Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Gay Latino Teen Beheaded, Dismembered, and Burned

Caguas, Puerto Rico – Reports just making the wires confirm that Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, a gay teenager from Puerto Rico, was found brutally murdered in an anti-gay hate crime on November 14.  According to a CNNi item, the dismembered body of the 18-year-old was found on the side of a road in Cayey, partially burned and decapitated.  Mercado’s arms and legs were severed from his torso.  Christopher Pagan, who made the initial report to CNNi, related that Mercado was “was a very well known person in the gay community of Puerto Rico, and very loved.”  Associated Content reports that the police investigator in charge of the case made a televised statement to the press to the effect that “people [like young Mercado]  who lead this type of lifestyle need to be aware that this will happen.”  The response in the Puerto Rican LGBT community has been swift and intense.  Pressure is being brought to bear upon authorities to remove the investigator on the grounds that his prejudice hampers the pursuit of justice in the case of an anti-LGBT hate crime murder such as this.  The blog Towelroad quotes gay Puerto Rican activist Pedro Julio Serrano, “It is inconceivable that the investigating officer suggests that the victim deserved his fate, like a woman deserves rape for wearing a short skirt. We demand condemnation of this investigator and demand that Superintendente Figueroa Sancha replace him with someone capable of investigating this case without prejudice.”   Today, November 17, a 28-year-old suspect has been arrested in conjunction with the Mercado investigation, according to Primiera Hora.  Intensive interviews with Mercado’s friends pointed to the suspect, alleging that he had offered Mercado money in exchange for sex.  In further developments today, the police superintendent has dismissed allegations of homophobia against the police investigator who expressed his negative opinion about members of the gay community.  Serrano has issued this statement in response to the arrest and the innuendo swirling around this case: “Even when everyone is innocent until proven guilty, it is hopeful that they have arrested a suspect. We’re grateful for the Police work that has acted promptly and we trust that the investigation digs into the hate crime angle and if it is proven that it was indeed bias-related, that the criminal is processed to the full extent of the law….We urge the media and the authorities not to judge the victim, but the criminal who committed this horrendous crime. Even if there are particular circumstances in which this crime was committed, we have to keep the attention where it deserves to be: a young gay man was brutally murdered by someone who did not have any compassion or respect for the dignity of a human life.”  Associated Content evaluates the situation for LGBT persons and the memory of young Mercado: “Puerto Rico has a conservative religious climate, being strongly influenced by Roman Catholicism and socially conservative Protestantism. Puerto Rico is also a United States territory. As a result the brutal murder of George Steven Lopez Mercado is a hate crime under the hate crime legislation signed into law by President Barack Obama of the United States. To date no murder has yet been classified as a hate crime in Puerto Rico. Homosexuality in Puerto Rico is not illegal and George Steven Lopez Mercado deserves as much protection under the law as any other Puerto Rican citizen.”  The FBI is monitoring the situation, and has expressed willingness to assist in the investigation.

November 17, 2009 - Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, Decapitation and dismemberment, gay men, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, immolation, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Legislation, Matthew Shepard Act, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Puerto Rico, religious intolerance, Slurs and epithets, Torture and Mutilation, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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