Tag Archives: Hate Crime

If a Trans Person is Murdered and No One Notices, Did It Happen?

29 Aug

About a year ago, I heard the term “cisgender” for the first time. Naturally, I looked it up and it describes “individuals who have a match between the gender they were assigned at birth, their bodies, and their personal identity.” i.e. – the opposite of transgender or intersex.

In my personal journey to be accepted, understood and embraced as a gay person and understanding that I am a part of the “LGBT Community,” I have frequently felt a disconnect both personally and as a member of this group between the LGB and the T.

While this divide has become clear from the actions of political leaders who advocate for the stripping of transgender people from anti-discrimination legislation, I have personally lived in a place of misinformation and undereducation on the plight of my own transgender brothers and sisters – and that must change.

Over the past several months years decades, the lives of transgender people have been seen as nothing more than disposable by our elected representatives, law enforcement, and even members of our own community. Transgender people have faced abuses far greater than so many in our country and the blatant brutality against them is not only ignored but accepted and mocked by those who should be protecting us all.

Last week, two trans women were shot by an off-duty DC Metro police officer. He had an altercation with the women and their friends in a CVS before the shooting took place. W Police said Officer Kenneth Furr stood on the hood of his car and shouted “I’m gonna kill you,” and fired 5 shots into their car. Three people were injured and luckily none of those injuries were life-threatening. Furr has been charged with a DWI and “assault with a deadly weapon.” I can’t help but think someone screaming “I’m gonna kill you,” and then firing a gun at you should probably fall under the “attempted murder” umbrella, but he’s a cop and the two women were transgender so I guess we’ll let it slide this time…

(l) NY firefighter Taylor Murphy (r) Transgender Model Claudia Charriez

Apparently yesterday, one of New York’s “finest,” a firefighter featured in the famous New York Firefighter calendar beat and strangled his transgender girlfriend. Taylor Murphy thought his girlfriend Claudia Charriez, also famous after appearing on America’s Next Top Model (she was disqualified when her gender identity was discovered) had been flirting with someone else and thought it was acceptable behavior to shatter her cellphone on the ground and then drag her down the street by her hair. After she fled, he met her at her hotel room where he proceeded to punch, kick and choke her. Did I mention the firefighter is 6’3″ and a 220 lb muscle thug? He’s currently in jail and being charged with “assault, criminal mischief and criminal obstruction of breathing.” Must say it’s the first time I’ve heard “criminal obstruction of breathing.” Where I come from – when someone strangles you, they are trying to murder you…thus, attempting murder.

The New York Post, that bastion of liberty and equality, labeled the previous story with the headline “Fireman busted after violently ‘beating’ tranny pal.” Firstly – the Post is well aware that the term “tranny” is just as offensive as other colorful epithets given to racial and sexual minorities. Secondly – if this firefighter’s girlfriend had been born a woman, I wonder if the term “beating” would have had those little quotes around it? Either way, the Post is not only promoting bigotry, they are putting it in their boldest print.

Last week, I attended a small rally to fight transgender violence and police brutality in DC. A trans woman told a story of her boyfriend who chased her around the house, threw knives and other various items at her, punched, kicked and left her bruised and bloodied. The police came and took a report and labeled it “simple assault.”

Many crimes against trans people remain unsolved. Is this due to overworked police departments or police departments who don’t care that a trans person was brutally murdered? Or is it because sometimes our families have disowned us and don’t bother to follow-up on the investigations (57% of trans people experience family rejection according to a study by the National Center for Transgender Equality)? It’s hard to get accurate facts on transgender hate crimes or statistics because outside of Massachusetts and DC, virtually no other police department in the country  have ever reported instances of hate crimes against transgender individuals.

Whether being beaten and raped in the street by strangers, shot by off-duty police officers or strangled by their partners, trans people, and in particular trans people of color are suffering at unimaginable rates. And what’s worse – the people who are supposed to be stopping this are only adding salt to the wound with their clear discrimination when it comes to the treatment of the victims and the criminals in these cases.

