Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Anti-LGBT Hate Crimes Incidents Soar in Minnesota, Milwaukee, and Chicago

hate_crime_usa08More concerning news about increasing violence against LGBT people:  Minnesota LGBTs suffered a 48% hike in bias-related hate crimes according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) 2008 statistics, issued on Tuesday.  This is a confirmation of the multi-year trend queer Minnesotans have recently faced.  David Hart on Tips-Q, a gay blog site, shares this information from the North Star State: “We are deeply troubled about the 2008 statistics for a number of reasons including the fact that increases in victimization in the Upper Midwest far exceed the national increase of 2%. With Minnesota’s 48% increase in 2008 and continued multi-year trend of such increases, we are concern for the safety of all GLBT Minnesotans even as we continue to work for equality,” said Rebecca Waggoner Kloek, Anti-Violence Program Director of NCAVP member organization OutFront Minnesota.  The same NCAVP report that noted a 28% national increase of hate crime violence against LGBT people in 2008 registered a jump of 64% in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and a 42% upturn in Chicago, Illinois.

June 18, 2009 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Domestic Violence, harassment, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Illinois, Minnesota, Social Justice Advocacy, Wisconsin | , , , , | Comments Off on Anti-LGBT Hate Crimes Incidents Soar in Minnesota, Milwaukee, and Chicago

Serial Hate Crimes Against LGBTs Up 63% in Colorado

Colorado state sealDenver – In a report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs issued Tuesday, the numbers of anti-LGBT hate crimes in the Centennial State jumped 63% in one year.  Among the 2008 murders of queer folk was the notorious beating-death of 18-year-old Angie Zapata, a transgender Latina living in Greeley.  Allen Ray Andrade, a date, repeatedly bashed Zapata with a home fire extinguisher until she succumbed.  Andrade’s conviction for murder under Colorado’s Hate Crime Law was a landmark moment, demonstrating to the nation how significant hate crime enhancements can be in penalizing fatal bias-related attacks against LGBT people.  Though he used a version of the trans-panic defense to excuse his actions, arguing that Zapata had somehow deserved her death because of “deceiving” him as to her biological gender, Andrade was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole.  According to the Denver Daily News, the Colorado Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (COAVP) expressed concern over the 24% spike in the number of offenders, meaning that multiple perpetrators attacked a smaller number of victims during the past year.  This indicates that certain victims of anti-LGBT hate crimes are targeted for violence that unfolds in a spectrum from verbal harassment to physical attack by more than one antagonist.  While this disturbing feature of homophobic and transphobic violence had been suspected by gay rights activists, this report in Colorado is the first to confirm their fears.  The percentage of victims also rose significantly during 2008.  While the nationwide average rise in victims of harassment, bashing, and murder was 2%, the Colorado numbers moved up a full 8%.  Added to the increases of reported violent attacks against LGBT people in Minnesota, Michigan, California, and Tennessee, the Colorado hate crimes statistics contribute to a growing sense that a full-scale national trend of increasing harm against members of the sexual minority is in the offing.

June 18, 2009 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Blame the victim, Bludgeoning, California, Colorado, harassment, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Michigan, Minnesota, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Social Justice Advocacy, Tennessee, trans-panic defense, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Serial Hate Crimes Against LGBTs Up 63% in Colorado

“Remain Vigilant!” Warns Southern Poverty Law Center


Montgomery, AL – In a letter to supporters dated June 17,  J. Richard Cohen, CEO and President of the Southern Poverty Law Center urges the entire SPLC network to “remain vigilant” in the wake of the murder of Holocaust Memorial Museum Security Guard Stephen Johns.  The SPLC carries out the most extensive program of tracking hate groups and extremist organizations of any non-governmental organization in the nation, most recently on the anti-LGBT hate monger, Scott Lively and his band of co-extremists, Watchmen on the Walls.  Two Slavic Christian fundamentalists from Sacramento, CA with ties to Lively’s group carried out a fatal attack on gay East Indian immigrant Satendar Singh during the July 4 holiday season of 2008.  Cohen’s important letter reads in part:

