22 at the time of the murder, was sentenced by Judge Jesús Peluyera, according to Primera Hora.  Ayala admitted to authorities that he stabbed and slashed Ms. Santiago at least fourteen times. EDGE Boston reports that Ms. Santiago’s mother, Carmen Ocasio, weeping as she responded to the judge’s strong sentence, said, “This pain will remain with me the rest of my life.”  Ms. Santiago, a popular hairstylist in Corozal, was found naked in her apartment lying in a pool of blood. Officials arrested Ayala, and after his confession, sought a psychiatric evaluation to determine whether he was competent to stand trial. In November the court adjudged Ayala fit to stand trial for the heinous murder. Social justice advocates in Puerto Rico note that the severity of the sentence and the relative swiftness of the judge’s action are heartening developments in the U.S. Territory, which has been riven by numerous, grisly anti-LGBTQ murders in recent years.

February 7, 2011 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Hate Crimes, home-invasion, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Puerto Rico, Social Justice Advocacy, stabbings, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ugandan Gay Activist Killed in Cold Blood: Were Christians Accomplices in His Murder?

Kampala, Uganda – Prominent defender of Gay Rights in Uganda, David Kato, was murdered in his home by two blows with a hammer this Wednesday. Kato, 40-something at the time of his slaughter, was a well-known voice around the world for human rights, and an outspoken leader protesting Draconian legislation in his home country which would make consensual same-sex activity punishable by law, perhaps even requiring the state to execute convicted homosexuals. What responsibility does the Christian Church bear for the outrageous murder of David Kato? Many in Uganda, including leading church officials, priests, missionaries, and ministers, fervently believe in a sort of “gay conspiracy”on the part of same-sex loving men whom they say will infect their children with the “virus of homosexuality.” Friday, Kato’s funeral was marred by the homophobic outburst of an Anglican priest, Fr. Thomas Musoke, who loudly invoked dire comparisons with the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah until mourners wrenched a microphone out of his hands, according to 365 Gay.  The Ugandan Anglican Church, active in encouraging resistance among conservative Episcopalians to the elevation of gays and lesbians as bishops in the United States in recent years, is well-known for opposing LGBTQ rights in the Central African nation.  Christian evangelical missionaries and so-called “experts” on homosexual sin from the United States, such as the notorious Watchman on the Walls Scott Lively, have preached the judgment of God on the Ugandan people if gays and lesbians are allowed to live and love openly in society. U.S. evangelicals exerting influence in Uganda teach that gays and lesbians could be changed to heterosexuality by prayer and counseling if they had enough faith. According to masslive.com, Lively, part of a 2009 evangelical mission to Uganda preaching anti-gay messages to officials and churchmen (Lively even spoke before the Ugandan Parliament during the tour), now says that it is “too early to call Kato’s murder a hate crime,” since the police have rushed to claim that the murder was the consequence of a simple robbery. In rebuttal, Val Kalende, chairwoman of an LGBT human rights group in Uganda said to the New York Times, “David’s death is a result of the hatred planted in Uganda by U.S. evangelicals in 2009. The Ugandan government and the so-called U.S. evangelicals must take responsibility for David’s blood.” Indeed, well-funded groups such as the shadowy Washington C Street evangelical organization, “The Family,” have sent funds and encouragement for the “Kill The Gays” legislations still making its way through the Ugandan Parliament. M.P. David Bahati, primary sponsor of anti-gay legislation in Uganda, is affiliated with “The Family.”  NPR host, Michel Martin, explored the culpability of Christians for Kato’s murder with guests on her weekday broadcast, “Tell Me More,” this Friday.  