Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

DC Trans Murder ‘Possible’ Hate Crime

Tyli'a "NaNa Boo" Mack, Aram Vartian photo for the Blade

Tyli'a "NaNa Boo" Mack, Aram Vartian photo for the Blade

Washington, DC – Police found the bleeding body of Tyli’a “NaNa Boo” Mack, a 21-year-old transwoman of color on the sidewalk at 209 Q Street, N.W. on the afternoon of Wednesday, August 26.  She and a second transwoman had been stabbed after an apparent hate crime attack, according to the Washington Blade.  30 minutes later, Ms. Mack was pronounced dead at Howard University Hospital.  The second victim’s identity has not been released for her own protection, pending the success of the investigation of the Gay and Lesbian Unit of the D.C. police force, who are handling the case.  Sources in the G&L Unit report preliminarily that some homophobic and transphobic language may have been used by the attacker(s), and so the crime has been tentatively designated as bias motivated.  A $25,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who carried out the fatal attack against Ms. Mack.  The Mack family, led by her mother, Beverlyn Mack, are encouraging anyone with information about the crime to come forward.  Both Ms. Mack and the surviving victim were clients of THE, Transgender Health Empowerment, a non-profit agency offering a range of programs and counseling to the transgender population of the District of Columbia.  Brian Watson, an official of THE, related an account of what happened in the attack according to the report given him by the surviving victim on Thursday.  According to the eye witness account as related by Watson, a man and a woman began an argument with Ms. Mack at the Giant Supermarket on Ninth and O Streets, N.W.  They followed the two transgender women as they headed from the supermarket toward the offices of THE at North Capitol and P Streets N.W., and the argument continued off and on for the whole 10 block journey.  As they reached the 200 block of Q Street N.W., the argument “escalated,” and the man stabbed both Ms. Mack and her friend.  Anthony Hall, executive director of THE, issued the following statement to the press: “As members of the transgender community, we are too well aware of the mental and physical effects of threats and violence. The violent attack on Aug. 26 is one in a long string of violence against transgender people in the Metro D.C. area.”

August 31, 2009 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Slurs and epithets, stabbings, transgender persons, transphobia, Washington, D.C., women | , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on DC Trans Murder ‘Possible’ Hate Crime

Justice for Jimmy Lee Dean: Both Attackers Now Sentenced

Jimmy Lee Dean, Victim of Brutal Attack

Jimmy Lee Dean, Victim of Brutal Attack

Dallas, TX – The second man who nearly beat Jimmy Lee Dean to death in July 2008 has been sentenced to 75 years in prison.  Bobby Jack Singleton, 30, faced his fate August 27 in Dallas County’s 194th District Court.  The co-defendant in the case, Jonathan Russell Gunter, 33, received a 30-year sentence for the crime in March of this year.  The Singleton sentence means that the jury understood the severity of the crime against Mr. Dean, who has been permanently disfigured and lost his entire sense of smell due to the attack.  The earliest Singleton can be paroled is 37 1/2 years under Texas law.  There is no penalty attached to an LGBT hate crime in Texas, though the Dallas Police who investigated the attack, which occurred just a block off the major LGBT entertainment strip in the city, treated the crime as anti-gay from the beginning.  Had the Matthew Shepard Act been law at the time of the case, there would have been another recourse for law enforcement to take.  Dean said that he was satisfied by the sentence.  Testimony in the trial revealed that the co-defendants had drunk five pitchers of beer at a North Dallas bar before getting up the courage to travel to the Oaklawn/Cedar Springs area to rob gay people because the perpetrators were “low on cash” and believed gay men could be more easily robbed.  Gunter took a gun with him and brandished it at Dean, a 17-year resident of the Oaklawn neighborhood, on a darkened section of Dickason Street.  Singleton, however, did most of the severe damage to Dean as he lay unconscious on the sidewalk,

Gunter (l), Singleton (r)

