Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Gay Hate Crime Killer Denied Parole for Eighth Time in Texas

Paul Broussard (l) as he appeared in 1991, and Jon Buice in prison uniform [Equality Texas photo image].

Paul Broussard (l) as he appeared in 1991, and Jon Buice in prison uniform [Equality Texas photo image].

Huntsville, Texas – The convicted murderer of a Houston gay man has been denied parole for the eighth time by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. Jon Buice, the member of the infamous “Woodlands 10” who dealt the fatal stab wounds to 27-year-old Paul Broussard, was returned to prison on Tuesday to finish out his 45-year sentence, after the Parole Board deemed him unfit for release, according to the Conroe, Texas Courier. Broussard and two friends were attacked by the gang of ten youths outside a Houston gay nightclub on July 4, 1991, and Broussard died as a result of his injuries. Court documents said that the Houston banker was beaten by a nail-studded two-by-four, repeatedly kicked with steel-toed boots, and stabbed three times before he succumbed.

All the assailants were convicted, and served various sentences in Texas for the crime. Because of Buice’s role in this particularly heinous anti-gay hate crime, he received the longest sentence, and is the only one of the Woodlands 10 still in prison. The case received national attention because of the brutality involved in Broussard’s cold blooded murder.

Buice, who has been described by his supporters as a “model prisoner,” was granted parole in July 2011, but because of new evidence presented to the Parole Board at the time, his reprieve was revoked before his release. That evidence has remained confidential to the board, but as in the case of his 2014 parole denial, whatever it was has kept him incarcerated. By special agreement, Buice will come up for review annually.

Broussard’s mother, Nancy Rodriguez, once again appeared before the board to encourage it not to grant parole to her son’s murderer. Every year, she travels from her Georgia home to Texas in order to keep Buice behind bars. “It’s something I do for my son’s memory and because I want justice,” Rodriguez said. Since 1992, Rodriguez has been aided by Victims Advocate Andy Kahan to ensure that Buice serves the majority of his sentence. In a statement to The Courier, Kahan said, “This was a particularly vicious, senseless crime that centered on hate. We appreciate the parole board taking the stand that convicted murders need to serve the majority of their sentence.”  Rodriguez and Kahan have set a goal to keep Buice behind bars for at least 27 years: one year in prison for every year of Broussard’s lifetime. “That was Paul’s entire life before Buice took it from him,” Rodriguez said to The Courier.

Kahan pointed out to the Parole Board that it is rare for release to be granted to convicted killers before serving out the most of their sentences. He said that the savagery of the crime was the reason the board chose to deny parole this time. Buice has served 22 years so far.

Gay activist Ray Hill, a chief advocate for Buice’s release, contends that Buice is reformed, and that a 45-year sentence is too long for a person who was 17 at the time of the crime. Buice’s lawyer, Tim Habem, refused to discuss the arguments he presented for his client’s parole, but vowed to return next year “for another swing at it.” 

Every Sunday, Nancy Rodriguez says she misses her son’s calls. Every Christmas, the holiday he always honored by coming home to see her, is especially hard. “[Paul] was a good student and a good son,” she said. “I just miss him.”

October 25, 2014 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Jon Buice, LGBTQ, Paul Broussard, stabbings, Texas, Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, Woodlands 10 | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gay Hate Crime Killer Denied Parole for Eighth Time in Texas

Convicted Murderer of Gay Man Gets Parole; LGBTQ Community Vows to Fight It

Convicted Killer Jon Buice to be paroled in October 2011

Houston, Texas – With less than half his sentence served, the convicted murderer of a Houston gay man is to be paroled.  The LGBTQ community and crime victims’ advocates are up in arms to stop it.  Jon Buice, the last incarcerated member of the infamous “Woodlands Ten” who murdered 27-year-old Paul Broussard on July 4, 1991, is going free unless the Parole Board changes its mind.  In a 2-0 decision handed down on Friday, the board unanimously acted to approve Buice’s parole over the protests of his victim’s mother.  Nancy Rodriguez, who has stalwartly advocated for Buice to remain behind bars throughout the years, has told KHOU-TV that she has asked the members of the board to reconsider their decision.