Martin interviewed Jeffery Gettleman, East Africa Bureau chief for the New York Times, asking him directly, “This has also been a big story in the United States, of course, because of the participation of a group of American evangelicals whom we also interviewed on this program. One in particular named Scott Lively, who many human rights activists have said helped to create this context of intolerance. Do you think that that’s true? Do you think the American evangelicals’ visit there was really that influential?” Gettleman replied, “I do think it was influential. I think a lot of people in Uganda and the part of Africa where I live, in Kenya and most of this continent and probably most of this world, there’s many people who are homophobic. But it didn’t take a violent form. It was – people thought that, in Uganda, people thought gay people were strange, that they were outliers, but they weren’t really fired up to do anything about it.” Gettleman continued, “It was only after the visits by these Americans who billed themselves as experts in dealing with homosexual issues that the Ugandan politicians and church groups got really angry about it and suggested killing gay people.” Religious hate speech, whether “soft” in its rhetoric (“Love the Sinner/Hate the Sin”), or blatantly hostile (“Gays and Lesbians are an Abomination in God’s Sight, and Deserve to Die”) has consequences for the safety of LGBTQ people wherever they live. This is certainly true, in our opinion, in Central Africa. David Kato was deservedly called “the father of the Uganda gay rights movement.” In the wave of hostility in tabloid media toward LGBTQ people following the 2009 U.S. evangelical tour of Uganda, Kato’s lynching was suggested in the press. When Christian leaders justify the demonization of LGBTQ people for their sexual orientation or gender presentation, either by selectively quoting scripture and subsequently distorting its life-giving meaning, or by reading their own homophobia back into church teaching to claim that “Gays and Lesbians are sinners,” these clerics are not only exposing a vulnerable minority to religious, political, and social persecution.  They are also exposing their own theology and ethics as woefully bankrupt and void of spiritual integrity. Clerics in Uganda and the United States who stoke hatred against LGBTQ people are no longer messengers of God. They have become a mob of theological thugs.  Anglican Archbishop Emeritus of Capetown, Desmond Tutu, is one of the few courageous voices of Christian integrity in Africa willing to speak out against religious intolerance and hate speech. In the Washington Post last March, Archbishop Tutu appealed for the church to own up to its role in fomenting hatred against gays and lesbians, and instead to commit its resources for repentance and reconciliation for all people.  He said, in part, “Hate has no place in the house of God. No one should be excluded from our love, our compassion or our concern because of race or gender, faith or ethnicity — or because of their sexual orientation.” Tutu continued, “Our lesbian and gay brothers and sisters across Africa are living in fear. And they are living in hiding — away from care, away from the protection the state should offer to every citizen and away from health care in the AIDS era, when all of us, especially Africans, need access to essential HIV services. That this pandering to intolerance is being done by politicians looking for scapegoats for their failures is not surprising. But it is a great wrong. An even larger offense is that it is being done in the name of God. Show me where Christ said ‘Love thy fellow man, except for the gay ones.’ Gay people, too, are made in my God’s image. I would never worship a homophobic God.” Amen, Archbishop!  Tutu must be joined by a world-wide chorus of Christian voices denouncing the murder of David Kato, the terrorization of his LGBTQ brothers and sisters, and renouncing the use of religion to incite bigotry and fear. Unless the world Christian community repents of its role in murder and mayhem like that in Uganda and Central Africa, Christian theology itself will continue to collapse from “heart-failure”–failing to discern and apply the heart of the message of Jesus Christ which was never bad tidings of fear, but Good News of mercy and justice for everyone.

January 29, 2011 Posted by | "Kill the Gays Bill", Africa, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Beatings and battery, C Street "The Family", funerals, gay bashing, gay men, harassment, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, home-invasion, Law and Order, Legislation, Lesbian women, mob-violence and lynching, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Politics, Protests and Demonstrations, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, soft homophobia, Uganda, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Murderer Gets Life in Prison for Anti-Gay Hate Crime Killing