Gunter (l), Singleton (r)

kneeing him, kicking him, and stomping on his face with his boots while yelling anti-gay slurs at his helpless victim.  The jury heard taped phone conversations between Singleton and his half-sister while he was in jail awaiting trial, in which he laughed about Dean’s nose hanging on by a flap of skin, and claimed that he was going to pretend he was gay so that the punishment might be lighter on him.  “All I got to do is fill out one of them homosexual cards and prove that I’m a faggot, too,” he said.  He went on to his half-sister that if he were sentenced to prison, he could just tell the corrections officers that he was “not really a fucking faggot” so that he could skip being housed in protective custody.  Dean said to Dallas Voice reporter John Wright, “This [sentence] sets a precedent for anything like this that happens.  He also said that no one should be a target of violence for any reason, including one’s sexual orientation.  What now remains to be done is support for Mr. Dean in the months and years that follow this trial.  LGBT presence at both the Gunter trial and the Singleton trial was sparse.  Dean and his longtime roommate, Thomas Bergh, are contemplating moving to Oklahoma, away from the scene of the attack.  Dean told reporters that when he walks along Dickason Street these days, he has to walk down the middle of the street, and not on the sidewalk where the two Garland, TX men nearly killed him.  Like so many victims before him, Dean will live with the nightmares and the physical consequences of the attack for the rest of his life.  It is not enough for the LGBT community to shrug shoulders now that that last trial has been held, and assume Dean can just go from this point vindicated.  Dallas has to face its hate-crime problems, as the Dean case, and the Richard Hernandez  case have both shown in recent months.  One way to do that is to get support for Jimmy Lee right from here on out.

August 28, 2009 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Beatings and battery, gay men, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Legislation, Matthew Shepard Act, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, Stomping and Kicking Violence, Texas | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Justice for Jimmy Lee Dean: Both Attackers Now Sentenced

Ted Kennedy, Tireless LGBT Advocate, Dies at Age 77

Ted KennedySenator Edward M. Kennedy, legendary liberal Lion of the United States Senate, has died of brain cancer at age 77 in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.  The Kennedy family has issued this statement to the public: “Edward M. Kennedy – the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply – died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port.  We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever. We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness and opportunity for all. He loved this country and devoted his life to serving it. He always believed that our best days were still ahead, but it’s hard to imagine any of them without him.”  Kennedy was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer in May 2008.  The LGBT community has lost a great champion for human rights.  A true ally of sexual minorities, Kennedy lobbied for rights and protections for all Americans.  As recently as July 13, 2009, he made these remarks in favor of the Senate passage of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, of which he was a sponsor: “Violent attacks based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability deserve to be criminalized by federal law. Our nation must show that it will not permit these communities to be terrorized – one victim at a time. Over 10 years have passed since the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act was first introduced in the Senate. Over 10 years have passed since Matthew Shepard was robbed, pistol whipped, tortured, tied to a fence, and left to die because he was gay. I commend Matthew’s mother, Judy Shepard, for her years of inspiring advocacy that have brought us to this moment. Now is the time for the Senate to vote and show that we will not allow domestic terrorism to tear apart the fabric of our nation and take the lives of innocent Americans. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to follow their hearts and minds and vote in favor of this legislation.” Perhaps Kennedy will be best remembered for his unstinting advocacy for universal healthcare, “the cause of his life,” that was on his mind as he fought a losing battle with cancer.  He took responsibility for his personal appetites and flaws, showing the nation he loved that he deserved our respect and affection because imperfect people can do magnificent things.  He was born to privilege, but instead chose to serve, becoming one of the few greats in the history of the Senate.  When Webster, Clay, Calhoun and Taft are honored in years to come, Kennedy will be remembered among them.  Teddy Kennedy, the passionate defender of women, LGBT people, the poor, and the infirm, fought the good fight.  It would be only fitting to note on his epitaph that among his posthumous legislative achievements were the Matthew Shepard Act and the Universal Healthcare Act.  To inscribe them there must now be our labor of love and respect for Teddy, the People’s Lion.

August 26, 2009 Posted by | Condolences, Legislation, Massachusetts, Matthew Shepard Act, Politics, Remembrances, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Ted Kennedy, Tireless LGBT Advocate, Dies at Age 77

NC Gay Bashings Alarm Wilmington and Greensboro

Chaz Housand shows gay bashing injuries (Paul Stephen photo for StarNewsOnline)

Chaz Housand shows gay bashing injuries (Paul Stephen photo for StarNewsOnline)