Paul Broussard’s killing made national headlines in 1991 as a clear case of cold blooded hate crime murder.  A gang of teens traveled from the Woodlands, an upscale northern suburb of Houston, to the Montrose neighborhood, looking for gays to bash.  Their ploy was to ask a man on the street to direct them to a gay bar, and then, assuming his answer would incriminate him as a gay man, to assault and abduct him for a night of terror. Broussard, a young, unsuspecting banker, became their target.  The youths dragged him to a park where they savagely attacked him with their fists, steel-toed boots, nail-studded two-by-fours, and a knife.  Buice, who wielded the knife, stabbed Broussard three times with vicious efficiency, and “gutted him like a deer,” according to one commentator.  Of the ten in the gang, five received significant jail time.  Buice was sentenced to 45 years in prison because he did the slashing and stabbing of the innocent gay man.

Paul Broussard and his mother, Nancy Rodriguez

In the years since the trial, all but Buice have been released into society.  Because of the heinous nature of the stabbing, Buice had been successfully kept in prison until now.  In prison, he has earned college degrees, and some say he has been a “model inmate.” Based on the assessment of his advocates, Buice has claimed he has been rehabilitated and no longer offers and threat to society. Paul Broussard’s mother is not buying it.  As reported in this blog last year, when parole was denied her son’s killer, Nancy Rodriguez has said that any remorse on Buice’s part is too-little-too-late, and is fabricated by his desire to get out of jail. Mrs. Rodriguez has often said that she prayed her son’s killer would stay in prison for at least 27 years–one year in captivity for each year of Paul’s unfinished life.

Reaction to the Parole Board’s decision was swift.  Andy Kahan, crime victims’ family advocate, told KHOU: “We had anticipated, and certainly hoped, that it would be denied. Our efforts were in seeing how long it would be denied. It was stunning.” Kahan went on to say that he and his organization will fight the decision, vowing that, even if they lose, they will go down “kicking and screaming” because of the implications of the decision for other victims’ families and friends. “This decision sends chills down not only to Nancy’s family but to other families of murdered children in hoping that they don’t have to undergo the same ordeal,” he said.  Noel Freeman, President of the Houston Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Political Caucus, says that Buice needs to remain behind bars, and he will work to flood the parole board with “thousands” of letters appealing to board members to reverse their decision. “There are people on death row who have done far less heinous crimes that what Jon Buice did,” Freeman said to KHOU. “We’re going to encourage all members of the community to write the parole board, write their representatives, write their state senators. We will mobilize the community. The community mobilized when Paul was murdered back in 1991.”

The two members of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles assigned to Huntsville, where the decision was made to grant Buice a parole are Rissie L. Owens (term expires 2015) and Thomas A. Leeper (term expires 2013). They do not have to reconsider what they have done under law. But if Nancy Rodriguez, Andy Kahan, and Noel Freeman have anything to do about it, they will have plenty of mail to read from across the Lone Star State and from around the nation.

Huntsville Board Office, Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles contact information:

1300 11th St., Suite 520 

P.O. Box 599

Huntsville, TX 77342-0599

936-291-2161
936-291-8367 Fax

July 6, 2011 Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Bludgeoning, Gang violence, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Social Justice Advocacy, stabbings, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Convicted Murderer of Gay Man Gets Parole; LGBTQ Community Vows to Fight It

Gay Man’s Murderer Denied Parole Again

Huntsville, TX – Jon Christopher Buice, serving a 45-year sentence for the murder of gay banker Paul Broussard, was denied parole for the fifth time in a mid-December decision to keep the confessed killer behind bars. Buice, now 33, is the last of the so-called “Woodlands 10” still incarcerated for the notorious anti-gay killing which took place on July 4, 1991 in the Montrose section of Houston. Broussard, 27, a gentle, fun-loving gay man who specialized in setting up retirement accounts for clients of Bank of America, was attacked by the gang outside Heaven, a popular gay nightclub. In a letter sent to Gabi Clayton, founder of FUAH, Families United Against Hate, Broussard’s mother, Nancy Rodriguez, recalled the details of the fatal assault on her son: “[Paul] and two of his friends were walking to their car in Montrose when they were attacked by ten men. These ten men, members of the gang that came to be known in and around Harris County as ‘the gay bashers’ drove from the Woodlands into Houston for the sole purpose of harassing gays. Paul was thrown to the ground, kicked, hit in the face, ribs, chest and groin. The four men who did this wore steel toed boots and had boards with nails driven into them. While Paul was lying on the ground moaning and in a great deal of pain, Jon Buice stabbed him in the chest with his buck knife, going left to right. He also stabbed Paul in the abdomen, going front to back and toe to head. The depth of penetration was five and one half inches to the inferior vena cava and small intestine. This information is from the autopsy report. There is no doubt in my mind that Buice meant to kill Paul.” The other assailants were given lighter sentences, and have all subsequently been released from prison. Supporters of Buice argue that he has maintained a spotless prison record, earning two college degrees during his incarceration. They also believe that Buice has demonstrated good faith toward the Houston LGBT community, asking their forgiveness for his role in Broussard’s brutal murder. Nancy Rodriguez isn’t buying stories of Buice’s rehabilitation. She says she is committed to making her son’s killer serve 27 years of his sentence–one year for every year of Paul’s life. She told the Houston Press that the only remorse she sees in Buice after all these years is the Johnny-come-lately kind, in contrast to the response of other members of the gang. “Others seemed sorry, and said so right away, and it did mean something,” she said. Rodriguez is campaigning for a full five-year set aside before Buice can be considered for parole again, in order to break the cycle of annual hearings he has been granted for the past few years. “All I can say is, I’ll be back next year,” Rodriguez said when contacted by the Conroe Courier about the board’s recent denial of Buice’s request for release.

