Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Gay New Jersey Man Beaten To Death; Plea Bargains for His Killers May Reduce Charges Drastically

Scott M. Patronick (1963-2011): “I wanted to grow old together with him,” his lover said.

Phillipsburg, New Jersey – The brutal 2011 murder of out New Jersey gay man Scott Patronick made news again as his alleged killers rejected another round of plea bargains to reduce the penalty for killing a queer. Patronick, 47, a popular and well-regarded chef at the Hilltop Café, was attacked by two men who beat and kicked him to death on February 28, 2011.  Patronick suffered a fractured skull, and was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Security video cameras caught the assault as it occurred, and the suspects who callously left Patronick for dead, Joshua Dalrymple, 27, and Nicholas Yerian, 24, were arrested and charged with first-degree murder. Patronick’s lover, Michael Joseph Bumbaca, 20, has no doubt that the murder was an anti-gay hate crime, though local police deny it.

Both Dalrymple and Yerian have bluffed the District Attorney twice now, most recently this very week rejecting a plea deal that would reduce the charges against them to aggravated manslaughter, according to the Express-Times: “The deals called for Dalrymple to spend 17 years in state prison and for Yerian to serve a 12-year prison sentence, with neither man being eligible for early release. Both would be ordered to pay restitution and would be barred from contacting the victim’s family.” Both men are shooting the dice for an even lower charge, counting on local amnesia and negativity about gay men to work in their favor.  Patronick’s family stated to the press that the penalties were not enough time to make up for the life of their son and brother. But no mention is made of Patronick’s partner, Michael Bumbaca.  They apparently had a problem with Patronick’s sexual orientation, and Bumbaca was an embarrassing reminder of who their loved one really was.  Bumbaca’s name was pointedly left out of the survivors in Scott’s online obituary.

In March 2011, Bumbaca gave an extensive interview to All Voices in which he said that his lover Scott straightforwardly admitted his sexual orientation, and was proud to be gay. When asked directly about the fatal attack, Bumbaca said, “It’s a hate crime.” He believes there may be a connection between Patronick’s murder and the testimony his lover gave in a 2006 gay bashing case of another victim, Bryan Wesselius.  Prosecutors failed to lock the assailant in that case away for any more than three years in state prison, and local residents were very aware of the role Patronick played in the trial. Everyone knew Patronick was plain-spoken and would not take an assault on gay people lightly. His restaurant manager, Scott R. Shafer, told All Voices that he would sorely miss the straightforward Patronick. “He was very opinionated, but he was just the nicest guy,” Schafer said. “If I was ever in a pinch, he’d be the first one to help. We won’t be able to replace him. I’ll need two people to replace him.” Bumbaca agreed about what a good guy he was. Scott enjoyed antiques, cooking, and his beagles. He and Patronick fell in love and had plans for the future. “I planned to grow old with him,” Bumbaca said.

Since a $770 paycheck was robbed from Patronick’s person by the suspects, prosecutors in Warren County want to leave any anti-gay bias out of the equation and call this a robbery gone bad. But broken-hearted Michael and the local LGBTQ community know differently. Gay murders don’t get much sympathy in Warren County, one of New Jersey’s mountain counties, located in the northwestern part of the state. Prosecutors like to plea things out, and move along. But people in Phillipsburg remember Scott.  In a moving remembrance on his obituary tribute page, a local woman wrote: “I did not know Scott very well at all. He was my waiter on Valentine’s Day and handed me a rose when my husband and I sat down. We saw an older woman dining by herself and told Scott that we would like to pay for her dinner… he smiled and said that it was his mother. When my husband went to the bathroom, Scott brought us the check and on the back, he wrote in beautiful handwriting that he took care of it and for us to have a wonderful Valentine’s Day. It was the nicest gesture of human kindness I’ve seen in a long time….”

August 3, 2012 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, License to Bully bill, New Jersey | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Remembering Sakia Gunn (1987-2003): A Special Comment on Her Birthday

Sakia LaTona Gunn, murdered by a male homophobe as she defended her friends from him. She was not yet 16 when she died.

Newark, New Jersey – On Saturday, Sakia LaTona Gunn would have been 25 years old–but instead, she was murdered by a homophobe on the make for young lesbians.  Sakia’s story never got the press attention other LGBTQ hate crimes murder victims did.  She was a young, black, poor girl from the wrong side of the Hudson River.  But among those who know her story, there is great power for change still waiting to be released until justice finally comes for Sakia–and for all queer youth caught in the national nightmare of violence against young people of color that just won’t seem to go away.

