Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Breaking News: FBI Issues Hate Crimes Stats for 2013

FBI Hate stats, 2013Washington, DC – The Federal Bureau of Investigation has issued its 2013 hate crimes statistics today: Hate Crime Statistics, 2013, the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program’s first publication to present data collected under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act of 2009. A snapshot of the findings may be garnered from the press release that may be accessed here. Hate Crimes against persons because of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender non-conformity comprised over one fifth of the total. 20.2 percent were targeted because of anti-sexual orientation bias, 0.3 percent for anti-gender bias, and 0.5 percent for anti-gender identity bias. 1,461 persons were victimized because of bias against sexual orientation.

To be a gay man, or to be perceived as a gay man, remains the most dangerous sexual orientation identification in the United States. 60.9 percent were victims of crimes motivated by their offenders’ anti-gay (male) bias. 22.5 percent were victims of anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (mixed group) bias. 13.1 percent were victims of anti-lesbian bias. 1.8 percent were victims of anti-bisexual bias. 1.6 percent were victims of anti-heterosexual bias.

Anti-sexual orientation hate crimes add up to the second largest hate crime category reported by the FBI this year. First in number are anti-racial hate crimes, and third in number are hate crimes based on antipathy of one’s religion. A staggering 7,242 persons in the United States were victims of hate crimes last year. Five murders and 21 rapes (15 from agencies that collected data using the revised rape definition and 6 from agencies that used the legacy definition) were reported as hate crimes. While FBI data are collected from cooperating law enforcement agencies around the country, most experts agree that the numbers of hate crimes reported are a severe undercount.

Most hate crime incidents (31.5 percent) occurred in or near residences/homes. More than 18 percent (18.1) occurred on highways/roads/alleys/streets/sidewalks; 8.3 percent occurred at schools/colleges; 5.7 percent happened at parking/drop lots/garages; and 3.5 percent took place in churches/synagogues/temples/mosques. The location was considered other/unknown for 13.2 percent of hate crime incidents. The remainder of hate crime incidents took place at other specified or multiple locations.

The complete FBI report may be accessed here, complete with tables and commentary.

December 8, 2014 Posted by | 2013 Hate Crimes Statistics, Bisexual persons, FBI, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Matthew Shepard Act, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Anti-LGBTQ Violence Spikes Beyond 2,000 Incidents in 2013, Says Report

Makeshift shrine at the location of the murder of Mark Carson, 32, shot in the head for being gay, NYC, on May 20, 2013 (AFP photo).

Makeshift shrine at the location of the murder of Mark Carson, 32, shot in the head for being gay, NYC, on May 20, 2013 (AFP photo).

New York, New York – Violence against LGBTQ people soared beyond 2,000 reported incidents in 2013, according the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.  Statistics released in the NCAVP annual report on Thursday showed queer folk living at the intersection of homophobia and other forms of discrimination such as race, gender, and citizenship status are most at risk of being targeted for harm in the United States.

The Advocate reports that the level of violence remains consistent with 2012’s statistics, varying little in either direction–still registering one of the highest numbers of anti-LGBTQ violent crimes since the NCAVP has kept records.  For example, though the number of murders of LGBTQ people fell to 18 reported homicides in 2013 from the all-time high of 25 in 2012, those most likely to die because of their sexual orientation, gender expression, or gender identity were people of color and transgender women.  89 percent of the victims were people of color, and 72 percent were transgender women.  “What emerges clearly in the findings of this year’s report is that many of the people at risk for the most severe hate violence are at the intersection of multiple forms of oppression and discrimination including racism and citizenship status,” said Aaron Eckhardt of the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Region.  “Anti-LGBTQ hate violence can no longer be viewed in isolation from other forms of violence that our community members are experiencing based on their identities.”

Generally speaking, the NCAVP Report shows:

  • A substantial increase in the severity of the violence reported against LGBTQ people
  • Transgender people, especially transgender women, undocumented people, racial and ethnic minority people, and gay men face the most savage violence
  • Transgender women, people of color, and gay men face the greatest risk of hate crime murder
  • While danger from bias driven violence is still a public matter for many, occurring in the streets of our cities, other places once thought to be “safe” have begun to show alarming increases in attacks, such as private residences, workplaces, and shelters
  • Fewer victims of anti-LGBTQ violence are reporting crimes to the police, and those who do report increased hostility toward them by the very law enforcement organizations pledged to protect them

On this final alarming finding, Christopher Argyros of the Anti-Violence Project of the Los Angeles LGBT Center says, “For some of our most impacted communities, especially transgender people and transgender people of color, the hostility and violence faced at the hands of the police [when they do report crimes] is at an alarming level.”  