January 20, 2010 Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Bludgeoning, gay men, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, stabbings, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gay Man’s Murderer Denied Parole Again

Hate Crime Convict Denied Parole For 5th Time, But May Be Out In A Year

Paul Broussard (l) and Jon Buice (r)

Huntsville, TX – A parole board in Huntsville, Texas has denied Jon Buice parole for the 5th time in connection with his role in the 1991 murder of gay Houston banker, Paul Broussard.  Buice was convicted in 1992 for stabbing Broussard several times outside the Houston gay nightclub Heaven and was sentenced to 45 years in prison. He has served 17 years of his sentence.  Fox 26 News has learned that the convicted killer may be granted parole in little more than a year from now.  Andy Kahan, a victims’ rights activist, told Fox 26 reporters that he could not remember any other case as serious as this one in which a prisoner has been denied parole only to be available for parole just one year later.  Broussard’s mother, Nancy Rodriguez, flew from Georgia to testify at the November parole board hearing for her son’s murderer.  In 2007, as she was about to attend Buice’s 3rd parole hearing, Rodriguez said to KPRC Local News 2 reporters,”I still miss my son terribly. I really do. I think about where would he be today. What would he have accomplished in his life?”   Rodriguez has tirelessly fought to keep Buice in prison for at least 27 full calendar years, one year’s imprisonment for each year of Paul’s short life.  In 1991, 10 males, including Buice, attacked Broussard and two other men as they left the Montrose area gay nightclub.  According to testimony at the 1992 trial, the teens who brutally beat and stabbed Broussard to death were under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Buice is the last person remaining in prison for the hate crime murder.  Buice has his advocates, too.  They point out that he has changed his life.  While in prison, he has earned several college degrees, and he has been what his boosters describe as “a model prisoner.”  Rodriguez is not impressed by their arguments.  “The issue is not what he’s become,” she said to the Houston press.  “It’s what he’s done to get here.”

December 17, 2009 Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, gay men, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, stabbings, Texas | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Special Comment: Living Hope

by Stephen V. Sprinkle

Living Hope

A Keynote Address for “Hope, Not Hate” 2008

in Remembrance of Matthew Wayne Shepard and James Byrd, Jr.

University Baptist Church

Austin, Texas

October 12, 2008

~ ~ ~

A paraphrase of Edwin Markham’s poem, “Victory in Defeat,” goes something like this: “Defeat as well as victory can shake the soul and let the glory out.” We are here tonight to tell the history of hope, not hate: hope born out of the hateful deaths of two men ten years ago, James Byrd, Jr. of Jasper, Texas, and Matthew Wayne Shepard of Laramie, Wyoming. Their stories brought us all together tonight. A decade ago, in the United States of America, they each died brutally at the hands of men who had learned to hate someone different.


University Baptist Church in Austin, Texas

Dragged behind a pickup truck in the Lone Star State of Texas for over three miles, James Byrd, Jr. died dismembered in a ditch in the wee hours of a June Sunday morning. People going to church found his body, minus his head and right arm, lying in the road in front of a little cemetery. They called the police, and as the police were speeding on their way to the crime scene, other citizens flagged them down because they had found James Byrd’s head in a drainage ditch.

Bludgeoned into a fatal coma with the butt of a .357 Magnum pistol, young Matthew Shepard was robbed of his shoes, his wallet, and ultimately his life in the Equality State of Wyoming on a cold October night. High in the desolate prairie, Matt’s bloody, broken body was trussed to a buck fence where he was abandoned to freezing wind and unforgiving sun for over 18 hours. When his near-lifeless body was found, the deputy sheriff who cut him free from that buck fence testified that he no longer looked like a human being, but more like a beaten Halloween scarecrow, limp on the ground. She said that his face was slathered with blood except for the tracks of his tears on his cheeks where the blood had been washed away. A few days later, Matt’s heart gave out, and he lost his fight for life in an Intensive Care unit.

Yes, defeat can shake the soul. That is what the poet, Edwin Markham said. Markham was a youth in the American Civil War, and the cataclysm of war ravaged the country in the years of the poet’s childhood. African Americans know the earthquakes of hatred and defeat. Long after that awful war was over, new battles faced African Americans, new defeats challenged hope with hate. Jim Crow, Separate But Equal, Strange Fruit with so many thousands lost to the rope that a sinister new term had to be invented to describe it: “lynching.” Hanging from the limbs of southern trees, shot and cut by the Ku Klux Klan, bombed in their Sunday School rooms, cut down by gunfire on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel… in the defeat of death they lay like rows of grain chopped down in a grisly harvest. We remember their names: Medgar Evers and Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Emmet Till, the four little girls in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham: Addie May Collins, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley, and Denise McNair. Their killings and the murders of too many others to recount tonight show us what hate crimes against a whole race of people can do to shake the soul.


James Byrd, Jr.

Another slow-rolling holocaust swept the United States from the time in the late 19th century when the term “homosexual” was first coined by doctors who said it was a disease. Who someone loved had already been contested ground in America. In 1958, Mildred Jeter (a woman of white, African-American and Native American heritage) and Richard Loving (a white man) fell in love in the racially mixed, low-income farmland of Caroline County, Virginia. Because of Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act, they traveled to Washington, D. C. to get married. Shortly after their return to Virginia, police burst into their bedroom at 3 a.m., arrested husband and wife, and carried them away to jail. The Lovings pleaded guilty to being married; they were sentenced to one year in prison. Though the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Virginia law against “miscegenation,” or interracial marriage, in 1967, there are haters who still believe loving someone is a crime worthy of death.

Though silent and hidden for much of the 20th Century, loving someone of the same gender, or seeking to live into a different gender than the one assigned at birth by a doctor, or even being perceived as belonging to such an orientation has often meant assassination and terror. The defeat of death has shaken the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community, with thousands of fatal attacks throughout this land of the free. Their homes have been desecrated, their bars bombed and burned. They are shot in their classrooms before the eyes of their fellow students, beaten to death with fists and clubs, mutilated with knives, and immolated on stacks of kerosene-soaked tires down lonely, desolate roads. Their lives were counted as less worthy than the lives of other citizens, and scriptures have been endlessly quoted to justify their extermination. We remember their names, tonight, too: Harvey Milk and Diane Whipple, Larry King and Simmie Williams, Billy Jack Gaither and Scotty Joe Weaver, Talana Quay Kreeger and Sakia LaTona Gunn, Paul Broussard, Nicolas West, and Kenneth Cummings, Jr., Fred C. Martinez, Jr., Amancio Corrales, and Gwen Amber Rose Araujo.

The ground of hope on which we stand tonight still shakes with the defeat death brings to African Americans and LGBT Americans. Too many times our respective communities have been shaken apart by differences. As the Dallas Voice has said, it would be hard to find lives of two men more different than the lives of James Byrd, Jr. and Matthew Shepard. James Byrd was a 49-year-old black man, a father and a grandfather, living in Southeast Texas. Matthew Shepard was a 21-year-old white man, a son of privilege going to school at the University of Wyoming.


Matthew Wayne Shepard

One of them was a political science major, longing to advocate for the poor and oppressed, ready to launch out into life for the very first time. One of them was unemployed, living on disability checks, and like the Black Church tradition sometimes says, “tryin’ to make a way out of no way.”

But if they are indeed united in the defeat of death, the souls of the Byrd Family and the Shepard Family shaken by the earthquake of terror that only a hate crime can effect, we believe James Byrd and Matthew Shepard are united in something far wider and more vast than the shadow of death. They are forever united in the history of hope, a living hope, a hope worth living for.

James Byrd, Jr. and Matthew Shepard represent living hope. As Rev. Karen Thompson, Senior Pastor of MCC Austin at Freedom Oaks has said so well, “It is important that we not let our lasting images of these two men…be images of them as victims of hate. Rather,” she goes on to say, “we are called by their memories to do all we can to ensure that hate will not be the final word.” Ignorance and fear would have us accept defeat in the face of hate, but we cannot do that, because we cannot permit the killers to own the stories of James Byrd, Jr. and Matthew Shepard.