New Port Richey, Florida – After days of deliberation, a Pasco County jury has found John Allen Ditullo, 24, guilty of the March 2006 murder of teenager Kristofer King, whom he thought to be gay. Ditullo, a Neo-Nazi who called himself “Syn,” invaded the home of Patricia Wells whom he slashed with a knife as she slept on a futon. King, a friend of Wells’s openly gay son, Brandon Wininger, ran out of the room where he had been browsing on the internet while Brandon was away. Ditullo attacked 17-year-old King with the knife, stabbing him repeatedly. King died of his wounds in a nearby hospital.  Wells recovered. The outrage of the murder was made greater since King died as a case of mistaken identity. Ditullo, a self-proclaimed white supremacist, had an intense hatred of gays, according to testimony given by members of the Neo-Nazi cell group to which he belonged. Rumor had it that Tricia Wells had a relationship going on with a black male, and Ditullo decided to punish the gay youth and his mother for the double transgression of a gay son and an African American boyfriend. The King family acknowledged that Kris and Brandon Wininger were good friends from school, and that Kris King would occasionally stay the night at the Wells’s home with his parents’ permission. Ditullo, 20 at the time of the attack, assumed that the youth trying to flee the home he had invaded was the gay youth he intended to kill, and stabbed Kris King to death. Upon returning to the Neo-Nazi compound where he lived, Ditullo bragged to his fellow skinheads that he had murdered both Wells and her boy. According to testimony by a fellow skinhead and prison-mate, Corey Patnote,  Ditullo claimed he was proud of what he had done. Patnote said Ditullio told him, “I killed ‘em both, stabbed them in the head.” Prosecutors reminded jurors that Guy King, the murder victim’s father, received a Christmas card from Ditulio, decorated with a tombstone drawn on the front that read, “Rest In Peace. Here Lies Dead Faggot.”  The message inside: “I hope your Christmas is full of memories of your dead gay son. Merry f—— Christmas.” After a nearly hung jury re-examined the DNA evidence from the attacks on Wells and King, they brought back a unanimous verdict of guilty against Ditullo on Thursday, December 16.  He received 15 years for the attempt on the life of Tricia Wells, which he will serve concurrently with the life sentence for King’s murder. Bay News 9 reports that Charlene Bricken, King’s mother, expressed no sympathy for Ditullo after the trial. “I hope somebody gets him and he dies as brutal a death as my son did,” she said. Bricken, who says the past four years have been terribly difficult for her and the family, wants most of all for her son to be remembered as the generous, open, loving person he was in life.

December 30, 2010 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Florida, gay men, gay teens, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, home-invasion, Law and Order, Mistaken as LGBT, Neo-Nazis and White Supremacy, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Racism, Slashing attacks, stabbings | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Prominent Trans Woman of Color Murdered in PA

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – A transgender woman of color was murdered October 11 at her Point Breeze home.  While details are few at this time, the killing of Stacey Lee, 31, has been officially ruled “a homicide” by police, according to the Philadelphia Daily News.  Though members of the transgender community are suspicious about the nature of the slaying, investigators say that there is no evidence yet of a transphobic hate crime.  Ms. Lee was found by her longtime lover partially dressed and strangled to death at approximately 9:30 pm on Monday in the second-floor bedroom of the house.  Ms. Lee’s lover, fearing for his job if his identity was made public, has asked to remain unidentified.  Since he has a strong alibi, the authorities do not consider him to be a suspect in the investigation.  He related to the Daily News that he had tried several times to reach Ms. Lee by cell phone on Monday, to no avail.  When he arrived at the Point Breeze home, he let himself in with a key as usual.  Ms. Lee’s five dogs rushed to him, arousing his suspicion, since the dogs always remain with her when she is at home.  The boyfriend discovered Ms. Lee’s corpse in the upstairs bedroom.  She was without a wig, tipping off her lover that she was not expecting company when she was attacked.  “She always has at least a wig on, even if it’s just to come down to get a pizza,” he told the Daily News.  He says he has not eaten or slept since finding the body.  Neighbors say that Ms. Lee was a friendly, considerate neighbor, someone they were happy to know.  Two male neighbors, interviewed separately yesterday, said they would often see strange, white men in nice cars coming and going from the house during the day, when Ms. Lee’s boyfriend was at work. Ms. Lee has also been identified as “Overall Mother Stacey Blahnik,” by the transgender education and advocacy organization, The House of Blahnik.  As Overall Mother, Ms. Lee held a post of importance in the organization. Founded in 2000, the House of Blahnik, according to its website, “is a nationally recognized lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community provider who specializes in the performing arts, specifically using its creative talent in the area of health promotion and disease prevention.”  NY Overseer Stephaun Blahnik & Vice-Chairman of the National Board of Directors called Ms. Lee loving, inspiring, wise, and encouraging. Though a hate crime designation is “not even in the picture” at this point for Ms. Lee’s murder, Homicide Sergeant Bob Wilkins says that no possible motive has yet been ruled out. As the National Transgender Day of Remembrance approaches on November 21, leaders of the LGBTQ community are preparing themselves for a large roll call of murdered transpeople this year.  Garden State Equality notes, “One of the most underreported tragedies in America is the disproportionate rate of murder and other violent crimes against our transgender sisters and brothers.”  Since no reports of stolen items from her home have leaked out to the press, social justice advocates and transgender leaders throughout the Middle Atlantic states are watching closely for indications that Ms. Lee may have died of transphobic violence.  A candlelight vigil is planned in Ms. Lee’s memory for Saturday.

