Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Advocacy group calls for investigation of transgender woman’s murder

Lateisha Green

The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) is urging the Syracuse (New York) Police Department and Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office to investigate the likely hate crime motivation in the murder of Lateisha Green, a 22-year-old African American transgender woman.

On the evening of November 14, Green and her brother, Mark Cannon, were sitting in a car preparing to leave a party when they were shot with a .22 caliber rifle. A single bullet grazed Cannon’s arm and then penetrated Green’s chest, severing her aorta.

According to Chief of Police Gary Miguel, the murder suspect, 20-year-old Dwight DeLee, retrieved the .22 caliber rifle when he heard other people at the party “making profane and vulgar comments in regards to the sexual preference” of Green and her brother. “Our suspect took a rifle and shot and killed this person, also wounding his brother, for the sole reason he didn’t care for the sexual preference of our victim,” says Miguel.

“Transgender people face discrimination and violence in communities across the country,” says TLDEF executive director Michael Silverman. “Lateisha’s senseless death demonstrates the increased risk of violence transgender people face.”

Gary Miguel adds, “Isn’t that sad? Isn’t that a sad situation that that’s the sole reason why?”


“Syracuse Trans Murder Called Hate Crime.”

“Transgender Advocacy Group Calls Upon Authorities to Fully Investigate Transgender Woman’s Death”

“Local transsexual’s death draws state Human Rights officials to Syracuse”

November 29, 2008 Posted by | African Americans, gun violence, Hate Crimes, New York, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, transgender persons, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Special Comment on the Proposition 8 Protest Movement: “Now is Our Time”

by Stephen V. Sprinkle

One step too far: that is the step opponents of civil rights for LGBT people, the LDS Church and the Knights of Columbus, took in their all-out effort to repeal same-sex marriage in California. I do not contest the freedom of church organizations to voice their opinions about court decisions in America. But the desperate over-reach of Mormons and Roman Catholics to strip same-sex couples of the right of civil marriage the California Supreme Court had vouchsafed to them has awakened millions of LGBT people and allies to the power of a movement whose time has come. Pouring millions of church dollars and thousands of radio/TV advertisements into the struggle over Prop 8 has rebounded upon those who briefly celebrated beating back the high court’s decision on same-sex marriage. The agents of heterosexist theocracy may have won a single battle at the ballot box, but in doing so they have set in motion a war for public opinion they cannot win.

“Gay is the New Black”: Protesters at Austin Town Hall Plaza

Our opponents managed one thing by their desperation and arrogance: they have galvanized the grassroots power of the millions of LGBT folk and allies who surged to the polls on November 4 to elect Barack Obama president. With the internet as the vehicle for equality, 300 protest events sprang up in less than twelve days. No other civil rights movement in American history has been launched in cyberspace before, and as the presidential campaign of 2008 demonstrated, the internet has vast potential to rally millions and to fund a national movement. As a witness to the No On 8 Protest at the Austin, Texas Town Hall, I can report the zeal and determination of 3,000 mostly first-time protesters to seize this time as our time, the long-deferred time for a true LGBT Civil Rights moment. As a marcher myself, I can testify to the thrill of taking it to the streets as a 50-something gay man in a new way. I was too closeted and too far removed from the Stonewall Uprising of 1969 to take to the streets then. But this is today, and Prop 8, no matter what LGBT people may privately think of marriage for ourselves, is a thumb in our eye. Myriads of young Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Transgender people built up their electoral muscle in Obama Pride, and now are ready to infuse new life, energy and possibility into the struggle for sexual and gender expression equality. The rally organizers did a fine job at the Austin Town Hall Plaza for the thousands who came out. All the usual advocacy groups were there, lending leadership and direction to the surging crowds of neophytes straining at the bit to do their part for justice. But closing the proceedings and urging protesters to sign up on contact lists or to buy tee shirts could not shut off the electricity generated by restless youth. When a movement goes viral, it cannot be shut down with the flip of a switch.

