Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Ball Bat Killer Guilty of Murder As A Hate Crime in Brooklyn

Keith Phoenix Found Guilty

Brooklyn, NY – Just seven hours after the jury was sequestered on Monday, José Sucuzhañay’s prime attacker, Keith Phoenix, was found guilty of second-degree murder as a hate crime.  When he is sentenced on August 5, Phoenix will face a possible 25 years to life in prison for his role in bludgeoning Sucuzhañay to death with an aluminum baseball bat on December 7, 2008 in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn.  City officials and the Sucuzhañay family expressed relief and satisfaction with the verdict.  The first trial was aborted when a holdout juror refused to co-operate with the process, alarming both the immigrant rights and LGBTQ communities that Phoenix might squeak through the legal system with little or no punishment for one of the most brutal hate crimes in recent New York history.  Phoenix’s accomplice, Hakim Scott, was found guilt of manslaughter and aggravated assault on May 6, but escaped the hate crime enhancement when the jury set aside the charge. The Scott decision drew a storm of criticism, so the eyes of many were focussed on what the jury would do in the Phoenix case.  As reported by the NY Post, José’s brother, Diego Sucuzhañay, standing at the corner of Bushwick Avenue and Kossuth Place, now renamed “Sucuzhañay Place” in memory of his brother, congratulated the jury for its work. “We were afraid we would not get justice. The first time the mistrial and our family had to go through this process, this painful process. But we wanted justice for the death of our brother,” he said, with his other brother Romel standing beside him.  Also quoted in the Post, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said, “Just hours after this horrible tragedy, I came to this location and I pledged that the people who did this horrible thing to Jose would be found be convicted and the only way they would come out of prison would be in a box.  I’m here today to reaffirm that,” the D.A. concluded. For his part, Phoenix, 30, who had not expressed any remorse for what he did, was taken aback by the verdict, according to the Gay City Times.  “I think he’s kind of surprised by this result,” Philip J. Smallman, Phoenix’s attorney, said of his client, following the announcement of the verdict.  Phoenix never entertained the thought that he would be convicted of a hate crime.  Smallman has declared that he intends to appeal the verdict on Phoenix’s behalf.  Because Scott and Phoenix targeted José and Romel for being “Spanish” and “faggots” as they huddled together against the Brooklyn winter, the case drew together two unusual groups of allies, immigrants’ rights advocates and LGBTQ human rights activists.  Though the Sucuzhañay brothers are heterosexual, mistaking their sexual orientation as gay has helped sensitize the Latino/a community to the shared sense of injustice experienced by LGBT people in the United States and Ecuador.

June 30, 2010 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Bludgeoning, Brooklyn, Ecuador, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Latinos, Law and Order, Mistaken as LGBT, New York, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Racism, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Ball Bat Killer Guilty of Murder As A Hate Crime in Brooklyn

Dallas Marches to Remember Stonewall

Dallas, TX – Hundreds rallied and marched through the skyscraper canyons of Dallas Sunday night to remember the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion, and to fight for human rights.  The Stonewall Rebellion 41st Anniversary March and Rally formed at Founders Plaza near the famous JFK memorial, and marched though downtown Dallas, shouting “Harvey Milk was right/Come out of your closets and fight!”  Marchers from throughout North Texas, as well as contingents from Lubbock and Tyler filled the streets with the sounds of activism.  The route was chosen to maximize exposure to Dallasites throughout the downtown business and residential areas, and the sidewalks were lined with office workers, bus stop patrons, and café diners throughout the Main Street Corridor, even on a Sunday night.  Media including the Dallas Morning News and the Dallas Voice, as well as other media outlets covered the event.  Speakers including Jesse Garcia, C.D. Kirven, Michael Robinson, Nonnie Ouch, Rafael McDonnell, and Daniel Scott Cates gave powerful messages to the LGBTQ community as well as elected officials on the local, state and federal levels.  They called for the overthrow of DOMA, the repeal of DADT, passage of a transgender-inclusive ENDA bill, and full Marriage Equality.  The Rainbow Lounge Raid in Fort Worth last year was a continuing theme of the evening as well.  Dr. Renee Baker of Youth First Texas called on marchers to support LGBTQ youth, especially in view of how vulnerable they are.  Keynote speaker, Dr. Stephen Sprinkle, professor at Fort Worth’s Brite Divinity School, and Director of the Unfinished Lives Project, summed up the speeches with a call to remember Stonewall and act to expand human rights not only for the LGBTQ community, but also for other minorities, as well.  Responding to the noisy Religious Right protestors who kept berating Rally attendees with loud preaching and scripture proof texting, Dr. Sprinkle reminded them that “whoever says they love God and hate their brothers and sisters is a liar, and the truth is not in them!”  Spencer Young gave a moving testimony to those who have died violently at the hands of hatred and homophobia during the concluding Vigil portion of the program.  He recounted the story of Nicolas West, murdered in Tyler in 1993 because he was gay.  Tyler, he reported, has no memorial to West, who was shot multiple times by his murderers and left to die in a clay pit outside of town.  But the Tyler community, where traditional values and negative attitudes toward LGBT people has predominated in the past, staged “The Laramie Project” in West’s honor, giving him a living memorial through the famous stage play recounting the aftermath of Matthew Shepard’s murder in Laramie, Wyoming.