October 15, 2010 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Hate Crimes, home-invasion, House of Blahnik, Latino and Latina Americans, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy, Strangulation, transgender persons, transphobia, Unsolved LGBT Crimes, Vigils | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gay College Student Beaten by Homophobes, Ignored by Oklahoma Police

Claremore, OK – A 24-year-old gay college student was beaten late last month by three men screaming anti-gay slurs as he took out the trash at his apartment complex.  Phillip Nelson, an out and open gay man, was jumped and thrashed in the quiet town of Claremore, approximately a half hour drive north of Tulsa.  Investigators have basically blown off the incident, leaving Nelson emotionally wounded in addition to his physical injuries (see photo at left). EDGE reports that Nelson is struggling to cope with the combination of brutal attack and police indifference to a hate crime against him.  “I keep calling them and leaving voice mails but I never hear anything back,” Nelson said during an EDGE interview. “No one ever returns my calls, which has me wondering if they’re kind of trying to let this thing die out and go away, or if they are going to do anything about it.” Media coverage outside the gay blogosphere has been sparce.  Besides the EDGE report, which according to Michael Lavers grew from a tip given by one of their readers, only one other story has appeared in the news media.  Oklahoma lawmakers aver that laws protecting LGBT people are not needed in their state, and in a notorious move by State Senator Steve Russell, legislation has been introduced to circumvent the James Bryd, Jr. and Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, signed into law by President Obama in October 2009.  The Oklahoma House of Representatives has not yet voted on the bill, which passed the State Senate last month.  Nelson’s case is a clear reason why protection statutes for LGBT Oklahomans is urgently needed.  Nelson’s three attackers who remain unapprehended by local police as of this writing, assaulted him while screaming “You are going to die!” and “Faggot!” leaving him with multiple bruises and cuts on his face and over his body.  Days later, his antagonists broke into Nelson’s apartment and scrawled “Fag” on the walls. Though Nelson reported the beating to Claremore police, no police report of the attack was filed until Nelson called in law enforcement for the break-in.  Then, in what may have been an attempt to cover their tracks, the police insisted that Nelson file separate reports on both crimes.  The whole ordeal has shaken Nelson, but as he told EDGE, he has had to face homophobia all his young life. “I’ve been called names all my life, even by my family members; and after a while I learned to get numb from it,” he said. “I just got numb from a lot of things. I’m happy with myself and that’s all that matters.” LGBT Oklahomans grow tough in the Sooner State.  They have to.