These statistics should be read in the context of a severe undercount of bias driven violent crimes against all those living at the intersection of anti-LGBTQ and other minority forms of discrimination.  Every agency and expert charged with reporting the number of hate crimes against the queer community in the United States, including the FBI, acknowledges that the statistics on report are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the actual experiences of violence against LGBTQ people.  For example, the current NCAVP annual report, Hate Violence Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and HIV-Affected Communities in the United States in 2013, recognized as the most comprehensive snapshot of anti-LGBTQ violence in existence, is based on data from no more than 14 anti-violence programs in 13 states across the country and Puerto Rico. States reporting were: Ohio, Illinois, Colorado, California, Michigan, Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, Kansas, Missouri, Texas, Minnesota, and Arizona. Reportage is voluntary, with many law enforcement organizations neglecting to report anything, either from bias, apathy, lack of funds to do so, or a combination of these passive aggressive motives.

May 30, 2014 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, FBI, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), New York, New York City, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Anti-LGBTQ Violence Spikes Beyond 2,000 Incidents in 2013, Says Report

Gay Bashing in North Texas Leads to Hate Crime Charge

Gay bashing victim Arron Keahey, 24, after teen assailant savagely beat him last Labor Day.

Gay bashing victim Arron Keahey, 24, after teen assailant savagely beat him last Labor Day.

Dallas, Texas – A Springtown man who lied about his encounter with a gay man via social media in September has been charged with a bias-motivated hate crime.  According to a press release by the Dallas Division of the FBI, Brice Johnson, 19, has been charged with “willfully causing bodily injury to a person because of the actual or perceived sexual orientation of that person in a federal criminal complaint.”  On September 2, 2013, 24-year-old gay man, Arron Keahey, connected to Johnson through the social app, MeetMe, being led to believe that Johnson was gay.  The FBI press release details how Johnson led on Keahey to lure him to his home: “During their communications, Johnson said that he was interested in engaging in sexual activity with A.K. He invited A.K. to his home, gave A.K. his cell phone number and address, and they exchanged text messages planning their sexual activity.”

As soon as Keahey arrived at Johnson’s home, the assailant beat Keahey savagely, bound his wrists with an electrical cord, and rolled him into the trunk of a car.  Johnson drove to a friends house with his injured victim bleeding in the trunk.  Upon learning that Johnson had bashed the gay man so severely, Johnson’s friends threatened to call the police themselves if Johnson did not rush Keahey to a hospital.  Johnson drove his victim to a hospital in Fort Worth where he was treated for ten full days for smashed facial bones, lost and broken teeth, and multiple skull fractures.  Johnson concocted a story that he had found Keahey wounded, and being such a Good Samaritan, took him to the Harris Methodist Hospital.  Officers investigating found evidence to the contrary on Johnson’s cell phone where he had recorded a gay slur to refer to Keahey’s contact number.  Johnson then changed his story to say that he was “pulling a prank” on Keahey by the use of the slur to refer to him because of his sexual orientation.  Keahey has sworn that he had never had any sort of sexual or physical contact with his attacker prior to the moment Johnson lashed out at him on the night of the crime.

At the time of the incident, North Texas news media and law officers were reluctant to say that the assault that nearly killed Keahey was a hate crime.  Only after an extensive investigation with the FBI who were called into the case because of the possible anti-gay violence did the Parker County Sheriff’s Department and the Springtown Police Department come to final agreement that Keahey had told the truth all along, and that he had indeed been the victim of a hate crime due to extreme animus against his sexual orientation.  Though it remains unsaid in the FBI press release, the U.S. Department of Justice was able to step into the case investigation because of the provisions of the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act signed into law by President Barack Obama in October of 2009.  Otherwise, like so many under-investigated attacks against LGBT people, this hate crime would have gone uncharged and unpunished.

Brice Johnson, 19, charged by FBI with bias-motivated hate crime.

Brice Johnson, 19, charged by FBI with bias-motivated hate crime.