In the 1980’s, thousands of us were dying from a virus no one knew anything about. We were being turned away from grocery stores, from laundromats, from hospitals – from our homes. The community was forced to take a stand to protect our own – we cared for one another, we sheltered one another we built communities where all of us were welcome.

Our transgender brothers and sisters are dying – they are being killed at the hands of people who refuse to understand or accept them. The time is now to start standing up and demanding change. Many of us have experienced being treated as though our lives were trivial – but how many of us can say our lives have been regarded as disposable?

HATE: Pride Float Tires Slashed Hours Before Parade

26 Jun

An apparent hate crime took place in the wee hours of the morning today after hours of preparation, dozens of Pride float tires were slashed with a knife in Chicago. The floats were lined up on Chicago’s South Side in preparation for the city’s annual Pride celebration. Some time between 8 p.m. when one of the organizers left and 5 a.m. today when he returned, vandals slashed tires on several floats.

The Windy City Times spoke with Chuck Huser, owner of longtime Pride float provider Associated Attractions -where the crime occurred.

The attackers broken in but did no other damage to the floats, and they took nothing else, leaving Huser to believe this had to be a hate crime. No notes were left.

Huser has filed a police report, but his main focus the morning of the Pride Parade was finding an open tire shop, where they were running back and forth to repair the tires.

“They didn’t want these folks to go out,” Huser said. He added that he has no disgruntled employees or customers, and that most of his workers have been with him more than 20 years.

The start of the Parade may have to be somewhat delayed while Huser and his team work frantically to repair the damaged tires.

Another Hate Crime in South Carolina

2 May

Vonte Fuller (from his Twitter account)

Saturday night, Vonte Fuller was minding his own business at Sideline’s Sports & Spirits in Spartansburg, South Carolina when several men approached him, dumped a pitcher of beer on him and proceeded to use homophobic slurs while beating him with a broken beer bottle.

The bar’s security kicked Fuller and his assailants out of the bar and someone at the bar called an ambulance for Fuller. An officer visited Fuller in the hospital and declined to take a report. It wasn’t until the next day when Fuller’s family took him to the police station, that any report was filed. This story is still being investigated and surveillance videos from the bar are being reviewed to hopefully identify the assailants.

After an April 9th attack on another gay man, hate crime legislation is being re-introduced by State Rep John King. The move is unfortunately little more than symbolic considering a Republican-controlled legislature and a Republican Governor who is against hate crimes legislation, but hopefully this will open eyes to the needs for stronger protection.

Jamaican Gay Murder Advocate Wins Grammy; 28 Gay Jamaicans Win US Asylum

14 Feb

It’s no secret that many Caribbean nations are overwhelmingly homophobic. In fact, just last night, Jamaican Reggae artist, Buju Banton won a Grammy Award – after he advocated burning homosexuals “like an old tire wheel,” and shooting “batty boys” in the head with an Uzi in some of his lyrics.

Gay murder advocate and Grammy Award Winning Jamaican Reggae Artist, Buju Banton

Speaking as someone who also suffered from an anti-gay assault in the Bahamas, it seems that homophobia is deeply rooted in the religious teachings in some Caribbean nations. In recent years, there have been dozens of hate crimes reported in St. Maarten, Jamaica, The Bahamas and others. In fact, in 2006, TIME Magazine dubbed Jamaica “The Most Homophobic Place on Earth.”

The hatred and ignorance is clearly out of control. And considering the recent murder of David Kato in Uganda and the halted deportation of Brenda Namigadde, it’s important to know that you can be safe in countries which don’t criminalize who we are. Immigration Equality is an organization which maintains the largest network of pro-bono attorneys, in addition to its in-house legal staff, dedicated solely to seeking asylum for Lesbians, Gays, Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT) asylum seekers. So it was good to hear from our friends at Immigration Equality that “An overwhelming number of the victories, 38, were for clients from the Caribbean, with 28 of those for individuals from Jamaica.”

Congratulations to those who won asylum to a place that at least doesn’t criminalize love. Let’s keep hoping for change in those countries where millions more fear their own murders daily.

Ugandan Gay Activist Murdered, Another’s Life Hangs in the Balance

26 Jan

David Kato Kisulle

According to Box Turtle Bulletin and the BBC, Ugandan activist David Kato Kisulle was murdered in his home in Kampala.