The narrative of her last night is chilling.  Sakia and her friends returned from a great day at the Chelsea Piers over in the Big Apple.  They laughed, joked, sneaked drinks, and held each other in a blissful freedom they did not know back home.  Late, late–or early, depending on how you keep time–Sakia and her friends stood waiting for a bus to pick them up at one of the busiest bus stops in Newark, when two older, much more powerful men drove by cat-calling at them, trolling for something young and vulnerable.  They recognized that the girls were Aggressives–gender non-conforming youth who lived the hip hop life as fully as they could.  And something snapped within Richard McCullough when his blandishments were rejected by Sakia.

When McCullough, much larger and stronger than any of the girls he attacked, moved against her friends, Sakia defended them with her life.  McCullough stabbed her in the chest with a switchblade knife, later lamely claiming that she had “run” onto the knife he somehow was wielding in self defense.  Neither the jury nor the judge bought his story, and he was convicted of manslaughter in a plea bargain and sentenced to 20 years (rather than face a murder charge and be subject to far more prison time).

Sakia’s funeral was huge.  Over 2,500 people attended the wake, though it was only slightly covered in the gay media, and virtually not at all in the mainstream press–a fact that has been controversial ever since her story broke.  Racism and sexism played their part in dampening the story, as did Sakia’s self identification as a lesbian Aggressive, effectively rendering her a minority within a minority.  A courageous filmmaker, Chas Bennet Brack, worked tirelessly to bring Sakia’s story to the big screen as a documentary.  “Dreams Deferred: The Sakia Gunn Film Project” became an award winner at film festivals around the country.  Sakia’s story became a subject of research, scholarship, and artistic interest, with plays, articles, and books dedicated to her memory.  Among them is the IPPY Award winning Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Victims (Resource Publications, 2011), by Stephen V. Sprinkle, the founder and director of the Unfinished Lives Project.

Against the odds, Sakia Gunn intended on being a basketball star.  She found love and friendship in plenty during her woefully shortened life.  But her story persistently clamors for attention, crying out for justice for youth of color, queer people, and economically disadvantaged persons of all races and backgrounds.  Though she never wished it, she has become an ongoing inspiration–a brave young woman unafraid to be who she was in a hostile world, one who defended her friends.  What greater love can anyone have than that?

May 27, 2012 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, gay teens, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, New Jersey, Racism, Remembrances, Sakia Gunn Film Project, Social Justice Advocacy, stabbings | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dharun Ravi, Clementi’s Spying Roommate Found Guilty of Anti-Gay Intimidation

Dharun Ravi (l), found guilty of cyber-spying and bias intimidation against his gay roommate, Tyler Clementi (r).

New Brunswick, New Jersey – Dharun Ravi was found guilty today on the vast majority of counts for spying on his Rutgers roommate’s gay intimacies in 2010.  ABC News reports that Ravi remained emotionless as the jury brought back its verdict in one of the most closely watched anti-bullying trials in United States history.  He was found guilty of  invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering, and hindering arrest due to his actions setting up a spy-cam to record a gay tryst between his freshman roommate, Tyler Clementi, and a same-sex lover on September 19, 2010.  Ravi was also found guilty of prompting others to spy on Clementi during a second tryst on September 21, 2010, and of intimidating his roommate for being gay.  He was found not guilty of some subparts of the 15 counts of bias intimidation, attempted invasion of privacy, and attempted bias intimidation, but needed only to be found guilty of one part of each count to be convicted. Ravi, who is 20, could face a sentence of five to ten years for his crimes.  Because he is a citizen of India in the United States on a Green Card, he could also face deportation.

Behind the proceedings, the suicide of Tyler Clementi loomed like a dark cloud.  Clementi was distressed when he found out that he had been videoed in his own room and exposed for being gay. His death by drowning after leaping from the George Washington Bridge on September 22, 2010, and the connections between his suicide and Ravi’s use of the spy-cam to invade his privacy and intimidate him for his sexual orientation made international news.  Clementi’s death, one of a long list of gay intimidation suicides, burst on the national scene with long-delayed urgency, calling attention to the loss of so many young lives to school and university brutality and intimidation.

Over the course of the 12-day trial, Ravi’s defense team argued that he was not homophobic in action or intent, and that his actions were those of an immature person who saw a chance to make fun of someone different.  They also argued that Ravi’s use of a spy-cam was to monitor Clementi’s male guest, whom Ravi felt was “sketchy,” according to reports in USA Today.  The jury did not buy the explanation.  As the verdict was read, Ravi’s mother burst into tears, and his father took notes about the particulars of the findings.  Ravi will be sentenced on May 21.

