Unfinished Lives is proud to receive an endorsement from the Texas Freedom Network, a nonpartisan, grassroots organization of more than 28,000 religious and community leaders which monitors far-right issues, organizations, money and leaders. The organization has been instrumental in defeating initiatives backed by the religious right in Texas.
In the endorsement, Deputy Director Ryan Valentine has this to say:
“I am writing to commend – in the highest possible terms – Dr. Stephen Sprinkle and his ‘Unfinished Lives’ project. My support springs from the conviction that his work calling attention to the ‘slow-rolling holocaust’ of LGBT hate crimes in this country has a particular urgency in the struggle for civil rights in contemporary America. As society and the media turn a blind eye, someone must tell these stories.”
We at the Unfinished Lives project are truly grateful for the support of the Texas Freedom Network, and we are proud to stand with them in the effort to guarantee dignity and respect for all people.
To see the full text of Valentine’s statement, or to view all endorsements for the Unfinished Lives project, please visit our Endorsements page.
The Hate Crimes Bill has provided an excellent summary of a new report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs showing anti-LGBT violence has been on the rise since the murder of Lawrence “Larry” King in Oxnard, California, at the beginning of this year.
“The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) reports a recent rash of at least 13 brutal and violent hate crimes that have occurred throughout the country on the heels of the murder of 15 year-old Lawrence King in Los Angeles and the brutal beating of Duanna Johnson, both in February of 2008,” says the Hate Crimes Bill’s website. “NCAVP reports that these hate crimes may indicate a frightening trend of increases in both the number and severity of anti-LGBT violence.”
The NCAVP findings come after several anti-LGBT hate crimes, including the police beating of a transgender woman in Memphis, Tennessee; the harassment and beating of a gay man on a New York subway; the murder of a transgender woman in Memphis, Tennessee; the alleged police beating of a gay man in Greeley, Colorado; the beating of a priest in Queens, New York, for protecting a group of LGBT youth living at a shelter for homeless youth; the midnight home-invasion and arson, in Central New York, by a self-proclaimed Neo-Nazi, who targeted a sleeping 65-year-old gay man (the victim was able to flee the home, unhurt); the fatal bludgeoning of 18-year-old Angie Zapata, a transgender Latina woman in Greeley, Colorado; the beating of gay man Jimmy Lee Dean, in Dallas, Texas, whose injuries were so severe that he was in intensive care and could not be interviewed or identified until five days after the crime; the severe injury of a man in upstate New York, whose two assailants beat, kicked, and shouted anti-gay slurs until they had broken ten bones in their victim’s face; the attack against an 18-year-old living in St Helens, in the United Kingdom, who died a week later from his injuries; the (at least partially) anti-gay-motivated shooting rampage in a Knoxville, Tennessee, church that claimed two lives and wounded seven others; the mob-beating and stabbing of a man perceived to be gay in Staten Island, New York; the ongoing and escalating harassment (for nearly 8 years) of a gay male couple living in Cleveland, Ohio, by anti-gay neighbors; and the ongoing and escalating harassment (for nearly 20 years) of a gay male couple living in a rural Pennsylvania town, who have suffered incidents of gunfire, vandalism, stalking, acts of intimidation, and the indifference from local police.
In a grim coincidence, more than one anti-LGBT hate crime has occurred in both Memphis, Tennessee, and Greeley, Colorado, since the beginning of 2008.
Unfinished Lives also offers our own analysis of the significance of anti-LGBT hate-crime statistics in the United States. The NCAVP’s findings and the Hate Crimes Bill’s detailed summary confirm what has been a growing concern for LGBT persons living in the United States.
An article appearing in the Dallas Voice reports Terry Mangum, the murderer of 46-year-old Ken Cummings Jr., has been sentenced to life imprisonment. In June 2007, Mangum met Cummings at a gay bar in the Montrose area of Houston, Texas, went to Cummings’s home in Pearland (a metro-Houston city), and attacked his victim.
Mangum has said that he believes he was “anointed and appointed by God” to commit the murder, which entailed stabbing his victim in the head, cleaning the crime scene, moving his victim to a ranch south of San Antonio, Texas, and then burning and burying Cummings’s remains in a shallow grave. A Brazoria County reporter for The Facts tells how Mangum believes God called on him to “carry out a code of retribution” by killing a gay man because “sexual perversion” is “the worst sin.” The graphic nature of Mangum’s crime has also been reported in The Facts.
