Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Murderer Gets Life in Prison for Anti-Gay Hate Crime Killing

New Port Richey, Florida – After days of deliberation, a Pasco County jury has found John Allen Ditullo, 24, guilty of the March 2006 murder of teenager Kristofer King, whom he thought to be gay. Ditullo, a Neo-Nazi who called himself “Syn,” invaded the home of Patricia Wells whom he slashed with a knife as she slept on a futon. King, a friend of Wells’s openly gay son, Brandon Wininger, ran out of the room where he had been browsing on the internet while Brandon was away. Ditullo attacked 17-year-old King with the knife, stabbing him repeatedly. King died of his wounds in a nearby hospital.  Wells recovered. The outrage of the murder was made greater since King died as a case of mistaken identity. Ditullo, a self-proclaimed white supremacist, had an intense hatred of gays, according to testimony given by members of the Neo-Nazi cell group to which he belonged. Rumor had it that Tricia Wells had a relationship going on with a black male, and Ditullo decided to punish the gay youth and his mother for the double transgression of a gay son and an African American boyfriend. The King family acknowledged that Kris and Brandon Wininger were good friends from school, and that Kris King would occasionally stay the night at the Wells’s home with his parents’ permission. Ditullo, 20 at the time of the attack, assumed that the youth trying to flee the home he had invaded was the gay youth he intended to kill, and stabbed Kris King to death. Upon returning to the Neo-Nazi compound where he lived, Ditullo bragged to his fellow skinheads that he had murdered both Wells and her boy. According to testimony by a fellow skinhead and prison-mate, Corey Patnote,  Ditullo claimed he was proud of what he had done. Patnote said Ditullio told him, “I killed ’em both, stabbed them in the head.” Prosecutors reminded jurors that Guy King, the murder victim’s father, received a Christmas card from Ditulio, decorated with a tombstone drawn on the front that read, “Rest In Peace. Here Lies Dead Faggot.”  The message inside: “I hope your Christmas is full of memories of your dead gay son. Merry f—— Christmas.” After a nearly hung jury re-examined the DNA evidence from the attacks on Wells and King, they brought back a unanimous verdict of guilty against Ditullo on Thursday, December 16.  He received 15 years for the attempt on the life of Tricia Wells, which he will serve concurrently with the life sentence for King’s murder. Bay News 9 reports that Charlene Bricken, King’s mother, expressed no sympathy for Ditullo after the trial. “I hope somebody gets him and he dies as brutal a death as my son did,” she said. Bricken, who says the past four years have been terribly difficult for her and the family, wants most of all for her son to be remembered as the generous, open, loving person he was in life.

December 30, 2010 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Florida, gay men, gay teens, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, home-invasion, Law and Order, Mistaken as LGBT, Neo-Nazis and White Supremacy, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Racism, Slashing attacks, stabbings | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Murderer Gets Life in Prison for Anti-Gay Hate Crime Killing

Austin Becoming Unsafe for Gays: Bashing on 4th Street

Bobby Beltran, bashed for giving his friend a hug.

Austin, Texas – In an apparent gay bashing, a leading gay activist and his male friend were attacked on December 26 outside Austin’s popular nightclub, Rain. Bobby Beltran reported to the Dallas Voice that he and Christopher Ortega had just shared a parting hug outside the club at approximately 1:30 a.m., when a white sedan filled with five angry men stopped in the street shouting homophobic slurs at the couple. Beltran, who helped organize this year’s Queer Bomb in Austin, says that one of the men in the automobile shouted, “Fucking faggots! Cut out that queer shit!” According to On Top Magazine, Beltran yelled back, “That stuff’s not welcome here in Austin. We don’t accept that.” The quintet rushed out of the car, surrounded Beltran and Ortega, and assaulted them with punches, yells, and kicks. The gay men tried to fight off their attackers, and the violence lasted for three of four minutes until one of the assailants warned that police were coming. The attackers were described as two black men, two Latinos, and one white man. Beltran suffered cuts, bruises, and a wounded eye.  Ortega suffered a major blow to the jaw that may have broken it. According to the gay men, somewhere between 20 and 30 onlookers witnessed that attack, but none of them lifted a finger to help. In the melee, Beltran shouted out the number of the license plate belonging to the white sedan, but no one bothered to write it down, and he cannot remember it after the fact. The non-responsiveness of the crowd (some of them gay), and the lukewarm response of the Austin Police to the brazen assault, has the LGBTQ community in Austin worried about the safety of a city that was until recently considered gay-friendly. Ortega told local NBC reporters from KXAN, “The response [of the police] was like ‘Sorry guys. We’ll give you a report number. We’ll never catch these guys.’”  Beltran said to The Horn, a University of Texas Independent news outlet, “I’ve never in my life been in any kind of violent situation, especially a hate crime, so it’s been pretty traumatic.” Beltran continued. “Austin is supposed to be a gay haven, especially on 4th Street. What scares me even more is that nobody even helped. I’m so afraid to go back down there.” FBI statistics show Austin leads the state of Texas in reported anti-gay attacks for medium-sized cities. Beltran says the hate crime attack on Ortega and himself is the third such violent incident in the capital city this year. In February 2010, for example, two male team members from the Shady Ladies Softball Club were assaulted near the Austin City Hall. The attack on the gay athletes sparked a downtown March Against Hate last March. Beltran posted a photo of his injuries on the web (see above), and commented, “I’m just trying to get the word out there that this is going on in Austin, and it’s not safe right now. To find out that [gay bashing] is here in Austin on 4th Street, and knowing that fellow gay men were not doing anything about it, is just shocking.”