April 27, 2010 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, death threats, gay men, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, home-invasion, Law and Order, Legislation, Matthew Shepard Act, Media Issues, Oklahoma, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Politics, Slurs and epithets, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Brutal Stabbing Death of Puerto Rican Transwoman Possible Hate Murder

Corozal, Puerto Rico – Ashley Santiago’s mother pressed police to investigate why she had not heard from her daughter since Sunday, April 18.  When law enforcement entered Santiago’s home on April 19 in Corozal, a municipality just 25 miles southwest of San Juan, they found her naked body in a large pool of blood collapsed on the kitchen floor.  She had been stabbed 14 times, according to the report of authorities to El Nuevo Día.  Police also reported that they could not find Santiago’s 2009 Toyota Corolla parked outside her home.  EDGE Boston picked up the story overnight, and has flashed it across the United States’ LGBT blogosphere.  Santiago, 31, was a popular hair stylist at a local salon. Echoes of the savage dismemberment-killing of gay teen Jorge Steven López Mercado in November 2009 still reverberate around the island.  His alleged murderer, Juan A. Martínez Matos, has yet to stand trial for the beheading, butchery, and attempted immolation of his victim.  After several postponements, Martínez Matos is docketed to stand trial for the murder of López Mercado in Caguas on May 3.  While law enforcement officials have not yet designated Santiago’s murder as a hate crime due to the perceived sexual orientation or gender identity and expression of the victim, LGBT activists across the region are calling on police to invoke Puerto Rico’s seldom-used hate crimes statute which covers anti-LGBT hate crimes.  Pedro Julio Serrano, noted San Juan activist who represents the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in Puerto Rico, told EDGE, “The authorities have a legal obligation to investigate this hate angle. We urge the police and the prosecutor to appropriately investigate this murder; to determine whether it was motivated by prejudice and if there is enough evidence to classify it as a hate crime at this moment.”  As Transrespect Versus Transphobia, a TVT monitoring agency in Europe reports, a transperson’s murder is reported every third day throughout the world, on average. for the last year and a half.  Authorities acknowledge, however, the deep under-reporting of the actual number of transphobic murders.

April 20, 2010 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, home-invasion, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Legislation, Puerto Rico, Social Justice Advocacy, stabbings, transgender persons, transphobia, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Arrest in Transgender Woman’s Murder in Queens, NY

Rasheen Everett, arrested in Las Vegas (Anderson photo for the NY Daily News)

Queens, NY – the NY Daily News reports that police in Las Vegas, Nevada have arrested the man wanted in the strangulation murder of transgender woman Amanda Gonzalez-Andujar.  Rahseen Everett, 29, (pictured at left in custody) allegedly strangled Ms. Gonzalez-Andujar in her Queens apartment.  She was also 29 years of age.  Everett is an ex-convict who is wanted in connection with two attempted murders in Massachusetts.  After the alleged murder in Queens, Everett fled to Las Vegas, hiding out with an unidentified acquaintance.  Police have not released details of the arrest, or how the suspect was traced to Nevada.  Ms. Gonzalez-Andujar’s murder has angered and frightened members of the New York LGBT community, who are calling for the fullest possible penalty for her murderer.  According to the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, A memorial service has been announced for her at the Metropolitan Community Church of Manhattan on April 24 from 2 pm to 3 pm.  The address is 446 W. 36th Street (between 9th & 10th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan).  A candlelight vigil is also planned in front of Ms. Gonzalez-Andujar’s Glendale Queens home on the same date, from 4 pm to 5 pm.  Stefanie Rivera, representing the SLP Collective, said, “We are still outraged at the hatred, transphobia and violence that persist to lead to the untimely deaths of more and more transgender and gender nonconforming people, particularly young transgender women of color.”  She pledged to combat the alarming trend of violence against all members of the sexual minority.  On its web site, the SLP Collective says its mission is “to guarantee that all people are free to self-determine their gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, and without facing harassment, discrimination, or violence. SRLP is a collective organization founded on the understanding that gender self-determination is inextricably intertwined with racial, social and economic justice. Therefore, we seek to increase the political voice and visibility of low-income people and people of color who are transgender, intersex, or gender non-conforming.” Ms. Gonzalez-Andujar’s body was found on March 30 some days after her death sprawled naked on her bed by a landlord who was prompted to open her apartment door by concerned friends.  One of those friends, Barbara Vega, told the News, “Everything in the apartment was destroyed. All her Marilyn Monroe pictures were destroyed.”

April 19, 2010 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Hate Crimes, home-invasion, Latino and Latina Americans, New York, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Strangulation, transgender persons, transphobia, Vigils | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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