Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Names of Deceased Pulse Nightclub Patrons Slowly Being Released

Aggregate photo by Huffington Post, with our thanks.

Aggregate photo by Huffington Post, with our thanks.

Orlando, Florida – The names of the deceased in the worst mass shooting is U.S. history are slowly being released to the public. 50 died in the initial homophobic attack on the Pulse Nightclub, and 53 were hospitalized. Printed here are the 49 names assembled by Huffington Post by 7 p.m., June 13. All but one of the victims has been identified, and authorities are notifying next of kin. The effort to inform those many more who loved them also is ongoing, as well. We publish them here with their ages at the time of their deaths. All those who were gunned down by unreasoning hatred of who they were have names…lives…loves…. Everyone one, those named here and those remaining to be named, was someone’s child, sister, brother, friend, lover, co-worker, team member. All are our Rainbow Family, and we shall not forget them. May they have found rest, and may their deaths, heinous as the crime was that took away their lives, usher in a better world than they ever knew. One where Everybody is Somebody, and nobody is nobody.

Darryl Roman Burt II, 29

Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 

Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 

Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 

Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 

Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 

Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26 

Enrique L. Rios Jr., 25 

Miguel Angel Honorato, 30

Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40

Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 

Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 

Cory James Connell, 21 

Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 

Luis Daniel Conde, 39 

Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 

Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 

Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 

Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34

Stanley Almodovar III, 23

Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20

Luis S. Vielma, 22

Kimberly Morris, 37

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30

Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25

Amanda Alvear, 25

Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26

Martin Benitez Torres, 33 

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35

Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33

Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27

Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33

Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49

Yilmary Rodriguez Sulivan, 24

Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32

Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28

Frank Hernandez, 27

Paul Terrell Henry, 41

Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24

Akyra Monet Murray, 18

Antonio Brown, 29

Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 25

Jerald Arthur Wright, 31

June 13, 2016 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Anti-LGBT hate crimes, Florida, Gay Bars, GLBTQ, gun violence, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, In Memoriam, Latino and Latina Americans, Lesbians, LGBTQ, Mass shootings, Orlando, Pulse Nightclub, Remembrances, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Names of Deceased Pulse Nightclub Patrons Slowly Being Released

Dallas LGBT Community to Orlando: “We Are With You!”

 

Hundreds of LGBT Dallasites and allies rally in solidarity with Orlando despite the rain.

Hundreds of LGBT Dallasites and allies rally in solidarity with Orlando despite the rain. Dallas Morning News photo, Teng Shen, photographer.

Dallas, Texas – Hundreds gathered in the pouring rain outside the newly opened headquarters of the Resource Center in the heart of the Dallas LGBT community to demonstrate their solidarity with the people of Orlando, and especially with the Orange County LGBT community in the wake of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Undaunted by the rain, gays, lesbians, bisexual people, and transgender people, augmented by a multitude of allies, listened, wept, cheered and contributed as a score or more of speakers representing all major faith communities, the humanist community, and members of racial/ethnic minority groups vowed to stand firm in the struggle for justice and equality. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Police Chief Brown were also in attendance at the rally, showing the unity of the city and its law enforcement agencies with the LGBT community during this challenging time.

The host of the solidarity rally, Resource Center, led by Executive Director Cece Cox, is one of the largest of the better than 200 LGBT service centers in the nation, and a focal point of outreach and support for marginalized people throughout North Texas. The new, $8.9 million facility that houses the Center, open less than eleven days, is a testament to the vigor and muscle of the Dallas queer community. After listening to the speakers, the participants boarded buses or walked the 1.9 mile route down Cedar Springs Road to the symbolic crossroads of the Dallas LGBT “Gayborhood,” the Legacy of Love Monument at the junction of Cedar Springs Road and Oak Lawn Avenue. There the rally concluded after laying flowers and other signs of affection at the foot of the monument as signs of hundreds of wishes for comfort and healing for the city of Orlando and the Pulse Nightclub where the shooting took the lives of 50 people, and left 53 others wounded.

Dallas is home to one of the largest and most vibrant LGBT communities in the nation, and celebrates diversity through its many open and affirming and LGBT predominant faith communities, civic and recreational groups, charities, and health support services. The Dallas Gayborhood has been plagued since late September by better than 20 attacks on young gay men both along the fabled Strip where nightclubs, restaurants, and merchants that cater to the LGBT community are found, and beyond it in nearby neighborhoods. While community and police efforts have improved lighting and installed surveillance cameras along the Strip, leaders and citizens alike are concerned that no arrests have been made in any of the cases, many of which are clear instances of anti-gay hate crime.

The show of support for Orlando last night foretells renewed local efforts in concert with the Dallas Police Department to bring a halt to the rash of brutal attacks, none of which to date have proved fatal. Dallas is no stranger to anti-LGBT violence in all its forms, and that has made the emotional bond between “Big D” and Orlando all the stronger.

June 13, 2016 Posted by | Dallas, Dallas Police Department, GLBTQ, gun violence, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Mass shootings, Orlando, Pulse Nightclub, Resource Center, transphobia, Vigil | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Dallas LGBT Community to Orlando: “We Are With You!”

Transwoman Murdered in East Texas; Transphobic Hate Crime Suspected

Ty Lee Underwood, 24, shot to death in a suspected transphobic hate crime in Tyler, Texas.

Ty Lee Underwood, 24, shot to death in a suspected transphobic hate crime in Tyler, Texas.

Tyler, Texas – The Dallas Voice and multiple Texas news sources report that a 24-year-old transgender woman was shot to death January 26 in Tyler, an East Texas city 90 miles southeast of Dallas. Police detectives have few leads on the murder of Ty Lee Underwood, and none of them are substantial, according to KYTX Channel 19, the local CBS affiliate.

Tyler Police spokesperson, Detective Andy Erbaugh said that a woman called 911 early Monday morning to report that her children heard shots fired in the Twenty-fourth Street area of North Tyler. Investigators arrived to find Ms. Underwood dead at the scene. She was either in or near her automobile at the time shots were fired at her, and three of them found their mark. She tried to escape her attacker(s) by driving off, when the auto got stuck in a grassy area, according to Erbaugh. Her vehicle had jumped several curbs and had broken off one of its mirrors, finally colliding with a telephone pole. Tyler Police are seeking help from the public to apprehend those responsible for Ms. Underwood’s death. “We will follow any leads that come in, we will follow them completely because this was a senseless murder,” Erbaugh said.

Ty Underwood was a nursing assistant at a local rest home facility, and had been recently accepted by the nursing program at Kilgore College in Longview, Texas, according to The Advocate.

While investigators are not publicly speculating about a motive for the murder, Ms. Underwood’s friends suspect that her killing was a hate crime targeting her for being a transgender woman. Her roommate, Coy Simmons, said, “This has to be a hate crime, this has to be a hate crime, nothing else because that was an upstanding person with a good heart.” Simmons went on to describe his friend as well regarded throughout the community. “She was lovely, just a lovely person. Very real, down to earth person who didn’t deserve this, did not deserve this at all,” he said to KYTX reporters.

Transgender rights advocates throughout the region are angered and on high alert, following Ms. Underwood’s brutal shooting. Leaders of the East Texas PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), and TAG (Tyler Area Gays) are calling on police to bring this case to a swift, decisive conclusion. North Texas transgender activist Nell Gaither, President of the Trans Pride Initiative, says everyone in the Metroplex LGBT community should be aware that the level of violence against trans people is alarmingly on the rise. Ms. Underwood’s murder is the 15th homicide of a trans person of color since June of last year. Ms. Gaither posted on Facebook, “The increase in violence is really disturbing. And this is just the murders. If there is an increase in murder, there is likely an increase in harassment, assault, sexual assault, and other violence as well.”

Should this murder prove to be an anti-LGBT hate crime as suspected, it will continue a string of bias-related violence in Tyler commencing with the horrendous slaying of Nicolas West in October 1993. West, 23 at the time of his murder, was kidnapped at a Tyler city park, then driven out to a remote area of Smith County where he was force to strip and kneel in a clay pit where he was tortured and finally shot to death, as reported by Unfinished Lives Blog. The medical examiner’s report found West had been shot 15 times. It took seventeen years for Tyler to recognize West and acknowledge the injustice done to him. In 2010 a plaque was belatedly placed in the park where he was abducted. Perhaps local outrage will mount sufficiently that Ty Underwood’s murder will not be ignored for so long in the Rose Capital of Texas.

Smith County is offering a $1,000 reward for a tip leading to the apprehension and arrest of those responsible for Ty Underwood’s murder. Anyone knowing of a lead should report it immediately to the Tyler Police hotline at (903) 531-1000 or Tyler-Smith County Crime Stoppers at (903) 597-2833.

January 30, 2015 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, East Texas, East Texas PFLAG, GLBTQ, gun violence, LGBTQ, Nicolas West, Texas, Trans Pride Initiative, transgender persons, Transgender women, Transgender women of color, transphobia, Tyler Area Gays (TAG) | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Bisexual Man Shot to Death Outside His Home; Suspect Arrested and Charged with Hate Crime

Juan Ceballos, 20, gunned down because he was bisexual [KESQ photo].