December 29, 2010 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Austin Police Department, Beatings and battery, FBI, gay bashing, gay men, harassment, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latinos, Law and Order, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Protests and Demonstrations, Slurs and epithets, Stomping and Kicking Violence, Texas, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Austin Becoming Unsafe for Gays: Bashing on 4th Street

President Signs DADT Repeal: What This Means for America’s LGBTQ Community

Washington, D.C. – In a breakthrough moment for the LGBTQ community, President Barack Obama signed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell into law today.  The ceremony was held in the Interior Department to accommodate a large and emotional crowd of witnesses to the making of American history.  The meaning of this moment will unfold and grow over time.  But this much at least may be said now: LGBTQ Americans have moved one significant step closer to full equality because of this political victory.  The President noted that while the struggle to repeal DADT has gone on for nearly two decades, this day is a culmination of untold sacrifice and heroism on the part of LGBTQ servicemembers and their families for over 200 years.  From the American Revolution to the current Iraqi and Afghan conflicts, gay and lesbian patriots have fought for the freedoms they themselves have not fully known.  Most of their service has been hidden in the anonymity of history for obvious reasons.  To serve openly as gay was not tolerated in the American armed forces. The darker side of this history is the story of untold thousands who have been persecuted, harassed, harmed, and killed because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender presentation.  The Unfinished Lives Project and other efforts have sought to chronicle some of these stories: Army PFC Barry Winchell, Petty Officer Allen R. Schindler, Seaman August Provost, and Army veteran Michael Scott Goucher, to name but a few.  Not only have the battlefields of the world been consecrated with the blood of LGBTQ American servicemembers.  The closets of the military in all branches of the service are likewise battlegrounds stained with queer blood.  The signature of President Obama should not become a coda to their memory.  If anything, this moment should give the LGBTQ community added impetus to remember and honor our war dead–both on the battlefield of honor and on the battlefields of American prejudice.  This moment is fraught with religious and theological significance, as well.  Now that this landmark legislation for human rights and dignity is the law of the land, the recalcitrant majority of conservative military chaplains must choose to fulfill their pledge of service to all the nation’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and guardsmen. Human rights and dignity are a prophetic dimensions of all the advance theologies of the world since time immemorial, but the savage side of religion has often displaced God’s favor for all people with a purist extremism that honors neither God or country. The crucial choice now is in the lap of the fundamentalist military chaplaincy, who have discounted the good service of LGBTQ women and men for decades, and the religious righteousness of their chaplaincy peers who have embraced LGBTQ servicemembers as children of God.  It is time for the fundamentalist chaplains in the armed services, including the chiefs of chaplains in the Army, Navy, and Air Force to either salute smartly and comply with the law, or take their pensions and go.  The choice is theirs.  The moderate and progressive religious communities in this nation are faced with another type of challenge.  They must re-evaluate their stance toward military service, and remove institutional and ecclesial impediments to honorable service.  Seminaries on the theological left will need to open their doors for training the next generation of military chaplains.  For the LGBTQ community generally, the call of this day is to become a more mature and reasoned community among the peoples of this nation.  Nothing has changed for military servicemembers yet, nor will it for quite some time, until the law can be implemented throughout the armed forces.  There will be continued bias and discrimination against queer folk in the military by the military.  But LGBTQ people are now offered a renewed sense of who we are: strong, proud, sacrificial, patriotic, and peace-loving–all at the same time.  This is a red-letter day in American history, and a rainbow-colored day in the struggle for full LGBTQ equality.