“In addition to the Holocaust Museum shooting, we’ve seen the murders of five police officers by extremists in recent months and the assassination of a prominent Kansas physician by an extremist tied to the anti-government militia movement.  These killers may have acted alone, but they were all influenced by the hate movement in America. What’s alarming is that this movement is now being aided and abetted by far-right pundits on cable TV and talk radio, who are fanning the flames of hate with their increasingly hysterical rhetoric targeting President Obama, the government, Latino immigrants and others who are not like them. These are the same commentators who ridiculed the recent Department of Homeland Security that predicted the very kind of violent attacks we’re now seeing.”  Cohen concludes by urging all fair-minded Americans to stand firm against hatred:  “We all need to speak out against hate — whether it’s in the national media or in our communities….  We hope the lessons from this latest tragedy won’t soon fade from our national consciousness.”

June 18, 2009 Posted by | African Americans, Alabama, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Anti-Semitism, Domestic Violence, gay men, gun violence, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Neo-Nazis and White Supremacy, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Racism, religious intolerance, Social Justice Advocacy | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on “Remain Vigilant!” Warns Southern Poverty Law Center

WaPo: Anti-Latino/a and Anti-LGBT Hate Crimes Spiral Upward Together

briseniabutton2Washington, DC – The Washington Post reports in a late-breaking story that incidents of bias-related crimes against Latino/a people and LGBT people are rising sharply on seemingly parallel tracks, according to FBI findings.  In a June 16 article entitled “Hate Crimes Rise as Immigration Debate Heats Up,” Spencer Hsu, reporter for WaPo, writes that officials are concerned about the abrupt rise in violent crimes against both groups:  “The FBI reported in October that the number of [total] hate crime incidents dropped in 2007 by about 1 percent, to 7,624. But violence against Latinos and gay people bucked the trend. The number of hate crimes directed at gay men and lesbians increased about 6 percent, from 1,195 to 1,265, the FBI reported.”   It should be noted that the actual rise in hate crimes against LGBT people is actually in excess of 28% in the last year, according to the more comprehensive statistics reported by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.  Shrill voices in the media and organization of xenophobic hate groups on the internet are contributing to this alarming trend.  Most recently, as Mariela Rosario writes for http://www.latina.com, Minutemen stand accused of the murder of a Latino immigrant family.  In a May 30th home invasion attack just now being shared widely in the national media, three members of the anti-immigrant group Minutemen American Defense (MAD) allegedly burst into the Arivaca, AZ house of Raul Junior Flores, 29, and his 9-year-old daughter, Brisenia, and shot them dead.  Flores’ wife using a shotgun returned fire, repelling the attackers, and wounding one of them.  Shawna Forde, 41, Jason Eugene Bush, 34, and Albert Robert Glaxiola, 42, stand accused of the crime.  The stated mission of the Minutemen American Defense is summed up in Forde’s own words, “We will expose and report what we know and find, we will recruit the serious and train the revolutionist, time for words have passed the time for bravery and conviction are now.”  The Pima County (AZ) Sheriff’s Department is still investigating.  The murder of Flores and his young daughter has sparked outrage among Latino/a rights groups.  As The Unfinished Lives Project has previously reported in numerous stories over several months, the tragic

Romel and Diego Sucuzhañay at Brooklyn DA's Press Conference

Romel and Diego Sucuzhañay at Brooklyn DA's Press Conference

victimization of Latino and Latina folk, gay, bi, transgender and straight often converges in a terrible way.  José Sucuzhañay, and his brother, Romel,  Ecuadorans visiting the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, NY were brutally assaulted on the night of December 7, 2008.  Hakim Scott, 25, and Keith Phoenix, 28, beat the Sucuzhañay brothers with a beer bottle and an aluminum ball bat shouting slurs at them for their ethnicity and their perceived sexual orientation.  The savage attack was apparently motivated by a toxic combined hatred of Latino immigrants and gay people.  The brothers, huddled together against the cold, were walking arm-in-arm from a party.  Ironically, José, who died from his wounds, and his brother Romel, are both heterosexual.  José leaves behind a 10-year-old son, Brian, and a 5-year-old daughter, Joanna, who is living with Down Syndrome.  As an attorney for the Sucuzhañay family told the New York Post, “The family has suffered tremendously. It was a brutal murder.”  Scott and Phoenix have been indicted for second-degree murder as a hate crime by the Brooklyn District Attorney, and await trial.  Often set at odds by “common wisdom” and the media, the Latino/a immigrant community and the LGBT community share a truly common need for unity in the face of irrational hatred of “the other.”  The Ecuadoran media covered the crime widely, putting an important face on anti-LGBT hate crimes in the United States.