Wilmington, NC – Protesters are calling for hate crime protection for the LGBT community in New Hanover County, the heart of Coastal Carolina country, after two gay men were brutally beaten unconscious last month.  Three men shouting anti-gay slurs attacked Chaz Housand and Chet Saunders as they walked out of the door of a popular Front Street bar in the early morning of July 17, according to witnesses at the scene. StarNewsOnline reports that just after 2 a.m., witnesses flagged down a police officer to tell him that two young men had been beaten.  Both Housand, 22, and Saunders, also 22, had no recollection of the attack.  “The last thing I remember,” Housand told reporter Dave Reynolds, “I was walking out of the door.  Then I remember waking up in the hospital.”  The only thing the victims can think motivated the attack was their sexual orientation.  The recollection of the eyewitnesses, and the severity of the wounds inflicted on the two gay men seem to substantiate that suspicion.  According to the police incident report, a witness remembered one of the suspected attackers shouting, “This is our town!” as he struck Housand and Saunders.  Three suspects were arrested by the police in short order and charged with the assault: Jong Tae Chung, 27; Melvin Lee Spicer, 25; and Daniel Minwoo Lee, 21.  While North Carolina does not have a hate crime law that covers sexual orientation, District Attorney Ben David told Star News that a judge may very well increase the charges from a misdemeanor to a felony in light of the brutality of the attack and the extensive injuries sustained by the victims.  Bones in Housand’s face were broken and he suffered deep cuts above his eye and around his mouth.  Saunders suffered a concussion and internal bruising, and he has still not recovered the motor skills needed to use a knife and a fork to feed himself as of July 27. Housand, who had been celebrating his birthday with his friend just before the attack, told reporters that as a university student, he had been involved in social action to change North Carolina’s hate crimes statute to include sexual orientation, but never imagined he would be personally involved in a hate crime.  Public Radio, WHQR FM, reports that the downtown beating last month ignited protests by LGBT people and straight allies outside the New Hanover County Courthouse August 24.  Outraged by the bashing, locals are calling on the state to protect LGBT citizens.  Some in the LGBT community are convinced that the attack was hate-motivated due to the hallmark overkill of the assault.  Lynn Casper, one of the courthouse protesters, said that everything about the bashing indicates that it was about homophobia, and gay people in Wilmington are frightened.  “I’ve heard a lot of people talk in the queer community,” Casper told reporters.  “They’re a lot more scared now.”  Wilmington, the largest city on the Carolina coast, is no stranger to anti-LGBT murder.  Lesbian Talana Quay Kreeger, 32, was manually disemboweled by a trucker in 1990.  Tab Ballis, a local documentary filmmaker, is working to complete a film telling her story, called “Park View.” Now, LGBT people across the Tarheel State are worried that bias crimes against anyone perceived to be gay are on the rise.  In Greensboro, the largest city in the Piedmont, a 25-year-old Pilot Mountain man was attacked on July 4 by a group of young men yelling anti-gay epithets.  Matt Comer of Q Notes reports that the as-yet unidentified victim was merely thought to be gay by his assailants who targeted him as he left a popular gay night club with two gay friends.  The victim was struck on the back of the head and knocked to the ground.  His friends ran to find help.  Greensboro Police have arrested Tyren Hassan McNeill, 25, and charged him with felony aggravated assault.

August 26, 2009 Posted by | Beatings and battery, Bludgeoning, gay men, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Legislation, Lesbian women, Mistaken as LGBT, North Carolina, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Protests and Demonstrations, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Stomping and Kicking Violence | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

New Book Announcement: “The Meaning of Matthew” by Judy Shepard

Meaning of MatthewThe Matthew Shepard Foundation, http://www.matthewshepard.org, announces the publication of a new book on Matthew Shepard authored by his mother, Judy Shepard: The Meaning of Matthew: My Son’s Murder in Laramie, and a World Transformed. From the book announcement letter:

“Today, the name Matthew Shepard is synonymous with gay rights, but before his grisly murder in 1998, Matthew was simply Judy Shepard’s son. For the first time in book form, Judy Shepard speaks about her loss, sharing memories of Matthew, their life as a typical American family, and the pivotal event in the small college town that changed everything.

“The Meaning of Matthew follows the Shepard family in the days immediately after the crime, when Judy and her husband traveled to see their incapacitated son, kept alive by life support machines; how the Shepards learned of the incredible response from strangers all across America who held candlelit vigils and memorial services for their child; and finally, how they struggled to navigate the legal system as Matthew’s murderers were on trial. Heart-wrenchingly honest, Judy Shepard confides with readers about how she handled the crippling loss of her child, why she became a gay rights activist, and the challenges and rewards of raising a gay child in America today.