According to a report by the Dallas Morning News, one of the major news outlets most reluctant to name anti-gay hate crimes as they demonstrated in this case, it was a Springtown Police Lieutenant, Officer Curtis Stone, who first suggested in his report that the Labor Day beating might be a “possible” hate crime.  WFAA-TV which covered the September attack and interviewed Keahey, spun the story to subtly suggest that the gay man’s use of the MeetMe app had led to the crime.  Such an intimation may be factually accurate, but does not take into account the use of social media daily by millions of heterosexual people to hook up with the reasonable assumption that they will be safe in doing so.  While there is always risk in meeting unknown people through web-based or phone-based media, no one at WFAA has issued a warning that straight men and women who fall victim to violence after using social media are somehow responsible for their own victimization–a suggestion that LGBT hate crimes victims are to blame for violence against them.  The WFAA story ends with Keahey agreeing that he had “learned a painful lesson.”

Johnson appeared in court for the first time on Thursday to be charged with a hate crime.  The statutory maximum penalty is a ten year sentence in a federal penitentiary, and a $250,000 fine.

It took five full months for the Department of Justice and the FBI to firm up the hate crime charge against Johnson that the Springtown Officer had first suggested.  No one in Springtown or Parker County, or North Texas for that matter, wants to have to admit that anti-gay hate crimes take place there.  But they do.

February 21, 2014 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Blame the victim, Dallas Morning News, FBI, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Matthew Shepard Act, Media Issues, MeetMe.com, Slurs and epithets, Social Media and Smartphone Apps, Texas, U.S. Justice Department, WFAA-TV | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gay Bashing in North Texas Leads to Hate Crime Charge

Florida Woman Brutally Raped for Being “Dyke” and “Lesbian”

Lesbian rapeOrlando, Florida – A rape victim says she was violated by three men under a downtown Orlando overpass on Sunday.  The woman who remains unidentified for her own protection, told police that her assailants attacked her as she paused to do a good deed after leaving a popular LGBT club.  As they pressed the attack, and raped her, the victim said the men yelled anti-lesbian slurs at her: “dyke” and “lesbian.”  One of the rapists reportedly snarled, “I’ll show you what a REAL man feels like!”

According to News 13, police are investigating the attack as a bias-motivated hate crime.  The woman, who had left Club Revolution, stopped under the overpass to give a homeless man some change and a cold soda, when the three rapists charged up in their vehicle, caught her, ripped off her clothes, and assaulted her as they heckled her for being a lesbian.  Huffington Post’s “Gay Voices”, in all the reports of the assault they gathered, says nothing to confirm or deny that the victim is indeed a lesbian.  It does not matter.  The woman’s sexual orientation was assumed to be lesbian by the homophobes who raped her.  The crime is heinous in whatever case, and the Orlando Police Department is correct to investigate it as a hate crime.

WESH/NBC News Orlando reminds us that seven people were reported by the FBI as attacked for their sexual orientation in Central Florida last year alone, and the number of unreported anti-LGBT hate crimes would undoubtedly be higher.  This summer has been particularly deadly.  Randy Stephens of the Center, a local LGBT advocacy organization, said to WESH, “There are still people out there that hate us. Even with all the victories wave had, we may have let our guard down.”

There have been no arrests in the case as of yet.

August 28, 2013 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, FBI, Florida, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Mistaken as LGBT, Orlando Police Department, rape, Sexual assault, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, The Center (Orlando), Unsolved LGBT Crimes, women | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Oregon’s “Pink Poodle” Gay Bashing Draws Federal Hate Crime Charges

Gay Bashing victim David Beltier (l), partner Jeremy Mark (r), and their poodle Beauty.

Gay Bashing victim David Beltier (l), partner Jeremy Mark (r), and their poodle Beauty.

Hillsboro, Oregon – A bizarre anti-gay crime case at a busy highway street crossing has attracted national attention as Federal prosecutors issued hate crimes charges against a man whose homophobic rage was sparked by the sight of a pink poodle.  The assailant, George Mason Jr., 22, was charged this week with a violation of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act for attacking a gay man with a heavy bolt cutter and screaming anti-gay slurs during a peaceful, midday stroll with his boyfriend and their pink-dyed poodle on March 1.  Multiple witnesses say Mason shouted slurs at the gay couple from his SUV, did a U turn, raced back to the intersection, and allegedly attacked David Beltier with his fists and the bolt cutter. Beltier sustained blows to the upper arm, and to the back of his head.  The assault could very nearly have cost Beltier his life.