“Marriage is a Fundamental Right”: Protesters at Austin Town Hall Plaza

Perhaps the organizers of the Austin No On 8 Protest tried to get a march permit, but couldn’t. Whatever the story, hundreds of fired up queers and allies took their signs and passion into the streets, and marched up to the Texas State Capital, where we demonstrated outside the gates in the shadow of the tallest governmental dome in America. “What do we want?” “Equality!” “When do we want it?” “Now!” ricocheted up and down Austin streets as dozens of cars and pickups sped by blaring horns and shouting encouragement. The citizens of Austin stepped back, some smiling, some scowling at the surging rainbow line marching up Congress Avenue. Two descriptors came to my mind as I marched along chanting with the others: Power and Peace. This was no flash-in-the pan afternoon protest, no lark by first-timers seeking to get their pictures in the paper. Others have seized their moments: the anti-war movement, African Americans, the Moral Majority, women. But this has the feel of our time, the time when the issue of same-sex wedlock changed from a political hot potato into a viral movement elevating marriage to the status of a civil right for all Americans.

“Hate is Not a Christian Value”: Protesters at the Texas State Capitol

There are serious problems to work out. Before the rift with people of color tears any further, African Americans and Latinas/Latinos must be appealed to directly. LGBT people and straight people of color have a stake in the fight for justice together, not apart, and LGBT people of color must lead white queer folk to avoid driving a wedge between natural allies and us. That is where LGBT people of faith and progressive religious leaders have a major role to play by giving a faith rationale for the marriage equality movement. One of the lessons of the defeat in California is that when church bigotry waves crosses and distorts the issues for the voting public, the most potent antidote is the public witness of queer and progressive faith leaders wearing all their ecclesiastical regalia. God must not be hijacked any longer by the radical right in the fight for equality. Further, from what I saw and heard, LGBT rallies need media savvy and speakers need coaching on how to call out the passion and motivation that will translate into effective action for change. It was clear that we haven’t learned how to do this ‘thing,’ yet. But we must learn how, and quickly, if we are to ride the tide of commitment building in our queer communities.

Protesters line Congress Avenue in front of the Texas State Capitol

My work on LGBT hate crimes murder victims teaches me that our movement already has its martyrs. I cannot help thinking of Harvey Milk, wondering if after 30 years since his assassination in San Francisco we have finally become ready to realize his vision and to vindicate his death and the deaths of so many hundreds of others. As we march and protest, their stories can give us the drive to confront a society yet unwilling to see us as equals. Never again must LGBT people stay silent when some of us are killed for simply being who we are. And never again may we sit idle on the sidelines while others struggle to win our freedom and equality. I saw and felt a justice movement building in the capital of the Lone Star State this past Saturday. As one sign in the Austin No on 8 Protest proclaimed, “Our Love Will Outlast Their H8!” We who believe in justice cannot rest! We who believe in justice cannot rest until it comes!

Stephen V. Sprinkle
The Unfinished Lives Project

November 20, 2008 Posted by | California, Heterosexism and homophobia, Legislation, Marriage Equality, Politics, Protests and Demonstrations, religious intolerance, Social Justice Advocacy, Special Comments, Texas | Comments Off on Special Comment on the Proposition 8 Protest Movement: “Now is Our Time”

NCAVP warns of national increase in anti-transgender violence

One day before the Transgender Day of Remembrance, a new NCAVP press release warns about a nationwide increase in severe violence perpetrated against transgender persons.

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New York – As the Transgender Day of Remembrance approaches, a day when victims of anti-transgender bias are mourned around the globe, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) has documented increases in severe violence directed at transgender communities across the country, especially against transgender women of color.

  • Latiesha Green, 22, was shot on November 14 in Syracuse, New York.
  • Duanna Johnson, 43, was shot in Memphis, Tennessee, on November 8.
  • Aimee Wilcoxson, 34, was found dead in her apartment on November 3 in Aurora, Colorado, just outside of Denver.

Some of these brutal acts of violence occurred in the same communities that continue to mourn the murders of two transgender people of color earlier this year: Ebony Whitaker, 20, murdered in June also in Tennessee and Angie Zapata, 18, murdered in July also in Colorado.

Organizations such as International Transgender Day of Remembrance and Remembering Our Dead that have helped to initiate Transgender Day of Remembrance (held this year on November 20) also track anti-trans murders. They documented 29 anti-trans murders in 2008, a 65% increase over 2007.

NCAVP wishes to express our sadness and outrage about this ongoing, horrific violence. We stand in solidarity with transgender communities in Tennessee, Syracuse, and Colorado, the victims and survivors, and their loved ones.

Mixed Criminal / Legal System Responses

Ms. Johnson’s murder comes on the heels of Memphis Police Department’s brutal beating of Ms. Johnson in February 2008. The following Police security camera footage of the beating has been widely circulated since June (warning: clip contains disturbing material):


The Memphis Police Department had been attempting to settle a law suit that Ms. Johnson had filed for the beating she endured while in custody. Former officers Bridges McRae and James Swain were fired only after the video was released, but it is not yet clear whether or not any criminal charges will be filed.

Local community members have speculated that anti-trans bias is likely a factor, not only in the beating itself but in the lack of criminal charges being filed. “This is not the first time the Shelby County District Attorney’s office has shown indifference to brutality against transgender people,” observed Dr. Marisa Richmond, the President of Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition. “When Tiffany Berry was murdered in 2006, her alleged perpetrator, D’Andre Blake, was released on only $20,000 bond.” Dr. Richmond noted that people charged with murder in Tennessee typically get a $100,000 bond.

The FBI is now assisting in the investigation of Ms. Johnson’s murder. NCAVP calls upon the FBI to bring its full resources to in the investigation of not only Ms. Johnson’s murder but also Ms. Ebony Whitaker’s. NCAVP also demands that District Attorney Gibbons bring appropriate charges against former officers McRae and Swain.

In Colorado, the Aurora Sentinel reported that local police have speculated that Ms. Wilcoxson’s death was a suicide. But friends of hers insist that explanation is very unlikely given her life circumstances and also given the condition the body was in when it was discovered. NCAVP is hopeful that local police will conduct a thorough investigation that takes into account these statements from people who knew her.

In Syracuse, Sage Upstate and other local community members report that Syracuse City Police Department Chief Gary Miguel has responded to this crime with sensitivity. The family of Latiesha ‘Tiesh’ Green and LGBT advocates in the Syracuse community are hopeful that the Onondaga County District Attorney’s office will be able to include hate crime charges in the prosecution of this case.

NCAVP commends district attorneys and police who identify and appropriately categorize hate-motivated violence. We are hopeful that district attorneys and law enforcement in other jurisdictions will follow suit and NCAVP will continue to monitor the violence against transgender communities, as well as the police response.

Transgender and gender non-conforming people experience violence and harassment everyday and most of it never makes headlines. NCAVP encourages LGBT people experiencing any form of hate violence, harassment, vandalism, or bullying to contact NCAVP or one of our member programs by calling 212.714.1184 or emailing us at info@ncavp.org.

November 20, 2008 Posted by | African Americans, Beatings and battery, Colorado, gun violence, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Law and Order, New York, police brutality, Tennessee, transgender persons, Uncategorized | Comments Off on NCAVP warns of national increase in anti-transgender violence

Gay man murdered and dismembered in Dallas

Richard Hernandez

According to a September article published in the Dallas Voice, gay man Richard Hernandez was murdered in his Dallas apartment and then dismembered in the bathtub. After Hernandez failed to appear at his job, worried co-workers called the police. The police went to Hernandez’s apartment to investigate, and found large amounts of blood in the living room and tissue from the victim’s internal organs in the bathtub.

Purchases made on Hernandez’s credit card led police to a suspect, Seth Lawton Winder, who was then charged with credit card fraud and capital murder. Seth’s father, Robert Winder, has pointed to his son’s schizophrenic history as a possible explanation for the crime, but police have also recovered a digital camera containing images of the suspect inside the victim’s apartment which might suggest a different theory about why the murder occurred.

Friends of the victim say Hernandez was a valued friend. “Rich was probably one of the most sincere, sweet people you will ever meet,” says one friend. “Rich always had a smile and would drop anything to help anybody, and it’s very, very sad what happened to him. It’s a very gruesome, horrible thing to happen to someone so sweet and so generous.”

Richard Hernandez was 38-years-old.

November 15, 2008 Posted by | Decapitation and dismemberment, gay men, Hate Crimes, Latino and Latina Americans, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Texas | 1 Comment

North Carolina arson case is a hate crime

An EDGE Boston article tells the story of Melvin Whistlehunt, whose house was burned down as part of an anti-LGBT hate crime.

On November 7, Whistlehunt received an urgent call at work warning him his house was burning. When firefighters arrived, they discovered signs of arson and an anti-gay slogan spray-painted on the brick of the home. The conflagration reached such severity that 28 firefighters and seven trucks were needed to bring the fire into control.

None of Whistlehunt’s property survived the blaze.

Additional information is available in this article at the Observer News Enterprise of Newton, North Carolina.

November 15, 2008 Posted by | Arson, gay men, Hate Crimes, North Carolina, Slurs and epithets, Uncategorized, vandalism | Comments Off on North Carolina arson case is a hate crime


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