“The Meaning of Matthew not only captures the historical significance and complicated civil rights issues surrounding one young man’s life and death, but it also chronicles one ordinary woman’s struggle to cope with the unthinkable.”

All proceeds from the sale of the book will go to support the work of the Matthew Shepard Foundation.  This is a landmark book not to be missed by supporters of the Unfinished Lives Project.

August 25, 2009 Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Bludgeoning, Book excerpts, gay men, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Legislation, Matthew Shepard Act, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy, Wyoming | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on New Book Announcement: “The Meaning of Matthew” by Judy Shepard

Green’s Murderer Gets 25 Years for Transgender Hate Crime

Dwight DeLee on Trial

Dwight DeLee on Trial

Syracuse, NY – Dwight DeLee, a 20-year-old construction worker from Upstate New York was sentenced Tuesday to the maximum of 25 years in prison for the hate killing of transgender woman, Lateisha Green.  Green, 22, was a Male to Female transgender person, shot to death by DeLee last November as she and her brother sat in a car outside a house party.  Since the age of 16, Green had lived as a woman, wearing women’s clothing, and taking her female name, Lateisha, in preference to her male birth name, Moses.  In determining that DeLee’s crime was manslaughter rather than murder, the court found that he had not intended to kill Green in the attack, but only to terrorize and injure her.  Two aspects of the sentence are of particular note for the LGBT community as it seeks justice for Lateisha and all at-risk transgender persons.  First, the sentence was the maximum amount of time prescribed by New York law for the crime of manslaughter, indicating the seriousness with which the court took the case.  Second, in sentencing DeLee for an anti-transgender hate crime, Judge William Walsh noted the deplorable bias-motivation of the crime.  The jury found that Green was indeed selected for a violent attack based on her perceived gender presentation and gender identity, the hallmark of a transphobic hate crime.  This verdict and sentence are believed to be only the second in the United States explicitly against the perpetrator of an anti-transgender violent crime, the first being the conviction and sentencing earlier this year of Allen Ray Andrade to life without parole for the hate crime murder of 18-year-old Greeley, Colorado transgender Latina, Angie Zapata.

August 18, 2009 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Colorado, gun violence, Hate Crimes, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Legislation, New York, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Green’s Murderer Gets 25 Years for Transgender Hate Crime

Transgender Woman Raped, Assaulted with Wooden Coat Hanger in Murder Attempt

trans symbol

Trinidad, CO – The Pueblo Chieftain and the Examiner.com report that on July 15, 2009 a transsexual person was attacked in a hate crime reminiscent of the murder of Angie Zapata, an 18-year-old transgender woman who was bludgeoned to death in Greeley, CO last year.  The victim,  a 25-year-old M to F person in transition was lodging in the Trinidad Motor Inn awaiting consultation on gender reassignment surgery when she was targeted by a suspect identified as Marcus Lee Watlington.  No age or hometown of the suspect has been announced by the Trinidad police.  Police have reported that Watlington denies any part in the crime.  According to reports on the scene, the victim was pushed into her motel room by the attacker after answering her door.  He verbally denigrated her because of her identity, and proceeded to force sex acts on her.  He then raped her, using a wooden coat hanger to assault her sexually.  To finish the job, the attacker then plunged the victim in a full tub of water in the bathroom, and attempted to execute her by tossing an electric hair dryer into tub with her.  The breaker blew, preventing a fatality.  Frustrated in his attempt to murder the victim, the assailant dragged her back to the bed, bound her with a phone cord, slapped her repeatedly, and warned her not to come back to Trinidad because her “kind” were not wanted there.  The victim stayed bound in the bed until she was discovered late the next morning.  Her description of the attacker was detailed, and according to police, fit Watlington “to a T.”  Anti-trans hate crimes are notable for their brutality and for the abject disregard of the humanity of the victim, and transgender persons are particularly vulnerable to anti-gay as well as anti-trans bias, according to the Colorado Anti-Violence Program (CAVP).  If charged with the crime, Watlington would face sexual assault, attempted murder, and “false imprisonment” charges.  The Chieftain noted that Trinidad, which is a center for transsexual reassignment surgery, has a larger than usual population of transgender persons who are drawn to the town because of the famed practice of Dr. Stanley Biber.  The surgical practice, now run by Dr. Marci Bowers, carries out as many as four sexual reassignment surgeries a day, making Trinidad known as “The Sex Change Capital of the World.”  Local police report that crimes against transgender persons are rare in the town of 9,000.  While it is still unclear about whether hate crimes charges will be filed in this case, Colorado does have a hate crime statute that covers anti-transgender crimes.  Allen Ray Andrade, found guilty of the murder of Zapata earlier this year, was sentenced to life in prison by the Colorado hate crimes law, and is believed to be the first person to be successfully prosecuted under such a statute in the United States.  The Unfinished Lives Project awaits further developments in this case.