June 28, 2010 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bisexual persons, DOMA, Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT), ENDA, gay men, gay teens, gun violence, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Lesbian women, LGBT teen suicide prevention, Marriage Equality, Native Americans, Politics, Protests and Demonstrations, Rainbow Lounge Raid, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy, Texas, transgender persons, transphobia, Vigils | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Dallas Marches to Remember Stonewall

Hate Crime Murder Trial Resumes in Brooklyn

Keith Phoenix: "So I killed a man? Does that make me a bad person?"

Brooklyn, NY – Keith Phoenix, alleged murderer of Ecuadoran immigrant José Sucuzhañay, is in a Brooklyn court again after a mistrial.  Phoenix and his co-attacker, Hakim Scott, took offense at José and his brother, Romel, as they walked arm-in-arm on a freezing night in December 2008.  Hurling epithets at the Ecuadorans for being Hispanic and “gay” (in fact, neither of the brothers are gay), Scott assaulted José with a beer bottle, and Phoenix allegedly delivered the coup de grace with an aluminum baseball bat.  Scott received a sentence in the Spring for manslaughter, escaping hate crimes charges.  When a juror in Phoenix’s first trial refused to continue, the judge in Brooklyn Supreme Court declared a mistrial.  There seems little doubt that Phoenix is guilty.  A toll booth camera caught the pair of assailants smiling and laughing as they fled the scene of the crime.  Witnesses stand ready to testify again that the bat attack was so brutal and bloody the taxi driver witness had to avert his eyes from the scene.  And Phoenix himself seems to be doing all he can to get himself convicted, too.  In a confession taken by a detective at Phoenix’s arrest recorded the defendant as asking, “So I killed somebody. Does that make me a bad person?”  Well, yes, as a matter of fact, it does, in the opinion of the Unfinished Lives Project Team.  Critics of how the courts in Brooklyn have been handling this case look to the Phoenix trial as a way of redressing what appears to be a severe disrespect for Latin American immigrants and LGBT people.  The main defense Phoenix is mounting is that too much alcohol led him to do what he did.  He has yet to show any remorse for his actions.  Keith’s attorney has suggested that his client feared that the victim might have a weapon in his waistband, and that José was the one who started the fight.  When José M. Arrufat Gracia, the lawyer for the Sucuzhañay family heard these allegations, he said, “We definitely believe those allegations are insulting to the victims, alleging that the perpetrators were acting in self-defense.”  Perhaps a prison term of decades will assist him to develop the self-restraint he could not exercize two years ago when he bludgeoned an innocent man to death, and the remorse for a hate crime he seems incapable of understanding today.

June 27, 2010 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Blame the victim, Bludgeoning, Brooklyn, Ecuador, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Latinos, Law and Order, Mistaken as LGBT, New York, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Hate Crime Murder Trial Resumes in Brooklyn

Second Gay Bashing Outrages Savannah

Savannah Protest Rally/Richard Burkhart photo for Savannah Daily News

Savannah, GA – A second gay man has come forward to report that he was the victim of a gay bashing in Savannah.  John Takats, a grad student at the Savannah College of Art and Design issued a statement to the press through Georgia Equality claiming that he was called a “faggot” and struck in the back of the head so hard he fell to the sidewalk on February 27, 2010. While he admits he did not come forward to issue a complaint to police at the time out of fear, Mr. Takats felt he had to come forward when news of the June 12 bashing of another gay man, Kieran Daly, by two U.S. Marines hit newsstands. Mr. Takats says that his boyfriend had stepped away to recover a lost item when four people, two men and two women, menaced him, shouting, “What are you looking at?” and hurling anti-gay epithets at him.  The blow to his head and kicks to his body stunned him, and the next thing he remembered was his boyfriend trying to revive him.  In part, Mr. Takats’ account is as follows: “As the males approached me they started swinging. I immediately put up my hands, in front of my face, to protect myself. At that time, clearly out of nowhere, one of the males struck me in the back of my head. I was kicked till I fell to the ground by either the same (or the other) male. At that time, I heard one of the females scream ‘Stop that!’ The group ran away from the scene. I was completely shocked, hurting and confused and I began crying.” Project Q Atlanta has a Mr. Takats full statement online.  The Daly case entered a new phase last week when the FBI and the local police began investigating whether that attack on Mr. Daly was a hate crime.  The Anti-Defamantion League has issued a press release praising the move on the part of law enforcement. Bill Nigut, Southeastern Regional Director of the ADL said, “If this is a hate crime, prosecution under the new law will send a strong statement to the people of Savannah that violence against gays will not be tolerated.”  Georgia Equality has learned from hard experience that the Savannah-Chatham Police Department has often been demeaning and unresponsive to LGBT complaints.  Kevin Clark, Georgia Equality’s Savannah Chapter head, told WSAV News 3 that these attacks are just the latest installments in a pattern of violent anti-gay hate crimes in Savannah over the last five years.  Speaking to a protest rally of 150 citizens calling for justice in the Kieran Daly gay bashing case, Clark said, “It should only take one or two individuals who have been attacked or know of others who have been attacked to get the attention of someone in leadership in this community– that in our opinion should have stepped forward way before now and condemned the violence and put out a loud call for swift just action here.”  Savannah is a “military city,” close to the Marine Corps Air Station in nearby Beaufort, South Carolina, where both of Daly’s alleged Marine attackers were stationed.  But what sets Savannah apart from other cities with large military bases nearby, according to Jim Morekis of Connect Savannah, is its “large and influential gay community.”  Morekis concluded his op-ed piece, “Let’s hope that the two Marines who attacked Daly receive a fair trial, and if found guilty receive a punishment suited to the crime. And let’s hope that society, and the military, can continue to move beyond ignorance and prejudice. A good start would be for the Georgia legislature to put a fair hate crime law on the books so we can join the rest of the nation.”

June 25, 2010 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, FBI, gay men, Georgia, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Legislation, military, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Protests and Demonstrations, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, South Carolina, Stomping and Kicking Violence, U.S. Marines | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Second Gay Bashing Outrages Savannah

Dad Teaches Little Son to Hate Gays, Jews, All Americans: Phelps’ Legacy of Hatred

WBC often uses child protestors - PinkNews photo

Topeka, Kansas – Steve Drain, a member of Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church, is proud of his 7-year-old son Bo.  Young Bo has learned to hate on a grand scale: Gays, “hundred and hundreds of Jews,” all citizens of the United States, are bound for eternal hellfire.  ABC News 20/20 reports that from the cradle, children of the notorious, gay-hating Topeka church are taught that anyone who violates their interpretation of the Bible is bound for everlasting punishment.  Gay people are particularly singled out in Bo’s young mind, thanks to the indoctrination he has received from his father, mother, and teachers at WBC. Bo sincerely believes gays by the millions are headed for damnation: “You get destroyed and you get put in hell. Hell is like a burning place where it can never be stopped, burning, and it can burn millions of people every day,” he said.  Because the government allows diversity, and for the most part does not punish lesbians, transgender people, and gays, Bo has been taught that all Americans are de facto “fag enablers.”  His father, Steve, was so impressed by the message of Phelps back in 2000 when he came to film a story on the church, he returned to Florida, packed up his family, and moved them to Topeka to join the 70-member congregation.  He and his wife Luci live just outside the church compound with their four children.  The allure of the church is not unlike other utopian, world-hating sects from the past: certainty based on a fundamentalist reading of the Bible and morality, security in a swiftly changing world, salvation from hellfire, and purity from the stains of sin and immorality.  The Southern Poverty Law Center has highlighted this church before, and others like it because of the potential for violence that religious bigotry and hate speech breed.  While the connection between indoctrination in hatred and physical violence is hotly debated, and courts have upheld the first amendment rights of groups like Westboro Baptist Church to protest at synagogues, LGBT churches, schools, and the funerals of fallen U.S. soldiers, there is little doubt that when fringe personalities act violently to harm vulnerable individuals and groups, “true believers” like WBC see the hand of God in the deeds.  When the Drains take their children to picket the funerals of military service members killed in the line of duty, they and the other members of WBC praise God for taking the life of another “fag enabler.”  According to ABC’s 20/20, Steve Drain, Bo’s father, said the church arrives at the funerals to let families know their loved ones are in hell because they fought for a supposedly damned country. “Remember what we all say: No God fearing man or woman would lift a finger fighting for a country awashed in sin like this,” Steve Drain said to his son.  Though the Drains have an estranged eldest daughter, Lauren, who rejects the hatred her family and WBC has taught her, the younger children are content to protest, picket, and preach for hate, at least for now.  Bo tells ABC News, “I’m preaching and I’m going with this church, and that’s what the church says. I’m going to go with that my entire life”—A sobering thought for Father’s Day.

June 19, 2010 Posted by | Anti-Semitism, Florida, Fred Phelps, funerals, gay men, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Kansas, Lesbian women, military, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Slurs and epithets, Southern Poverty Law Center, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

FBI Asks, “Marine Gay Bashing A Hate Crime?”

Savannah, GA – The FBI is investigating last Saturday’s brutal assault case of a gay man by two U.S. Marines as a possible hate crime, according to the islandpacket.com and the Beaufort Gazette.  As reported in this blog, 26-year-old Savannah man, Kieran Daly was allegedly battered unconscious by two Marines stationed at the nearby Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort, South Carolina because the victim “winked at them.”  The cause cited by the Marines, one of whom is a lance corporal and the other a corporal, has ignited a storm of controversy in the LGBT community and beyond.  Keil Joseph Cronauer, 22, and Christopher Charles Stanzel, 23, were arrested by Savannah-Chatham Police near the site where the victim was knocked unconscious on the pavement in the downtown area of the city.  According to police reports, the two Marines were fleeing the scene when they were apprehended.  Daly, the victim, insists that he never harassed the Marines in any way, and that their allegation that he “winked” at them in a flirtatious was was because he was squinting from fatigue.  As he walked away from them to diffuse the argument, one of the Marines shouted a homophobic slur at him and slugged him in the back of the head with a fist, causing seizures and brain bruising.  Witnesses corroborate Daly’s story, according to the police report, contending that the Marines were the aggressors in the argument and the attack. Daly is still hospitalized from his injuries.  Cronauer and Stanzel were taken to the Chatham County Jail. The pair were charged with misdemeanor battery and their bond was set at $1,850. They were released from the jail later on Saturday to military police, according to the jail log. If military investigators deem the crime serious or if the charges in Georgia are elevated, the two also could face court martial, Gunnery Sergeant Chad McMeen, spokesman for the USMC, said.  With the controversy surrounding repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in the daily news, and the outspoken opposition to LGB people serving openly in the military, activists are alleging that homophobic attitudes may have played into the hair-trigger attack of the Marines against their victim.

June 16, 2010 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Blame the victim, DADT, FBI, gay men, gay panic defense, Georgia, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, military, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Social Justice Advocacy, South Carolina, U.S. Marines | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Skittish Marines Gay Bash Man in Savannah

Keil Joseph Cronauer, 22, and Christopher Charles Stanzel, 23 (pictured L-R)

Savannah, GA – Two U.S. Marines were imprisoned Saturday for an unprovoked attack on a gay man in a downtown park.  Kieran Daly, 26, an openly gay man, was allegedly accosted with homophobic slurs and then brutally attacked by Keil Joseph Cronauer, 22, and Christopher Charles Stanzel, 23, both stationed at Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort, South Carolina.  The Marines, in town on leave, were apprehened by Savannah-Chatham Police Officers as they ran from the scene of the crime, and arrested for what the victim and witnesses to the assault are calling an anti-gay hate crime, according to the Savannah Daily News.  Though the Marines maintained to police that they were merely rebuffing unwanted attention from Daly, witnesses say that both men charged upon Daly after he tried to walk away from them.  The witnesses further report that one of the Marines became enraged, shouting that Daly had “winked” at him.  One of the Marines demanded that Daly respect him because he had recently served in Iraq, and one of them yelled a homophobic epithet at Daly as the attack unfolded.  In a rage, one of them struck the victim on the skull from behind with his fist.  Daly fell to the ground suffering two seizures, rendered unconscious.  At one point, the victim apparently stopped breathing, since police reporting to the scene saw Daly’s friends applying CPR to him as he lay motionless on the pavement.  He was rushed to Memorial University Medical Center, where he was diagnosed with bruises on his brain.  Daly’s assailants were arrested and charged with misdemeanor battery for attacking the gay man.  The crime was committed at about 3:45 AM near Congress and Bull Streets, near historic Forsyth Park.  In a hospital room interview late Saturday with the Daily News, Daly makes a point of saying that he in no way winked at or otherwise provoked the young Marines. “The guy thought I was winking at him,” Daly said. “I told him, ‘I was squinting, man. … I’m tired.’ That’s the last thing I remember is walking away.”  Daly is expected to be in the hospital for several days. While Savannah-Chatham police say that their LGBT liaison officer is closely monitoring the subject, nothing at this point indicates that the case is being investigated as a hate crime.  The relatively mild charge against the Marines indicates a reluctance to break with Savannah’s bad reputation among its gay and lesbian population. Jess Morgan, Gay-Straight Alliance President at Armstrong State Atlantic University, told the Daily News that LGBT residents of Savannah face discrimination and harassment on a regular basis.  They cannot safely be open about their sexual orientation in any public way without threat of punishment, Morgan said. Georgia still does not have anti-LGBT hate crime protection on the the state level, one of only five states that have no such law on the books.  Daly may be a civilian casualty of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT).  Chicago Pride points out that the firestorm over repeal of DADT has created an increasingly tense situation for lesbians and gays coming into contact with Marines.  The Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, General James T. Conway, is commonly identified by national media as leading the fight against the repeal of DADT among senior military officers, suggesting to Marines that anger against LGBT people is somehow justified. Police records show Cronauer and Stanzel have been released to into the custody of Marine military police.

June 14, 2010 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Blame the victim, Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT), gay men, gay panic defense, Gay-Straight Alliances, Georgia, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, military, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, South Carolina, U.S. Marines | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Skittish Marines Gay Bash Man in Savannah

10 Year Old KKK Hate Preacher

Andrew Pendergraft - Bancroft USA photo

Harrison, AR – Ten-year-old Andrew Pendergraft has a picture-perfect American family, and preaches hatred against LGBT people and racial minorities.  He hates “homosexual heroes” and “race mixing.”  In the most recent edition of “Hatewatch,” the Southern Poverty Law Center highlights the story of this young, blond boy and his sisters  Charity, 19, and Shelby, 17, who are being reared by their parents in the culture of hatred for all things non-white and homosexual.  The Sun carries an extensive article with revealing photos of the boy, who recently ranted against the Disney animated film, “The Princess and the Frog.”  While Andrew opines that the African American Princess is good for all the “black kids,” the fact that the Prince is white is terrible, because that is “race mixing”: “If all other people mix up there won’t be any more white kids,” the Sun quotes him as saying, “So don’t race-mix.”  Andrew goes on to complain that the film is anti-Christian since the “good guy” is a Voodoo priest, and Voodoo is a black race blasphemy, while Christianity is the religion of white people. “Voodoo doctors worship the Devil so it’s a pretty bad movie for kids, especially white kids,” Andrew concludes. “Be white and proud. Bye.” The story of the Pendergrafts who have swallowed Klu Klux Klan doctrine hook, line, and sinker, is a warning to American society about the new shape of deadly hatred in this country: the intersection of oppressions and hatreds.  Race hatred and anti-semitism do not exist in a vacuum from homophobia and heterosexism.  In the Sun interview, Andrew’s mother Rachel proudly states that she home schooled her children because if they were to attend a public school, her kids would be taught about “heroes of the homosexual agenda, and that it is OK to race-mix.”  Mrs. Pendergraft goes on to say, “They would be taught that there is a great socialist agenda in America and they can get on that bandwagon.”  Undergirding the new face of American hatred is an old evil: support for hate ideology by a particularly intolerant version of the Christian religion.  Little Andrew loves to go to the White Christian Revival Center in Harrison where he preaches, and after he finishes shooting his latest segment on the family internet TV project, “White People TV,” he and about 30 other Klan Kids go out bowling. “It is so much fun!” Andrew enthuses.  The flaming cross is central to the whole hate project, according to Andrew’s sister, Charity, and has been misunderstood by outsiders and race-mixers: “We don’t call it cross-burning. It is meant to highlight that Jesus died for us on the cross,” she told the Sun.  The sincerity of this belief, that the Christian God only approves of white, straight people, and their paranoia about the supposed “extinction of  the White race,” make for a dangerous future when inculcated in children so young.  According to The Sun, current membership of the KKK in the United States stands at around 8,000, and is growing strongly after the election of America’s first African American “race-mixing”  President, Barack Obama.

June 10, 2010 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Anti-Semitism, Arkansas, gay men, Heterosexism and homophobia, Klu Klux Klan, Media Issues, Neo-Nazis and White Supremacy, Racism, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Southern Poverty Law Center, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Anti-Gay Church Smears Students and Teachers at “Fag-Infested” Boston School

Westboro Baptist Church children protesting a military funeral

Boston, MA – Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church has issued a press release saying that a protest will take place June 7 at Boston Latin School.  What sets this protest action apart from many others the church has mounted is the virulence of the verbal attacks on the “violent, freakish, worthless, brute-beast children,” who attend the school, and the “perverts” who run it, according to Baywindows.com.  On the church’s online picket schedule, the stated purpose of the protest is “to remind this nation that God is cursing Doomed america [sic] because parents raise their children for the devil and teachers teach them the twin lies that ‘God loves everyone’ and ‘it’s OK to be gay!'”  WBC’s contention that Boston Latin School is “fag-infested” is a theme the Phelps clan has ridden to international attention many times before.  The Topeka, Kansas church gained infamy by picketing the funeral of Matthew Shepard in Casper, WY, and then attempting to build a monument in a public park there declaring Shepard’s murder date to be the day he “entered hell.”  Shepard died in October 1998, the victim of the most widely publicized anti-LGBT murder in U.S. history.  The Casper City Council denied WBC the right to erect the offensive monument, a decision upheld by the courts.  Finding it difficult to gin up enough support from gay-bashing tactics in recent years, WBC has switched its attention to private funerals of fallen U.S. servicemembers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The “logic” seems to be that the U.S. government, which according to WBC pronouncements is “fag-enabling,” has sent women and men to die in foreign wars only to consign them to the nether regions thanks to the “pro-homo” policies of the government.  In what may be a landmark freedom of speech case, WBC and Phelps are counting on the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold their defense this Fall in the celebrated suit of Matthew Snyder’s family, according to the Washington Post.  The Snyders took action against the church for “invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and civil conspiracy” at their son’s 2006 funeral.  Snyder, a Marine Lance Corporal, was killed in the line of duty in Iraq.  The Snyder family suit contends that statements on the WBC website, his actions, and those of members of WBC including some of Phelps’ own family who comprise a large percentage of the Topeka church membership are not protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  The Phelps led church has also turned its attention against Jewish schools, synagogues, and temples. Supporters of Boston Latin School are preparing for the Phelps protest with the aid of an organization named “Phelps-a-thon,” founded by Chris Mason to counter WBC’s homophobic presence by raising money for LGBT causes in a unique way.  For every minute the WBC protest demonstration takes place at the school, Phelps-a-thon will raise donations for the Boston Latin School’s Gay-Straight Alliance.  Since the protest is scheduled to occur for a full 30 minutes, the amount should be considerable, undercutting the hateful purpose of the anti-gay picket. After every Phelps-a-thon money raiser, Mason sends a Thank You card to Fred Phelps informing him of the total donated during the protest for LGBT human rights causes.  As the subversive website says, “We can turn these hateful words into positive change.”  Boston Latin School is the oldest school in the United States, founded in 1635 by the town of Boston, a full year before Harvard University was founded.

June 2, 2010 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Anti-Semitism, Boston Latin School, Fred Phelps, funerals, gay men, Gay-Straight Alliances, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Kansas, Law and Order, Massachusetts, Matthew Shepard, Monuments and markers, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Phelps-a-thon, Protests and Demonstrations, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, U.S. Supreme Court | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Anti-Gay Church Smears Students and Teachers at “Fag-Infested” Boston School


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