He was found having been beaten in the skull with a hammer a his home and there is little more information than that at this time. What we do know is that David was featured in the Ugandan tabloid, “Rolling Stone,” which featured names and photos of gay men under the headline “HANG THEM!”

He was one of three plaintiffs seeking a permanent injunction against the tabloid, which was successful. And in recent days, David had told friends of several death threats he’d received and was in fear for his life.

Since the introduction last year of the “Anti-Homosexual Bill” which has come to be known as the “Kill the Gays Bill” has been the topic of outrage from LGBT organizations around the country. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has brought this bill to light in the US and featured the author of the bill, David Bahati in a two-part interview last month.

 

Brenda Namigadde (photo courtesy ALLOUT.org)

Today’s murder also highlights an important case regarding Ugandan Brenda Namigadde living in the UK and facing deportation back to Uganda after failed please for asylum. All Out has launched a campaign to keep Brenda in the UK, which may quite literally save her life. “Kill the Gays Bill” Author Bahati said of Brenda:

“Brenda is welcome in Uganda if she will abandon or repent her behaviour. Here in Uganda, homosexuality is not a human right. It is behaviour that is learned and it can be unlearned. We wouldn’t want Brenda to be painting a wrong picture of Uganda, that we are harassing homosexuals.”

It would seem Bahati may be correct, Uganda is doing far worse than harassing homosexuals.

 

GA Man’s Bedroom Set on Fire in Possible Hate Crime

24 Jan

image courtesy wsbtv.com

Disturbing news out of Georgia where Chris Staples – a gay man living in Carroll County had a rock thrown through his window Saturday night. Attached to the rock was a piece of paper covered in gay slurs which according to Chris, read “we know you’re gay. And God hates gays. You won’t be raping anybody in the county and God’s going to make sure that you burn in hell.”

Hours later, Chris woke up to smoke and flames filling his bedroom. Chris’ mother, who lives next door spoke to Channel 2 Action News about the events. She told them that Chris had been out of the closet for 20 years and was very sick. He’s unable to work and rarely leaves his house, which made it difficult for her to understand the reasoning behind the act.

Police are still investigating the possible hate crime.

h/t San Diego Gay & Lesbian News

Austin Gay Bashing Reveals Screams of Kitty Genovese

27 Dec

Early Sunday morning, 26-year-old gay man Bobby Beltran was leaving Austin’s Rain gay bar when a car full of men shouted “Fucking faggots, stop that queer shit!” as he hugged his friend goodbye.

As the Dallas Voice reports, when Bobby yelled back to the car, “get out of here!” five men jumped out and attacked him and his friend, leaving Bobby with cuts, bruises and a black eye and his friend with a possible broken jaw. A story like this is always alarming – especially when it occurs in a primarily gay neighborhood like Austin’s 4th Street or Washington D.C.’s Dupont Circle, as we’ve reported on before. But what strikes us as particularly disconcerting is that there were as many as 20 witnesses that observed the brutal 5-on-2 beating and didn’t so much as call 9-1-1.

I know it’s frightening to see that sort of thing happen, but we cannot stand by and watch as our own are beaten to the ground by anti-gay bigots and hoodlums. In many parts of the country, the police tend to turn a blind eye when it comes to hate crimes, hell – it’s even happened frequently here in New York City, but if we want something to change, we need to be the force that changes it – no one will do it for us.

This reminds me of the story of murder of Kitty Genovese. She was murdered in plain view of 38 neighbors – none of whom called the police (or at least that’s what the media presented). Turns out there were several other factors not considered by the initial reports of complacent neighbors. Kitty Genovese Syndrome or “The Bystander Effect” as it is called by social psychologists describes our sometime inability to involve

Kitty Genovese, murdered while neighbors watched

ourselves with our surroundings, especially in times of great trauma.

We cannot let ourselves fall prey to Kitty Genovese Syndrome – we MUST protect our own when we need protecting. Realize that even in our neighborhoods, we are not always safe. Travel accompanied by others and as they say, “if you see something, say something.” If we don’t stand up for one another, who will?