Tyler Clementi’s family spoke briefly at a press conference following the verdict.  They praised the work of the court, and affirmed how important this trial was to them, though they did not refer directly to the verdict or the case.  The family will now be able to return to their Ridgewood, New Jersey home in the knowledge that some justice has finally been done for their shy, musically gifted son.

March 16, 2012 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Bullying in schools, cyber voyeurism, gay teens, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, LGBTQ suicide, New Jersey, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Social Justice Advocacy, suicide | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Harass Gays at Your Own Peril in New Jersey

Douglas Brown (Essex County Prosecutor's Office photo)

Newark, New Jersey – A 36-year-old harasser in Essex County found out the hard way that attacking gay people is costly–to himself!  Douglas Brown started harassing his former gay neighbors in the Ironbound section of Newark back in May–chanting slurs and epithets, spewing hate speech.  Unsatisfied with the results, Brown escalated his aggression against the couple, pouring oil on their home, destroying their property, and eventually slashing their car tires.  Brown was arrested on Thursday, and faces harassment, bias intimidation, and criminal mischief charges, according to reports by the Associated Press, The Advocate, and NBC New York.  Brown obviously never counted the cost of his bias against his next door neighbors, acting on it with abandon until his arrest.  He is being held under $25,000 bond at the Essex County Correctional Facility.  Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray is preparing to prosecute Brown for anti-gay hate crime.  There is no information yet about who Brown’s attorney will be.  In the Brick City, once notorious for the 2003 hate murder of lesbian teen Sakia LaTona Gunn, the times appear to be a-changing.  Attacking gay people in Newark will now get you prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

September 25, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, gay men, gay teens, GLBTQ, harassment, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, New Jersey, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Sakia Gunn Film Project, Slashing attacks, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, stabbings | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gay Bashing Costs New Jersey Burger King $3.15 Million

Union City, New Jersey – “They thought they were going to die.” James Fine, attorney for a gay couple attacked in 2007 at the Union City Burger King, said to NJ.com, that the large award granted to his clients was more than justified, given the severity of the assault: “The manager and a group of angry restaurant employees chased the couple and then mercilessly kicked, beat and spat upon the two men while screaming hate-filled anti-gay invectives.” Peter Casbar, 43, and Noel Robichaux, 46, got into a dispute at the local fast food restaurant which turned ugly, and then escalated as the couple fled out into the street. What had begun as a disagreement over an order at the counter exploded into a full-blown gay bashing.  LGBTQ Nation reports that the gay men refused to take the hate crime attack lying down, and filed a suit under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination against Food Service Properties Corporation and Union City Restaurant Corporation which own seven Burger Kings including the one at 3501 Bergenline Avenue where the crime took place. Two employees of the restaurant, Christopher Soto and Angel Caraballo, have pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated assault against Robichaux and Casbar. The harshness of the violence was compounded for the gay men because of the hatred expressed against their sexual orientation, as a psychologist testified in the civil court case. The multi-million dollar size of the monetary award, which included $1.7 million in punitive damages, indicates the gravity with which the jury took the attack.  According to NJ.com, the jury returned the verdict and damages within three hours of entering the jury room last Wednesday.  At first, the plaintiffs were overcome with emotion by the court action. Attorney Fine said they were unable to speak. Joseph R. Donahue, another attorney representing Robichaux and Casbar, said to reporters, “The jury took this beating of our clients very seriously. I think it is a very big case and we are very pleased.” Attorney Fine concurred, “Violence against anybody, including gay people, cannot be condoned. The jury spoke to the issue.”

February 27, 2011 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Burger King, gay bashing, gay men, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Legislation, New Jersey, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Accused Cyber-Spies Withdraw from University in Tyler Clementi Bullycide Case

Wei, Clementi, and Ravi (CBS picture)

Rutgers University, New Jersey – Two 18-year-old freshman students accused of cyber-spying on Tyler Clementi have withdrawn from University, according to CBS News.  Dharun Ravi and Mollie Wei will not face university disciplinary charges, but must withdraw from school in the wake of the storm of controversy that broke over what many have called the “bullycide” of classmate Clementi.  Mr. Ravi and Ms. Wei are accused of invasion of privacy by allegedly spying on Mr. Clementi during a tryst with another male in a dorm room on the Rutgers University campus, and then posting the event for the world to see on the internet.  Mr. Clementi drove to the George Washington Bridge, and threw himself off into the Hudson River as a consequence.  Mr. Ravi’s lawyer told the press that the university has told his client that he may reapply for admission at a later date, but that in reality Mr. Ravi’s career as a Rutgers student is over.  Commenting on the offer of reapplication for admission to Ms. Wei and his client, Attorney Steven Altman said, “Realistically, they couldn’t go back no matter what. He definitely plans to go somewhere else.”  Ms. Wei’s attorney said that fear for her client’s safety would keep her from seeking readmission to the school.  The New Jersey statute under which Mr. Clementi’s classmates are charged with invasion of privacy makes collection of nude or sexualized images of a person without that person’s consent a fourth-degree crime.  Broadcasting such images is classed as a third-degree crime.  If convicted as charged, both Mr. Ravi and Ms. Wei could face up to five years in prison.  In the cyber age, Americans were supposed to enter a new world of exciting information technology for the advancement of the human race.  What this horrible incident reveals, however, is that the young, who are supposed to be the vanguard of a new and better future, may be technologically savvy, but suffer from a collapse of social and interpersonal boundaries.  The perpetrators of these crimes against Tyler Clementi were toying with human emotions, sexual orientation, and human life.  They were not scooping video news and images for another shabby reality show or a university version of Jack-Ass.  We have also learned that heterosexism and homophobia have not disappeared among the tech-savvy  youth of America, either.  Was what these perpetrators did a hate crime?  Unquestionably, it has had that effect, chilling the atmosphere throughout the nation for a whole segment of the population who are young, LGBTQ, and seeking to survive in a sometimes hostile world.  The attorneys for the defense are busy doing their best to seek advantage for their clients, which includes reducing sympathy for Clementi (or worse).  What must not be lost sight of in this case and in the raft of cyber-intrusion cases to come, is that the breakdown of social boundaries actually kills.  Whatever the outcome in the courts, the Clementi family, Mr. Ravi and Ms. Wei know that shocking lesson all to well.

November 15, 2010 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Asian Americans, Bullying in schools, cyber voyeurism, gay men, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, invasion of privacy, Law and Order, Legislation, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ suicide, New Jersey, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Rutgers University, suicide | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cyber-spies’ Lawyers Seek to Soft-Pedal Rutgers Bullying

Newark, New Jersey - The news today reports that lawyers for the the two alleged cyber spies, who trapped Tyler Clementi with a hidden webcam when he was intimate with a same-sex lover, say that the duo really didn’t see anything “sexual” on the night in question.  The lawyers’ point is that their clients were not doing much wrong–that Clementi just took things too far when he jumped off the George Washington Bridge.  I hope the everyone will see what is at stake in this case.  Clementi believed that he had been “outed” in a moment of vulnerability. That is what counted when Clementi was reacting to the smashed future story that had brought him to Rutgers. I am sick of these stories.  Our culture has become more and more tolerant of intolerance, and less and less interested in the youth this society professes to value.  I hope we all will demand zero tolerance for bullying of any kind against anyone.  The gay teen suicide crisis will still be with us as long as school and society cultures tolerate the bullies and place the burden of “normalcy” on LGBTQ youth.  When the news cycle moves on to Election Day and its aftermath, we who believe in justice cannot afford to leave this matter behind.  Every Superintendent of Schools in America needs to hear from us until life-affirming change truly comes, and our children–ALL our children–feel supported and protected in American schools.

Stephen Sprinkle, Director of the Unfinished Lives Project

November 1, 2010 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Asian Americans, Blame the victim, Bullying in schools, cyber voyeurism, gay men, harassment, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ suicide, New Jersey, New York, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Rutgers University | , , , , , , | 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

Transgender California Teen Dies in Fear of Bullying

 

Chloe Lacy before transitioning

 

Clovis, California – When Chloe Lacy decided earlier this year to transition from male to female in order to become who she really was inside, she feared what her peers would do.  Chloe, née Justin Lacy, told her family that she had nightmares about what people at Buchanan High School would do to her when they learned about her transgender identity, according to KMJN Radio News.  Her mother, Allison Murphy, told reporters for KFSN News, “Who wants to see a young man walking down the street with a dress on? In his eyes, that was the worst fear of all time, for someone to throw rocks at him, beat him up. It’s just the overall society judgment is what did this.”  Reflecting on the recent suicides of Tyler Clementi in New Jersey and Seth Walsh in California, Chloe’s stepfather said, “That’s what we’re creating as a society. We’re creating this incredible cloud of fear for these individuals and they feel they have nowhere to go.”  Chloe’s mother said that as far back as kindergarten, her child was expressing a different gender presentation than her biological gender.  During high school, Mrs. Murphy says that she forbade Chloe from coming out as transgender, for fear of harm.  Chloe struggled with what the steps of transition would mean to her, seeking therapy and support, but mostly living a lonely existence at home except for a group of girls at Buchanan High in Clovis where she found a sense of peace and acceptance.  After graduating from high school this past year, Mrs. Murphy says that Chloe moved away north to Eureka to begin a post-secondary education.  There, she started to wear women’s clothing more often, and shyly becoming the person she always knew she was.  Fear killed Chloe, fear of misunderstanding and bullying, according to her family.  Just a few days before her 19th birthday, on September 24 Chloe shot and killed herself inside her Eureka home where she was living for school. Her mother and stepfather say Chloe’s death reflects the deaths of other teens who have recently committed suicide due to bullying, according to KFSN News.  The Equality Forum, an LGBTQ history and news site, seven youths have committed suicide in recent months due to anti-gay and anti-trans bullying.  Chloe makes the seventh.  Both in Eureka and in Clovis, moves are afoot to remember Chloe in vigils and school assemblies.  The Murphys intend to be at all of these commemorative events they can, speaking out against intolerance and bullying against youth like their Chloe.

October 12, 2010 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Bullying in schools, California, gay teens, Gender Variant Youth, gun violence, harassment, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ suicide, New Jersey, Remembrances, Slurs and epithets, transgender persons, transphobia, Vigils | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Gay Student’s Death Sparks Anti-Bullying Legislation in New Jersey

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) speaks at Rutgers Forum Wednesday

New Brunswick, New Jersey – Frank Lautenberg, a Democratic United States Senator from New Jersey, told a forum at Rutgers University on Wednesday that he will introduce anti-bullying legislation to protect vulnerable people, such as LGBTQ youth.  Since gay Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge last month , a broad national discussion has arisen  around the nation about LGBTQ teen suicide and the role school and university bullying play in it.  Clementi, 18, a gifted young violinist who came to Rutgers to join its famed student orchestra, killed himself because he was outed by his roommate on the internet for a gay tryst in their dorm room.  His roommate, Dharun Ravi, 18, of Plainsboro, New Jersey, planted a hidden webcam in the room and switched it on to capture live-stream images of Clementi “making out” with another young man on September 22.  Another freshman, Molly Wei, also 18 and hailing from Princeton, NJ, participated in the cyber voyeurism.  Sources say that Ravi attempted to broadcast another evening of lovemaking on the web the following night.  Ravi and Wei face invasion of privacy charges that would result in five years in prison for each student, if proven guilty.  Wei’s attorneys have filed a “not guilty” plea to the charges, and have recently sent sympathy messages to Clementi’s family.  Senator Lautenberg announced to the crowd of 300 at the Wednesday forum that he would introduce a statute to “fix the problem” of harassment and bullying in schools and colleges.  In a press release from his office, Senator Lautenberg said, “The suicide of Tyler Clementi is a tragic reminder that college dormitories, dining halls and classrooms are not always safe places for students. We need to increase efforts that ensure all students have the opportunity to learn in a safe and secure environment. My legislation will fill a void in federal law and for the first time require colleges to establish plans to protect their students from harassment and bullying.” The proposed legislation would require schools and universities receiving federal money to adhere to a code of conduct prohibiting harassment and bullying, and to establish clear and orderly procedures to respond to allegations of this type of behavior. Such policies are not currently required by federal law, according to the New Jersey Democrat. The bill also would provide funding for schools to establish programs to deter harassment of students. “If you can’t be safe on a college campus, it’s an outrageous, outrageous condition,” Senator Lautenberg said, according to My Central Jersey.  The audience also heard from victims of bullying in the schools, and their parents.  Yahoo News reports that the Clementi family has been quiet throughout this ordeal.  In the one statement they have publicly made, Tyler’s father said they hoped their son’s death would “serve as a call for compassion, empathy and human dignity.”

October 7, 2010 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Asian Americans, Bullying in schools, cyber voyeurism, gay teens, harassment, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Legislation, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ suicide, New Jersey, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Protests and Demonstrations, Rutgers University, Social Justice Advocacy, U.S. Senate | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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