December 22, 2010 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bisexual persons, DADT, Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT), gay men, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Legislation, Lesbian women, military, Military Chaplaincy, Native Americans, Politics, religious intolerance, Remembrances, Repeal of DADT, Social Justice Advocacy, Special Comments, transgender persons, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Marines, U.S. Navy, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on President Signs DADT Repeal: What This Means for America’s LGBTQ Community

Repeal and Remembrance: Gay Military Martyrs and the End of DADT

Fallen Military Servicemembers

Washington, DC – On a red letter day when lawmakers voted to end the most notorious anti-gay policy in the federal canon, LGBT servicemembers and veterans who have been murdered because of their sexual and gender non-conformity must not be forgotten during the celebrations over passage of repeal of DADT.  In a historic vote in the history of the human rights movement, the U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly to end the ban on LGBT patriots from serving openly in the armed services of the United States.  Saturday afternoon, 65 Senators voted for repeal with 31 in opposition. A simple majority of 51 was all that was required for passage of the Senate bill, which is identical to the one passed earlier in the week  by the House of Representatives. Eight GOP Senators joined their Democratic colleagues to pass the repeal of the 17-year-old discriminatory policy that ended the military careers of 13,500 women and men because of their sexual orientation. Joe Manchin, the freshman Senator for West Virginia, was the only Democrat not voting for passage.  According to the New York Times, his office informed the public that he had a “family commitment” he could not break.The bill now goes to President Obama for his signature to set the repeal in motion.  GOP opponents of the repeal criticized the Democratic leadership of the Senate for the vote in the lame duck session just before the Holiday recess.  Senator Carl Levin, the chair of the Senate Armed Service Committee, disputed the Republican claims that Democrats were ramming legislation through just to please the so-called “gay lobby.” In remarks to the New York Times, Senator Levin (D-Michigan) said: “I’m not here for partisan reasons. I’m here because men and women wearing the uniform of the United States who are gay and lesbian have died for this country, because gay and lesbian men and women wearing the uniform of this country have their lives on the line right now.” Yet it is not only for the living that this vote is significant. Our military dead are honored by this historic vote to end anti-LGBT discrimination, among whom are far too many gay servicemembers who were killed because of their sexual orientation. Our gay military martyrs, murdered because of homophobia, heterosexism, and transphobia in the armed services loom large in the memory of the LGBTQ community today because they are both a sign of hope and caution. They are a sign of hope that no more women and men need lose their lives in the military because of their sexual orientation and gender presentation. They are a sign of caution, because the passage of DADT repeal in no way guarantees the end of anti-gay violence in the military.  We must name our LGBT military dead until violence against queer servicemembers ceases forever: Seaman Allen Schindler was beaten to death by shipmates in a public toilet in Sasebo, Japan. PFC Barry Winchell was murdered with a baseball bat in the Army barracks at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Seaman August Provost was shot to death on base in San Diego, and then his body was set afire in a guard shack in the vain attempt to destroy evidence of the murder. Army veteran Michael Scott Goucher was lured into a fatal ambush by local youths near his home in Pennsylvania. These four are representative of the many more slaughtered by ignorance and hate by fellow servicemembers and civilians. Pundits say that after President Obama signs the Repeal Act into law, it will still take at least sixty days for the military ban to be lifted for LGBT military personnel. Until that time, the current discriminatory law stays in effect. But the culture of violence that harasses and kills LGBT women and men who wear the uniform remains virulently poised to take more lives until the root of fear is eliminated in the armed services.  To that end, the historic passage of the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is simply the beginning of a new campaign, in the name of our gay military martyrs, to replace the fear and loathing of the sexual minority with education and respect.

December 19, 2010 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Asian Americans, Bisexual persons, Bludgeoning, California, DADT, Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT), gay men, gun violence, harassment, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Illinois, immolation, Kentucky, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Legislation, Lesbian women, military, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Politics, Remembrances, Special Comments, Texas, transgender persons, transphobia, U.S. Army, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Marines, U.S. Navy, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Repeal and Remembrance: Gay Military Martyrs and the End of DADT

Breaking News: Senate Passes Key Procedural Vote Allowing for Repeal of DADT

Washington, DC – By a vote of 63-33, the U.S. Senate has voted to close debate on the Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Democrats were joined by four GOP Senators in the vote. One Democrat, Senator Manchin of West Virginia, who is opposed to the repeal, sat the vote out. Overcoming the procedural opposition to Repeal clears the way for final passage of Repeal by a simple majority (51), a vote that may occur as early as today. An identical bill for repeal was passed earlier in the week by the U.S. House of Representatives. Presuming passage of the Repeal Act in the Senate, the bill will go on to the desk of President Obama who has vowed to sign it into law. In the 17 years since Congress voted DADT into law (the most discriminatory law in the federal canon), 13,500 service men and women have been drummed out of the armed forces for being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

December 18, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Breaking News: Senate Passes Key Procedural Vote Allowing for Repeal of DADT

Urine Attack at Harvard a Hoax? Piss Off!

Judge Judy says, "Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining!"

Cambridge, Massachusetts – A Harvard dean is now claiming that the reported dousing of LGBT books in the Harvard University Lamont Library was an “accident” done by library staff who happened to have a bottle of urine in the stacks right where the LGBT and same-sex marriage books were shelved. The Advocate is covering the story for the LGBT press, and carried the “explanation” of the dean, Evelyn Hammonds.  Dean Hammonds, who had initially reported the serious nature of the situation, and stressed to the Harvard Crimson that the university takes anti-gay expressions with the utmost gravity, now says that an investigation has uncovered that a library worker (unnamed) discovered a bottle of what appeared to be urine on the shelf, and spilled it on the books accidentally. Officials are at pains to repeat that this was not a hate crime.  Harvard’s Marco Chan, co-chair of the campus Queer Students and Allies, has asked what is in our opinion the crucial question: what was a bottle of pee doing in the Lamont Library anyway?  To that question, we pose another: why did it take officials two weeks to determine that the staining of better than thirty books with urine, worth thousands of dollars, was simply an accident?  Further, how was it that the bottle of urine was strategically placed in the LGBT and same-sex marriage section of the library, when there were so many other places it could have been? Will the dean and the university authorities now claim that the location of the spillage was all an unfortunate coincidence?  And, further than that, what sort of shenanigans were going on with a bottle of pee that got it dumped on library shelves to begin with?  Who was the responsible party? Has someone come forward, and what have they told investigators that has made them “about face” on the hate crimes investigation after two whole weeks?  While admittedly the truth is often stranger than fiction, the details of this “accident” or hate crime have not been told in such a way as to make the claim of accidental urine spillage in the Lamont Library credible.  Harvard University has, like all bastions of higher education in the United States, a long history of heterosexism and homophobia, even persecution of gays and lesbians on campus, as books such as Harvard’s Secret Court by William Wright (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2006) and The Crimson Letter: Harvard, Homosexuality, and the Shaping of American Culture by Douglass Shand-Tucci (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2004) have shown. Rev. Dr. Peter Gomes has related the oppression of gay and lesbian students on campus at Harvard in more recent years in his gripping account of his own public coming out story in his best-seller The Good Book (HarperOne, 2002).  The current presence of bias-driven anti-LGBTQ elements on the Ivy League campus is clear to the Harvard University administration, and in covenant with their present student body, and given their culture-setting status in this country, it seems to us that more is owed to the American public and to the LGBTQ community than a lame claim that vandalizing queer books in an historic library was no more than an unfortunate accident.  As television personality Judge Judy Sheindlin says to incredible witnesses in her courtroom, “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining!”  It is past time for Harvard officials to quit pissing around and tell the truth about this crime.

December 14, 2010 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, book desecration, Harvard University, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Massachusetts, Social Justice Advocacy, Special Comments, Uncategorized, Unsolved LGBT Crimes, vandalism | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Harvard Gay Books Soaked in Urine: Police Investigate Hate Crime

Cambridge, Massachusetts – Harvard University Police are investigating a urine-stained attack against the LGBT book collection held in the Harvard Lamont Library. Forty (40) books were found “doused in urine” the week of November 24, according to the New York Daily News.  The report became public on this past Friday. The books were all dealing with LGBT issues and same-sex marriage.  Because of the nature of the subject matter in the books, the Harvard Police Department (HUPD) is investigating the attack as a bias-related hate crime. HUPD spokesperson, Steven G. Catalano, told the Harvard Crimson, “The HUPD has zero tolerance for any bias-related incidents or crimes.” Harvard College Dean Evelynn M. Hammonds also decried the crime to the Crimson, saying, “Harvard College will not tolerate acts of vandalism, especially those that appear to be motivated by hate or bias. [As] a community, we will continue to affirm our shared values of dignity and respect for everyone in our community.” According to sources at Harvard University, the books were worth thousands of dollars, and are damaged beyond repair.  Beth S. Brainerd, Harvard Library spokesperson, told the press that the books would have to be discarded. “Once the urine is poured, they can’t really fix [the books],” she said in a Crimson interview. Library staff reportedly found a bottle beside the ruined books on Level B of the historic Lamont Library, once filled with what appeared to urine. They threw the bottle and its contents away, believing it to be a health hazard. Harvard University LGBT leadership was quick to respond to the news of the desecration of the books. Senior at Harvard, Marco Chan, co-chair of Harvard College Queer Students and Allies, said to the Crimson, “I am very outraged. It is hard to conceive this as a coincidence when there are 40 books on the same subject. The message that this incident sent to me is that we need more resources not only for the LGBT community but also targeted towards other people.” The Lamont Library at Harvard was the first in the United States designed specifically for use by undergraduate students. Opened in 1949, the Lamont is a popular venue for study and research on the campus. The strike against the LGBT book collection is a serious incident in the struggle for human rights. Hate crimes against book collections in Germany presaged an intensification of violent Anti-Semitism, for example. Outrage by bias groups often targets books first, and then people. No reported leads exist as the Harvard University Police Department continues to investigate the book desecration.

December 14, 2010 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, book desecration, Harvard University, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Social Justice Advocacy, Unsolved LGBT Crimes, vandalism | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Atlanta Eagle Gets $1m for Bogus Police Raid

Atlanta, Georgia – The Altanta City Council has voted 14-0 to award the Atlanta Eagle Bar $1 million in response to a federal lawsuit filed by a private attorney on behalf of 19 clients unjustly arrested in a botched police raid last September, according to a report by WTVM News 9 and the Associate Press. The night of September 10, 2009, four-dozen police crashed the Underwear Night special event at the Atlanta Eagle, slamming patrons to the floor, using homophobic slurs, and arresting and detaining 62 people. Police targeted the gay bar on the pretext of illicit sex and drugs, allegations that were never proven. The owner of the Eagle, Richard Ramey, went immediately on the offense against the raid, saying to the Atlanta Journal Constitution on September 12, 2009, “Our problem is with the way our customers were treated,” Ramey told the Journal-Constitution in a Sept. 12, 2009 article. Nick Koperski, a bar patron present at the time of the raid, said in the same article, “I’m thinking, this is Stonewall. It’s like I stepped into the wrong decade.” The Atlanta Police Department refused to cooperate with an investigation by the Atlanta Citizens Council. Charges brought against employees and patrons either  failed to win convictions, collapsed for lack of evidence, or were otherwise dismissed, according to a report by EDGE.  Last March eight employees of the bar were found not guilty of trumped up charges by the Atlanta Police Department in a ruling handed down in Municipal Court. Investigations into the raid found that the Atlanta Police Department did not have a warrant to raid the bar on the night in question. Mandatory revisions to police procedures will be carried out in response to the settlement. The vindication of the Atlanta Eagle stands in sharp contrast to the outcome of the Fort Worth Police Department’s infamous Raid on the Rainbow Lounge just months before the Atlanta debacle. Like the Georgia raid, all charges against patrons arrested at the popular Fort Worth gay bar have been dropped without comment from the city. Unlike the Atlanta outcome, however, the Fort Worth Police Department has never issued a sufficient apology (in our opinion) or formally admitted any wrongdoing in the illicit raid on the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, nor has the action of the FWPD ever been deemed wrong by an outside investigation. This has been in spite of the public action disciplining officers of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) for their part in the raid, and a formal apology issued by the executive of the TABC. What exempted the FWPD from disciplinary actions similar to the TABC?  Factors contributing to the non-resolution of the Fort Worth police raid may include a less-than-robust defense of bar patrons by the Rainbow Lounge ownership at the time of the bust, and the less aggressive approach Fort Worth gay leaders employed to bring the city and the police department to account. While there have been laudable actions in response to the Rainbow Lounge Raid, such as the establishment of a police liaison with the local LGBT community, and transgender protections added to municipal protection statutes, honesty about the motives and motivators behind the Fort Worth raid remain unspoken and unacknowledged. While we are glad the city of Fort Worth dropped charges against patrons charged in the arrests the night of the raid, including public intoxication and groping, the harm done by the raid in Cowtown has not been acknowledged by the powers that be, and therefore the LGBTQ community, and the individual Texans directly wronged remain unjustified. Justice for Atlanta, but how about for Fort Worth? We guess the mayor of Fort Worth has more control over the courts, the press, and the gay establishment in North Texas than the mayor of Atlanta. A good thing? You be the judge.

December 7, 2010 Posted by | Atlanta Eagle Bar Raid, Atlanta Police Department, Fort Worth Police Department, Gay Bar Raids, gay men, Georgia, harassment, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Media Issues, police brutality, Politics, Protests and Demonstrations, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Stonewall Inn, Texas, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Atlanta Eagle Gets $1m for Bogus Police Raid

   

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