June 16, 2009 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Arizona, Beatings and battery, Bludgeoning, gun violence, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, home-invasion, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Mistaken as LGBT, New York, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Racism, Slurs and epithets | , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on WaPo: Anti-Latino/a and Anti-LGBT Hate Crimes Spiral Upward Together

Anti-LGBT Hate Crimes the Highest Since 1999

Anti-LGBT violence is up 28% in one year

Anti-LGBT violence is up 28% in one year

As Stonewall 40 approaches next week, a New York-based coalition of anti-violence programs reports that bias crimes against LGBT people rose 28% from 2007 to 2008.  The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) confirms the grim trend Unfinished Lives has been reporting for months: hate crimes against members of the sexual minority are not only higher than at any time in a decade, but the degree of brutality in the execution of these crimes has also intensified.  Marcus Franklin of the Associated Press notes for the Huffington Post that the 29 confirmed bias-related murders of queer folk in 2008 reported by the NCAVP matches the number of similar killings it registered in its 1999 report.  The Unfinished Lives Project has noted dramatic increases in anti-LGBT murders and assaults since the latter part of 2008 in California, Michigan, Minnesota, and Tennessee, and has highlighted the extreme savagery of these attacks as in the case of 45 stab wounds in U.S. Army veteran Michael Scott Goucher’s murder in East Stroudsburg, PA, and Duanna Johnson’s shooting death in Memphis, TN.  The Huffpost article issued today quotes Sharon Stapel, executive director of the New York Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, which co-ordinates the NCAVP nationally with pointing to an increase of violence during the presidential campaign last fall, as well as ominous increases during the high-profile national debates over same-sex marriage, the possible passage of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), and the proposed repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell (DADT).  “The more visibility there is the more likely we’re going to see backlash, and that’s exactly what we see here,” Stapel said.  Since the NCAVP reports anti-Transgender hate crimes in distinction from the annual FBI’s hate crimes report that does not, Stapel is able to reference a more accurate picture of the landscape of peril in which LGBT Americans find themselves.  Even so, organizations from only 25 of the 50 states report to the NCAVP, indicating that the

Duanna Johnson, Transwoman, murdered in Memphis

Duanna Johnson, Transwoman, murdered in Memphis

actual number of bias-related hate crimes against LGBT people may be much higher.  Additional factors arguing for higher numbers of these crimes than are reported by either the NCAVP or the FBI are the stigma and despair often associated with violent crimes against queer women and men.  Local law enforcement agencies tend to skew their investigations away from anti-gay or transgender motives as a reflection of the bias rampant in their home locales.  Victims often fear exposure and media scrutiny for themselves and their loved ones, and therefore do not report crimes against their persons.  LGBT victims are often discredited as sources of reliable information and are routinely blamed somehow for their own misfortune.  Finally, as the Unfinished Lives Project has noted in repeated instances, American heterosexism and homophobia have created a climate for LGBT people such that their lives and deaths are valued less than those of other people, causing reports of attacks and murders against them to be far less likely to gain attention.

The high-profile events surrounding Pride 2009 will be a tempting target for hate groups around the country.  At no time since the murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998 has the public presence of LGBT people and their allies been more significant than this season.

