Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Texas Lesbian Gay Bashed in San Antonio

Kristen Cooper, Bashed for Being Lesbian (KENS 5 photo)

San Antonio, Texas – An out lesbian student from the University of Texas at San Antonio says that she was assaulted by two men calling her obscene, anti-LGBTQ epithets over Halloween weekend. Kristen Cooper told KENS 5 that the only thing the two men who attacked her knew about her prior to the assault was that she was a lesbian. “I just think it was a hate crime against me,” she sad, still shaken by the incident.

Cooper says she was waiting for a ride from a local Halloween Party when two men stopped their van, grabbed her, beat her while yelling slurs about her sexual orientation, and drove her some distance before they pushed her out and drove away.  Cooper fought back against them, “full-fist,” probably putting up such resistance that her assailants decided it wasn’t worth the effort. She had no cell phone, so she walked a long distance before someone noticed her, stopped, and then called the police.

Cooper’s injuries were extensive: cuts, bruises, a contusion, a concussion, and whiplash. When asked how she was coping with the attack, Cooper said to KENS 5, “Just still in shock and I’m trying really hard not to cry, but nothing like this should happen to anybody.” The San Antonio Police are currently investigating the crime as an assault, with no word about whether they intend to classify the brutal beating as an anti-LGBTQ hate crime.

November 11, 2011 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, gay bashing, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, Texas, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Texas Lesbian Gay Bashed in San Antonio

Breaking: Alleged East Texas Gay Bashers Charged with Hate Crimes

Burke Burnett, gay bashing victim, shows bandaged burns and cuts (Advocate photo)

Paris, Texas – Three alleged gay bashers in the horrific Reno gay bashing case will face hate crimes enhancement charges, as reported by the Paris Times and the Dallas Voice. A Lamar County Grand Jury on Thursday indicted James Mitchell Lasater III, 31, of Paris, Micky Joe Smith, 25, of Brookston,and Daniel Shawn Martin, 33, of Paris with one count each of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and two counts each of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury. Additionally, Lasater and Smith were charged as repeat offenders. Because aggravated assault is classified as a second-degree felony offense, the alleged offenders were eligible under the Texas Hate Crimes statute for hate crimes enhancements, and that is exactly what the grand jury elected to do.  On October 30 in the early morning, 26-year-old Burke Burnett was savagely attacked by three suspects whom witnesses say were yelling anti-gay slurs as they beat Burnett senseless, stabbed and slashed his body with a broken beer bottle, and then heaved him bodily into a burning trash barrel. Burnett suffered stab wounds resulting in over 30 stitches, deep bruises and contusions, and second-degree burns over a good portion of his torso, legs, and arms.

The Dallas Voice broke the story with graphic photos of Burnett’s injuries embedded in the article, and the story took hold in national mainstream media.  Burnett has been interview around the nation, as horror and interest increased in the story. Burnett told the Dallas Voice he is pleased with the course of the investigation, the arrests, and now with the efforts of the Lamar County District Attorney.  WFAA Television reported Burnett came out when he was 15, and learned of the hate crime murder of Matthew Shepard, the University of Wyoming student slain in Laramie in 1998.  “Matthew Shepard is one of the reasons I came out of the closet,” Burnett told WFAA. “I’m so glad my fate did not end up like his.” He has no doubt about why he was targeted for violence, since the trio knew his was gay.  As he sat in a chair at a private Halloween party in Reno, a small town near Paris, Texas, the men attacked him from behind. Burnett said, “I ended up getting stabbed, burned and beaten pretty badly and I’m convinced they were trying to kill me.”

Since few hate crime attacks against Texans are actually charged under the state hate crimes law, the decision of law enforcement and the grand jury to go forward with hate crimes charges against Burnett’s alleged bashers is significant.  Since “sexual preference” was included as a protected category in the state statute in 2001, better than 2500 hate crimes have been committed, by fewer than twelve have actually been charged as such. Now that the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act became federal law in 2009, allowing the Department of Justice and the FBI to involve themselves in investigating and prosecuting anti-LGBT hate crimes around the nation, Texas officials seem to have felt pressure to act more transparently and boldly on hate crimes cases in the Lone Star State.