According to the Dallas Voice article, jurors in Mangum’s trial agreed the murder was a hate crime, which could make it less likely that he’ll be granted parole. As it is, Mangum won’t be eligible for parole for 30 years.
According to an article published this week in the Greeley Tribune, the tragedy of Angie Zapata’s hate-crime murder in mid-July has unified family, friends, advocacy groups, and supporters to condemn intolerance.
Gathering together on August 10th, over two-hundred people remembered Angie Zapata and celebrated her life and gender identity.
Kelly Costello, director of victim services for the Colorado Anti-Violence Program, said all people, despite their differences, deserve to live without fear. Remarks made by transgender activist Donna Rose underscored Costello’s comments: “It takes courage to live in a world that tries to force you into a box,” she said.
Zapata’s murder has also invoked the memory of other hate-crime victims, including Matthew Shepard. According to the article, “One person read a note from Judy Shepard, the mother of Matthew Shepard, who was killed near Laramie, Wyo., in 1998 because he was gay.”
Also in attendance at the Saturday vigil were Rep. Jim Riesberg, D-Greeley, and other lawmakers and community activists.
Monica Zapata, Angie’s sister, also spoke at the vigil. “She always knew she was supposed to be a girl. And we knew it too,” she said. “Don’t remember her as transgendered but remember her as a beautiful, loving woman.”
Monica also said, “You are who you are and you should never be ashamed.”
View a Greeley Police press conference, where Police Chief Jerry Garner announces the arrest of Angie Zapata’s alleged killer.
In the video, Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck expressed how Weld County and the City of Greeley will dedicate their best efforts to prosecute the man who murdered Angie Zapata. Buck said, “It doesn’t matter who the victim is, or whether the victim is victimized because they are a certain race, religion, sexual orientation. It’s a crime, and in Weld County, in Greeley, we’re going to do the best we can to enforce the law. It [murder] can’t be tolerated at any level.”
Buck continued, saying, “I hope that if anything positive were to come of this we would develop a stronger relationship with the gay and lesbian, transgender, community so that they understand just how seriously we take crimes like this, and how vigorously we will pursue justice in a situation like this…. We are not tolerant of people who would do harm to the residents of our town.”
Excerpts of the press conference are reported by the Greeley Tribune:
In this video, members of the Zapata family speak about the death of Angie Zapata:
In a recent article, CBS Channel 4 in Denver published this photo of Zapata’s alleged killer, Allen Ray Andrade:
According to the CBS Channel 4 caption, “Allen Ray Andrade, 31, faces several charges, including second-degree murder in the death of Justin Zapata, 20, who was known as Angie Zapata. Her bloodied, battered body was discovered in her apartment by her sister on July 17.”
Teenager Justin “Angie” Zapata was found dead in her Greeley, Colorado, apartment on July 17, the apparent victim of an anti-LGBT hate crime. Zapata, who was 18 years old, sustained wounds to the head and face with a fire extinguisher.
Kelly Costello, director of victim services at the Colorado Anti-Violence Program, served as Zapata’s family’s spokesperson and said this is not the first time transgendered persons have been targeted by violent crimes in Colorado. “It’s frightening but not necessarily surprising,” Costello said. “It does send out a ripple effect and lets everyone know how vulnerable they are.” Costello’s remarks appeared in a Denver Post article on July 25.
According to a July 31 Associated Press article, Zapata’s killer, 20-year-old Allen Ray Andrade, made remarks showing he did not afford his victim the status of a full human being. While speaking to investigators about his involvement in the hate crime, Andrade referred to Zapata as an “it”. Andrade said that after hitting his victim twice in the head with a fire extinguisher, he thought he had “killed it.”
Responding to the suspect’s remarks, Greeley Police Chief Jerry Garner said he felt disgusted by the comment. “It’s a horrible thing to say.”
After reading about her sister’s killer, Monica Murguia, told Denver’s KDVR-TV that Andrade deserved to remain behind bars forever. “He took a part of our heart, he did, when he killed her.”