June 16, 2009 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, California, Hate Crime Statistics, Heterosexism and homophobia, Marriage Equality, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Politics, Social Justice Advocacy, stabbings, Tennessee, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Anti-LGBT Hate Crimes the Highest Since 1999

Triangle of Terror: Gays On Their Guard

Police in body armor outside US Holocaust Museum [Shawn Thew/European Pressphoto]

Police in body armor outside US Holocaust Museum (Shawn Thew/European Pressphoto)

Wichita, Kansas, Little Rock, Arkansas, and Washington, DC form a triangle of terror due to a deadly outbreak of bias-motivated murders that began late last month.  On May 31, Dr. George Tiller was shot to death while serving as a usher at his church in Wichita by a lone gunman motivated by a virulent hatred of late term abortions.  Dr. Tillar was one of the most notable physicians who performed late term abortions in the country.  On June 1, Pvt. William Andrew Long was gunned down by a Muslim convert who said that he did so because of all that had been done to Muslims in the Middle East by the United States.  June 10, Security Guard Stephen Tyrone Johns died preventing a white supremacist anti-Semite from shooting his way into the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in the nation’s capitol.  These acts of domestic terrorism are the bitter fruit of hate in the United States.  The Southern Poverty Law Center warned that the numbers and virulence of hate groups in the nation are dramatically escalating in recent months.  Secretary Janet Napolitano, head of the federal Department of Homeland Security, recently warned law enforcement officials about a rise in “rightwing extremist activity,” saying the economic recession, the election of America’s first black president and the return of a few disgruntled war veterans could swell the ranks of white-power militias.  Republican lawmakers and pundits created a firestorm of protest over Sec. Napolitano’s analysis, forcing her to apologize for issuing the report.  Now, in a grim vindication of her warning, terror has hit America’s main streets, not from forces outside our borders, but from home-grown hate groups and lone-wolf perpetrators willing to carry out the sentiments of radical right opinion leaders who set the environment for murder, and then disavow their incitement to violence.  LGBT Americans are rightfully on guard because of the recent history of hate crime murders against them by members of the same groups now attacking abortion clinics, army recruitment offices, and Jewish venues like the Holocaust Museum.

Steven Domer murdered by white supremacist

Steven Domer murdered by white supremacist

Steven Domer of Edmonton, Oklahoma, was brutally murdered in October 2007 by Darrell Madden, a white supremacist recently released from prison.  Madden, a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, garroted Domer with a wire clothes hanger after binding him with duct tape.  Domer’s body was found in a ravine in McClain County.  Investigators believe that Madden’s motive was to earn his “patch” from the Aryan Brotherhood, a sign of distinction awarded to a member who murders a Jew, a black, a homosexual, or anyone deemed to be an “enemy” by the group.  In October 2008, Madden was found guilty of first degree murder and abduction, and sentenced to four consecutive life terms.  The Domer murder and others like it offer a warning to the LGBT community in a time when hostility is clearly on the rise against same-sex marriage, the Matthew Shepard Act, ENDA, and the proposed repeal of both DOMA and DADT.  Hate crime statistics demonstrate an upward spiral of violence in Michigan, Tennessee, Minnesota, and California.  LGBT Americans share the vulnerability of other targeted groups, and decry the violence perpetrated by religious bigotry, misguided nationalism, racial hatred, and misogyny.  The need for the passage of a sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression hate crimes law has never been greater, given the rising tide of bias-related hate crimes chilling whole segments of the American population.  Fear may isolate and paralyze people.  Resolve to face hate and fear with justice and hope can unite people, as well.  Now is the time for coalition building, rejection of irrational hatred wherever it arises, and a mutual commitment to the health and safety of all Americans.  Gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people already know how important vigilance and solidarity in the face of terror are.  So do women, Jews, and Blacks, all of whom have been affected by these deplorable killings in recent weeks.  Perhaps this time those targeted by the radical right will learn how to stand together, and rally the country to repudiate these senseless acts of violence.  We at The Unfinished Lives Project devoutly hope so.