November 11, 2011 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, FBI, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Legislation, LGBTQ, Matthew Shepard, Matthew Shepard Act, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slashing attacks, Slurs and epithets, stabbings, Texas, U.S. Justice Department, Wyoming | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Illinois Teen Sentenced for Gay Bashing

Marquitte West, 18, sentenced in gay bashing attack (Kendall County photo)

Yorkville, Illinois- An 18-year-old man was sentenced by an Illinois court to two years in prison for his role in a violent attack upon a gay man.  Marquitte West was found guilty of hate crime related to sexual orientation for participating in a gang attack against 29-year-old gay man Bryce Stiff in June 2010.  Both men are from Oswego, Illinois, a city of 30,000 in the northern part of the state.  Two other Oswego men, Jabari Tuggles and Robert Franklin, are being held in prison awaiting their trials for the same offense. A third man is still being sought by the police.

Stiff suffered severe injuries in the attack, leaving him with nerve damage to his face, and a lip so harmed that he has required reconstructive surgery.  He has lingering psychological problems since the savage assault, as well.  In a letter to the court prior to West’s sentencing, Stiff wrote, “I used to be a happy, caring and loving person who would do anything to help anyone.  I was happy about me being gay … but now I’m filled with so much bitterness, hatred and I’m very depressed. I don’t like leaving my home. I don’t like doing things that excite me anymore. I feel like everyone is out to get me.”

According to Chicago Pride, West will serve out his sentence in conjunction with a theft charge.  He is required by the court to pay his victim’s medical costs.  The Kendall County District Attorney told Chicago Pride that this is the first hate crimes prosecution he can recall in county history.

November 10, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Gang violence, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Illinois, LGBTQ, Perpetrators of Hate Crime | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

2 Arrested in Savage Gay Bashing Case in East Texas: Breaking News

James "Tray" Lasater III, and Daniel Martin (l to r; Lamar County Sheriff's Department photo)

Reno, Texas – Two local men were arrested this morning for the barbaric beating and burning of a gay man at a party in Reno, Texas this past Sunday.  Dallas Voice broke the story this morning, reporting that Reno Police Chief Jeff W. Sugg announced the arrests of James “Tray” Laster III, 31, and Daniel Martin, 33, for their role in one of the most savage anti-gay attacks in recent East Texas history.  26 year old Burke Burnett was slashed on his forearm and his back with a broken beer bottle, he was punched and beaten, and then heaved into a burning metal barrel in the early morning hours of  October 30. Narrowly escaping with his life, thanks to the action of girlfriends on the scene, Burnett was given over 30 stitches to close the wounds, and his second-degree burns were treated.  But the psychological trauma of the attack will take much longer to heal.

Burnett and his friends say they have no doubt that homophobia fueled the assault.  The assailants shouted gross obscenities and anti-gay epithets as they pressed their attack against Burnett.  But whether the men will be prosecuted under the state’s hate crime statute is in doubt.  The main charges lodged against the suspects, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and aggravated assault inflicting serious bodily injury, area first degree felonies that could carry a sentence of five to 99 years, if the men are convicted.  But the Texas hate crime law, though it does include “sexual preference” as a category, will not offer a sentence enhancement if the crime is determined to be a first degree felony.  The Dallas Voice opined yesterday that it was unlikely that the hate crime charge would be pressed in this case, though that call remains with the Lamar County District Attorney Gary Young. LGBT activists and allies across the state have been critical of how rarely the Texas hate crime statute is invoked in cases of anti-LGBTQ violence as seemingly clear as this one.  As of the 2010 Texas Department of Public Safety statistical report on hate crimes in the Lone Star State, over 2500 bias crimes have been reported since the law was enacted in 2001, while only 11 had been prosecuted, as reported by KXAN.

November 2, 2011 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Burning and branding, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slashing attacks, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, stabbings, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on 2 Arrested in Savage Gay Bashing Case in East Texas: Breaking News

Gay Texan Savagely Attacked with Broken Beer Bottle, Then Thrown in Fire

Burke Burnett, hate crime victim (Dallas Voice image)

Reno, Texas – A gay man attending a private party in Reno, a town near Paris, Texas, was brutally attacked with a broken bottle and then thrown bodily into a flaming fire barrel on Sunday because he was gay.  The Dallas Voice broke the story, quoting 26-year-old victim Burke Burnett as saying on Monday, “They knew I was gay. I’m convinced they were trying to kill me.”  Burnett told John Wright of the Voice. Four men shouting epithets like “gay bitch,” “cock-sucking punk,” and “pussy-ass faggot,” lunged at Burnett, stabbing him with a broken beer bottle, beating him, and then heaving him into the fire.  Burnett was rushed by girlfriends to a hospital in Sulphur Springs, about 30 miles away.  He suffered contusions, bruises, and second degree burns.  The slashes with the broken bottle required over 30 stitches.

