Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Gay Montana Man Bashed On His Birthday: Updated with Breaking News

Joseph, 22-year-old hate crime victim, told by Missoula, Montana authorities that his injuries warrant only a misdemeanor charge.

Missoula, Montana – Breaking News: Joseph Baken, 22, aka “Joseph,” in this widely reported news story on the web, has pleaded guilty to filing a false police report in Missoula Municipal Court, and has been sentenced to jail time and a fine.  His injuries were self-inflicted, and his gay bashing account was fabricated.  See the new post on this development here.  The Unfinished Lives Team retracts its previous story, which is posted below. 

A 22-year-old gay man was invited outside a Missoula club Saturday night, and then ridiculed, called a “faggot,” and beaten by three men for asking where he could find a gay bar to celebrate his birthday.  Missoula Police say that the young man, identified only as Joseph, did not have severe enough injuries to warrant more than a misdemeanor charge for the attack.  The LGBTQ community in Big Sky Country and around the nation has arisen in outrage over the trivialization of what thousands are now calling a hate crime attack.  In an angry comment posted on Wipe Out Homophobia’s Facebook page, a woman writes, “Nobody deserves this, especially not just because of your sexuality. Stay strong, Joseph!  Half a million of us are on your side!”

The Missoulan reports that Missoula police are not treating this case as a hate crime, despite the anti-gay slurs, the gang-type attack, and the severity of the bruises Joseph received.  According to investigators, Joseph reported the attack at 4:30 a.m. Sunday morning after managing to get back to his home. At least one Montana lawmaker is taking this attack seriously.  Representative Ellie Hill, (D)-Missoula, said sexual orientation must now be added to the state’s legal code. “It’s time, regardless of what side of the aisle you sit on,” she said. “What occurred over the weekend in Missoula evidences it.” Rep. Hill pledged to introduce a bill to that effect in the 2013 session of the state legislature.

Missoula has an anti-bias statute on the books banning discrimination against gay people, but the state does not. Critics of the police say that any assault is a greater crime than a misdemeanor, and, in this case, indications are clear that the attackers assaulted their victim expressly because he said he was gay, and was seeking a place where other gay people congregated.  KAJ18.com says authorities are soft-pedaling this crime, justifying their attitude by pointing to the time Joseph reported the assault–three hours after it occurred.  They also say that his failure to call 911 at the time of the attack supports their misdemeanor decision.

Gay activists around the nation are ginning up pressure on local and state authorities, reminding them that hate crimes by their very nature leave victims terrified and disoriented.  Joseph had to get himself to the safety of his home despite his injuries, before he felt safe enough to call the police.  Instead of supporting a young man who was only looking to have a good time on his birthday, something straight people do all the time, the Missoula police seem to think the minimum of response is allowable for a gay person in their town. Back 2 Stonewall, a widely-read LGBTQ activist web site, responds, “We do not deserve to be second-class citizens…even in Missoula f***ing Montana!”

August 7, 2012 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Back 2 Stonewall, Beatings and battery, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Montana, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Unsolved LGBT Crimes, Wipe Out Homophobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Murdered African American Woman Remains Unidentified–Was She Lesbian?

“Jane Doe,” as rendered by Ellis County’s Sheriff’s Office, along with photos of tattoo markings on her decomposed body.

Ellis County, Texas – The decomposing corpse of an African American woman was discovered in a rural, wooded area of Ellis County on Monday, July 23. Get Equal Texas is organizing a massive campaign to identify her, and to seek out the person or persons who took her life. In a press release dated July 31, Get Equal states on its Facebook page: “She is approximately 5’4 inches tall and weighing approximately 115 pounds. She is believed to be of African-American heritage. She was wearing a black or dark gray tank top, blue jean shorts and white Nike tennis shoes with purple shoe laces. It is believed she may have disappeared on or after the early afternoon of July 17, 2012.”  The Ellis County Sheriff’s Office has released a forensic artist’s best guess about the likeness of “Jane Doe,” along with photographs of tattoo markings on her corpse.

Sheriff’s Department Investigator Joe Fitzgerald reported to the Dallas Voice that “Jane Doe” had connections to Dallas and Irving, and was probably a member of the LGBTQ community. Tell-tale trauma evidence on the corpse indicates she was murdered at another location and then brought out to the Ellis County woodlands, a desolate stretch of sparsely populated countryside south of Dallas. “Someone killed her and threw her to the side of the road,” Fitzgerald said. He went on to say that investigators were disturbed that no missing person’s report has described a woman with the characteristics of the deceased.

C.D. Kirven, well-respected activist and member of Get Equal’s Board, said, “If this was a lesbian woman, this makes a third lesbian woman of color brutally attacked in Texas within a month’s time. As a member of the LGBT community and a woman of color, this is not just an attack on this woman but on me and others in my community.” 

Examiner.com draws a possible connection with the brutal murder and assault on two lesbian teenagers of Latin descent earlier in the summer on the Texas Gulf Coast. Mollie Olgin, 19, died of a gunshot to the head in a Portland, Texas State Park.  Her girlfriend, Mary Kristene Chapa, 18, survived her wounds, and has recently been discharged from hospital to recover and rehabilitate. Noting that police have still arrested no one for the attack on Olgin and Chapa, the Examiner post goes on to speculate:  “It very well could be that all three of these violent crimes are related. This is why a warning should go out in the Texas area for it seems that our gay sisters are becoming targets for dangerous individuals whether the police wish to admit to this insight or not.” The post goes on to call upon all members of the LGBTQ community to assist in spreading the artist’s sketch of the Ellis County “Jane Doe” and to warn women to be on their guard for a killer or killers of lesbian women of color still at large in Texas.

“The anonymous nature of this killing demands an all-out effort on the part of the LGBTQ community in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex to recover the identity of this woman whose death is the very definition of an ‘unfinished life,'” said Stephen Sprinkle, Founder and Director of the Unfinished Lives Project, which tells the stories of little known or forgotten LGBTQ hate crimes murder victims.

Officer Fitzgerald asks anyone with information on the identity of the victim or the circumstances of her death to call the Ellis County Sheriff’s Department at 972-825-4928. 

August 1, 2012 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, GET EQUAL Texas, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Lesbian teens, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Social Justice Advocacy, Texas, Uncategorized, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lesbian Teen Couple’s Attacker Shown in Police Sketch: Breaking News from South Texas

Police sketch of lesbian teen couple’s attacker.

Portland, Texas – A police sketch of the attacker who killed a lesbian teen and left another gravely wounded was released to the press late on July 4, according to MSNBC and the Dallas Voice. The lesbian teen couple, Mollie Olgin and Mary Chapa, were shot sometime after midnight on June 9 at Violent Andrews Park in Portland, Texas. Olgin, 19, was pronounced dead at the scene.  Chapa, 18, remains under hospital care at this time.

The suspect’s likeness was developed by an unidentified witness, and according to the Portland Police Department is an Anglo male in his 20s, 5 feet eight inches tall, 140 pounds, and is described as “skinny.” Chapa, who survived the attack, has not been interviewed by police investigators because of the seriousness of her medical condition. At this point, the department is still investigating Olgin’s murder as a general homicide, and Chapa’s attack as an aggravated assault.

Police have been at pains to downplay any connection between anti-gay bias and the crimes.  LGBTQ community members have up until this point maintained a “wait-and-see” position, but remain guardedly skeptical. While Police Chief Randy Wright says that there is no evidence of a hate crime in this case, no robbery or sexual assault motive has been suggested in this brutal attack, either. As Wayne Besen, founder of Truth Wins Out, says in The Advocate, whenever LGBTQ people are killed or attacked with no announced motive, anti-gay bias must be considered a “top-tier” motive for the crime. Besen, who traveled to Portland for a recent vigil, does not mince words when it comes to the responsibility of local police to pursue hate as a trigger for this attack.

MSNBC reports that the couple, lovers for approximately five months at the time of the attack, had planned to spend time together at the popular park before going out for a movie on the night  before their bodies were discovered below an observation deck in tall grass. Witnesses said that they heard two loud cracks around midnight on that night, but did not report it since they believed the noises were firecrackers. Several people were in the area on the evening of June 9, and police have been questioning them as potential witnesses.

July 5, 2012 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, gay teens, GLBTQ, gun violence, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Texas, Truth Wins Out, Uncategorized, Unsolved LGBT Crimes, Vigils | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A-List” Gay Celebrity Assaulted in Dallas

A-List Dallas View; Taylor Garrett on far left (!)

Dallas, Texas – Gay Republican consultant Taylor Garrett was decked with a hard blow to the left eye last week, according to various press reports.  A cast member on the gay reality television show, LOGO’s “A-List Dallas,” Garrett is closely associated with high-profile human rights opponent, Ann Coulter.  Returning to his car from a birthday party on the entertainment strip along Cedar Springs Road in Dallas, Garrett says he was shocked to find the words, “F-ck Coulter,” keyed into his car door.  A large man appeared out of the shadows where he was squatting, and knocked Garrett to the ground, cutting his brow and bloodying him.  He also fell on broken glass beside the car, scraping his body.

Garrett is convinced gay Democrats are behind the bias against him and other gay “conservative Republican Christians.”  In an interview with the Daily Caller, he said, “I would’ve thought people would have been a little more tolerant considering that our community advocates for tolerance, but it has been nothing but mean spirited attacks, especially after the Ann Coulter scene,” referring to his well-publicized luncheon recently with Coulter.  Using racist plantation language, Garrett said that gay Democrats want him to “stay on the plantation,” but he is having none of it. Shaken by the incident, he says another season for him on the popular LOGO series is in doubt.

An ambulance was called to the scene, but the paramedics did not elect to transport him to the hospital, since his injuries did not warrant it. Some members of the LGBTQ community and media have suggested that Garrett is using this incident and another in October when a rock was thrown through his window to gin up publicity for himself.  Garrett denies the allegations. Dallas Police have not designated the assault as a hate crime at this point.

In an exclusive interview with Huffington Post, Garrett continued the theme of gay hypocrisy over politics.  “This goes to show you,” he said, “that the gay community advocates for diversity and is against bullying, but in our own community we discriminate based upon if you’re a Democrat or a Republican or if you don’t necessarily fit within the mold of the political views of the gay community.”

November 15, 2011 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Beatings and battery, gay men, GLBTQ, Law and Order, LGBTQ, Media Issues, Slurs and epithets, Texas, Unsolved LGBT Crimes, vandalism | , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on “A-List” Gay Celebrity Assaulted in Dallas

   

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