June 11, 2009 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Anti-Semitism, Arkansas, California, Kansas, Racism, religious intolerance, Social Justice Advocacy, Special Comments, Strangulation, Tennessee, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Hanging Tough On Hate Crime Charge in Syracuse

Lateisha Green standingOnondaga County, NY – Lateisha Green, 22, an African American M-to-F transwoman, was shot to death in November 2008 with a .22 calibre rifle in Syracuse, NY.  Her brother, Mark Cannon, 18, who was also shot, managed to drive their car home.  Mark told reporters, “I was like oh my lord!  This is not true!.  This is not true, and Moses told me that he loved me on the way home.”  Ms. Green, née Moses Cannon, died of what authorities called a hate crime, because the motive for the shooting allegedly was that she and her brother were “gay.”  Dwight DeLee was arrested and charged.  Subsequently, his attorney entered a plea of not guilty, and challenged the hate crime charge as unconstitutional, citing that the charge is too vague and general.  The judge in the case entertained the motion on behalf of the defense, but made the determination that the charge will go forward as entered.  If Mr. DeLee is found guilty, it will be the first time in Onondaga County history that the hate crime statute will have been successfully applied in a murder case. Based on evidence the state says it has, Ms. Green was selected for this fatal attack because of her sexual orientation. Her father, Albert Cannon, spoke to the press about his grief and anger:  “I’m hurt.  Angry.  Upset.  Am I mad at the kid?  Yes.  Mostly, I’m upset with society.  How do we let our kids get  this angry this young?  This was hatred.”  The trial is scheduled for mid-July of this year.

June 5, 2009 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Heterosexism and homophobia, New York, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, transphobia | , , , , , | Comments Off on Hanging Tough On Hate Crime Charge in Syracuse

Epidemic of Transphobic Violence Breaks Out in Memphis Again


Terron Taylor, accused of shooting transwoman Kelvin Denton

Terron Taylor, accused of shooting transwoman Kelvin Denton

Memphis, TN – For the fifth time since 2006, a transgender woman of color has been shot in the streets of Memphis, Tennessee on May 27.  Authorities report that Kelvin Denton, an African American transitioning from male to female, was shot in the neck and face by an assailant who did not like the way she presented her gender identity.  Ms. Denton is in critical condition as of this writing.  After being shot, Ms. Denton managed to run from the scene of the shooting at the Peppertree Apartments, until finally collapsing near the Whitehaven Community Center.  Police arrested Terron Taylor for the crime, who said that he felt he had been “misled” about the gender identity of his victim.  Such early testimony indicates that the defendant will be using some version of the trans-panic defense to justify his violent attack on Ms. Denton.  Taylor is being held on $500,000 bond in Shelby County on two charges: attempted second degree murder and using a firearm to commit a felony.  The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition is urging the swift and aggressive prosecution of Taylor for the crime.  Tiffany Berry was shot and killed in Memphis in 2006, as well as Ebony Whitaker and Duanna Johnson in 2008.  Leeneshia Edwards was also shot in 2008, but survived.   The ferocity of these attacks calls for renewed action on the part of the Metro Memphis authorities to put a stop to the violence against transgender people, especially trans people of color.

June 2, 2009 Posted by | Blame the victim, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, trans-panic defense | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tennessee Anti-LGBT Hate Crimes Up Dramatically

tbiThe Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) released statistics on May 28 showing a massive spike in 2008 hate crimes in the Volunteer State, up 38% over 2007.  While the largest number of bias-related crimes was against African Americans (a number actually slightly down from 2007), the second largest percentage of violent attacks was against members of the sexual minority–11.8% of the total for 2008.  Reported acts of hate violence against LGBT people in Tennessee increased just a whisker shy of 13% over the previous year.  The entire report in .pdf format may be viewed by going to the TBI website.  The largest category of hate crimes in the 2008 report was bias crimes of unknown motivation.  The numbers of anti-LGBT hate crimes almost certainly will rise when more of these crimes yield evidence about the class or group against whom they were perpetrated.  The Unfinished Lives Project has previously highlighted the steep rise in attacks on transgender women of color in Memphis.  Representative of these brutal crimes was the killing of Duanna Johnson of Memphis, who was murdered in November 2008 after lodging a $1.3 million dollar lawsuit against the city for a savage beating police gave her which was caught on a jailhouse camera earlier in the year.

June 1, 2009 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bisexual persons, gay men, Hate Crime Statistics, Lesbian women, Racism | , , , , | 1 Comment


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