The Reno Police Department played down the attack to the press, saying little more than that the case was still under investigation.  Burnett told the Voice that officers on the scene told him that the crime was going to be classified as bias-driven, but that the assailants, whose identities are known, could take more than two weeks before their arrests.  Another local source said that Reno police were considering lowering the degree of the offenses to misdemeanors since they took place during a party. Meanwhile, Burnett is hoping that his injuries do not disable him or prove to be permanent.

Burnett credits his girlfriends with preventing his injuries from being much worse,  They slowed down his attackers long enough for him to escape to a parked vehicle.  Then, they took him to the hospital for treatment.  The New Civil Rights Movement echoes the Dallas Voice, reporting that none of the other 20 party-goers attempted to stop the attack.

November 1, 2011 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, immolation, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slashing attacks, Slurs and epithets, Texas, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gay Texan Savagely Attacked with Broken Beer Bottle, Then Thrown in Fire

Poison Pen Pal Scott Lively Writes Gay People: “I Love You, But You Deserve Hell”

Anti-LGBTQ Activist Scott Lively

Springfield, Massachusetts – In an example of the worst religion-based bigotry of this generation, a longtime promoter of violent rhetoric against the LGBTQ community published an open letter claiming to love gay people with a message of hate.  Scott Lively, founder of Abiding Truth Ministries in Springfield, Massachusetts, has targeted gays and lesbians for criminalization on three continents, and is on the Montgomery, Alabama Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of Hate Groups.  The SPLC in its “Hatewatch: Keeping an Eye on the Radical Right” bulletin reports that Lively posted an RSVP letter to “LGBTs” on his DefendtheFamily.com website on Monday. Lively says he “loves” gays, but they are all bound for hell, and need help.

As the SPLC notes, Lively has worked feverishly for three decades to defame and outlaw gays and lesbians in his speaking and publishing.  His only work of note is The Pink Swastika, a thoroughly discredited screed in which Lively contends that the Nazi movement was a homosexual plot.  By implication, Lively accuses LGBTQ people of instigating World War II and the execution of untold millions. While no reputable historian credits a thing he says, right wing Slavic Christian extremists have promoted the book throughout the old Soviet Bloc and beyond.  Lively has been influential in the Watchmen On the Walls ministries, which has calls gays and lesbians a disease that requires an “divine penicillin” and expressions of “muscular Christianity” to cure.  He is one of the prime advocates of reparative therapy in sub-Saharan Africa.  In Uganda, Lively testified before lawmakers as the infamous “Kill the Gays” bill was making its way through Parliament.  Now that the Ugandan government is reconsidering the stalled bill, which makes homosexual activity punishable by death, Lively’s pseudo-science and religious distortions will come into play again, urging state-sanctioned violence and oppression against LGBTQ people.

In this country, Lively excused the hate crime murder of gay immigrant Satendar Singh by Slavic Christian fundamentalists in Sacramento.  Singh’s murder heightened tensions between the LGBTQ community and Russian and Slavic fundamentalist churches, as reported at chapter length in the recent book by Dr. Stephen Sprinkle, Unfinished LivesIn effect, Lively has declared war on the LGBTQ community  time and time again. In a letter to the Washington Times on June 23, 2003, Lively wrote: “No clear-thinking person believes that the homosexual sexual ethic and that of the family-based society can peacefully coexist. …One must prevail at the expense of the other.”  At a Russian conference in Novosibirsk in August 2007, Lively’s violent metaphors came out in the open: “There is a war that is going on in the world. There is a war that is waging across the entire face of the globe. It’s been waging in the United States for decades, and it’s been waging in Europe for decades. It’s a war between Christians and homosexuals.”

