Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Alarming Rise in Transgender Murders, NCAVP Reports

Mia Henderson, 26, slain transgender woman in Baltimore this week.

Mia Henderson, 26, slain transgender woman in Baltimore.

Baltimore, Maryland – The discovery of the body of Mia Henderson, slain transgender woman of color, in Northwest Baltimore signals an alarming increase in the numbers of violent attacks on gender variant and transgender persons.  The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) and TransGriot, a blog dedicated to raising issues pertinent to the African American transgender community, note that Ms. Henderson’s murder this week is the fifth report of a trans person murdered since June nationally, and the second for Baltimore during the same time span.

Henderson, 26, the sibling of NBA star Reggie Bullock of the Los Angeles Clippers, was found dead in an alley Wednesday morning.  Gay Star News reports that her body had suffered “severe trauma,” according to Baltimore Police Department sources, resembling the savagery that took the life of Kandy Hall, 40, in early June, also in Baltimore.  No suspects have yet been identified in either of the homicide investigations.

The most recent annual NCAVP report on anti-LGBTQ violence in the United States signals a troubling spike in the number of violent attacks on transgender persons, especially male to female transgender women (M to F), and persons of color. The 2013 report details that “almost three quarters (72%) of  [LGBTQ] homicide victims were transgender women, and more than two-thirds (67%) of homicide victims were transgender women of color, yet transgender survivors and victims only represent 13% of total reports to NCAVP.”  The report goes on to say that transgender victims are more at risk of  injuries, and ethnic/racial minority transgender persons were more likely to be harmed in shelters than the population at large.  From the report: “Transgender men were 1.5 times more likely to experience injuries as a result of hate violence and 4.3 times more likely to be the target of hate violence in shelters when compared with other survivors. Transgender people of color were 1.8 times more likely to experience hate violence in shelters.” 

July 18, 2014 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, LGBTQ, Los Angeles Clippers, Maryland, National Basketball Association (NBA), National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), transgender persons, TransGriot, transphobia, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Transgender Sibling of NBA Player Murdered in Baltimore; Second Trans Murder in Two Months

Transgender murder victim Mia Henderson, 26, was the sister of Los Angeles Clippers player Reggie Bullock, pictured here.

Transgender murder victim Mia Henderson, 26, was the sister of Los Angeles Clippers player Reggie Bullock, pictured here.

Baltimore, Maryland – The “severely traumatized” body of a transgender woman was discovered in Northwest Baltimore early Wednesday, and a National Basketball Player is grieving the death of his sister.  WJZ CBS TV is reporting that Mia Henderson, 26, died brutally in a manner reminiscent of another transgender homicide that took place in Baltimore just last month.  Her stricken brother, Reggie Bullock of the Los Angeles Clippers, tweeted his grief Wednesday, saying that his sibling “taught me how to live [my] own life. Love you so much.”  Bullock continued, “[She] never cared what others thought. Always tried to keep people smiling and would do anything for me.”

Baltimore Police who have an aborning epidemic of transgender murders in their city (three now since April 2013) were quick to address the public, and particularly the transgender community whose nerves are on edge at the news another of their number has been savagely killed.  Major Dennis Smith speaking for the Baltimore Police Department said that officers discovered Ms. Henderson’s body while serving an arrest warrant. “We do know that there was trauma to the body to indicate that there was a homicide,” he said.  Police Commissioner Anthony Batts pledged to find the killer, saying, “I will not slow down. I will not allow us to not stay on top of these. We will push extremely hard.”

While investigators do not know if the June 3 slaying of transwoman Kandy Hall is related to Ms. Henderson’s murder, members of the Baltimore transgender community have no doubt that it is–and they are alarmed.  Speaking to WJZ, Jaqueline Robarge said, “They are connected in that the vulnerability of the women are being preyed on.”  Lasaia Wade agreed, “It’s another trans woman, another sister of mine that’s died. And I’m afraid to even walk out the door.”  Mark McLaurin, another member of the Baltimore LGBT community, explained, “We are a small tight-knit collaborative community. so, it’s a very frightening time.”  The body of Ms. Hall was found stabbed to death in a Northeast Baltimore field just weeks ago.

The Baltimore Sun reports that Police Commissioner Batts answered questions from “a roomful” of concerned LGBT leaders Wednesday.  “We want to be strong partners with our LGBT community,” he sad. “Not by talk but by action.”  He pledged that detectives were working hard on both murder investigations.  But some members of the transgender community are not co-operating with police for fear of being targeted as prostitutes.  Equality Baltimore advocacy and programs director Keith Thirion weighed in, “It’s clear the community is concerned about the continued violence against transgender women, and we need to see action.”

A neighbor of Ms. Henderson who refused to give her name to The Sun out of fear of retribution said she believes she saw the killer walk down the alley where the victim’s savaged body was later found.  Around 5 a.m., the woman said, she saw a light skinned African American man lurking around the neighborhood.  He approached the woman and her friend and offered them $10 for “a date.”  She described the man as young, wearing a white T-shirt, a white baseball cap, and a pair of jeans.

July 16, 2014 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Equality Baltimore, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, LGBTQ, Los Angeles Clippers, Maryland, Social Justice Advocacy, stabbings, transgender persons, transphobia, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Transgender Sibling of NBA Player Murdered in Baltimore; Second Trans Murder in Two Months

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

Gay Hairstylist Brutally Attacked In Baltimore: Christmas Hate Crime Suspected

Christmas gay bashing victim Kenni Shaw, 30, before and after attack. (Instagram image posted by the victim.)

Christmas gay bashing victim Kenni Shaw, 30, before and after attack. (Instagram image posted by the victim.)

Baltimore, Maryland – A popular gay hairstylist was savagely beaten by a gang of men outside an East Baltimore liquor store on Christmas night.  The motive?  Kenni Shaw, the victim of the attack, has no doubt that the random attack was because of his perceived sexual orientation. Police are still investigating the alleged anti-gay hate crime in the “Charm City.”

According to the Baltimore Sun, Shaw, 30 years old, was simply walking past the East Baltimore beverage shop near his home at approximately 9 p.m. on Christmas when the assault started.  Shaw said he tried to beg his attackers to stop, but the blows kept coming so hard and fast he couldn’t get the words out of his mouth. The punches pinned him to the pavement. ”I was just beaten in my face. Nothing was taken. No words were exchanged before the incident, so to me, I think it was a hate crime,” Shaw told The Sun.  People in his neighborhood had previously called him “faggot,” but Shaw, a six-foot-tall cosmetologist and hairstylist, never believed homophobic attitudes would issue in such violence.

His mother, Sheila Shaw, told The Sun that Kenni had immediately called her.  “I can’t even describe that moment for me. I thought my world was ending,” she said. “No parent wants to get that phone call. The tone of his voice … I thought, ‘He’s strong enough to make the phone call, but I’m probably going to lose my son.’”  When she rushed to the hospital and finally got to see her son, Ms. Shaw said she could hardly recognize who he was.

While he was on the phone, paramedics came to transport him to Johns Hopkins, the famed Baltimore hospital, where he was treated for his wounds.  Despite the bruises, cuts, and lacerations on his face and knees, there were no fractures. Shaw suspects that bystanders called for help, an indication that not all residents of the neighborhood agree with anti-gay violence.

Shaw said to WBFF Fox News 45 that he was simply glad to be alive. During his recovery at his mother’s home in Baltimore County, Shaw posted an Instagram photo of himself, before and after the assault, showing the horrific effects of the attack. According to Pink News, hundreds of responses supporting the hairstylist poured in from around the country and the world. As he healed from the physical injuries of hate, Shaw decided to speak out against the homophobia that victimizes so many in Baltimore. “It makes me angry and upset, but at the same time, I am here and I made it through,” he told The Sun. “I just want to stand and make sure I have a voice, so this doesn’t happen again to a loved one or anyone.”  His relatives are standing strong with Shaw, as well, supporting his outspoken efforts to stop anti-gay hate crimes in their community.

“This needs to be spoken to because somebody needs to take a stand,” he said. “Hate crimes happen every day.”

Shaw firmly believes that anti-gay bias motivated his attackers, spoiling the Christmas spirit for him, his family, and the City of Baltimore.  Police have been receptive to Shaw’s allegations, and say that, even though they are not ready to assign a motive to the assault at this time, they have already received several “good leads” in the case.  When arrests are made, Baltimore Police say that they will communicated with the Attorney General of the state to determine the nature of the charges they will file.

Meanwhile, Shaw says he will not stop speaking out.  In an interview with The Sun, he told reporters, “I’m glad I could share my story and people could empathize with the story, because I’m getting a lot of feedback from people who have been through it or who have had family members who have been through it,” Shaw said. “I’m glad I could be a spokesman, because a lot of people don’t make it through situations like this.”

December 28, 2012 Posted by | African Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Maryland, Slurs and epithets, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Notorious MacDonald’s Trans Beating Draws Hate Charges Against Teens

Chrissy Lee Polis, victim of transphobic attack

Baltimore, Maryland – Transwoman Chrissy Polis, victim of a brutal beating in a Baltimore MacDonald’s restaurant that was caught on video tape, won some small measure of justice Monday.  Officials are charging two teenagers with a hate crime because of the roles they played in attacking her in an incident that roused the conscience of the state of Maryland and far beyond, after the video of the assault went viral on the internet.  According to EDGE, Teonna Monae Brown, 18, was indicted for the assault and a hate crime in the attack on Polis on April 18.  Brown is also charged with assault upon a MacDonald’s employee who tried to stop the beating, and for assaulting a customer in the restaurant, as well.  A 14-year-old defendant has also been charged in the assault against Polis.  The Associated Press customarily does not publish the identities of minors in criminal proceedings. Both teens are being held in custody.  Prosecutors in the case say no one else is being investigated in the crime, and there will be no further charges. Brown maintains her innocence, and has retained counsel to defend her. Polis, 22, contended since the day of the attack that it was a hate crime.  She told journalists from the Baltimore Sun that her chief assailant accused her of “hitting on her man” as Polis attempted to use the women’s restroom in the restaurant. Brown and the second suspect, Polis alleged, spat in her face, screamed epithets, and then dragged her around the floor of the restaurant by the hair. Brown also tore out her earrings, according to the victim.  The sensational video aroused tens of thousands around the nation because of the explicit brutality of the attack.  Viewers saw Polis repeatedly beaten.  She also suffered an apparent seizure as a consequence of the assault. Since the incident, hundreds of people have attended rallies and vigils for justice in the Polis case.  Transgender and gay activist groups, such as Trans-United, TransMaryland, the Baltimore County for Equality, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore; and other allies have rallied to support the victim and to advocate for the passage of legislation protecting transgender women and men in Maryland. Well-known transgender activist Dana Beyer told EDGE’’As Dr. Martin Luther King said if there is injustice to one person, there’s injustice to all of us. But this shows that we are a very large community. Family and friends are willing to stand up with us to protest violence, hate and injustice. I hope that Chrissy is going to know that she’s got even more friends than she knows she has.’’  For now, Polis is making no more statements to the press. She stays in seclusion, and fears to go out in public as a result of the trauma she endured in the attack. Perhaps now some vindication will come to her and to the transgender community, thanks to official acknowledgement of the transphobic nature of the attack against her.

May 17, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, gender identity/expression, harassment, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Legislation, LGBTQ, MacDonald's, Maryland, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Protests and Demonstrations, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia, Vigils | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Notorious MacDonald’s Trans Beating Draws Hate Charges Against Teens

Two Transgender Murders Bespeak Crisis of Violence

Marcal Camero Tye, 25, hate crime victim

Forrest City, Arkansas and Baltimore, Maryland – The brutal murders of two transgender women of color within the last month indicate the epidemic nature of transphobic and racist violence against the most vulnerable members of the LGBTQ community.  No suspects have been identified yet in the murder of Tyra Trent, 25, who was found asphyxiated in a vacant building owned by the city in Baltimore on February 19.  Ms. Trent had been reported missing days before the discovery of her body.  Marcal Camero Tye, also 25, was murdered by dragging behind a vehicle for several hundred feet in Forrest City, Arkansas on March 8. The FBI has begun an investigation into the grisly murder of Ms. Tye, since Arkansas has not statute on the books protecting transgender people. No witnesses have come forward, and no suspects are being investigated in the Tye case as of yet.  Transgender activists have filled the cyberworld with posts and articles about the two women, since regional and national media routinely ignore such stories, and the African American and LGBTQ press seem not to be much better when it comes to reporting these terrible acts of violence.  Media chronically use male pronouns when referring to these women who gave so much in order to live life as they were born to be. Statements like “a man in a dress” sensationalize and demean the victims over and over again, even following their murders–thereby re-victimizing the victims. By definition, these murders are hate crimes perpetrated against a class of human beings who have remarkable hurdles to surmount in society.  It is amazing to us at Unfinished Lives that Ms. Tye could live as a transgender woman in small town Arkansas.  Ms. Trent faced similar problems in big town life.  Local law enforcement authorities are reluctant to launch hate-crime investigations because of internalized bias against transgender persons.  In the case of Ms. Tye, Arkansas LGBTQ activists were infuriated when Francis County Sheriff Bobby May asserted that her murder was a usual homicide and that the dragging death reports of he demise were “misleading.”  The Little Rock-based Center for Artistic Revolution has issued statements of alarm and support for Ms. Tye since the initial reports of her slaying. As EDGE Boston reports: “The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs’ most recent report on anti-LGBT hate violence also indicated disproportionately high levels of anti-trans violence. Trans women-many of whom were of color-comprised half of the 22 reported anti-LGBT murders in 2009.” The situation has reached epidemic proportions across the nation.  These two savage killings underscore the need for LGBTQ and racial/ethnic minority advocates to amplify the cries of the transgender community.  The killings must stop.

March 20, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Arkansas, Asphixiation, Blame the victim, Character assassination, Dragging murders, FBI, gender identity/expression, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Law and Order, Legislation, Maryland, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Racism, Social Justice Advocacy, Strangulation, transgender persons, transphobia, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Two Transgender Murders Bespeak Crisis of Violence

Phelps Funeral Protesters Assaulted with Pepper Spray: A Special Comment

Omaha, NE – Protesters picketing a military funeral in Omaha were assaulted by a man squirting pepper spray out his pickup truck window as he drove by them on August 28.  The assailant, George Vogel, 62, was arrested and charged with 16 counts of misdemeanor assault, and one felony count because the pepper spray hit a police officer.  A reporter was also affected by the spray. The motorist was also charged with child neglect since his own child was in the truck at the time of the assault, according to CNN.  Police confirmed that Vogel allegedly extended his arm from the cab of the Ford 150 pickup truck, and discharged a “large can” of pepper spray at the Westboro Baptist Church protesters.  The funeral was being held at First United Methodist Church for the late Marine Staff Sergeant Michael Bock, 26, who died in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province on August 13.  The WBC protest at Bock’s funeral is part of Phelps’s strategy to publicize his campaign against gays and lesbians by targeting fallen U.S. servicemembers, since the United States has become a “fag-enabling” nation that is under God’s wrathful judgment.  Members of the church at the Omaha protest carried signs reading “Thank God for Dead Soldiers,” “God Blew Up the Troops” and “AIDS Cures Fags.”  The pepper spray assault occurred while nearly 600 members of the Patriot Guard Riders ringed the church to prevent the protest and counter-protest from disturbing the funeral services.  No members of the Riders were affected by the spray.  A major case involving a challenge to free speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment has grown from a 2006 protest carried out against the funeral of a soldier from Maryland, in which the father of the deceased soldier sued Phelps and the church for 5 million dollars for harassing the family during the funeral.  Albert Snyder, father of the fallen soldier from Maryland, accuses Phelps and his church of emotional distress and anguish.  A lower court imposed a fine of up to 8 million dollars against Westboro Baptist, which was later reduced to a 5 million dollar award to Mr. Snyder.  A court of appeals overturned the verdict, citing the protections afforded by the First Amendment.  The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case in October of this year.  Supporters of the Snyders have lined up against defenders of freedom of speech as the case goes to the high court.  Phelps continues his schedule of protests with impunity.  While the content of Phelps’s protests is so disturbing that high emotions can be readily understood, the larger issue of freedom of speech and expression takes center stage for the Unfinished Lives Project.  We are under no illusions about the nature of Phelps’s work.  He is the most notorious homophobe of this age, and if a link could be successfully established between his hate speech and violence against LGBTQ people, as we believe does exist, he and his church members deserve the punishment of the law.  But freedom of speech is a defining right guaranteed all Americans under the provisions of the Constitution.  LGBTQ people are vouchsafed the right of protest and speech under the same provisions of the law, and to surrender to emotion, no matter how justified it seems in the short term would be to gag and throttle the struggle for human rights in this nation.  So, regretfully, the Unfinished Lives Project must support freedom of speech, even for one of the most noxious of our enemies.  We must believe that the rightness of full equality will win out in the end, no matter how spiteful the opposition becomes.  And, in the spirit of appreciation for the Snyders and all other families and friends of fallen U.S. servicemembers, we offer out sympathy and condolences.

August 30, 2010 Posted by | Condolences, Fred Phelps, funerals, harassment, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Legislation, Maryland, military, Nebraska, Protests and Demonstrations, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Special Comments, U.S. Marines, U.S. Supreme Court | , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Phelps Funeral Protesters Assaulted with Pepper Spray: A Special Comment

Gay Man Loses 14-Month Battle for Life After Possible Hate Attack

Baltimore, Maryland – Glen H. Footman, 52, died November 9 in the University of Maryland Shock and Trauma Center after what the Bangor Daily News called “a 14-month emotional and courageous battle for life” from gunshot wounds in a possible anti-LGBT hate attack in the Mouth Vernon section of Baltimore.  Footman was shot twice on September 22, 2008 after being seen walking hand-in-hand with his soul-mate and life partner of 12 years, Alejandro Chavarria.  According to Baltimore police, the two gay men were walking shortly after midnight when a young man on a bicycle came up behind them.  Footman turned to speak to the young man while Chavarria walked on ahead.  Chavarria shouted back to his partner, “Come on, let’s go,” when two shots rang out, and Footman fell, wounded to the pavement.  As Chavarria ran to help Footman, the assailant ran from the scene, but then raced back to collect his bike, and then made his getaway.  Police have been treating the case as a possible anti-gay hate crime from the beginning of their investigation.  The Baltimore Sun reports that the victim’s father, H. Rodney Footman of Brewer, Maine spoke to reporters by phone to say that Baltimore police have not been encouraging about ever locating the shooter.  The elder Footman has no doubt that his son was killed because he was gay.  Shortly before the attack, Footman’s father said, a witness overhead the assailant brag, “‘I’m going to kill myself a gay tonight.’ He took off with that intention and he did just that. Police were very up front with us in saying that the chance of this ever being solved is practically nil.”  Glen Footman’s death not only bereaves his relatives and his partner.  Footman was a force for good in the community who will be sorely missed by many.  He was a licensed alcohol and drug abuse counselor in Maine, Rhode Island, and Texas, and held degrees in business administration and pastoral theology.  He counseled youth in Maine and Texas.  He and Alex had moved to Maryland shortly before the shooting, where he was to take up a new job at an insurance company.  He leaves behind two children from a previous marriage, Nicole Leah and Blaine Jonathan. His beloved Alex, who the Bangor Daily News calls Footman’s “sustaining grace during his last challenging year of physical and emotional struggle,” has returned to San Antonio, where he and Glen first met.  Police have not yet ruled Footman’s death a homicide, pending the coroner’s report on whether the injuries sustained in the 2008 shooting were the actual cause of death.

November 28, 2009 Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, gay men, gun violence, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Maine, Maryland, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Remembrances, Texas, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gay Man Loses 14-Month Battle for Life After Possible Hate Attack

Dallas Vigil for Slain Gay Teens Voices Sadness, Anger, and Hope

Dallas, TX – A large crowd of vigil keepers gathered at the Crossroads in Dallas on Sunday night to remember murdered gay teens, Jorge Steven López Mercado of Caguas, Puerto Rico, and Jason Mattison, Jr. of Baltimore, Maryland.  A third gay teen, Jayron Martin, who survived a vicious homophobic attack in Houston, was also remembered.  A coalition of organizations led by Bob McCranie of the Carrolton Project and Daniel Cates of Equality March Texas met at the corner of Cedar Springs and Throckmorton, the historic center of LGBT life in Dallas to voice anger, to express their sadness in solidarity with the families and friends of the slain teens, and to send messages of hope and support from Texas to the loved ones of the boys who were attacked for no other reason than their sexual orientation.  Other sponsoring organizations were Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ, the largest LGBT-predominant congregation in the world, Syangogue Beth El Binah, Resource Center Dallas, the Dallas Chapter of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), and the Lambda Weekly.  Speakers urged the gathering to turn their anger and sorrow into meaningful action for a just world, not only for LGBT people, but for everyone.  As vigil keepers lit their candles, the names of 100 slain Transgender, Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual victims of hate crime murder were spoken aloud in the night.  The march wound several blocks down to the Legacy of Love monument at the corner of Cedar Springs and Oak Lawn, and then returned.  Rainbow flags were signed by many of the participants with messages of hope and support for Jorge Steven’s family in Puerto Rico, and for Jason’s family in Baltimore.  A giant card was signed for Jayron, to let him know of the support he has from the Dallas-Fort Worth LGBT community.

Flags for the deceased at the Dallas Candlelight Vigil

November 24, 2009 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Bisexual persons, gay men, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Lesbian women, Maryland, Puerto Rico, Texas, transgender persons | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Dallas Vigil for Slain Gay Teens Voices Sadness, Anger, and Hope

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