Juan Ceballos, 20, gunned down because he was bisexual [KESQ photo].

Mecca, California – A 20-year-old openly bisexual man was murdered in his car as he parked in the driveway of his home.  Juan Ceballos, a student at the College of the Desert, had just returned home Sunday night, July 13, from work with pizza for his four siblings and his mother when a co-worker who had been lying in wait opened fire, fatally wounding him. According to KESQ TV News, his younger brother, 17-year-old Sergio Ceballo, rushed outside to find his brother Juan dying behind the wheel of his car.  Sergio and the family say that the reason for the murder of their beloved Juan was because of irrational hatred for Juan’s bisexuality.  Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputies agreed with the motive for Juan’s murder.  After the arrest of Miguel Angel Bautista Ramirez, 25, of Thermal, California, on Monday, July 28, he was charged with felony murder, hate crime, and lying in wait. The Desert Sun reports that prosecutors filed a criminal complaint against Ramirez citing “bias against” gays and bisexual persons. On August 1, Ramirez pled not guilty to the charges.  He is being held without bail, and will be arraigned on August 11. Because the attack was bias-driven, premeditated, and fatal, Ramirez could face the death penalty.

“I have to step up now, like [Juan] did,” Sergio said to KESQ. Juan Ceballos was a well-regarded, happy person who worked hard to help out his mother and four siblings.  He had worked in the agricultural fields to pay personal bills and help support his family, but currently was working two jobs to make ends meet: at a gas station and a Pizza Hut.  Upon hearing the news of Ramirez’s arrest, Sergio said, “If he is the one who killed [Juan], I hope they keep him off the street so that no other family will have to go through the pain we are.”  When asked about how someone could kill another person because of his sexual orientation, Sergio said wiping away tears, “If that is the reason [Ramirez] did that to him, I don’t even know why.”  Speaking with KMIR NBC News, Sergio said that his brother’s killer was “stupid” to do such a thing because of sexuality.   “[Juan] was more like a father, not as a brother, he was head of the house, he was our support,” said Sergio.  “He said he was looking for happiness in a world full of evil,” Sergio continued, “maybe he was right. The world is full of evil, and I don’t know why they ever did this to him.  He was our guide. Everything we have now we owe to him. I’m going to continue with all of this, but now I’m going to have to do this without him,” Sergio concluded.

Juan’s mother, Maria Teresa Mendez, said, her son was “a happy person who tried to guide his siblings to do good in life.  I expect justice for the person who did this.”

August 7, 2014 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bisexual persons, California, GLBTQ, gun violence, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, LGBTQ | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Bisexual Man Shot to Death Outside His Home; Suspect Arrested and Charged with Hate Crime

Infamous Lesbian Murder Case Cracked in Texas: Alleged Shooter Arrested After Two-Year Investigation

David Malcolm Strickland, suspect in the lesbian murder assault case (EDGE photo).

David Malcolm Strickland, suspect in the lesbian murder assault case (EDGE photo).

Portland, Texas – Nearly two years after teenage lesbian lovers were abducted and shot on a steep grassy hillside in this South Texas coastal town, a 27-year-old suspect has finally been arrested, according to Portland, Texas law enforcement authorities.  David Malcolm Strickland was arrested Friday and charged with the capital murder of Mollie Olgin, 19 at the time of the shooting, and for the aggravated assault with a deadly weapon of Kristene Chapa, 18, whom he allegedly shot in the head at the same time.  Chapa survived, though the damage to the left side of her brain left her unable to walk, sit, or stand.  Only with years of therapy and surgery has Chapa been able to reacquire her balance and mobility.  In addition to these charges, the shooter has been charged with aggravated sexual assault. Details are still emerging from the investigation, and further charges may be brought, according to authorities. Strickland’s wife, Laura Kimberly, 23, has also been detained by Portland Police, and faces charges of tampering with evidence.

“I hope that it gives [the victims, their families, and community members] some closure knowing that this person is taken off the street,” Portland Police Chief Gary Giles said to NBC News. “It is one day before the two-year anniversary. We’ve been working very hard to make sure we get him as soon as possible. A series of fortunate events has led us to this point and I’m just very happy that we could help in — at least at this point — in bringing him to justice.”