August 16, 2009 Posted by | Beatings and battery, Colorado, drowning, harassment, Hate Crimes, Law and Order, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, transgender persons, transphobia, women | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Daniel Radcliffe, Star of Harry Potter, Makes Major Donation to LGBT Youth Suicide Prevention

Daniel-Radcliffe.The Dallas Voice reports that Harry Potter star, Daniel Radcliffe, has made a major donation to the Trevor Project for the prevention of LGBT youth suicide.  The Trevor Project is the leading national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth, and operates the only accredited, nationwide, around-the-clock crisis and suicide prevention helpline for queer youth in the nation, the Trevor Helpline.  With teen suicide attempts among LGBT teens occurring four times as often as among their straight peer as a result of bullying and harassment in schools according the 2006 Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey, the need to staunch this flood of hate-related suffering has never been greater.  LGBTQ youth suicide is the hidden face of anti-LGBT hate crimes in America.  Radcliffe made this personal statement through his press release: “I am very pleased to begin my support of The Trevor Project, which saves lives every day through its critical work… I deeply hope my support can raise the organization’s visibility so even more despondent youth become aware of The Trevor Helpline’s highly trained counselors and Trevor’s many other resources. It’s vitally important that young people understand they are not alone and, perhaps even more important, that their young lives have real value.”  The young, charismatic Radcliffe joins other celebrities in support of the Trevor Project, Jodi Foster, Sasha Baron Cohen, and Anne Hathaway.  No dollar amount of the gift has been released to the public, but the suggestion is that it is a large donation, and may spur other celebrities to follow suit.

August 10, 2009 Posted by | Bullying in schools, harassment, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ suicide, suicide | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tens of Thousands Rally in Solidarity with LGBT Israelis Following Youth Center Attack

TevlAvivRallyTel Aviv, Israel – In a massive show of support for LGBT citizens, an estimated 70,000 people rallied on Sunday in Tel Aviv’s Yitzak Rabin Square.  President Shimon Peres was among the speakers who voiced their solidarity with the sexual minority in the State of Israel, following a brutal attack upon an LGBT youth center on August 1 in which two were shot down in cold blood, and many were injured.  A masked gunman who has not yet been identified entered the center with an automatic weapon, and sprayed the area with bullets.  According to AFP News, Peres said, “Everyone has the right to be different and proud. Noone has the right to interfere in other people’s lives so long as everyone respects law and order. I came to share your tears after the death of two young innocents. Be strong and courageous.”  Numerous threats came in before the massive rally to discourage attendance.  It had the opposite effect, with thousands of Rainbow Flags wafting in the evening breeze of Israel’s commercial capital, which until the attack had a reputation for liberality in a country where nearly half of the population considers LGBT people to be “deviants.”  An ultra-Orthodox soldier who had been detained in conjunction with threats against rally-goers confessed in custody that he had indeed made such threats.  His name has not been released as of yet.  Two people at the LGBT Center have died of their wounds, Nir Katz, a 26-year-old counselor at the center, and Liz Trubeshi, a 17-year-old straight ally.  At last report, nine others were still in hospital recovering from their wounds.  In one of the more disturbing dimensions of this story, it was reported at the Dallas, Texas Candlelight Vigil in support of the Center last week that no parents of the wounded youth had yet visited them in hospital.  The reason given was that these injured youth were not out before the shooting, and their families were trying to cope with the news.  The same report noted, however, that many youth and other supporters had been visiting the injured regularly since the attack.  Uri Gil, wounded on the night of the attack, spoke to the enormous crowd. “This past week I have been haunted by nightly fear, especially when I think that the murderer is walking around out there,” he added. “No murderer will keep us in the closet.” He was joined by Ched Langer, a youth counselor at the Center, who had to attend the rally in a wheel chair because of his injuries. “This is the day in which we cease to be silent, to hide, and to alter the appearance of reality,” he said with tears streaming down his face, according to Box Turtle Bulletin.

August 10, 2009 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, gun violence, Hate Crimes, Israel, Protests and Demonstrations | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Tens of Thousands Rally in Solidarity with LGBT Israelis Following Youth Center Attack

Tampa Bay Gay Publisher Admits Neglecting Ryan Skipper’s Hate Crime Murder “A Big Mistake”

RyanSkipperTampa Bay, FL – Jon Ponder of the blog, Pensito Review, writes that Watermark publisher, Tom Dyer, counts missing the Ryan Skipper hate crime murder story the deepest regret of his publishing career.  Watermark, a gay publication serving Tampa Bay and other metro Florida areas for 15 years, ran no stories on the Skipper case in 2007 even though it happened in nearby Polk County, between Tampa and Orlando.  Pensito Review ran multiple stories from virtually the beginning of the case, staying in close touch with the Mulders, Ryan’s parents, and pressing for the office of Sheriff Grady Judd to come clean on the law enforcement bias against homosexuals that skewed press releases and unsupportable statements about Skipper’s character to the media.  In Tom Dyer’s own words to a reporter from the Daily City, “We should have jumped on the Ryan Skipper story immediately. This young Polk County man’s murder just a few years ago was every bit as gruesome as Matthew Shepard’s, and every bit as telling about the persistence of violent homophobia in our area. There was almost no coverage in the mainstream press, and I let that influence my judgment. Big mistake, and I still regret it.” Skipper, a gay 25-year-old lifelong resident of Polk County, was brutally murdered by men who slashed him to death and dumped his body by the side of a lonely dirt road in rural Wahneta, Florida, just outside of Winter Haven.  If the savagery of the murder were not enough in itself, Sheriff Judd suggested to the media that Skipper was somehow to blame for his own murder, that he was “cruising for sex” on the night of his murder, picked up “rough trade,” and agreed to participate in a drugs-related check forgery scheme with them.  None of these allegations were supported by a shred of fact, but by taking the self-serving lies told by the alleged killers as his only source, Sheriff Judd accomplished two things:  he pleased his right-wing religious base by removing known meth addicts from his jurisdiction (Skipper’s alleged killers), and besmirching the reputation of the victim himself, an openly gay man.  While Joseph “Smiley” Bearden has already been found guilty, and William “Bill Bill” Brown will also in all likelihood, Judd remains unrepentant and unaccountable.  Pensito Review calls Judd’s actions “egregious malpractice,” and makes this trenchant observation, “In the final analysis, Ryan Skipper was assaulted twice — first, fatally by his homophobic killers and then in the media by the homophobic sheriff of Polk County. Bearden has been held accountable, and it’s a dead cinch Brown will be too. But Grady Judd has not been forced to take responsibility for his role in assaulting Ryan’s memory. Unless and until the media holds him responsible for his actions, it’s likely he never will be.” LGBT hate crimes killings are horrible, and Ryan Skipper’s was one of the most disturbing in the recent history of the nation.  Both the Gay American Heroes Foundation and the Unfinished Lives Project have been inspired and outraged by this case, and have moved to expose the way LGBT hate crimes are distorted and underreported.  A first-rate documentary film, Accessory to Murder, produced by Mary Meeks and Vicki Nantz, details the role Judd’s politicized demolition of Skipper’s character robbed his family of comfort, and nearly robbed Florida of justice.  A chapter dedicated to Ryan Skipper, entitled “Keeper of Hearts,” forthcoming in the book by Stephen Sprinkle, Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memory of LGBT Hate Crimes Murder Victims. Dyer is to be commended for admitting his error.  Too many times LGBT hate crimes are passed over because of distortion and misinformation, and it is refreshing to hear that he will not be making a mistake of this magnitude again.   The editors and staff of Pensito Review demonstrate the significance of blog coverage of news stories dismissed by otherwise reputable publishers.  We at Unfinished Lives applaud them.

August 5, 2009 Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, Florida, gay men, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Media Issues, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Social Justice Advocacy, stabbings | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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