Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Man Charged with Hate Crime in Brutal Colorado Gay Beating

Jared Olson, victim of anti-gay hate crime, before and after the Labor Day Weekend assault.

Jared Olson, victim of anti-gay hate crime, before and after the Labor Day Weekend assault.

Denver, Colorado – After several weeks, a 20-year-old suspect in the savage beating of an openly gay man outside a hookah lounge has been formally charged with an anti-gay hate crime.  Tilo Sandoval, who turned himself in to police for attacking 23-year-old Jared Olson, was charged Thursday with second-degree assault, third-degree assault and bias-motivated crime, according to 9News.com.

The assault took place around 2 a.m. on September 2 outside Denver’s popular Sam’s Hookah Lounge at the corner of Alameda Avenue and Zuni Street.  Olson told police that he and his friends left the lounge to get in their car when two men, one of them Sandoval, approached them, cursing them and shouting anti-gay slurs.  Olson says that Sandoval yanked open the car door, yelling epithets, and hit him so hard that it dislodged some of his teeth.  KDVR.com reports Olsen’s account of what happened:  “They were just cussing at us and slurring, then one guy walked to my door and opened it and hit me in the face,” Olsen said. “We drove off right after that.”  Besides losing and chipping his teeth, Olson’s face sustained severe injuries which, though not life-threatening, will likely require plastic and reconstructive surgery. The cost of the surgery to set his face right again may cost as much as $50,000–a health care crisis for Olson who does not have insurance to cover the expenses. Commenting on the attack on her son, Melody Olson told KDVR, “It’s so disheartening and disgusting that anyone would do that to anybody. Not just my child, but anybody’s. And it’s just because they don’t approve of (their sexual orientation).”  

The severity of his wounds shocked Olson, he told 7News.  “I didn’t think that I looked that bad, until my mother had taken the picture and shown me. I didn’t think it would ever happen to me. I thought people were more sensible than that in this day in age,” he said. “I just remember looking over, and looking up at the guy and getting hit square in the face right here. And you can clearly tell my nose is like over here,” said Olson.

Tilo Sandoval, charged with bias motivated hate crime against Olson.

Tilo Sandoval, charged with bias motivated hate crime against Olson.

Scott Levin, Mountain States Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) expressed his dismay and outrage over the attack against Olson.  In a prepared statement, Levin said:  “The Anti-Defamation League is disheartened to learn of this tragic instance where a victim was allegedly targeted because of his sexual orientation. We applaud law enforcement officials for taking quick and decisive action to investigate whether this was a bias-motivated attack, and if the evidence supports it, we urge them to prosecute this crime to the full extent permitted under Colorado’s hate crimes law.”

Levin went on to say, “Hate crimes have an impact far beyond the individual victim of the crime. When a victim is chosen because of his or her sexual orientation, other members of that group feel unsafe and unwelcome. Hate crimes resonate throughout the victim’s community and threaten the safety and well-being of every member of that group. ADL calls upon the Denver community to speak out loudly against hate crimes and declare Denver no place for hate.”

Sandoval has been released on $30,000 bond. While the hate crimes charges are in place now, it will be up the Denver District Attorney to determine how to prosecute the case, and whether this particular situation meets the criteria of the Colorado Bias Crimes Law.

September 26, 2013 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Colorado, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latinos, LGBTQ, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Happy Rosh Hashanah from Unfinished Lives

HappyNewYear

Dallas, Texas – From the Unfinished Lives Project Team, we wish you and your family a Shana Tova U’Metukah, a very sweet new year!  May the sound of the ram’s horn (shofar) call us all to a new era of justice and peace, where no one need dread to be who they are, nor fear to love whom they love!  May the best of the past year be the worst of the coming year for you and yours!

September 4, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Happy Rosh Hashanah from Unfinished Lives

Gay Hero Defies Anti-Gay Smear Campaign; DOJ Called to Investigate

President Obama congratulates gay hero Daniel Hernandez for his role in saving Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' life in 2011 [AP photo].

President Obama congratulates gay hero Daniel Hernandez for his role in saving Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ life in 2011 [AP photo].

Tucson, Arizona – One of the heroes to emerge from the horrific 2011 mass shooting in which Congresswoman Gabriel (Gabby) Giffords was gravely wounded has been subjected to a vile, anti-gay smear campaign.  The smear campaign coincides with an effort to recall him from public office.  Daniel Hernandez Jr., openly gay congressional intern who helped save Giffords’ life at peril to his own, is standing up against the anonymous smear campaign, and is calling out its originators.

Hernandez was elected to a vacant seat on the Sunnyside Unified School System governing board in 2011.  Huffington Post reports that at least two scurrilous flyers attacking Hernandez’s sexual orientation and his position on gun control appeared at the same time the recall conflict broke out on the school board.  While other school board members are being targeted for recall, Hernandez is the only recall target whose sexuality and character are being smeared.

Right Wing Watch first called attention to the smear flyers which were passed out to constituents anonymously.   The caption surrounding a flyer photograph of Hernandez speaking at an Equality Forum reads: “Put a REAL Man on the Sunnyside Board. Daniel Hernandez is LGBT. We need someone who will support Sports and cares about our kids. We don’t need someone who hates our values. RECALL Daniel Hernandez TODAY.”  A second flyer attacks Hernandez’s position on guns, deeply ironic given the savage shooting that wounded Representative Giffords and killed several constituents at a Congressional town hall meeting.

The nasty, homophobic nature of the flyers is not news.  Tactics like these have been influencing votes and voters for decades in Arizona and around the nation.  What is newsworthy, however, is the forthright manner in which Hernandez, an openly gay man, is refusing to succumb to the smears.  According to LGBTQ Nation, Hernandez has called for his opponents in the recall effort to distance themselves totally from these anti-gay tactics, and denounce anyone who supports such underhanded politics.  Furthermore, in another unprecedented move, U.S. Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) has asked the Pima County Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the attacks on Hernandez’s sexual orientation as a bias-motivated hate crime.

Hernandez’s recall opponents are scrambling to distance themselves from the hate attacks against a bona fide national hero who happens to be openly gay.  The investigation as it proceeds should uncover whatever links may exist between the recall effort and homophobic intent.

September 3, 2013 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Arizona, Character assassination, Daniel Hernandez, Gabrielle "Gabby" Giffords, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, LGBTQ, Politics, President Barack Obama, Slurs and epithets, Tucson Shooting Rampage, U.S. Justice Department | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gay Hero Defies Anti-Gay Smear Campaign; DOJ Called to Investigate

   

%d bloggers like this: