Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

6 New York Teens Charged with Murder as Hate Crime

Anthony Collao, 18, fatally mistaken as gay, (l), pictured with his girlfriend, Wendy Vargas

New York City – Six teenagers have been charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime in the fatal March attack on an 18-year-old male perceived to be gay.  365 Gay reports that the youths attacked and stomped Anthony Collao of Bethpage on Long Island to death as he was leaving a birthday party on March 15 in Woodhaven, Queens. The suspects, none of whom are older than 18, crashed the party, breaking windows, shouting “homophobic remarks,” and scrawling anti-gay slurs and epithets on the wall with a red marker. Collao and his cousin, sensing trouble, tried to leave the home, but were chased outside where the assailants threw Collao against a car, and savagely beating and stomping him until he no longer moved.  His cousin screamed for them to stop, saying that Collao was not gay and had a girlfriend, but the attackers continued pressing their assault with their fists, shod feet, and a metal pipe. Collao fell into an irreversible coma and died two days later at a Jamaica hospital when life support was removed from him. Four suspects — Alex Velez, 16, of the Bronx, Christopher Lozada and Luis Tabales, both 17 and from Queens,  and Nolis Ogando, 18, also from Queens – were arrested soon after the attack. A fifth suspect, Calvin Pietri, 17, of Woodhaven, who allegedly bragged about the killing on Facebook, was arrested within a day of the attack. Jonathan Echevarria, 16, of Brooklyn was also arrested and charged.  Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown told news reporters that each suspect has been charged with a 21-count indictment of murder as a hate crime.  The charges were upgraded after new evidence in the case came to light.  The suspicion that someone might be gay, or even an unsubstantiated accusation of it, as in this case, carries the potential of death. Homophobia and heterosexism are deadly to straights as well as gays.  The defendants in this case could each face as much as 25 years for the crime if found guilty.

June 24, 2011 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Bludgeoning, Gang violence, gay bashing, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Mistaken as LGBT, New York, Slurs and epithets, Stomping and Kicking Violence | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Brooklyn Man Brutally Gay Bashed

Williamsburg native, Barie Shortell, the day of the attack

Brooklyn, New York – Barie Shortell, 29, was beaten savagely by a gang of six teens who thought he was gay.  On February 22, Shortell walked past the hooded teens in the Williamsburg neighborhood who insulted and hurled anti-gay epithets at him.  At about 10:10 PM, Shortell told The Brooklyn Paper, one of the youths yelled, “Oh, shit, is that a guy or a girl?” Shortell let the insult pass, thinking it “juvenile,” but the gang pursued him as he tried to cross Wythe Avenue, slamming him into a wall and then pummeling him on the sidewalk with such force that it shattered his nose, his eye sockets, and broke his jaw in several places. Shortell thankfully has no recollection of the moments of the assault. He was sure, however, of the motive for the attack. “I feel pretty confident they perceived me as a gay man and attacked me, but I can’t understand why they did what they did,” he said to The Brooklyn Paper. “I looked horrible. Blood was everywhere.” Shortell was rushed to Woodhull Hospital where surgeons worked for better than ten hours to reset his jaw and insert three metal plates into his face and head. A spokesperson for the hospital told reporters that the force of impact the injuries represented was equivalent to a car wreck. At first, police dismissed the hate crime aspect of the case. Pressure from the New York Anti-Violence Program made them reconsider. Now the case is being investigated as an anti-gay hate crime, though there have still been no arrests made as of March 17.  The costs of Shortell’s surgery has mounted to over $100,000, so friends have organized a benefit to raise money for him next week on March 23.  Calling the event “Gay Bash: A Benefit for Barie Shortell,” the organizers are asking $35.00 admission to the Blackout Bar, 916 Manhattan Avenue at Kent Street in Greenpoint. Doors open at 7 PM.

March 20, 2011 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Brooklyn, Gang violence, gay bashing, gay men, harassment, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, New York, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Stomping and Kicking Violence | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Halloween Hate Crime Attack in San Diego

Jacob Harshbarger, gay bashed in San Diego (Fernando Lopez photo)

San Diego, California – A gay man was brutally beaten behind his home on Halloween morning by a mixed gender gang who shouted anti-gay epithets as they punched, kicked, and body-slammed him.  “Come over here and kick the fairy!” they shouted, among other slurs.  San Diego Gay and Lesbian News (SDLN) reports that Jacob Harshbarger, a well-known 32-year-old San Diegan gay man, was walking his two dogs in the alley behind his home about 3 a.m., after the bars closed on Sunday, October 31.  He noticed a group of three women and two men in the alley who seemed suspicious.  Intent on finishing his dog-walking, Harshbarger did not respond when one of the suspects asked him a question.  That night, Harsbarger had donned a tee-shirt with a catty, gay theme on it to wear out to the local bars for the Halloween parties.  Upon returning to his home, he wore a hoodie over the tee-shirt that covered the slogan.  The victim wondered if somehow during the exchange, one of the gang read his shirt, igniting the attack.  One of the males shouted out that Harsbarger was a gay man, drawing the others into the assault.  SDLN reports that the assailants fell upon Harsbarger, screaming that he was a “f*****g faggot.” A neighbor recalls hearing a loud “bang,” which was most likely the sound of Harsbarger’s body as he was slammed into the house during the gay bashing. The neighbor and her son investigated the commotion in the alley beside their house and found Harsbarger unconscious on the ground.  Though brief, the assault was savage.  Harsbarger was diagnosed with a concussion, and needed thirteen stitches to close his split lip, and was beaten so severely in the face that he sustained bruising behind his eyes.  The victim remembers very little, once the attack commenced.  He recalled for SDLN that one of the female gang members tried to get the chief attacker to stop when he kicked Harsbarger in the face, and that in the argument that broke out between the females and the males, one of the male attackers kicked one of the women in the stomach.  The next thing the victim remembered was the journey to a local hospital in an ambulance.  Harsbarger was treated and released to recover at home.  LGBTQ activists in San Diego say that the North Park section of the city is supposed to be safe and friendly to LGBTQ, people.  This attack is a wake-up call to the community, and a further indicator of the mounting violence against gay and lesbian people throughout the nation in the wake of the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law last October.  Local activist Fernando Lopez told reporters, “We think of San Diego and North Park as being progressive and safe. It’s devastating that someone would do this to Jacob, or any member of our community.” Police officers are not willing to label the attack a hate crime.  A spokesperson for the San Diego Police Department speculated that Harsbarger was “in the wrong place at the wrong time,” likely a spurious opinion, since the North Park area is thought to be relatively free of problems for LGBTQ people.  Investigators found that Harsbarger’s hoodie was zipped up when paramedics found him lying unconscious on the ground, so the attack was not sparked by the victim’s clothing, as he feared.  One of the attackers left a cell phone at the scene, which may prove to be a critical element in locating the suspects.  Since no one saw the bashing, investigators are left with the partial memories of a shaken and hurt victim of yet another crime of hate violence against the LGBTQ community in southern California.

November 2, 2010 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, California, Gang violence, gay men, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Legislation, Matthew Shepard Act, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Stomping and Kicking Violence, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Halloween Hate Crime Attack in San Diego

Bigots Target Birthplace of Gay Rights Movement With Hate-Crime Wave

Stonewall Inn, NYC, site of one of many recent anti-gay attacks

Greenwich Village, New York City, New York – The Villager reports a “hate-crime wave” striking Greenwich Village, acknowledged widely as the birthplace of the modern LGBTQ Rights Movement.  In the past two weeks, police and anti-violence advocates noted four violent attacks against patrons of gay bars.  A 45-year-old Queens man has been charged in the two most recent assaults with third-degree assault as a hate crime, and third-degree robbery for the attacks which both took place on October 11–just ten minutes apart.  Frederick Giunta allegedly punched a 31-year-old gay man in the face at Ty’s Bar on Christopher Street after grabbing the victim’s wallet.  Guinta then walked to Julius’ Bar on W. 159th and Waverly Place, where he allegedly attacked an African American bartender while shouting anti-gay and anti-black slurs at him.  According to The Villager, the suspect struck Greg Davis, 48, in the face while yelling at him, “What are you going to do?” and calling him a racial slur, then yelling at him, “You are a f—— faggot.” Sources in the police department told reporters that Guinta had a record of violence against gay men in the area since 2002, when he pleaded guilty to robbing a gay man he picked up at Rawhide Bar in Chelsea.  On October 4, two Staten Island men attacked a man in the restroom of the historic Stonewall Inn on Sheridan Square–but their intended victim fought back.  The New York Post reports that Matthew Francis, 21, and Christopher Orlando, 17, both of Staten Island, gay bashed a Washington, D.C. visitor to the Stonewall Inn with intent to harm and rob him.  Benjamin Carver, 34, their intended victim, fought back against the thugs, and drove them out of the restroom.  Carver and his boyfriend, with the assistance of the Stonewall Inn staff, threw the Staten Island men out of the bar.  Carver told the Post, “I was never afraid, throughout the whole experience.  To so many of these bullies, they think that gay people are an easy target, and that we’re just going to give in. Those two guys found out that night that’s not the case.” Carver and Orlando have been charged with assault as a hate crime and attempted robbery.  Choosing historic gay establishments like Stonewall Inn and Julius’s bar sends LGBT residents of the village an ominous warning: gay liberation is still a long time coming in the Empire State and the nation.  The Stonewall Inn was the scene of the outbreak of the Stonewall Uprising of June 1969, when street kids, lesbians, gay men, and drag queens fought back agains the oppression of the NYPD.  Julius’ Bar is the oldest continuing gay bar in Manhattan.  On October 1, 20-yer-old Andrew Jackson was arrested and charged with hate-crime assault and gang-related assault on three gay men on Ninth Avenue and 25th Street in Chelsea, just blocks away from the West Village bars where the later anti-gay attacks occurred.  Two other suspects are being sought by police in connection with the October 1 incident.  New York City Council Speaker, openly-lesbian Christine Quinn, credits the swift arrests in all these cases to the professionalism of the New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force.  Quinn told the Villager, “Tragically, this is just the most recent in a series of hate crimes to strike our city and neighborhoods in recent weeks.” New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Program’s Executive Director Sharon Stapel told the press, “This [October 11] attack underscores our need to stop the hate speech and anti-LGBTQ vitriol that results in this kind of attack.”

October 22, 2010 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Chelsea, Gang violence, gay men, harassment, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, New York, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Stonewall Inn, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Bigots Target Birthplace of Gay Rights Movement With Hate-Crime Wave

“Wolf-Like” Street Gang Gay-Bashing Rampage In New York

Latin King Goonies Arrested for Anti-Gay Torture (NY Daily News composite photo)

New York City, New York – Members of the Latin King Goonies, a street gang based in the Bronx, went on the attack last week to brutalize men they perceived to be gay, including a 17-year-old allegedly sodomized with the wooden handle of the toilet plunger.  The New York Daily News reports that seven members of the Goonies were arrested, ranging in ages from 16- to 23-years-old.  At least two other gang members are being sought by police in connection with the homophobic series of crimes.  “These suspects employed terrible, wolf-pack odds of nine against one, odds which revealed them as predators whose crimes were as cowardly as they were despicable,” Ray Kelly, Police Commissioner for New York City told reporters for the News. Throughout the attacks, the suspects shouted homophobic slurs at their victims.  According to The Advocate, the suspects allegedly ran amok after learning that one of their new gang initiates, a 17-year-old, was a gay.  They kidnapped and tortured a 30-year-old man believed to be the lover of the Goonies pledge, sadistically forcing the youth to burn his friend with lit cigarettes.  The victim was also beaten with a chain, forced to chug large amounts of an alcohol-laced energy drink called Four Loko, and then was sodomized with a small baseball bat.   A second 17-year-old male was kidnapped and sodomized with a wooden toilet plunger handle while the others were forced to watch.  The Daily News report says that the gang topped off the day by beating and robbing a fourth man.  Led by 23-year-old Ildefonso (Cheto) Mendez, the seven were transported to the 41st Precinct station, where they are being held pending arraignment.  Besides Mendez, those arrested were David Rivera, 21; Nelson Falu, 18; Steven Carballo, 17; Denis Peitars, 17; Bryan Almonte, 17; and Brian Cepeda, 16. Still being sought, they said, are Elmer Confessor, 23; and Ruddy Vargas-Perez, 22. The suspects are charged with sodomy, abduction, imprisonment, menacing, assault, and robbery–all categorized as hate crimes.  Reaction the anti-gay rampage has been swift.  New York authorities are especially sensitive to anti-gay bias crimes in the wake of a recent bashing incident involving two young men who assaulted a gay man in the toilet of the historic Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, the birthplace of the Gay Rights Movement in America.  Numbers of anti-LGBTQ hate crimes are on the rise in New York according to The Daily News.  As of Monday, this year’s total has reached 44 as compared with 41 at this same time a year ago.  Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., said, “Bronxites will not tolerate any form of bigotry in our borough,” and New York City Council Speaker, Christine Quinn demanded action against gay bashers throughout the five boroughs.”These attacks are appalling and are even more despicable because the victims were clearly targeted in acts of hate simply because they are gay,” she said. Police Commissioner Kelly told reporters that this latest attack had nothing to do with a gang initiation.  This one was about pure hatred of homosexuals.  One 17-year-old victim, Kelly said, was “thrown into a wall, made to strip naked, hit in the head with a beer can, cut with a box cutter and sodomized with the wooden handle of a plunger.”  According to the New York Times City Blog, the tortures took place over several hours at 1910 Osbourne Place, a Goonies safe house often surrounded by as many as ten pit bull attack dogs.  Residents of Morris Heights called the site, “the Goonies House,” and told investigators that the gang used it to throw parties, have sex, and as a staging ground for their attacks on a series of victims in recent months.  Commissioner Kelly told the press that the attackers worked hard to clean up after their bloody work.  The suspects pulled up linoleum, ripped out rugs, and repainted the torture chamber where the crimes took place.  One detective told the Commissioner that the house was “The cleanest crime scene I’ve ever seen,” quote unquote. “Lots of bleach and paint were used to cover the blood shed by their tortured prey. They even poured bleach down the drains,” Kelly said.  Still, the investigators were able to find significant amounts of evidence, including blood and human hair.  “They could clean,” said Commissioner Kelly, “but they couldn’t hide.”

October 9, 2010 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Blame the victim, Bronx, Gang violence, gay men, gay teens, harassment, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Kidnapping and sexual assault, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, New York, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, rape, Slurs and epithets, Torture and Mutilation | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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