Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Dallas Vigil for Slain Gay Teens Voices Sadness, Anger, and Hope

Dallas, TX – A large crowd of vigil keepers gathered at the Crossroads in Dallas on Sunday night to remember murdered gay teens, Jorge Steven López Mercado of Caguas, Puerto Rico, and Jason Mattison, Jr. of Baltimore, Maryland.  A third gay teen, Jayron Martin, who survived a vicious homophobic attack in Houston, was also remembered.  A coalition of organizations led by Bob McCranie of the Carrolton Project and Daniel Cates of Equality March Texas met at the corner of Cedar Springs and Throckmorton, the historic center of LGBT life in Dallas to voice anger, to express their sadness in solidarity with the families and friends of the slain teens, and to send messages of hope and support from Texas to the loved ones of the boys who were attacked for no other reason than their sexual orientation.  Other sponsoring organizations were Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ, the largest LGBT-predominant congregation in the world, Syangogue Beth El Binah, Resource Center Dallas, the Dallas Chapter of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), and the Lambda Weekly.  Speakers urged the gathering to turn their anger and sorrow into meaningful action for a just world, not only for LGBT people, but for everyone.  As vigil keepers lit their candles, the names of 100 slain Transgender, Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual victims of hate crime murder were spoken aloud in the night.  The march wound several blocks down to the Legacy of Love monument at the corner of Cedar Springs and Oak Lawn, and then returned.  Rainbow flags were signed by many of the participants with messages of hope and support for Jorge Steven’s family in Puerto Rico, and for Jason’s family in Baltimore.  A giant card was signed for Jayron, to let him know of the support he has from the Dallas-Fort Worth LGBT community.

Flags for the deceased at the Dallas Candlelight Vigil

November 24, 2009 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Bisexual persons, gay men, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Lesbian women, Maryland, Puerto Rico, Texas, transgender persons | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Dallas Vigil for Slain Gay Teens Voices Sadness, Anger, and Hope

Slaughtered Gay Puerto Rican Teen Laid to Rest by Family and Friends

Toa Alto, Puerto Rico – Jorge Steven López Mercado was laid to rest by over a thousand family members and friends on Monday.  His mother, Miriam Mercado, and Pedro Julio Serrano, leading LGBT activist, made moving statements remembering Jorge Steven amidst bouquets of white roses and multicolored balloons.  The whole gathering offered a final tribute to the slain teenager by saluting his resting place with his signature hand gesture, captured in so many photos on happier days.  According to Boy from Bushwick, who has been covering the whole saga of young López Mercado’s brutal murder since the beginning, the youth’s maternal aunt, Ruby Mercado, told reporters present to cover the funeral mass, “The support we have received from the public and Steven’s friends has given us the strength to bear this moment of such horrible pain.  I asked Steven with his wings from heaven to help us carry on without having him by our side.”  One of his friends, José Alicia, said, “We definitely hope people and society wake up and demand justice.”  El Nuevo Dia reports that Jorge Steven’s aunt and his former boyfriend, Luis Rivera, opened the cask holding his ashes, and placed a small necklace bearing a cross and a white rose inside before the interment.  The service at Toa Alto bore the passion and style of the flamboyant young gay Puerto Rican from beginning to end.  Music accompanying his ashes to the grave was Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”: “I won’t tell you that I love you/Kiss or hug you/’Cause I’m bluffin’ with my muffin/I’m not lyin’ I’m just stunnin’ with my love-glue-gunning/Can’t read my, Can’t read my/No he can’t read my poker face.” Again and again during the funeral, family and friends called for respect for the LGBT community in Puerto Rico, and justice for Jorge Steven.  Rest in peace, mi amigo.

November 24, 2009 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Condolences, funerals, gay men, Hate Crimes, Latino and Latina Americans, Puerto Rico, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Slaughtered Gay Puerto Rican Teen Laid to Rest by Family and Friends

Hate Attacks Up Against LGBT’s, Blacks, and Jews in 2008: FBI Reports

Washington, D.C. – The annual FBI report on bias-related hate crimes in the United States notes increases in violent attacks against LGBT people, African Americans, and Jewish people.  Mandated by the 1990 Hate Crimes Statistics Act, the collection and publication of these data received voluntarily from law enforcement organizations almost always underestimate the number of incidents and victims of hate crime attacks because of gaps in reportage, lack of funding to support local law enforcement compliance with FBI requests for this information, and the reluctance of persons to identify themselves as targets of hate violence.  CBS News analysis of the 2009 FBI report notes that though the numbers of attacks is up only slightly over the previous year, 7,783 criminal incidents involving 9,168 offenses in 2008 as opposed to 7,624 criminal incidents involving 9,006 offenses reported in 2007, the rise in violence against these three vulnerable groups is particularly worrying.  Anti-black attacks accounted for 72.6% of all racially-motivated violence, which in aggregate amounted to 51.3% of all hate crimes in the United States in 2008.  Anti-religious bias accounted for 19.5% of the total, with anti-Jewish attacks representing the vast majority of these incidents, 65.7%.  Violent crimes motivated by sexual orientation ranked third among all bias-motivated crimes, at 16.7%.  Of these anti-LGBT attacks, a full 11% higher in 2008 than in 2007, most by far were perpetrated against gay men, 58.6% of all hate crimes against people because of homophobia and heterosexism.  Here in Texas, according to the Dallas Voice, hate crimes against LGBT people were up a full 20% over the previous year.  The entire FBI report for 2008 may be accessed in .pdf form here.  Human rights leaders across the nation were quick to call for swift and decisive action to prosecute perpetrators of hate violence, and to reduce the alarming increases among blacks, Jews, and LGBT people.  Joe Solmonese, speaking for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT advocacy organization released this statement on Monday: “These numbers are unacceptable.  While it is so important that we have the new federal hate crimes law, it is critical to ensure that we continue working with the Department of Justice to ensure the safety of LGBT citizens.  We have to prosecute each hate crime to the fullest extent of the law, but we also need to get at the roots.  When we don’t know each other as human beings, ignorance breeds misunderstanding, which breeds hate, which too often this year led to violence.  We have to keep fighting the prejudices and stereotypes that underlie these acts.”  Roger G. Sugarman, National Chair of the Anti-Defamation League, noted for the Ha’aretz Service “While the increase in the number of hate crimes may be partially attributed to improved reporting, the fact that these numbers remain elevated – particularly the significant rise in the number of victims selected on the basis of religion or sexual orientation – should be of concern to every American.”

November 24, 2009 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Anti-Semitism, bi-phobia, Bisexual persons, gay men, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Lesbian women, Matthew Shepard Act, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Racism, religious intolerance, transgender persons, transphobia, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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