Rev. Karen Thompson, Senior Pastor of MCC in Austin

When the intense spotlight of publicity glared down on the families of these slain men, the Byrd Family and the Shepard Family showed the way to healing and not hate.

Ten years ago, Diane Hardy-Garcia, former executive director of the parent organization of what is now Equality Texas, approached Stella and James Byrd, Sr. to ask that a Hate Crimes act be named after their son. As she recounted recently to the Dallas Voice, “[James Byrd, Jr.’s] mother was so gracious to us. I explained the history [of the Hate Crimes Law in Texas] to them, and how it had failed before and how we wanted to present it this time as a whole package. And I told her, ‘I’ve got to tell you the truth. I think they will pass it if it is just about race. The hang up is including sexual orientation.’

“I had given [Mrs. Byrd] my card,” Hardy-Garcia remembered, “which clearly said Lesbian Gay Rights Lobby.” After about a minute of silence, Mrs. Byrd said, “Follow me,” and took Hardy-Garcia into a room filled with condolence gifts from all over the world. Then Mrs. Byrd said, “I sent Matthew Shepard’s mother a note. We don’t have a problem.” Though the James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act went down to defeat the first time, as Hardy-Garcia predicted it might because of the inclusion of sexual orientation, the Byrd Family never wavered in their steadfast support.

The Byrd Family kept on calling for healing, not hating, and went on to establish the James Byrd, Jr. Foundation for Racial Healing. Ross Byrd, James Byrd, Jr.’s son, has chosen to oppose the death penalty, and he has campaigned against executing the very men who bludgeoned, spray painted, and chained his father to the back end of a pickup truck, dragging him to his death—all because he and his family believe in hope, not hate.


Stephen Sprinkle delivers the keynote address at “Hope, Not Hate” in Austin

Matthew Shepard’s parents, Judy and Dennis Shepard, chose hope, not hate, and spoke out against the execution of the two young men who killed their son. Along with Matt’s younger brother, Logan, the Shepards became active in educating against hate through the Matthew Shepard Foundation, an organization they founded to erase hatred through programs of diversity and education.

No one has been more courageously outspoken for the passage of state and federal hate crimes legislation than Judy Shepard, who has said to all who will hear her:

“Matt is no longer with us today because the men who killed him learned to hate. Somehow and somewhere they received the message that the lives of gay people are not as worthy of respect, dignity and honor as the lives of other people. They were given the impression that society condoned or at least was indifferent to violence against gay and lesbian Americans.”

She went on to say, “Today, we have it within our power to send a very different message than the one received by the people who killed my son. It is time to stop living in denial and to address a real problem that is destroying families like mine, James Byrd Jr.’s, and many others across America.”

If we are to rise to the challenge these two great families give us, to shake the soul of Texas and the nation, and to let the glory of a better, more just America shine through, then we have to get real about what it means to live out the hope we proclaim tonight.

  • The real problem is that it is ten years since the murders of James Byrd, Jr. and Matthew Shepard, and the United States still does not have a federal hate crimes law that includes sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. There is still no Matthew Shepard Act on the books ten years after—why not?
  • The real problem is that even when the Lone Star State has a hate crimes law, the James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act, though there have been over 1800 hate crimes perpetrated in Texas since its passage, there have been only nine hate crimes cases tried under the provisions of this law. Ten years after, why only nine?
  • The real problem is that hate crimes are real and are on the rise in America. Don’t let anyone tell you there are not such things as hate crimes, or that “all murders are alike, and we already have the laws to cover them.” Hate crimes are brutally real, targeting whole populations of people with acts of terror. Hate crimes are significantly more violent and brutal than any other forms of domestic crime. You see, every locale and demographic of American society are affected: First Nations, Anglo, Black, Latino/Latina, South and Southeast Asian, Transgender, Gay Men, Lesbians, Disabled, young and mature. Homophobia and racism have long, crooked arms, reaching out to snatch the life away from women and men whose murders are underreported to begin with, and whose memories vanish so quickly.


Candlelighters at the “Hope, Not Hate” vigil in Austin, Texas

We can’t talk about crimes like these tonight in the abstract. What does hate crime look like in the year 2008? Here is what it looks like:

  • February 14, 2008: the senseless shooting of Lawrence “Larry” King, 15 years old, who was targeted because of his sexual orientation and non-conformity with traditional gender roles, in Oxnard, CA.
  • June 17, 2008: a hate crime attack perpetrated by 12 young men and women against Black teenager Tizaya Robinson, 17 years old, in Marshfield, MA.
  • July 17, 2008: the brutal and tragic hate murder of male-to-female transgender Latina, Angie Zapata, 18 years old, in Greeley, CO.
  • July 29, 2008: the killing of Luis Eduardo Ramirez Zavala, 25 years old, an undocumented Mexican immigrant of Shenandoah, PA who was fatally beaten at the hands of five white teenagers.
  • September 4, 2008: openly gay man, Richard Hernandez, 34 years old, murdered and dismembered inside his apartment in Dallas, TX.
  • October 6, 2008: Pvt. 2nd Class Michael Handman, 20 years old, a Jewish soldier in the US Army, was moved to a secure location at Fort Benning, GA far from the scene of an anti-Semitic assault by a fellow soldier that left him hospitalized with a concussion and other serious injuries.

What must we then do, if we are to move through the manifold defeats of hate crime violence in this land, to a land of hope, and not hate? Like you, I take courage from the leadership of the Byrd and Shepard Families. Like you, I need that courage tonight, to rededicate myself to healing and not hating, to hope, and not hate.

I believe we must first move past our personal feelings of powerlessness and denial, beyond the natural psychological barriers we all face when we stare into the mirror of such violence, and see our own part in it. Oh, yes, though it would be convenient to lay the blame exclusively somewhere else, we in the LGBT and Racial/Ethnic minority communities still have much understanding to learn, and much forgiveness to ask of each other, if we are ever to move beyond being defeated people ourselves, and find our way together into a better future for all our people. Sweet Honey in the Rock, an all-female Black a capella choir, say it this way in the lyrics of their song, “Rise in Love”:

“Though we’re victimized, We’re not innocent…”

We have much work to do if we are to live into the hope we long for and talk about. We must renew our efforts to name, claim and reject the racism that too many LGBT people harbor against people of color, and to name, claim and reject the homophobia and heterosexism that too many racial/ethnic communities still hold against gay folk. We have to get over it! In a paraphrase of the Good Book, how can we say that we love justice and harbor ill will against others of us? We have to get “shook up and shook a-loose” ourselves if we are ever to lead our nation to a better society.


Candles in remembrance of Matthew Wayne Shepard and James Byrd, Jr.

And finally, we must move beyond just feeling bad about injustice. Americans are good about feeling bad. Perhaps we get angry, perhaps we get mad enough when we hear the outrageous stories of hate crimes in our community that we pay attention for a news cycle or two. Perhaps we attend a rally like this, and even write a little check to an advocacy group. And once we are past the first flush of emotion, then the economy gets our attention, or the fine Texas autumn, and we go dormant until hate strikes again, for hate surely will strike again if we do not act. Yes, Americans are good at feeling bad, until we start to feel better.

We cannot afford to let emotion alone motivate the work of justice. We who believe in justice cannot rest! We who believe in justice cannot rest until it comes! (An homage to “Ella’s Song,” by Sweet Honey in the Rock.) When memory shakes the soul like an earthquake, we have the obligation and opportunity to remember James Byrd, Jr., and refuse to rest until Texas perfects the hate crimes statutes it has, and applies them not just nine times, but all 1800 times.

We who believe in justice cannot rest! We who believe in justice cannot rest until it comes! When a mother like Judy Shepard challenges us to send a different message to America than the one delivered by the men who killed her son, we must embrace that memory with all its pain, and break out of defeat into action. We must join Judy Shepard in agitating our lawmakers and opinion-makers until the Matthew Shepard Act is passed in the new Congress, and signed into law by a new President of these United States.

We who believe in justice cannot rest! We who believe in justice cannot rest until it comes! Until Black folks and gay folks, women and men, Latinos and Latinas, and all the citizens of this nation can live free and love without fear of acts of violence, until hate is overcome by acts of love and forgiveness and hope, until the glory of this land of the free and this home of the brave shines on all people without distinction and without discrimination.

Not another ten years! Not another 12 months! This very night, each one here must find the courage and resolve to lift up Byrd and Shepard as signs of our hope, a hope worth working for, a hope worth agitating for, a hope worth staying shook up about…

For we who believe in justice cannot rest! We who believe in justice cannot rest until it comes!

Stephen V. Sprinkle
Director
The Unfinished Lives Project

October 20, 2008 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Anti-Semitism, Beatings and battery, Bisexual persons, Bludgeoning, Decapitation and dismemberment, gay men, Hate Crime Statistics, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Legislation, Lesbian women, mob-violence and lynching, Native Americans, Neo-Nazis and White Supremacy, Politics, Racism, Remembrances, Special Comments, Texas, Torture and Mutilation, transgender persons, Uncategorized, Vehicular violence, Wyoming | 2 Comments

The Victims

The one thing these victimized people share is an unfinished life: love foreclosed, potential ripped away, relationships brutally terminated, and future contributions stolen away from us by outrageous, irrational hatred. The stories of these unfinished lives must not remain untold. Human dignity and decency demand they be told and remembered. To date, claiming the victims of anti-gay hate crime violence has happened only sporadically, and in fragmentary, short-lived ways. The LGBT community deserves to hear these stories, so that they may remember their own and honor them. How we, the living survivors of violence, remember and honor our dead largely determines the strength and character of our humanity. Unless stories like these are told, regardless of the pain, the killers of the dream of freedom from fear will diminish our community.   Those we remember and claim as our own:
Andrew Anthos ( 1929– 2007). 72-years-old, bludgeoned to death with a pipe near a bus stop in Detroit, Michigan, after affirming to his assailant that he was gay.
Gwen Amber Rose Araujo (1985 – 2002). A male-to-female transgender woman from Hayward, California, murdered with a skillet and a can of tomatoes, and buried in a shallow grave.
Gregory Beauchamp, 21
Gregory Beauchamp (1981-2002), 21, shot to death from a car window in Cincinnati, OH by a man shouting anti-gay epithets.  Beauchamp was on his way to a New Year’s Eve party.
tiffany-berry
Tiffany Berry (1985-2006).  21-year-old African American transwoman, murdered in Memphis, TN, by a man who said he didn’t like the way she touched him.
Paul Broussard (1964 – 1991). 27-years-old, gay banker beaten to death by a gang of ten teenage boys as he left a gay nightclub in the Montrose area of Houston, Texas.
Bill Clayton (1978 – 1995). A seventeen-year-old bisexual man in Olympia, Washington, who was assaulted in a gay bashing incident, became an outspoken advocate for hate crimes laws for a short time, and took his own life barely a month after the attack.
Amancio “Dalia” Corrales (1982 – 2005). A Mexican-American cosmetologist and gifted female impersonator who was stabbed to death and thrown in the Colorado River in Yuma, Arizona.
Kenneth Cummings Jr. (1960 – 2007). Southwest Airlines attendant in Metro Houston murdered in his own home by an ex-con who claimed God commissioned him to kill gay men, “like the Prophet Elijah.”
Roberto “Pancho” Duncanson (1987 – 2007). 20-years-old, stabbed to death by an assailant shouting anti-gay epithets, in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York.
Bella Evangelista (1978 – 2003). 25-years-old, transgender Latina, shot to death by a transphobe in Washington, DC.
Daniel “Dano” Fetty (1966 – 2004). A deaf and homeless gay man from Waverly, Ohio, stripped naked and literally thrown away in a dumpster.
Billy Jack Gaither (1960 – 1999). A gay man, brutally murdered and immolated near Sylacauga, Alabama at a secluded site on Peckerwood Creek.
Edgar “Eddie” Garzón (1966 – 2001). 35-years-old, gay Colombian emigré who worked as a theatre set designer, beaten into a coma outside a gay bar in Queens, New York, and died three weeks later.
michael_goucher_church_organ
Michael Scott Goucher (1987-2009).  21-year-old U.S. Army veteran, ambushed by two assailants and stabbed over 45 times on the side of a snowy road in Price Township, Pennsylvania.
Sakia LaTona Gunn (1987 – 2003). An African American lesbian from Newark, New Jersey, stabbed by assailants at a bus stop, while defending her girlfriend.
Richard Hernandez (1970 – 2008). 38-years-old, gruesomely dismembered in his North Dallas, Texas, apartment.
Charles O. “Charlie” Howard (1961 – 1984). A gay student drowned after being thrown by his assailants into the Kenduskeag Stream in downtown Bangor, Maine, while begging that he couldn’t swim.
duanna-johnson