In Lively’s RSVP letter to the LGBT community, though he changes his tone, there is no reason to believe he has moderated any of his virulent, anti-gay intentions for outlawing and criminalizing people based on their sexual orientation and gender variant identity.  He claims that God gave him a “Word” in March to speak directly to the gay community.  He writes to LGBTQ people: “I am appealing to you to begin to agree with God about homosexual sin, and to turn away from the seductive lie that God approves of homosexuality and wants you to embrace a homosexual identity . . . You must repent to be saved.”  Lively particularly singles out Open and Affirming Churches, which welcome LGBTQ people and celebrate their lives and loves, and reduces Christian faith to a condemnation of anyone who deviates from Lively’s norms.  Lively also condemns any attempt from the gay and lesbian community to do theology at odds with his own: “’Gay theology’ turns the logic of the Bible on its head, and tries to make the sinner “good enough” to earn heaven . . . This is a dangerous lie that leads straight to hell.”  The solution for LGBTQ people is to rush to Exodus International for anti-gay aversion brainwashing.

In an astonishing attempt to prey upon LGBTQ people who suffer from internalized homophobia, he finishes his letter with a simpering self-justification: “In publishing this letter I know that I will be subjecting myself to ridicule, abuse and hatred. You know very well how nasty some of your peers can be. Yet I am doing it anyway, because in Jesus I love you and I want you to be saved . . . Frankly, as I sit here at my computer, I wonder whether my entire career against your political and social agenda, and all of the notoriety I have achieve in your community might all have occurred so that I would be a person whose letter you would read today.”

Scott Lively is an example of the worst religious bigotry active in America today.  SPLC’s Ryan Lenz writes that Lively began his career in bigotry in 1992 seeking to classify homosexuality on a par with pedophilia and sadomasochism.  He has not changed, nor are his motives ever to be trusted.  Ask Satendar Singh’s family. 

October 27, 2011 Posted by | "Kill the Gays Bill", Alabama, Anglo Americans, Anti-Gay Hate Groups, Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, bi-phobia, Bisexual persons, California, gay men, gender identity/expression, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Homosexuality and the Bible, Internalized homophobia, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Massachusetts, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Russia, Russian Federation, Scott Lively, Social Justice Advocacy, Southern Poverty Law Center, transgender persons, transphobia, Uganda | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Pittsburgh Suburban Man Set On Fire for Being Gay

Steven Iorio, 37, victim of deadly attack with fire (WXPI photo).

Heidelberg, Pennsylvania – A gay man in a southwest suburb of Pittsburgh woke up screaming with his leg set afire by a couple of one-time “friends.”  Steven Iorio, 37, of Heidelberg, fell into a deep sleep in the early hours of  September 22 after a night of drinking, only to feel his left leg burning after two local men set it ablaze with a bottle of Bacardi 151 Rum, according to WXPI Channel 11 News. Iorio came back to an apartment complex on West Railroad Street and passed out on a couch to sleep off the effects of too much to drink at the Heidelway Bar and Restaurant. An eyewitness identified  Brandon Washington, 25, and David A. Blair Jr., 31, of writing anti-gay epithets on Iorio’s jeans, and drawing on his face while he was sleeping.  Then the pair soaked Iorio’s leg with the highly flammable rum, before Blair allegedly set the liquor on fire. Two other people from the apartments ran to see the source of the commotion after being roused by Iorio’s yells of pain.

Iorio’s friend, Tina Cook, told WXPI that she received a frantic early morning call, summoning her to the scene. After a look at the severity of the second and third degree burns on the back of Iorio’s leg, Cook insisted that he go to the hospital for treatment.  She is clear on the anti-gay motivation for the immolation. “They wrote disturbing [anti-gay] things on his pants and drew on his face,” Cook said. Heidelberg Police Chief Vernon Barkeley told Chartiers Valley Patch blog that his department has been investigating the attack for the better part of a month to determine the identity of all the people inside the apartment living room when Iorio’s leg was set alight. Chief Vernon said that the attack could have endangered everyone present in the 13-unit apartment complex that night, had the blaze spread to draperies and the building. He described the continuing suffering the victim faces since the potentially fatal crime: “[Iorio] is still seeing doctors for these injuries while racking up numerous medical bills,” Barkley said. “He will have permanent scarring and is in pain daily.”  Iorio will probably carry scars for the rest of his life as a reminder of the way his Allegheny County drinking buddies treat gays. As of this writing, he wounds have still not healed.

No news source to date says that the two alleged perpetrators of this deadly prank have been arrested for the crime.  Instead, the pair was charged with aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, conspiracy,  ethnic intimidation, and risking a catastrophe, and allowed to go home.  Nor has there been any comment about what the eyewitness was doing when the two men who proved to be anything but friends, were setting Iorio afire.

When Steven Iorio was asked by a WXPI reporter if he considered Blair and Washington “friends,” he answered with a resounding “No!”

October 22, 2011 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, immolation, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Pennsylvania, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gay Center Vandalized at NC State University

Technician photo of hate attack on NC State LGBT Center

Raleigh, North Carolina –  A perp with an anti-gay agenda vandalized the North Carolina State University GLBT Center on Monday.  Though the university was quick to obscure the slurs spray painted on the outer door and display case of the center, the campus newspaper, The Technician, got a good photograph of the message the hate tagger sent to LGBTQ staff and students at State.  The words “Fags Burn” and “Die,” along with a broad slash across a wall display were sprayed in purple paint across the whole front of the center, which is in Harrelson Hall on the main campus.  Campus Police Sergeant Jeff Sutton told The Technician that the hate act took place between 8:30 pm and 9:30 pm, when the vandalism was discovered. Adam Ward, a graduate advisor for the GLBT Center, and a graduate student at State in comparative biomedical science, wrote on a Facebook post, “No one was able to see who sprayed-painted this, but believe me, there will be a University response. We will continue working with University Police, and I thank all of our community members and allies for standing up for equality and what’s right.”  On her Facebook page, Center Director Justine Hollingshead posted this assurance to the LGBTQ community on the State campus: “We are working on some positive follow up and of course education. Just wanted to keep folks in the loop. Thanks for all of the messages of support.”  Hollingshead was employed to lead the GLBT Center in 2008, and has built it into a vital player in forming campus opinion about diversity and inclusiveness issues.

Sergeant Sutton said that since this was an act of vandalism against property, it would be considered a hate incident, rather than a hate crime against an individual.  Campus police are reviewing video surveillance tapes for the identity of the perpetrator.

On Tuesday evening, a public meeting was called by the GLBT Center leadership to generate ideas about a proper response to this act of hatred.

Dr. Stephen Sprinkle, Director of the Unfinished Lives Project, has been the guest of the NC State GLBT Center on two occasions, most recently in April of this year.  Dr. Sprinkle said, “This act of hate is not an isolated incident, in my opinion. North Carolina faces a divisive anti-same sex marriage ballot measure due to the work of extremist elements who took over the State Legislature in Raleigh for the first time since Reconstruction.” He continued,  “Radical, right wing homophobia is more likely to be unleashed against the LGBTQ community during times of high publicity on sexual orientation and gender expression issues.  Vigilance and swift action to identify and prosecute the vandal or vandals is necessary to send the counter message that gays and lesbians will are no longer viable targets for violence in the South.  The leadership of the NC GLBT Center should be commended for working so quickly to involve the campus community in education for justice and moderation in the wake of this disturbing incident.  Hate speech links up to hate violence, and words like “Fags Burn” carry the situation to a whole new level in Raleigh.”

The anti-LGBTQ vandalism occurred a month after the North Carolina General Assembly moved its same-sex marriage ban for state-wide vote to the May 2012 primary ballot.  If passed, the provision pushed by the Republican majority in the Legislature not only would ban same-gender marriage, but would also strip domestic partner benefits from North Carolinians. Adam Miller, interim director of Equality North Carolina, issued this statement in response to the NC State vandal attack: “The passage of this amendment clearly sanctions other discriminatory acts against LGBT people and, in the process, creates a climate of fear for LGBT people, their families, their children, and all who love them,” Miller said. “This hateful act will only serve to draw attention to our efforts and push us to work even harder to inform the public about the dangers of anti-LGBT legislation to our state, our communities, and our young people.”

October 19, 2011 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Bisexual persons, Equality North Carolina, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Legislation, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Marriage Equality, NC State GLBT Center, North Carolina, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia, Unsolved LGBT Crimes, vandalism | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Matthew Wayne Shepard: Honor and Educate in His Memory


Thank you to the Sacramento Gay and Lesbian Center. Never forget!

Laramie, Wyoming – Wednesday, October 12 will be the thirteenth anniversary of America’s archetypal gay hate crimes victim.  Matthew Shepard was brutally attacked and beaten into a coma by two locals who targeted him for abduction, robbery, and murder at the Fireside Lounge on the night of October 7, 1998.  They left him trussed to the base of a buck fence, exposed to the freezing cold after stealing his shoes.  When Matt was discovered the next day by a passing mountain biker, he was so brutally disfigured that his discoverer at first assumed what he was looking at was a broken down scarecrow that had been put out for Hallowe’en.  Matt’s injuries were too severe to be treated at the local hospital emergency room, so he was transported to Fort Collins in neighboring Colorado where a state of the art trauma center fought to save his life.  For five agonizing days, Matt lay close to death with an injured brain stem–a terrible wound from which he could never recover.  His family, mother Judy, father Dennis, and younger brother Logan stood vigil beside him while the life force ebbed.

For thirteen years, Matt’s memory has been honored, invoked, and ridiculed by a nation wrestling with heterosexism, homophobia, and transphobia–a culture of anti-LGBTQ violence that has claimed the lives of over 13,000 queer folk whom we know about (and God knows how many others whose murders have never been reported to anyone keeping records).  Nothing will ever bring any of them back to us.  They are gone, but to memory.

Those of us who labor for the better angels of our national character to emerge have a responsibility to remember Matt and all the rest, to honor them by never forgetting the cost of being sexually different in these United States, and to take up the mission of educating the LGBTQ community and the general public that difference of any kind is no warrant for ignorance,prejudice, and violence, but rather is an occasion for understanding and neighborly solidarity.  The anniversary of Matt’s untimely death is a good time to erase hatred from the American psyche.

In that spirit, I offer this short excerpt from “The Second Death of Matthew Shepard,” Chapter One of my recently published book, Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Victims:

“Matt Shepard died in a Fort Collins, Colorado hospital in the wee hours of October 12, 1998 with his parents by his side. Ironically, it was the day after America’s observance of National Coming Out Day. His team of doctors and nurses, professional as they were, could not undo what hate had done to Matt.  He never woke up from his coma. His heart gave out. The ventilator switched off, and Matt was gone. Our memory of him,however, cannot rest in peace. Not yet” (page 3).

Our memory of all the dead whose “unfinished lives” calls out to us to do the work of justice.  May Matt and the 13,000 rest in peace. God being our strength, we must not.  Grace and peace to all on this National Coming Out Day 2011.  ~ Stephen V. Sprinkle

October 11, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Asian Americans, Beatings and battery, bi-phobia, Bisexual persons, Bludgeoning, gay bashing, gay men, gay teens, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Matthew Shepard, Matthew Shepard Act, Matthew Shepard Foundation, Native Americans, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia, Unfinished Lives Book Signings, Wyoming | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Larry King’s Killer to be Retried in California; Hate Charges Dropped

Brandon McInerney to be retried for the murder of gay classmate, Larry King

Ventura County, California – Prosecutors announced on Wednesday they would retry teen Brandon McInerney for the execution-style murder of his gay classmate, Lawrence Fobes “Larry” King in adult court.  This time, however, all hate crimes charges are being dropped.  Maeve Fox, chief prosecutor in the case, said that the trial would begin on November 21 in Ventura County Superior Court. KABC in Los Angeles reports that defense attorneys for McInterney hope the case will be settled by plea bargain before the trial begins.

A mistrial was declared on September 2 when the nine-woman, three man jury in Chatsworth could not agree on a verdict.  Some jurors have contended that McInerney, who was 14 at the time of the shooting, should never have been tried as an adult.  They also have said they were not convinced by the prosecution that white supremacist, anti-gay prejudice led McInerney to kill his gender variant classmate, whom McInerney knew as “the little fag.”  The defense successfully used a version of the outworn “gay panic defense” to switch sympathies of the jury and the public in the case, putting Larry King’s dress and habits on trial at least as much as the criminal act of their client, the brutal in-class shooting.  Defense has consistently denied using the gay panic defense, and just has consistently employed it to insinuate that their client’s actions were mitigated by the intimidation he felt coming from a smaller, bullied gay teen.

In order to get a conviction, the prosecution has deleted all hate crimes charges, raising the ire of LGBTQ rights advocates around the nation.  Once again, a courtroom in Southern California will be the arena for the validity of the gay panic defense in the most notorious anti-gay hate crime since the murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998.

October 5, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, Bullying in schools, California, gay panic defense, gay teens, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, gun violence, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Matthew Shepard, Neo-Nazis and White Supremacy, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, School and church shootings, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

%d bloggers like this: