Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Gay Bashing Targets Two North Carolina Women

Sarabeth Nordstrom and Erin Johnston, brutally attacked by homophobes in Boone, North Carolina (Q Notes image)

Boone, North Carolina – Two women perceived to be lesbians were targeted by anti-gay violence at a fast food restaurant in Boone, North Carolina.  Sarabeth Nordstrom and Erin Johnston, a junior exercise science major at Appalachian State University, were verbally harassed with anti-lesbian slurs at the restaurant on February 11 by two females and a male, according to Q Notes.  When Nordstrom and Johnston left for home, the lone male and one of the female harassers followed them.  According to Equality North Carolina, the male initiated the attack upon the women at approximately 2:30 a.m. in the parking lot of the apartment complex where the victims lived.  Nordstrom was struck in the face repeatedly, sustaining a broken nose, eye socket, and cheekbone.  Johnston was knocked to the ground when she tried to call 911 for help, and stomped again and again. Her ribs were broken, her meniscus was torn, and she suffered wounds to her mouth and her nasal cartilage.  They were treated at Watauga Medical Center and released.

The victims said they had never met their assailants prior to the incident.  The alleged main attacker, Ketoine Jamahl  Mitchell, 19, turned himself into Boone Police, and was charged with two counts of assault on a woman, one count of assault inflicting serious injury, and one count of assault with a deadly weapon.  Brooklyn Lacrossa Canter, 18, was arrested in early March, and charged with aiding and abetting the assault.  Mitchell, who has a larceny record in Caldwell County, is being held in the Watauga Detention Center on a $6,000 secure bond, according to The Appalachian Online. Authorities have set April 17 for the first court appearance of Mitchell and Canter.

As Equality North Carolina points out, there is no hate crimes protection for lesbians, gay men, bisexual people, and transgender people in the state law codes.  Since this savage attack, ENC has agitated for the passage of the Safer Communities Act by the NC State Legislature, which specifies LGBT people as a protected class from physical harm.  Since anti-gay slurs were shouted by the assailants at the victims during the harassment and attack, by definition this was a hate crime–one law enforcement authorities in North Carolina are not yet equipped to acknowledge or combat.

The Appalachian State community has rallied to the support of the victims.  On March 2, a University Forum addressed the question of violence against gay people and women, and on March 5 a benefit was held to give the women a hand with their expenses since the attack.  A petition to Governor Bev Perdue and the state legislature to amend the NC hate crimes statutes is collecting signatures on Change.org, and can be accessed here.  A Facebook page has been created in support of the petition.

April 1, 2012 - Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Appalachian State University, Beatings and battery, Equality North Carolina, gay bashing, GLBTQ, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, North Carolina, Slurs and epithets, Stomping and Kicking Violence | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Don’t judge individuals by their sexual orientation, religion, or race . . . . we all have faults no no is perfect. Agree to disagree and love each other because we are all human. I Love You (everyone)

    Comment by lisa | April 2, 2012

    • Who are you.? Your comment is very hypocritical You say don’t judge others but in the same sentence you say We all have faults and we’re not perfect. Being gay is not a fault It is a normal thing. Glad to know you love everyone for any reason But understand people are who they are no matter what color, race, or sexual orientation is. There is no faults there

      Comment by K Desanto | October 24, 2013

  2. So typical in this backazzwards state.

    And it’s not a question just of religious zealotry behind this either, though that doesn’t help. This is 99% of the time the result of NATIVE WHITE MALES, church goers or not, who detest, despise, and are otherwise intimidated by women, gay people, catholics, jews, people of color etc etc.. ANYONE NOT MALE AND WHITE.

    They have antebellum attitudes about everyone but themselves and reek of resentment all these years later for being the losers of the ‘war of northern aggression’. Yet they reinact having lost all the time. Go figure. Not the brightest bulbs in the pack, by any means.

    This is about dominance and control, nothing more idealistic or higher minded than that. The name of Jesus or God just gives their hate an additional kind of power. And they pass this – all of it – down to their kids. And they also pass it to immigrant families who work their fields. They will use, influence, and accept ANY GROUP that supports, tolerates, or encourages their own agenda of total dominion in this state. And, btw, it is NOT a co-incidence that both Carolinas reflect each others attitudes and both Carolinas have a) the highest membership in the Masons and b) in the top 10 of membership in the KKK ( or other racist variant groups ).

    These guys have been angry for a long time because they lost power and influence a long time ago in the country and again during the Civil Rights movements. They resent being portrayed as dumb and hateful even though they play the part and rationalize having done so. They despise outsiders, though they love their money, and if your grand-daddy didn’t die here sweetheart, you ain’t from here and never will be. THAT is the attitude.

    ‘You’ liberals. You yankees. You etc etc etc. YOU are the problem, not their cross eyed, inbred fear and not their massive inferiority complexes and not their sense of social disempowerment. They have mythologized, in general, their families roots and histories and their sense of white priviledge has withered and shriveled over time and they HATE this.

    I’m not sure what the answer is but there’s essentially two choices:
    1) progressives move in, enjoy the states beauty, and pass laws to catch them up to the modern world
    2) progressives stay out of NC, enjoy ( put money into ) some other states beauty, and have zero sum impact

    I don’t blame any one in the LGBT community for choosing to leave or never come here. Life is short and it’s too hard to fight against ignorance allllllllllllllllll the time. But what happened to these women will not change if progressives stay away. Boycotting is good up to a point. Personally, I’d rather see several hundred buses full of drag queens and kings pour into the entire state and camp out in front of the state legislature; drag the national media in; and generally do the things IN PUBLIC that must be done in order to, at least, get saner laws passed that will protect and/or prosecute the violently mentally ill bigots that NC native culture breeds and encourages existing.

    Good ol’ boys are not boys and never good.

    For the two women attacked…do whatever you need to in order to recover. Once you do, talk about it, if you can, anywhere and everywhere someone will listen to you. EXPOSE, EXPOSE, EXPOSE. Bring their darkness into the light of truth. They fear that more than anything.

    Comment by Keith | May 9, 2012

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