Duanna Johnson (1965-2008). 43-year-old African American transwoman, famously beaten by police in June 2008, was fatally shot in the head “on her usual corner” in North Memphis, TN just a few months later.  Johnson had a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the Memphis police at the time.
Sean William Kennedy (1987 – 2007). Fatally assaulted by an 18-year-old in Greenville, South Carolina who received less of a sentence for the murder than if he had killed a dog, according to Greenville municipal statutes.
lawrence_king_082
Lawrence Fobes “Larry” King (1993 – 2008). A fifteen-year-old in Oxnard, California, shot in the head with a small calibre pistol brought to class by a 14-year-old schoolmate who had harassed him for his feminine presentation for months.
Talana Quay Kreeger (1957 – 1990). A lesbian carpenter, manually disemboweled by a long haul trucker in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Fred C. Martinez Jr. (1985 – 2001). A Two-Spirit Navajo lured into a Cortez, Colorado, canyon and killed with a twenty-five pound rock by a man who bragged that he had “bug-smashed a joto.”
.
Thanh Nguyen (1962 – 1991). A gay Vietnamese American who fled to Dallas, Texas, for freedom, only to be shot and killed in downtown Reverchon Park.
Michael J. Sandy (1977 – 2006). An African American gay man, beaten and forced on foot into freeway traffic in New York City.
Allen R. Schindler Jr. (1969 – 1992). A United States Navy Seaman from the Chicago area, stomped to death by his shipmates while deployed in Japan.
Matthew Wayne Shepard (1976 – 1998). A gay student at the University of Wyoming, pistol-whipped and tied to a buck fence in Laramie.
Adolphus Simmons (1990 – 2008). An 18-year-old, femininely presenting teen, shot to death while carrying out his trash in North Charleston, South Carolina.
Satendar Singh (1980 – 2007). A gay Asian Indian American mobbed to death in Lake Natoma, California, by Russian evangelical Christians shouting homophobic slurs.
Ryan Keith Skipper (1981 – 2007). Stabbed nineteen times and left to bleed out on a lonely dirt road by two assailants in Polk County, Florida.
Emonie Spaulding (1978 – 2003). 25-years-old, African American transgender woman, beaten and shot to death in Washington, DC.
Brandon Teena (1971-1993). A 22-year-old female-to-male transgender person, raped and murdered in Humboldt, Nebraska.
Juana Vega (1965 – 2001). 36-years-old, Chicana Lesbian shot to death in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, by her partner’s brother who disapproved of her sexual orientation.
Jeremy Waggoner (1971– 2008). Popular 37-year-old hair stylist, found savagely bludgeoned and stabbed to death in a field near Royal Oak, Michigan.
Arthur “J.R.” Warren (1974-2000). An African American learning disabled  gay man from Grant Town, West Virginia, butchered to death and then run over multiple times to mask the murder.
Scotty Joe Weaver (1986 – 2004). Brutally tortured and murdered by roommates while pleading for his life in Bay Minette, Alabama.  His murderers urinated on his mutilated body before immolating it in a secluded field in rural Baldwin County.
Nicolas West (1970 – 1993). 23-years-old, shot 20 times and left to die in a clay pit outside Tyler, Texas.
Diane Whipple (1968-2001). A lesbian LaCrosse coach from Moraga, California, mauled to death by her neighbors’ dogs in the infamous San Francisco Dog-Maul case.
Ebony Whitaker (1988 – 2008). 20-year-old male-to-female transgender woman, shot to death by an unknown assailant in Memphis, Tennessee.
Robert Whiteside (1950 – 2006). Noted Fabergé artist, found shot to death in his bed-and-breakfast in Mount Vernon, Texas.
Julianne “Julie” Williams (1971 – 1996). A lesbian gunned down with partner Lollie Winans on the Appalachian Trail near Luray, Virginia.
Simmie Lewis “Beyoncé” Williams Jr. (1990 – 2008). A seventeen-year-old African American transperson, snuffed out clothed in a dress on Sistrunk Avenue in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Laura “Lollie” Winans (1970 – 1996). A lesbian gunned down with partner Julie Williams on the Appalachian Trail near Luray, Virginia.
Barry Winchell
Barry Winchell (1977 – 1999). A United States Army Private First Class from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, fatally bludgeoned with a baseball bat.
Daniel Yakovleff (1988– 2008). Well-regarded hair stylist found brutally stabbed to death in his Boston, Massachusetts, apartment.
Angie Zapata (1988– 2008). 20-year-old Latina transgender woman, murdered with a fire extinguisher by a date who discovered that she was biologically male in Greeley, Colorado.

June 30, 2008 Posted by | | 74 Comments

   

%d bloggers like this: