Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

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

   

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