Strickland was apprehended in the Helotes suburb of San Antonio on Friday by Texas Rangers and U.S. Marshals. Texas Rangers, U.S. Marshals, and Portland Police officers took Strickland’s wife into custody.  Robert R. Almonte, U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Texas told NBC News, “My sympathies and condolences to the victims and their families who had to endure this wicked act of violence. [Strickland] is a stone cold killer who thought he got away with murder, but will finally pay for his crime.”

The reconstructed murder event that took place in Portland remains chilling, even after two years.  Chapa, now 20 years old, said she went with Olgin on Friday night, June 23, 2012 to Violet Andrews Park, to see where Olgin had been baptized.  The suspect forced the teenagers at gun point down a steep incline where he bound them, sexually assaulted them, and shot them both, leaving them to die.  A couple out bird watching the next morning discovered the victims.  Olgin had died of her wounds, but Chapa, who had clawed her way out of the sharp, thorny brush, survived, and was rushed to a medical center for emergency surgery.  Chapa returned to the scene of the crime to assist investigators.  She recounted to a reporter how difficult it was for her to go back to the place where her lover died so cruelly. “I felt every cut, every thorn go through my hand,” she said of the brush she fought to get out of, pointing to the scars still plainly visible on her arms. “I kept thinking, ‘I’ve got to get help.’”

Sergeant Roland Chavez of the Portland Police Department discussed the investigation with reporters.  DNA evidence from finger prints around the crime scene initially belonged to over 250 suspects, Chavez said.  Then the slow process of singling out the shooter had to go step-by-step.  Investigators wanted to make sure they had the right man before making the arrest, else they feared Chapa would only be victimized again by a false ID.  The shooter used a .45 caliber handgun on the teenagers, sometime between 11:30 p.m. and midnight on Friday, June 23, 2012.  The teenagers had no prior knowledge of their attacker, which complicated the case, making it even seem more brutal and bizarre.  Neither did the suspect have a previous criminal record, providing officers another hurdle to overcome.  Chavez speculated that the shooter may have fantasized about such a crime long before the actual event, and worked himself up to doing it over time. The birdwatching couple who discovered Olgin and Chapa stumbled across the gruesome scene at about 8:30 a.m. the next day.

R to L: Mollie Judith Olgin (deceased), and Mary Kristene Chapa, teen victims of brutal shooting two years ago this month.

R to L: Mollie Judith Olgin (deceased), and Mary Kristene Chapa, teen victims of brutal shooting two years ago this month.

Authorities are still at a loss to explain the motive for the crime at this point.  They have consistently ruled out anti-lesbian hatred as a motive, but the suspicion that homophobia and certainly heterosexism may have played a part in targeting the couple just won’t go away. Hate crimes against women are particularly difficult to sort out, since homophobia is so often a weapon of sexism.

Chapa still struggles to open and close her left hand.  The bullet destroyed the area of her brain controlling motion on her left side.  Her wounds left her an invalid, much like a stroke victim.  Hard work, support, and courage are paying off.  Though she will never regain total mobility, Chapa told reporters that she knows she will almost get there, if she just keeps up the struggle.  Worse for her is the loss of her girlfriend, Mollie Olgin.  “Every day I think about her,” she said of Olgin. “I pray for her, just for her to watch over me.”  Since the attack, Chapa has reached out to other victims of gun violence and paralysis, like the families devastated by the Newtown School shooting in Connecticut.  “I opened up myself to them and just told them how my story is similar, I just put my feelings in there,” she said to NBC News, also saying that she hopes “to meet more victims who have been shot because we relate. I’m pretty sure we’ve been through a lot of the same things and have felt the same ways.”

She and her parents are still appealing to the public to help fund Chapa’s rehabilitation, care, and recovery.  Her family has exhausted their resources, and though a good deal of money has been donated these past two years, it hasn’t been enough.  Chapa says that she and her folks are “pretty much alone” in the effort to finance her health care. The funding site originally set up to assist with Chapa’s care has been discontinued without public explanation.

After a news conference arranged by the Portland Police Department to announce Strickland’s arrest, Chapa reflected on her feelings.  Though she told the Corpus Christi Caller-Times she felt safer now that the suspect was in custody, the pain and loss are still there for her. “It will never take back the pain and hurt he did to our families. And it won’t bring Mollie back,” she said. “Right now for both our families this is very hard.”  

San Patricio District Attorney Michael Welborn believes they have their man. “We feel we have a very strong case to put forth,” he said. “We fully believe that we are going to bring justice to these two young ladies and their families.”

June 23, 2014 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, gay teens, GLBTQ, gun violence, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lesbian teens, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Texas, women | , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Infamous Lesbian Murder Case Cracked in Texas: Alleged Shooter Arrested After Two-Year Investigation

Murdered Lesbian Couple: Did Daddy Do It?

James Cosby, father of  murdered lesbian Britney Cosby, and suspect in her murder along with her spouse, Crystal Jackson.

James Cosby, father of slain lesbian Britney Cosby, and suspect in her murder and that of her spouse, Crystal Jackson.

Galveston, Texas – The father of a lesbian has been arrested by the Galveston authorities in relation to the murder of his daughter and her spouse.  The bodies of the two young women  were dumped outside a Port Bolivar convenience store and discovered early on March 7, according to KHOU News.  James Larry Cosby, 46, father of Britney Cosby, has been arrested by Galveston Sheriff’s officers and charged with two counts of tampering with evidence related to the murder of his daughter and her life partner, Crystal Jackson.  Officials say that the charges may be shortly upgraded to murder.  KTRK 13 reports that incriminating evidence linking the murders of the lesbians led investigators to arrest Britney Cosby’s father, an ex-con and sex crime offender, and hold him in the Galveston County Jail on $500, 000 bond pending other charges.

The suspect was part of a large crowd of friends and family at a community vigil held on Wednesday for the two young women, and investigators interrogated him at the conclusion of the vigil.  “His house was a secondary crime scene, from the evidence that we saw when we went to interview him and we did recover certain parts of evidence that are here at our sheriff’s office now to be sent to the lab,” Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset said to reporters.

Autopsy reports say that Britney Cosby died from blunt force trauma, and that Crystal Jackson was shot to death.  Investigators believe the two women, both 24, were killed at another location, and then transported to the quiet coastal town and left beside a garbage dumpster as if they were no better than trash.

KHOU’s reportage uncovered Cosby’s violent past.  His ex-wife Loranda McDonald said that she left him because he was so violent, and she and other Cosby family members say that he was “unhappy” about his daughter’s being a lesbian.  “He said it to me a few times that he did not like the idea of her being gay,” said McDonald.  Detectives indicated that, in addition to blood stains in Mr. Cosby’s home, they found a copy of the Holy Koran open to a passage some fundamentalist Muslims use to denigrate and condemn homosexual conduct.  Mr. Cosby is not cooperating with his interrogators, and since no motive has been officially established, no hate crime has yet been charged against him–but anti-gay hate crime charges are definitely on everyone’s mind who knew of Mr. Cosby’s animosity towards gays and lesbians.

Vigils and commemorations are being planned throughout Texas. Later in the coming week, a vigil is being organized in Dallas by c.d. kirven, a local advocate for LGBT justice and equality.  On a Facebook post, c.d. said, “I still plan to hold vigils next week and will keep those interested update! Please pray for families!”  The couple leaves a 5-year-old daughter behind to face life without her moms.

While the language of caution and hesitation is still being used in relation to this heinous crime, should the allegations against James Larry Cosby prove true, there should be little doubt of the horrific potency of heterosexism, patriarchy, and homophobia–powerful enough to invade the most sacred and intimate of human relationships, that of a father and his daughter, and to leave a small child parentless.

March 14, 2014 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bludgeoning, GLBTQ, gun violence, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Koran, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, religious intolerance, Social Justice Advocacy, Texas, Vigils | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Police Crack Down on Anti-Gay Attackers in New York City; Arrests Made

New Yorkers refuse to be terrorized by spate of anti-gay hate crimes.

New Yorkers refuse to be terrorized by spate of anti-gay hate crimes.

New York City, New York – Three arrests of alleged homophobic attackers, and growing resolve among LGBTQ New Yorkers shows determination to stand strong against gay bashing in New York City, the cradle of the Gay and Queer Rights Movement.  The NYPD announce the arrest of a teenage suspect in the most recent assault on a gay man in Hell’s Kitchen early Saturday morning.  After noted queer activist, Eugene Lovendusky, 28, his boyfriend, and a third friend were harassed as “faggots” by a group of 9 or 10 slur-yelling youths, Lovendusky was hit in the jaw, and his glasses knocked off his face.  When his boyfriend moved in to help Lovendusky, the assailant reported said, “Do you want to be next, faggot?”, according to the New York Post.  Lovendusky placed a 911 call to police almost immediately after the group left the scene.  Responding quickly, NYPD officers apprehended Manuel Riquelme, 19, of East Harlem at a pizzeria on 40th and 9th Avenue.  Riquelme and the other teens who participated in harassing Lovendusky were recounting their bashing success when police arrested the assailant, charging him with assault as a hate crime, and second degree aggravated harassment as a hate crime.  No bail has been set.

Police previously arrested Gornell Roman, charging him with a hate attack upon Philadelphia party promoter, Dan Contarino, on Monday, May 20.  After an argument ensued between Roman and Contarino about Contarino’s sexual orientation, Roman became enraged, hurling slurs at the gay man, and then beating him unconscious.  Roman, a resident of the Bowery Mission with an extensive arrest record, was collared by New York Police officers on Wednesday, and faces a count of assault as a hate crime, and aggravated harassment as a hate crime, according to the Associated Press.

Both of these latest gay bashings in New York City took place shortly after the murder of openly gay Mark Carson in Greenwich Village, who succumbed to a pistol shot, point blank to his face.  Alleged gunman Elliott Morales, 33, laughed and bragged about his deadly attack on Carson in what amounted to a confession to his arresting officers.  He is charged with bias motivated murder and criminal possession of a weapon, and is being held without bail.

City officials have been speaking out against the spate of anti-gay hate crimes and harassment of LGBTQ people throughout Manhattan in recent days.  One of the most outspoken is lesbian Council Speaker, Christine Quinn, who is running for mayor.  She  spoke to the New York Post after the attack on activist Lovendusky about her own perspective on these disturbing hate crimes plaguing New York City.  “I thought most of the really horrible days of hate crimes were behind us,” she said. “I had a conversation with [Commissioner] Kelly last week requesting more police resources for the West Side, and it’s the exact same conversation I had in the 1990s with the first deputy police commissioner.”  When told about Lovendusky’s call for self-defense training for queer folk in the city, and beefed up security at clubs throughout Manhattan, Quinn voiced her approval of the ideas.  “This is kind of strength that these survivors have,” she said. “They [the anti-gay attackers] think they’re going to cause fear so profound that people will be terrified back into the closet. They don’t know that the fear they try to engender is met with deeper and bigger strength.”

May 28, 2013 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Christine Quinn, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, gun violence, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, New York, New York City, Slurs and epithets | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Police Crack Down on Anti-Gay Attackers in New York City; Arrests Made

Savage Anti-Gay Murder in NYC Highlights Increasing Danger for LGBT People

Mark Carson, 32, openly gay man shot to death in the face in NYC (Gay Star News photo).

Mark Carson, 32, openly gay NYC man fatally shot in the face (Gay Star News photo).

New York City, New York – A gay man shot to death at point blank range early Saturday morning became the fifth anti-gay hate crime to strike fear into Gotham City in recent weeks.  Mark Carson, 32, an openly gay yogurt shop worker from Brooklyn, who was walking with a companion in Greenwich Village, faced his harasser, who taunted his victim with homophobic slurs before fatally shooting him in the face, saying “You want to die here tonight?”.  The assailant was collared in a matter of a few blocks by a police officer who had the description of the shooter.  The officer seized the murder weapon along with the suspect.  Elliot Morales, 33, is in the custody of the NYPD, charged with second degree murder as a hate crime, and is being held in jail without bail.

After being goaded by a series of previous gay bashings in Midtown Manhattan in the Madison Square Garden area, some involving Knicks fans in full team attire, the LGBTQ and Allied community in the greater NYC metro area has erupted into angry, frightened protests.  The Associated Press reports that thousands took to the streets on Monday to cry out against Carson’s murder, making this the most powerful demonstration of anti-hate crime street activism since the days of Matthew Shepard, fourteen years ago. NYC Council Speaker, Christine Quinn, marched arm in arm with Edie Windsor, the key plaintiff in the case for Marriage Equality now before the Supreme Court of the United States.  Emotions on a spectrum from disbelief that such a brazen crime could occur in the City, through towering rage against the cold-blooded killing of a defenseless gay man in the heart of the most tolerant neighborhood in New York, to abject fear that the streets of the city are unsafe to walk openly for gay people.  Carson fell just blocks from the site of the birth of the Gay Rights Movement during the famous Stonewall Riots of 1969.

Morales, the alleged shooter, once charged with attempted murder in 1998, was filled with “homophobic glee,” laughing as he confessed to police that he pulled the trigger on Carson, according to the New York Daily News.   Morales was seen just 15 minutes before the attack, publicly urinating outside an upscale Greenwich Village restaurant beside the storied Stonewall Inn.  Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly candidly commented to the press that Carson had done nothing to antagonize his assailant, according to USA Today.  “It’s clear that the victim here was killed only because and just because he was thought to be gay,” Commissioner Kelly said.

The Daily News speculates that Morales’s homophobia had been ignited by the way Carson, a proud, out gay man, was dressed–in a tank top with cut off shorts and boots.  Prosecutors say that Morales shouted at Carson and his friend, “Hey, you faggots!  You look like gay wrestlers!”  According to his family, Carson was happy, well-adjusted, and loved the West Village where he met his death .  “He was a courageous person,” Carson’s brother, Michael Bumpars, said. “My brother was a beautiful person.”  

Makeshift shrine at the spot Mark Carson was shot to death in West Village.

Makeshift shrine at the spot Mark Carson was shot to death in West Village.

Naïve pundits have said that the increasing visibility and political success of LGBT people to gain mainstream acceptance have ushered in a new era of queer acceptance in American life.  Some have even declared the “victory” of the gay rights movement.  Such self-congratulations are premature.  Carson’s brazen murder by a totally unapologetic homophobe, coupled with the rash of LGBT youth suicides in schools across the nation, and reports of skyrocketing statistics of violence against transgender people of color, are giving the lie to the notion that the United States is safe for queer folk.  Some are now reversing their previous opinions, calling the violence evidence of a “backlash” against the recent success of Marriage Equality in New England, New York, the District of Columbia, and Minnesota.  Though New York State made same-sex marriage legal in 2011, NYC Police Commissioner Kelly revealed that though last year’s bias-crimes against LGBT people in the city numbered 13, the total now stands at 22 and counting.

June is Gay Pride Month in New York City.  Nerves are frayed.  Top city officials, politicians, and police top brass are scrambling to make this year’s celebration in Greenwich Village and around town safe.  New York City has earned the reputation of being the cradle of queer tolerance, and Mayor Bloomberg obviously wants to keep it that way.  Yet the violence in the streets of New York, now turned ominously fatal with Mark Carson’s grisly murder, may be a bellwether for things to come throughout the nation.  Morales, the alleged shooter, laughed and joked that he was proud to terrorize the LGBT community.  Foes of gay equality may be on the back foot because of the rapid acceptance of gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual people, particularly by younger Americans.  But homophobic, irrational hatred, the sort that maims and kills, has by no means gone away.  Nor does this recent spate of violence suggest a “backlash.”  When 38 states have written homophobia into their constitutions, or bolstered anti-gay statutes, this outbreak of harm can hardly be seen as anything but good, old fashioned American bigotry.  The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects (NCAVP) is closely monitoring events in New York and around the nation.  They advise non-confrontational efforts to diffuse potentially dire situations of violence.  Yet, the queer community has come too far to go back into the closet ever again.  To do so would dishonor the hopes, loves, and courage of openly gay men like Mark Carson.  Sharon Stapel, NCAVP’s executive director, said that these events must be understood in the context of a nation where basic equality is still denied to LGBT people. Her message to New York’s  gay community? “We want to give people tools that can de-escalate situations but also say, ‘You need to be yourself,'” Stapel said to ABC News. “We’re not telling people, ‘Take your rainbow sticker off.'”

May 21, 2013 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bullying in schools, Christine Quinn, gay bashing, gay men, gay teens, GLBTQ, gun violence, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, LGBTQ suicide, Marriage Equality, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), New York, New York City, Protests and Demonstrations, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Stonewall, Stonewall Inn, transgender persons, transphobia, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Savage Anti-Gay Murder in NYC Highlights Increasing Danger for LGBT People

Cleveland Transgender Woman’s Body Found With Multiple Stab Wounds; Now 3 Trans Murders in April

Transgender woman Cemia Acoff, 20, stabbed to death and submerged in a pond west of Cleveland.

Transgender woman Cemia Acoff, 20, stabbed to death and submerged in a pond west of Cleveland.

Cleveland, Ohio – The badly decomposed body of a local transgender woman was found sunken in a pond on Wednesday, April 17.  The victim, Ms. Cemia Acoff, 20 years of age, also known as Ci Ci Dove by her friends, had been reported missing since March 27.  The pond, located in Olmstead Township west of Cleveland, was built to recycle runoff water from a once thriving greenhouse operation in the area.  Ms. Acoff’s body, riddled with stab wounds and naked from the waist down, was tied to a concrete block in order to weigh the corpse down to the bottom of the pond.  The Advocate reports that a resident of a close by apartment complex discovered the body, and notified police.  The coroner had to identify Ms. Acoff by testing her DNA, because of the state of the her remains.

Adding insult to the grief of family and friends, local news outlets heaped disrespect upon Ms. Acoff’s memory, sensationalizing her transition and employing a deeply insensitive reportage template to her story, referring to her as “a man in a dress,” a stock response of transphobic ignorance in situations like these.  The Cleveland Plain Dealer and Fox 8 were called to task by  GLAAD, faith leaders, and local LGBTQ advocates. For example, Fox 8 published a whole paragraph in their report demeaning Ms. Acoff’s character for having a police record, and describing the clothes found on her corpse.  The outcry against such negative coverage of the murder of a transgender woman caused both the Plain Dealer and Fox 8 to modify their previous stories, but GLAAD representative Aaron McQuade issued a statement to the press calling on both local news outlets to meet with GLAAD and members of the transgender community to learn what more they need to do to redress the damage they have already done to the memory of Ms. Acoff.  In part, McQuade stated: “The truth is, when someone like Cemia appears to identify as female sometimes and male other times, it’s because it’s still socially unacceptable (and often dangerous) to be transgender. The fact that some people in Acoff’s life didn’t know she sometimes identified as female, and the fact that her legal identification might not have reflected her gender identity, doesn’t change the fact that she was a transgender woman.”  

CemiaTransGriot points that the murder of Ms. Acoff is the third anti-transgender hate crime homicide of an African American transwoman reported in the month of April alone.  Besides Ms. Acoff, 29-year-old Kelly Young was shot to death in Baltimore on April 3, and 30-year-old  Ashley Sinclair of Orlando, Florida who was also found shot to death the next day, Thursday, April 4.  The murder of transwomen of color has reached alarming proportions throughout the nation in recent months–all the more reason to get the sad news of the loss of Cemia and her transgender sisters of color widely, sensitively, and accurately distributed throughout the media.  For a further report on the slow rolling decimation of the transgender population in the United States, see the landmark study, “Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey,” which may be accessed in detail on the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force website.

As of this writing, Ms. Acoff’s killer or killers remain at large with no leads.

May 1, 2013 Posted by | African Americans, Character assassination, Florida, gender identity/expression, GLAAD, GLBTQ, gun violence, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, LGBTQ, Maryland, Media Issues, Ohio, Racism, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, stabbings, transgender persons, transphobia, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Cleveland Transgender Woman’s Body Found With Multiple Stab Wounds; Now 3 Trans Murders in April

Transgender Woman Shot to Death in Baltimore

Kelly Young, 29, shot to death in a possible transphobic hate crime.

Kelly Young, 29, shot to death in a possible transphobic hate crime.

East Baltimore, Maryland – A beloved member of the transgender community of Baltimore was found shot on the floor of her apartment this Wednesday morning.  Kelly Young, 29, died in transit to the hospital.

The murder remains unsolved.  Baltimore City Police are investigating, but say that it is too early yet to determine that this homicide was a hate crime, according to WJZ TV, CBS Baltimore.  Officials say that they will make the determination about the hate crime status of the case as evidence warrants.  “Internally, we’ll investigate any incident as a hate crime if there is any sort of physical evidence that indicates it’s a hate crime,”  said Sgt. Eric Kowalczyk, Baltimore City police. “She had a lot of friends and a lot of loved ones who really want to bring this case to closure.”  Matt Thorn, spokesperson from the GLBT Resource Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland (GLCCB), said that the police were following every lead, and that the murder of Ms. Young might very well prove to be a transphobic hate crime meant to send a message to the LGBT community.

Community outrage at the murder is running high, and some of her friends are concerned with their own safety.  Dondria Naieem, a friend of Ms. Young, said to CBS Baltimore, “I’m scared to walk by myself and hang with a lot of people so people don’t get me.  It’s really hard to cope with her death.”  Ms. Young was born near where she died, and was a well-known and well-loved entertainer who performed regularly at a local club.  She had the reputation of being an accomplished dancer.

On Thursday, her family and friends gathered to remember Ms. Young and give thanks for her life.  Her sister, Monique Mack, told WMAR TV, the local ABC affiliate“The neighborhood embraced her — boys and girls, straight or gay she was embraced.”  “It wasn’t always a smooth road but I will say it was more smooth than not.”  Her mother spoke of her gifts and qualities, as well: “Everybody accepted her. That’s why everybody is here because everybody accepted her.  She kept it real.” 

Everybody except the person or the persons who gunned down Kelly Young, that is.  Neighbors, family and friends are determined to get to the bottom of why a person so beloved could be killed so cruelly.  Tanya Eley, Ms. Young’s longtime friend, said, “God knows whatever happened to her, God has them; they’re going to regret whatever they did to her because she was loved.”

April 6, 2013 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, GLBTQ, gun violence, Hate Crimes, LGBTQ, Maryland, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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