Portland, Oregon court documents record the hate crime in legal language, but preserve the horror of the assault, coming from a complete stranger: “(Mason) willfully caused bodily injury and, through the use of a dangerous weapon, attempted to cause bodily injury to (Beltier), who is gay, because of (Beltier’s) actual and perceived sexual orientation.”  The Associated Press, in a story carried by the Columbus (IN) Republic, also reports that Mason faces Oregon state charges including second-degree intimidation, second-degree assault, unlawful use of a weapon, and reckless driving. The intimidation charge is a bias-motivation charge in the Oregon state code. Mason’s wife, Saraya Gardner, who was in Mason’s vehicle at the time of the attack, has also been charged in the case for obstructing justice.

George Mason Jr.  Alleged gay basher enraged by the sight of a pink poodle.

George Mason Jr. Alleged gay basher enraged by the sight of a pink poodle.

In an interview in Komonews.com, Beltier and his partner, Jeremy Mark, recounted that they were crossing the street with their pink-dyed poodle, Beauty, when the attack occurred.  Beauty, explained Beltier and Mark, had been harmlessly dyed pink with Kool-Aid for a bit of pre-Easter fun, and to match their two other pastel-dyed dogs. The sight of the pink poodle proved too much for Mason, who screamed profanities at the couple from his moving vehicle.  The intersection was filled with witnesses who blared their horns in protest of the attacker.  Beltier credits the witnesses with saving his life.  “If I didn’t hear all the other people honking, all the people seeing what was going on, he could have probably severely hurt me, maybe even killed me right there and then,” he said.  The New York Daily News reports Mark’s account of the slurs Mason hurled at his boyfriend. “[Mason] was saying, “Your poodle is a weird color and that’s just un-American” and “f— you, you f–s” and shouting,” Mark said.

Beltier then picked up the story for Komo News: “After that, [Mason] turns around, he goes back to his car, runs back to his car and brings out this long wrench-looking crowbar tool or something like that, and he comes back after me.”  Mason then struck Beltier on the upper arm and in the back of the head. Beltier’s boyfriend was frantic with fear for his lover’s life.  “I just couldn’t believe it,” said Mark. “I was shouting at the guy to stop. There’s no need for violence. There’s nothing to provoke him. … I was fearing for his life.”

As Mason raced away from the scene of the crime, witnesses tried to block his vehicle, and one witness took off after him, capturing Mason’s license plate number.  The information led to the arrest of Mason and his wife, Gardner.

Though officials advised the gay couple to eliminate the bright pink color from his pet’s fur, Beltier and Mark remain adamant.  They say that they did nothing wrong, and they are not going to let fear dictate their lives.  They just allowed Beauty’s fur to grow out naturally over time.


June 28, 2013 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Bludgeoning, FBI, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Matthew Shepard Act, Oregon, Pink poodle, Slurs and epithets, U.S. Justice Department | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Oregon’s “Pink Poodle” Gay Bashing Draws Federal Hate Crime Charges

Lesbian Shooting Survivor Helps Police ID Lover’s Killer

Mary Kristine Chapa, lesbian shooting survivor, assisted Texas Rangers artist to sketch a 2nd likeness of the killer who took Mollie Olgin’s life and left Chapa with severe brain injuries on June 22.

Portland, Texas – The survivor of a deadly attack on a lesbian couple in South Texas has recovered sufficiently to help a Texas Rangers forensic artist sketch an accurate likeness of her lover’s killer.  Mary Chapa, 18, shot in the head in the same vicious attack that left her 19-year-old lover, Mollie Olgin, dead beside her at a popular state park, has recovered her sight and her communication abilities enough to guide the artist through a refinement of an earlier sketch of their assailant. ABC World News reports that Chapa is eager to help with the arrest of Olgin’s killer. The horrifying shooting took place on June 22 in Violet Andrews State Park in the city of Portland, near Corpus Christi on the Texas Gulf Coast.

The second sketch is more detailed than the first, which was released to the public on July4.  Chapa herself asked to have the Rangers artist come to her bedside so that she could refine the original likeness she had helped construct.  The new representation shows a young Anglo make in his 20s with a scruffy set of whiskers.  Portland Police say they are searching for any information leading to the apprehension and arrest of the man who is reportedly five-feet-eight-inches tall, 14o pounds, with brown hair and beard. Police Chief Randy Wright told news media that Chapa has been making an “exceptional recovery” from the brain injury she sustained from the shooter.

Though police officials have repeatedly said this case of homicide and aggravated assault does not appear to be “random,” they are still unwilling to discuss any motive for the savagery that has shaken this Texas coastal community to its core since late June. The initial suspicions of the LGBTQ community and allies, that this was an anti-lesbian murder and assault, have only deepened.  National and state human rights agencies, such as the Human Rights Campaign, Truth Wins Out, and Equality Texas, have called upon investigators to pursue the hate crimes possibility with all the resources at their disposal. NBC U.S. News and MSNBC.com are reporting that the FBI are also assisting with the investigation. For the FBI to be involved in the investigation of a local homicide and aggravated assault suggests to some observers that law enforcement is taking an anti-gay hate crime dimension to the case with considerably more seriousness that has publicly been acknowledged by authorities.

July 15, 2012 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Equality Texas, FBI, gay teens, GLBTQ, gun violence, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Human Rights Campaign, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Social Justice Advocacy, Texas, Texas Rangers, Truth Wins Out | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Lesbian Shooting Survivor Helps Police ID Lover’s Killer

Lesbian Viciously Attacked at Memphis Bar

Jackie Lloyd, brutally attacked because of her sexual orientation in Memphis.

Memphis, Tennessee – A lesbian suffered a brutal beating Sunday, June 24 at a Memphis bar and restaurant while casually speaking with a former high school classmate, WMC-TV 5 reports. Jackie Lloyd told reporters that the attack which broke her nose in two places and left her face severely swollen came out of the blue.  “I think it has everything to do with my sexuality,” Lloyd said.

Brandon Hooper, 28, boyfriend of Lloyd’s classmate, charged across the patio of Celtic Crossing, shouting gay slurs.  According to Lloyd, Huffington Post reports the moment of the unprovoked violence: “This guy says you f**king dyke and slams me right in the nose and I fell back about three feet… he called me a f**king lesbian, [he said] ‘problem solved, you f**cking lesbian.'” Police apprehended Hooper and charged him with aggravated assault for the attack.  When questioned by the press about possible hate crimes charges in the case, the Memphis District Attorney said that such charges would have to come from the FBI. Lloyd says her contacts in the Memphis Police Department indicate that an FBI investigation into her case may be pending.

Lloyd says she had never met Hooper before the assault.  She believes that his homophobia triggered the brutality simply because she was speaking to Hooper’s girlfriend. Lloyd wants her chance to confront her attacker, and give him a piece of her mind.  “You know, I’d like to say to him I want to live a normal life just like everybody else,” Lloyd said to WMC-TV. “And what you did is terrible,” she added.

For Lloyd and the besieged Tennessee LGBTQ community, intolerance is an everyday fact of life. Right wing politicians in the legislature of the Volunteer State have tried to ban the use of the words “gay” and “lesbian” in Tennessee public schools (Don’t Say “Gay” Bill), worked to make bathrooms off limits to transgender persons (Bathroom Bill), and have attempted to protect bias driven speech against LGBTQ school students when the perpetrators claim a religious motivation (License to Bully Bill).

The attack against Lloyd marks the second grave anti-lesbian incident in recent weeks. Two teenage lesbian lovers were shot near Corpus Christi, Texas on June 10, leaving one girl dead and the other seriously wounded.


July 1, 2012 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, FBI, gay bashing, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Slurs and epithets, Tennessee | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Atlanta Gay Bashing Victim Indicts Homophobic “Monsters” for Brutal Attack

Homophobes attack gay 20-year-old Atlantan, Brandon White, Saturday, February 4 (Surveillance video capture).

Atlanta, Georgia – Brandon White was going to stay silent about the brutal attack of three, epithet-screaming attackers who assaulted him in broad daylight–until his assailants posted a video online bragging about what they did to him.  Three members of a gang named “1029 Jack City” took their homophobic rage out on Brandon White, 20, outside a southwest Atlanta convenience store on February 4.  Yelling “No Faggots in Jack City!” the trio threw a tire carcass at White, knocked him to the sidewalk, and repeatedly slapped and kicked him–all in the the presence of several bystanders who can be heard laughing and encouraging the assault in the video’s soundtrack.  The attack was a set-up so that the assault could be captured on video to allow the homophobes to revel in their barbarity.  But though tens of thousands have viewed the short clip on YouTube (which may be accessed here), the incident sparked outrage around the world at the unprovoked hatefulness of the assault.

White felt compelled to overcome his embarrassment and humiliation when so many began speaking out against the crime done him.  At a press conference called this Wednesday by leaders of the Pittsburgh area of Atlanta where the attack took place, White called for justice for himself and for all victims of anti-gay hate crimes.  The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that White called his attackers “monsters,” and said, “”If a straight person walks into a store and I have a problem, I should be able to do the same thing. I shouldn’t have to worry about if I should have to look over my shoulder, or if this person is going to attack me, or if that person is going to attack me, for just being a gay male.”  Encouraged by newfound support, White went on to urge victims of hate crimes to come forward the report them.  “Don’t wait until it’s too late to report it. Don’t hide it.”  White acknowledged that the beating made him fear for his life, and still does.  “The scars run deeper than anyone will know,” he said. “The physical pain, I can get over that. My thing is: Who’s to say they won’t come after me again? Who’s to say they won’t kill me?”

Three men were identified as the assailants, and one of them, Christopher Cain, was arrested on February 11 in DeKalb County and charged with aggravated assault and robbery. Cain is being held in the Fulton County Jail pending his arraignment. A $15,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the other two attackers.  The FBI is co-operating in the investigation under the provisions of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, since Georgia does not have a state statute making anti-gay hate crimes punishable.  Activists and lawmakers see this widely-known outrage as an opportunity to introduce hate crimes protections in the state.

February 13, 2012 Posted by | African Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, FBI, Gang violence, gay bashing, gay men, Georgia, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Matthew Shepard Act, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

Lives of Colorado Lesbian Couple Threatened in Hate Crime

Lesbian couple threatened with death

Parker, Colorado – A lesbian couple were tagged by a death threat on two consecutive days last week in Parker, a town southeast of Denver.  On Friday, Aimee Whitchurch and Christel Conklin found a target symbol spray painted on their condo door and the phrase, “KILL THE GAYS,” tagged on their garage door in bright red paint for all the neighbors to see. The next morning, they opened their front door to find a noose laid on their door mat.  Whitchurch said that when they discovered the noose, they knew their lives really were at risk.

Not the types to let such serious matters go, the couple responded by complaining to the Home Owners Association of their condo complex, whose president haphazardly splashed white paint over the red spray paint Saturday.  His less-than-professional job barely covered the graffiti, and exacerbated the problem.  Whitchurch and Conklin responded by taping a sign to the garage door that read, “Solve the problem; don’t paint over it.”  The couple told Channel 9 News that they were sure their sexual orientation was the reason for the hateful graffiti attack and the noose. Whitchurch said the neighbors figured out they were not “roommates,” and took homophobic action against them.  As Conklin said in the same interview, “Being lesbians is okay, until you start living together,” in Douglas County. “This is where we live. We should feel safe. I am afraid to walk outside my place now,” Whitchurch said.  The couple have lived in the condo for nearly six months.

A feud had been brewing between the neighbors and the lesbian couple, according to the women.  The Advocate reported that the HOA had complained that they were not picking up the feces after walking their dogs. Conklin answered the charges in detail to Channel 9: “It ridiculous. We have a Mastiff and a Great-Dane, two of the largest breed dogs, if we didn’t pick up after them this entire place would be covered. It’s completely invalid. That’s just common sense,” she said. The couple also own an English Bulldog puppy.  Since the initial attack, the lesbians’ car has been keyed, and dog feces has been scattered on their property.  Channel 9 reporters have repeatedly tried to contact the HOA officers for a statement, but no one has returned the calls.

Douglas County Sheriff’s Office investigators have been on the case, but have surfaced no persons of interest.  Detective Ron Hanovan said to Channel 9: “Right now, we don’t have any leads and no one is in custody.” Two offenses are involved in this attack, Hanovan went on to say, criminal mischief over $1,000, and anti-LGBT crime.  Conklin and Whitchurch say they are taking this case to the FBI.

The HOA finally sent a reputable painter to cover the slipshod work the HOA president did on the couple’s garage door.  In the meanwhile, Whitchurch and Conklin are not going anywhere.  They still walk their adult dogs, and their little bulldog, Ellie May.  On electric green and pink poster board, they have put up new signs the neighbors cannot miss.  One of them declares, “We are not the gay couple!  We are Aimee and Christal!”

November 1, 2011 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Blame the victim, Colorado, FBI, GLBTQ, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Slurs and epithets, Unsolved LGBT Crimes, women | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Lives of Colorado Lesbian Couple Threatened in Hate Crime

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