Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Houston Gay Teen Beaten with Metal Pipe Appealed for Help, But in Vain

Houston, TX – Jayron Martin, a 16-year-old freshman at Langham Creek High School, knew that school bullies were coming for him on Thursday, November 12, but his appeals for help to principals and to his bus driver fell on deaf ears.  Hours before the beating that left him with multiple bruises and a concussion, Martin says he was tipped off that classmates intended to ambush and beat him for being gay.  According to statements he made to KHOU-TV 11 News, Martin said that he immediately went to two school principals for help.  Instead of offering him help, they told him to write out a statement, and they would call him in after reading and considering his fears.  He wrote out a statement and took it to the principals, but no help of any kind was forthcoming, and the clock was ticking toward the impending attack.  “They didn’t do anything,” said Martin. “They never called me down [to the principal’s office] or nothing.”  No school official lifted a finger to help him or stop the approaching violence.  The principals did not even inform his mother.  Martin boarded the bus for home, knowing that the gang who promised to beat him up were riding it as well.  “All they kept saying was, ‘We going to get you. We going to fight you,’ and all that and so when they started coming after me they were like, ‘You’re not going to be gay anymore.’”  Martin said that he begged his bus driver for help, but the driver ignored the gay youth’s pleas.  The attack came off campus, when Martin got off the bus.  Nine boys got off at the same stop, and chased after Martin, who ran for his life to a neighbor’s house.  “You don’t understand, I was just running for my life and nobody was like there at all. Nobody was doing anything for me,” said Martin.  The bullies caught up to him at the neighbor’s house, and a seven-minute attack with a metal pipe commenced as Martin says he screamed for help.  As a 16-year-old thrashed him repeatedly, the eight others stood around, witnessing the beating and egging it on.  “They just kept hitting me,” he said.  Finally his neighbor heard the commotion, saw what was taking place in his yard, and came at the assailants with a shotgun.  He probably saved Martin from more serious injury or death.  The youth recalled that his neighbor shouted, “Y’all need to stop! Y’all need to stop!’ And the boy wouldn’t stop and he just kept hitting me and hitting me and so he cocked his gun and that’s when he ran out [of the yard],” Martin told KHOU reporters.  Harris County law officers arrested the 16-year-old who allegedly carried out the beating and charged him with aggravated assault.  Since Martin’s attacker is a juvenile, the records of proceedings are sealed to the public and the press.  Martin and his mother are convinced that the assault was an anti-gay hate crime.  “I’m disgusted,” his mother, Lakenya Martin, said to reporters. “I’m sorry, after the fact doesn’t do it. The school district let us down. I mean, let all of us down because it could have been anyone’s kid.”  The Cy-Fair School District has begun an investigation into the attack.  The bus driver has been suspended with pay.  Officials say they are looking into the actions of an assistant principal at Langham High.  Mrs. Martin, however, is far from satisfied.  “When the child does what they’re supposed to do and the adult doesn’t, what are you supposed to say then?  How do you make him feel comfortable? How do you give him back that sense of security,” she said.  She announced her intentions to move out of the neighborhood and the school district.  Reports suggest that she is acting to sue the school and the school district in civil court.  What makes this story all the more lamentable to us at the Unfinished Lives Project is that this entire tragedy could have been prevented if school officials had only acted responsibly and humanely.  GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian Straight Education Network, reports that a 2007 survey of 6,209 middle and high school students found that nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students (86.2%) experienced harassment at school in the past year, three-fifths (60.8%) felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation and about a third (32.7%) skipped a day of school in the past month because of feeling unsafe.  GLSEN research also points out that school officials routinely underestimate the danger posed to LGBT students by bullying in their schools. Jayron Martin will be remembered at at rally and candlelight vigil planned for Sunday, November 22, 6:15 pm in the heart of the LGBTQ neighborhood in Dallas.

November 19, 2009 Posted by | African Americans, Beatings and battery, Bludgeoning, Bullying in schools, gay men, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

African American Gay Teen Slaughtered in Baltimore

Baltimore, MD – A 15-year-old African American sophomore who was open to his classmates about his sexual orientation was found Tuesday, November 10 stuffed in a closet in his aunt’s house, raped, gagged with a pillowcase, and stabbed multiple times in the head and throat.  The Baltimore Sun reports that Dante Parrish, 35, a convicted felon who knew Jason Mattison, Jr. and his family, was arrested on November 12 at a convenience store, and charged with first-degree murder.  After release from prison, Parrish roomed in Mattison’s aunt’s home on Llewellyn Avenue, where Jason was also living at the time.  Reports speculate that Parrish had forced a sexual relationship on the teenager.  A spokesman from the Baltimore Police Department said that Parrish, who is being held in custody without bond, confessed to the murder.  Jason was a joyous non-conformist, known at West Baltimore’s Vivian T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy where he attended high school as a witty, chatty young gay man who lived out his sexual orientation without apology.  When other boys harassed him for his tight jeans and feminine-looking sweaters, he always seemed to have a quick answer, and would walk away from the encounter smiling.  He had planned to become a pediatrician according to his teachers, who believed that no matter how cheery he appeared to be, the slurs hurled at him still hurt.  When he came out to his family, there was some friction, but gradually they accepted him, according to his paternal grandmother, Mrs. Wanda Williams.  Williams was among the earliest members of his family to whom he came out, and she admitted to reporters that his revelations caught her off-guard.  She was worried about her grandson.  “I accepted his sexual preferences,” she said. “But I told him, ‘You’re young and don’t understand life.’ I told him, ‘Plenty of young women would love to be with you.’ He said he likes boys. Young people don’t like to listen to adults, but I told him I’m not going to push him away.”  Jason’s murder has devastated his grandmother.  “I haven’t cried so much this entire life,” Williams said to The Sun. “My grandson hollering for help and there is nobody there to help him.”  Many unanswered questions remain for family, classmates and friends.  Why would his relatives allow Parrish to stay in the same house as Jason, given Parrish’s violent past?  Were the reports of a sexual relationship with Parrish true, or fabricated by a man facing the worst criminal charges of his life?  What were the circumstances that led up to one of the most gruesome anti-gay murders in the history of Baltimore?  Jason’s funeral was held this Wednesday at Unity United Methodist Church.  His cousin, Laquanna Couplin, who was also living in the house on Llewellyn where Jason was killed, told reporters, “He was a terrific boy, and we miss him very much.  We’re hoping that justice is served and that the person who is responsible for this goes to prison and doesn’t get out.”  She spoke lovingly of her young cousin, “He was a sweet young man. He wasn’t afraid of who he was. He had a life ahead of him. I just wish he could’ve had a chance to live it.”  A candlelight vigil is planned Sunday, November 22 in Dallas, Texas to call for justice for Jason.

November 19, 2009 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bullying in schools, gay men, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Maryland, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Remembrances, Slurs and epithets, stabbings, Strangulation, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Demands for Justice in Slaying of Gay Teen in Puerto Rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico – The Associated Press reports this evening that in response to mounting pressure from local LGBT activists and the large and vocal Puerto Rican communities in New York and Chicago, the FBI and the United States Attorney’s Office is seriously considering entering the effort to investigate and prosecute Jorge Steven López Mercado’s alleged killer as a hate crime under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act, signed into law last month by President Barack Obama.  Two members of Congress from New York of Puerto Rican descent, U.S. Representative José E. Serrano and U.S. Representative Nydia Velasquez, have both added their influence to bring the U.S. Justice Department into the case.  Puerto Rican police officials have signaled their willingness to proceed with the investigation as a possible anti-LGBT hate crime, as well.  A prosecutor who interviewed Juan Antonio Martínez Matos, the alleged murderer, said that he confessed to have stabbed 19-year-old López Mercado after he discovered that he had solicited sex from a male and not a female.  The prosecutor, José Bermudez Santos, remarked to a local newspaper that  Matos said he met his victim Thursday night in a section known for prostitution.  The confessed killer went on to say that López Mercado was wearing a dress at the time.  “He [Matos] has a deep-seated rage,” Santos went on to say.  Matos was charged on Wednesday with first-degree murder and weapons violations, and then jailed with a $4 million bond.  Should he be convicted, he would likely face life in prison without hope of parole.  Puerto Rican LGBT advocates have been quick to bring the focus of media back to the heinous nature of the crime, rather than the alleged descriptions of the victim.  They insist that no one lose sight of the fact that a horrific crime has been committed against a well-known member of their community, a young person who volunteered for HIV prevention and for gay rights.  Local LGBT rights activist, Pedro Julio Serrano, who represents the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in Puerto Rico, said that there had been more than 10 anti-LGBT murders on the island in the last seven years that should have been investigated as hate crimes.  While there is a statute on the books concerning hate crimes already, enacted into law in 2002, sexual orientation has never been permitted as a protected category.  Should the murder of López Mercado be prosecuted as a bias-related crime, it will be a first in Puerto Rican history.  “The people of Puerto Rico are very inclusive and accepting of differences,” Serrano remarked to the AP. “I think these kinds of crimes show the ugly side of homophobia, but it’s a minority of people that are willing to be so violent in expressing their prejudice.”  LGBT historians note that Puerto Rico has a grim heritage of homophobic and transphobic crimes.  According to the Enquirer-Herald, the island was terrorized in the 1980’s by serial killer Angel Colón Maldonado, called “The Angel of the Bachelors,” for slaying 27 gay men before his capture.  Maldonado is serving life in prison.  These crimes notwithstanding, Puerto Rico also has shown itself to be more inclusive and welcoming of LGBT people than some other Caribbean islands, like Jamaica, where queer folk are still deeply closeted.  Serrano announced a protest at the Capitol in San Juan on Thursday.  Rallies and memorial gatherings are planned on the mainland in Dallas, Chicago and New York this weekend.

November 19, 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, Media Issues, multiple homicide, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Protests and Demonstrations, Puerto Rico, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy, stabbings, Torture and Mutilation, trans-panic defense, transgender persons, transphobia, U.S. House of Representatives | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Demands for Justice in Slaying of Gay Teen in Puerto Rico


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