Showing posts with label Hate Gay Crime. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hate Gay Crime. Show all posts

January 24, 2017

He Kicked Gay Man to His Death For Being Gay in Idaho

Steven Nelson pulled his car up to the Idaho Walmart that night in April expecting to meet a male escort, a man he had contacted via an ad on the website Backpage. Nelson picked up the bearded, tattooed man named Kelly Schneider and, at his request, drove him to Gotts Point, on the shore of Lake Lowell.
Another man met them there. With him, Schneider pushed Nelson to the ground and kicked him at least 30 times with steel-toed boots while Nelson begged for his life, according to court documents. Nelson was choked and stripped of his clothes before they drove away in his car, taking Nelson’s wallet, credit cards and clothing with him.
Barefoot and naked, Nelson knocked on the doors of nearby homes, asking residents to call 911. Hours after being transported to a Boise, Idaho, hospital with broken ribs and a bleeding ear, he died of cardiac arrest.
In a state court Monday, Schneider pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, saying he intended to rob Nelson but not kill him, the Idaho Statesman reported. He admitted to kicking the man repeatedly and acknowledged that his actions caused Nelson’s death.
Afterward, Idaho U.S. attorney Wendy J. Olson announced that Schneider, 23, of Nampa, Idaho, had been indicted on federal hate crime charges by a grand jury for willfully assaulting Nelson because of his sexual orientation. The indictment alleges that Schneider’s actions resulted in the death of his victim. The charge is punishable by up to life in prison, supervised release of not more than five years and a $250,000 fine. He is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Boise before Magistrate Ronald Bush. A trial date will be set at the same time.
The fatal beating of the openly gay man has been compared by some in the community to the murder of Matthew Shepard, the gay college student from Wyoming whose torture and subsequent death set off a nationwide debate about hate crimes and homophobia and led to the federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. “Folks are grieving the loss of a fellow colleague, as well as facing the reality that our community can be a hostile and sometimes very dangerous place for folks who identify as LGBTQIA,” said Adriane Bang, director of the Gender Equity Center at Boise State University.
Prosecutors dropped Schneider’s charges of felony robbery, theft and robbery conspiracy in exchange for his guilty plea on the murder charge. He faces up to life in prison when sentenced March 20. Prosecutors can recommend a fixed sentence as high as 28 years before parole eligibility, and the defense can ask for as little as 10 years.
Deputy Canyon County Prosecutor Chris Boyd said Schneider had lured and beaten other victims “many, many times before.” He called the beating of Nelson “particularly brutal,” the Idaho Statesman reported.
Jayson Woods, 28, of Nampa, is accused of helping Schneider as he beat and robbed Nelson of his car, wallet and other possessions. Kevin R. Tracy, 21, of Nampa, and Daniel Henkel, 23, of Wilder, are accused of hiding nearby in case Nelson put up a struggle.
Woods’s trial began in District Court on Monday, and Tracy and Henkel are scheduled as witnesses. Tracy is scheduled to go to trial Feb. 6 on first-degree murder, robbery and conspiracy charges. Henkel is set for trial March 6 on the same charges. They have both pleaded not guilty, the Idaho Statesman reported.
Investigators identified and arrested Schneider by comparing his tattoos to a photo in the Backpage ad. They found the others with the help of a woman who called the sheriff’s office to say her SUV had been used to drop Schneider off at the Walmart. According to court documents, the woman said Woods held her inside the SUV, drove her around and forced her to perform sex acts with random men for money.
In the wake of the news last spring, family and friends mourned Nelson’s death, recounting memories of his distinctive baritone voice, his talent for theater lighting and his love for baking croissants. He was in his late 40s when he finished his bachelor’s degree in public relations at the University of Idaho in 2011. He hoped to work as a development director, possibly one day managing fundraising for a political campaign, the Idaho Statesman reported.
Nelson was anything but shy, and gave presentations to university classes about his experiences as an openly gay man, according to University of Idaho Professor Becky Tallent.
“Somebody brought up Matthew Shepard in class one day,” she said. “Steven said something along the line of, ‘I hope to God we’ve gotten past that kind of violence.’”
According to KTVB, Tallent said her friend and former student had previously received homophobic slurs and even a punch, but frequently let cruel comments roll off his back.
“As he put it, people are just sometimes so bigoted that there’s nothing you can do to talk to them,” she said.
Tallent said she was horrified to hear of the brutal way in which her friend died.
“For one human being to do this to another is just beyond the pale, especially as someone as generous as Steven Nelson,” she said.

January 23, 2017

In Melboume Man Goes Crazy Stabbing His Gay Brother, Ran Over Others

 Angelo, critically injured after stabbing on the face

A man who allegedly killed five people after driving his car into a crowd reportedly stabbed his brother ‘for being gay’ before the rampage began.

Dimitrious Gargasoulas’s mum, Emily Gargasoulas, said her son knifed his brother Angelo in the face because of his sexuality.
‘Jimmy keeps saying to me, I’m going to kill all gays and p**fters and lesbians,’ she said.

 ‘He’s not the Jimmy I used to know from years back. I don’t want to be known that I’m the mother.’
Angelo Gargasoulas was critically injured and is still in hospital.
The incident led to his brother being chased by police but they called off the pursuit just before the crash in Bourke Street because of the suspect’s alleged dangerous driving.

visitors lay flowers at a floral tribute on Bourke street in Melbourne on January 22, 2017, after a man went on a rampage in a car. A three-month-old baby has become the fifth victim of a deadly car rampage in Australia's second-largest city that left four others fighting for their lives and dozens injured. / AFP PHOTO / Saeed KHANSAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images
Visitors lay flowers at a floral tribute on Bourke street in Melbourne (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)

A three-month-old boy was the fifth person to die after Gargasoulas allegedly drove a car through a lunch-time crowd in Melbourne on Friday.
The newborn died on Saturday and four other people remain in a critical condition in hospital. 

Melbourne driver who killed four was out on bail
Suspect Dimitrious Gargasoulas (Picture: Dimitrious Gargasoulas/Facebook)

A ten-year-old girl, 25-year-old man and a 32-year-old woman died at the scene. A 33-year-old man died in hospital on Friday night.
In total 37 people received treatment as a result of the incident, including suspect Gargasoulas.
Police hope to interview and charge Gargasoulas today.

November 2, 2016

UK: Metro Police Sued by Gay Man for Ignoring 9 Yrs of Complaints

 Appeals Court where case is headed

A gay man has won a lengthy legal battle against the Metropolitan Police over its failure to investigate his claims that he was subjected to homophobic abuse by a neighbour.

David Cary alleged that the force discriminated against him on the grounds of his sexuality because it did not properly examine his complaint in 2007.

The case was due to be heard in the Court of Appeal, but Scotland Yard agreed to compensate Mr Cary and apologised to him ahead of a decision on Monday, admitting it could have handled his complaint "more professionally and sympathetically".
Mr Cary, 54, accused the Met of having "tolerated" homophobic abuse due to its failure to investigate the allegations.

"I felt belittled and treated like a second-class citizen," he told the BBC. "I felt they prolonged the case in the hope of wearing me down.

"Without the best legal representation and campaigning support that I had, they might have managed it."

Mr Cary complained to police in February 2007 that a neighbour had called him a "poof" and a "queer" as he cycled home, but he said officers decided to take no further action after initially investigating.

He complained about their report, which the Met dismissed, and after two appeals to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) were rejected he began legal action against both organisations in 2010.

The IPCC settled the case in 2012, but Scotland Yard only apologised on Monday.
The Met said: "This case has taken a number of years to reach a resolution, due to a number of applications and appeals lodged by Mr Cary.

"The Metropolitan Police Service is pleased that this case was finally able to reach a settlement and we have apologised to Mr Cary. 

"The way the organisation deals with homophobic crime and our internal practices and policies have changed dramatically since 2013.

"We look forward to the learning that Mr Cary can provide to ensure the positive changes we have made are long-lasting."

Jane Deighton, Mr Cary’s solicitor, called for an end to "knee-jerk reaction into defensive mode when civilians bring police misconduct to the attention of the service".

September 25, 2016

Follow Up} Hassidic Man Convicted of Gang Assault on Gay Man in B’klyn

 Follow up 

 Taj Patterson, Victim

 Mayer Herskovic, the Williamsburg man who participated in the brutal gang beating of a gay man in 2013 was found guilty by a judge and could face up to 15 years in prison, Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson announced yesterday afternoon. 

 Mayer Herskovic, proudly walks like if he won the case when in did he was found guilty

 Herskovic was convicted of second-degree gang assault, first-degree unlawful imprisonment and menacing for his role in the gang beating of Taj Patterson, then 22, an assault that involved at least some members of the Williamsburg Safety Patrol, an ultra-Orthdox neighborhood patrol group. Paterson, who is black, came away from the attack with a broken eye socket and a torn retina, and ultimately was left permanently blind in one eye.
During the trial, Patterson testified that he was cornered by a group of almost 20 men in South Williamsburg, some of whom had Shomrim logos on their clothing, who accused him of vandalizing cars in the area. After surrounding him, Patterson told a judge presiding over the case that some members of the mob began to beat him while others surrounded the incident so passing traffic couldn't see it. Peterson also said that the crowd beating him called him "a fucking faggot"  
An NYPD detective explained to the judge how police faced stonewalling beyond anything they had ever encountered while gathering evidence for the trial. For instance, the police have to send a Jewish undercover officer posing as a victim of a robbery to get access to surveillance footage from a nearby business. Police also found one of Herskovic's shoes, with Patterson's DNA on it, on a nearby roof, where a member of the mob threw it away in an attempt to hide it.
The prosecution also played a tape of a witness' 911 call from the night of the December 2013 beating, in which she described a gang of "like 20 Jewish men" beating Patterson up. The witness, who was in a car that Peterson tried to get into in order to escape the beating, was told by the crowd to not let Peterson in her car.
 Herskovic was the only one of the five men arrested for the beating who eventually went to trial. Two men were released after witnesses changed their stories about seeing them participate in the attack, and two other men took plea bargains and received no jail time
Police had initially closed their investigation of the beating after filing it as a misdemeanor assault one day after Patterson filed his report. Only after his mother, Zahra Patterson, alerted the media to the extent of the beating, was the case reopened and more thoroughly investigated.
"Today’s verdict is a testament to our determination to fully prosecute this case based on the evidence, which clearly connected this defendant to the crime. I hope that this outcome will bring a measure of comfort to Mr. Patterson and his family,” District Attorney Ken Thompson said in a press release announcing the verdict.

Previous on this case since 2014:

September 16, 2016

BBQ Restaurant Assailant on Gay Couple Gets 9 yrs

 El-Amin was sentenced yesterday

El-Amin, who is 6 feet 6 inches and 280 pounds, is seen on cell phone footage from May 2015 getting whacked by a canvas bag carried by Jonathan Snipes, who said he thought he heard El-Amin refer to him and his boyfriend Ethan York-Adams as "f----ts."

Man had no reason to attack gay couple at Dallas BBQ: prosecution
An enraged El-Amin then knocked Snipes to the ground and stomped on his head. After a long time passed and the incident seemed to be over, he picked up a chair and swung it at their heads.

A loud thud can be heard on the footage from the impact on York-Adams' skull.

El-Amin, who faced 3½ to 15 years behind bars, complained he had been railroaded and did not apologize for his conduct.

He claimed Snipes had a "weapon," which was disputed by evidence, and that discrimination was the driving factor in his fate.
"I feel like my race was involved in that … if the situation was reversed and I would have went up to them, it would have been different. It wouldn't have come out the same," he said.

He also insisted he never said the homophobic slur he was suspected of and pointed to his history of working as an LGBT activist.

Goldberg fired back that the fact the district attorney declined to prosecute Snipes for the bag swatting was irrelevant.
She also said she didn't see a connection to his race in the scenario. "I just do not see there was any evidence of that," she said.

Assistant District Attorney Leah Saxtein said El-Amin was purely selfish and desiring revenge by stomping "on another human being's head with his shoes."

"He used a dangerous instrument to strike them on the most vulnerable parts of their bodies," Saxtein said. “That is what the case is about — not homosexuality." 


August 30, 2016

NYC Gay Man Victim of Hate Crime and Initial “We Don’t Care” by Cop on the Beat

New York City resident and Chicago-native Omar Villalobos was taking a stroll in Manhattan with a friend when he said he heard a man shout a gay slur. 

"Before I could even look up, he struck me right in the forehead, splitting about two-and-a-half inches of a cut above my right eyebrow," Villalobos told NBC OUT. "I put my hand over my right eyebrow, and blood just comes down into my hand." 
Upset and injured, Villalobos said he sought assistance from nearby police officers but didn't receive the response he expected. When he reported what had happened, he said one of the officers said, "Go find someone who cares. We're here for terrorist attacks, not homeless people." 
When asked for a comment, an NYPD spokesperson told NBC OUT via email, "On Saturday August 20th at 1655 hours the victim was at 42 Street when an unknown male 40-50 made anti-gay statements and then punched the victim in the eye. He received 6 stitches to his eye. Hate Crime Task Force is investigating and IAB is looking into the incident.” 

"We're still in a country where people are seeing violence based on sexuality and gender identity," Sheryl Chestnut, Director of Community Organizing and Public Advocacy at the Anti-Violence Project, told NBC OUT. She added “street-based" violence against the LGBTQ community is still a "fairly common occurrence." 

The Anti-Violence Project has found there is underreporting of anti-LGBTQ violence in New York, and Chestnut said feeling unsafe about going to police is one reason for this. Survivors of this type of violence often go to LGBTQ organizations to seek out assistance and resources. 


August 25, 2016

He Poured Boiling Hot Water on Sleeping Gay Couple, Gets 40 Years

A jury has convicted an Atlanta truck driver accused of pouring boiling water over two gay men as the couple slept in February.
The jury deliberated for about 90 minutes Wednesday before finding Martin Blackwell guilty of eight counts of aggravated battery and two counts of aggravated assault, according to the Associated Press.
Blackwell was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
The 48-year-old wasn’t charged with a hate crime because Georgia is one of five states that doesn’t have a hate crime statute. An FBI spokesman told Reuters that federal investigators are considering whether to charge Blackwell with a federal hate crime.
Anthony Gooden had told his family he was gay shortly before the attack, which happened as Gooden slept on a mattress in his mother’s living room next to Marquez Tolbert, according to the AP. The men had been dating for about six weeks.
Blackwell, a long-haul trucker who stayed at the house when he was in town, came in and saw the two unconscious men lying next to each other.
He went to the kitchen, pulled out a pot, filled it with water and set it to boil. Moments later, he poured the scalding water over the men, The Washington Post reported.
“I woke up to the most unimaginable pain in my entire life,” Tolbert said, sobbing frequently during his testimony, according to the AP. “I’m wondering why I’m in so much pain. I’m wondering why I’m wet. I don’t understand what’s going on.” 
Then Blackwell allegedly yanked him off the mattress and yelled, “Get out of my house with all that gay,” Tolbert recalled to WSBTV.
“They were stuck together like two hot dogs … so I poured a little hot water on them and helped them out,” he said to police, according to the incident report. “… They’ll be alright. It was just a little hot water.”
Blackwell claimed the two men were having sex when he poured water on them. Vickie Gray, a friend of Tolbert’s, told the news station that’s not true; they were asleep after a long day of work — not that the alleged attack would have been justified in any case, she noted.
Tolbert must now wear compression garments 23 hours a day for the next two years, Gray wrote in an email to The Post, and is attending weekly counseling and physical therapy sessions to deal with his emotional and physical scars. It’s difficult for him to go outside because sunlight exacerbates the pain of his burns.
Gooden, who was burned even more severely, was in a medically induced coma for several weeks, Gray said. According to his GoFundMe page, more than 60 percent of his body was burned, and he had to undergo skin graft surgery to repair damage to his face, neck, back, arms, chest and head.

August 22, 2016

Turkey Moving Away from Secularism and into Hate Crimes


A widespread crackdown on dissent is fuelling tension across Turkey, which has seen a rise in hate crimes against minorities – including a recently reported attack against a well-known transgender activist in Istanbul.

Turkey’s Daily Sabah reported that the badly burnt and mutilated body of Hande Kader, a 22-year-old LGBT activist and sex worker, was found on August 8 by the roadside in a residential area of Istanbul.

Although DNA evidence has yet to confirm the remains belong to Kader, the director of a gay rights group said her boyfriend and some friends had positively identified the body.

Emirhan Deniz Çelebi, the director of SPoD, a national LGBT organization based in Istanbul, joined other LGBT associations in condemning what they believe is deliberate silence by the country’s mainstream media in the wake of the activist’s death.

"We are not equal,” he said.

After Kader was arrested during an equal rights rally and faced down police water cannons during last year's Gay Pride parade, she became a symbolic figure in the LGBT community.

“We are being murdered and they do not hear our voices, because the rules in Turkey don't protect us”, said Deniz Çelebi.

Outraged supporters launched a social media campaign to raise awareness of Kader’s death and the plight of the LGBT community in Turkey. On Twitter they shared the hashtag #HandeKaderSesVer (MakeSomeNoiseForHandeKader), while on a petition was circulated to advocate for better protections for those in the community.

Last Thursday local activists took their cause to the capital, holding a press conference outside the parliament to highlight the daily risks confronting LGBT members.

Kader’s murder comes less than two weeks after the beheading of a gay Syrian refugee whose body was found not far from where Kader was discovered.

Muhammed Wisam Sankari, who had fled war-torn Syria, was found decapitated after being raped and assaulted. He could only be identified by the clothes he was wearing.

Minorities targeted

After last month’s failed coup in which the government instituted a state of emergency, the rights of minorities including gays, women and LGBT members have been whittled away.

While the Turkish capital has been a safe haven for many fleeing persecution and war in neighbouring Syria and Iraq, hate crimes against LGBT people have increased.

“Since the coup-attempt, a number of my transgender friends have called me and talked about how they were discriminated against because of their ID Cards and appearance,” Deniz Çelebi said.

Turkish lawyer and LGBT rights advocate Levent Pişkin said Erdogan’s rampant purges have exacerbated the fears of minorities.

“Actually, LGBT people in Turkey have never had legal rights,” said Pişkin.

“But we knew there were judicial mechanisms to support us. Nowadays, most people feel more vulnerable.”

Shift away from secularism

Although homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey as it is in many other Muslim countries, homophobia remains widespread. Almost 80 percent of Turks believe homosexuality is “morally unacceptable” according to a 2013 study by the US think tank PEW Research Center.

Pişkin said Kader’s death is symptomatic of a country shifting away from secularism.

“An Islamic tendency has gradually been getting stronger,” said Pişkin.

“The government has preferred war over strengthening our democracy. Therefore, our democratic rights and one’s right to life hang by a thread.”

LGBT activists will stage a demonstration on Sunday in Istanbul’s İstiklal Avenue to raise further awareness about Kader's death.

pic BBC

June 30, 2016

Special: Attacks on LGBT People Rarely Prosecuted as Hate Crimes

Image result for gay hate crime not prosecuted


Dionte Greene, a 22-year-old black gay male, was looking for a hook-up. He reached out to an 18-year-old stranger on Facebook.

“I’m not interested in smoking weed with you, Travone,” Greene wrote to the teenager, Travone Shaw, in their first exchange. “I just find you attractive and I want to have a sexual encounter with you.”

“I ain’t gay,” Shaw replied, according to court documents. “Bro, stop in boxing me.”

But hours later, Shaw contacted Greene twice and invited him to get high on marijuana. “You going to come over tonight when you get off of work?” Shaw asked.

Just after midnight on Oct. 31, 2014, Greene drove to meet the younger man. Three and a half hours later, police discovered Greene’s body in his idling gold Dodge Stratus, with a single bullet in the right side of his head.

Shaw was convicted last month of involuntary manslaughter and stealing in connection to Greene’s death. He faces up to 29 years in prison. But in the view of this city’s LGBT community, law enforcement should have prosecuted the killing as a hate crime.

Greene’s family and friends say Shaw and an accomplice lured, robbed and killed Greene because he was gay. Shaw posted anti-homosexual slurs on his Facebook profile nine times in the eight months before the killing.

Law enforcement officials said they did investigate the killing as a hate crime. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Kansas City said, “The investigation did not turn out sufficient evidence to support (hate crimes) charges.” The FBI declined to comment on its investigation.

Local officials said they too would struggle to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that anti-gay bias was the motive at the moment of Greene’s murder. They also said a hate crimes murder conviction does not bring additional jail time in Missouri.

State prosecutors charged Shaw with murder, but no hate crime.

"After sitting at the trial, I don’t think those two people were just there to steal his phone,” said Melissa Brown, a local LBGT advocate. She cited Shaw’s use of the prospect of sex to lure Greene to the meeting and his anti-gay slurs on Facebook.

Shaw’s lawyer, Paige Bremer, did not respond to a request to comment.

The handling of Greene’s death is one of three killings of LGBT people in Kansas City since 2010 that, advocates say, should have been pursued much more vigorously as hate crimes. They say there are unresolved questions about whether the three – all of whom were black or Latino – were attacked because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or race.

The massacre of 49 people in an Orlando, Florida, gay bar by a self-professed jihadist has put a spotlight on hate crimes against LGBT people. As the murder cases in Kansas City show, America’s system for punishing bias crimes is filled with limits and inconsistencies.

Seven years after landmark federal legislation recognized attacks on LGBT people as hate crimes, no comprehensive nationwide system exists for tracking bias crimes. And while 30 states have enacted similar laws, criminologists say many of them are poorly written and make convictions difficult.

No comprehensive, nationwide programs exist to train police and prosecutors in how to properly investigate hate crimes. And members of the LGBT community said police frequently react with indifference or hostility when hate crimes are reported.

Prosecutors say proving a hate crime can be difficult and can weaken their overall argument to a jury. But some criminologists say prosecutors have a duty to pursue hate crimes convictions nevertheless, because bias attacks terrorize entire communities, not just individuals.

“It is important to charge, even if you’re not going to get a few more years, because you’re telling the community you will not tolerate this,” said Jack McDevitt, a professor at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, who studies hate crimes. “But many prosecutors will not take that risk.”

LGBT activists say violence against the community is increasing, particularly against transgender women of color. Twenty-four LGBT or HIV-positive people were murdered in the United States in 2015 because of their sexual orientation, according to an annual survey conducted by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, an LGBT advocacy group.

Legal scholars said many state statutes were written quickly when politicians were under pressure to act on the issue. The result is a hodgepodge of standards of proof and sentences that confuse juries and judges.

In Delaware, the minimum sentence for defendants convicted of committing a bias-motivated murder is doubled, but many other states provide no such enhancement. In Iowa, meanwhile, attacking someone because of their “political affiliation” is a hate crime. In Louisiana, attacking a police officer is a hate crime. Last year, New Jersey’s State Supreme Court threw out part of its hate crimes law because the standard of proof was too vague.

"The criminal codes vary the same way vegetable soup does from region to region,” said Peter Joy, head of Washington University’s Criminal Justice Clinic in St. Louis, Missouri. “Everyone throws in their own ingredients and comes up with their own recipe.”

Created by the 1968 Civil Rights Act and expanded by Congress in 1994 and 2009, hate crimes laws are designed to add additional punishments to crimes motivated by bias against the victim’s race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, disability, gender or sexual orientation.

During its first five years, the administration of President Barack Obama charged 50 percent more people with federal hate crimes than were charged during the administration of President George W. Bush, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice said. But the number of cases is still small.

Over the last seven years, the Obama Justice Department has brought 33 federal hate crimes cases under the 2009 Shepard/Byrd Act, the spokesman said. Eleven involved discrimination based on sexual orientation. Nine of the 13 defendants in those cases were convicted, with one case pending.

On a state and local level, there is no system that reliably tracks the number of hate crimes reported or prosecuted. An FBI hate crimes database, derived from voluntary reporting by police departments, lists 1,178 reported hate crimes based on sexual orientation in 2014.

But a Justice Department survey of crime victims that same year found 50 times that number - 59,000 people - who said they were victims of hate crimes based on sexual orientation. About half of all the victims surveyed said they did not report the attack to police.

“We don’t believe in police,” said Arianna Lint, a Peruvian transgender woman who runs TransLatina, a support group for transgender women of color in South Florida. “In small towns, they call us ‘freaks’ and ‘it.’ ”


In interviews in the Miami area after the Orlando killings, 10 transgender women told Reuters that they and others in their community are reluctant to report bias crimes because of a mistrust of the police.

Among them is Payton Hale, 26. Hale, who is transgender, said she was leaving a bar in Hollywood, Florida, with a friend in the early hours one night in July 2015 when a group of people started to yell slurs at her - “faggot,” “queer” and “tranny.”

As Hale got into her car, a woman from the group ran across the street and began hitting and scratching her, Hale said. A male joined the assault, punching Hale several times in the face.

Hale blacked out. When she regained consciousness, she was covered in blood. The attack left Hale with a fractured nose and three damaged front teeth, hospital and dental records reviewed by Reuters show.

Hale and her friend said the two police officers who responded to the crime failed to pursue the attackers. The perpetrators, they said, were still across the street when police arrived minutes after the attack. Hale’s friend, Pettus “Karma” Deerman, videotaped the interaction with the police.

“This is the cops standing here not doing any fucking thing,” Deerman says in the footage. “They wanted to go ahead and sit here and question us because we’re transgendered. They weren’t worried about the people who victimized my friend right here.”

The police report describing the incident paints a different picture. The officers wrote that Hale was “extremely uncooperative." They also said she did not give a clear description of the assailants.

In the footage, Deerman describes the female attacker as wearing “a white and black dress” and having “dark hair” and mentions a male attacker. Hale also tells the officers she was attacked because she was transgender.

In the section of the report that requires police to say whether the officer suspects the crime was “hate / bias motivated,” the officer wrote “unknown.”

A spokesperson for the Hollywood Police Department cited the police report, which says the officers checked the area for “a male suspect in a white dress,” a different description than the one Deerman gives them in the video. The spokesperson said the officers needed more evidence to declare the case a suspected hate crime.

McDevitt, the Northeastern University professor who studies hate crimes, said he has found bias among police officers toward transgender people.

“The transgender community is probably where the gay community was in the 1980s,” he said, referring to police bias. “Police are not in many cases receptive. They blame the victim for being transgender and somehow deserving of being attacked.”

Hale said her encounter made her lose faith in the police.

“I’m afraid that I could be murdered and the police would literally just kind of brush me away from them,” Hale said in an interview, “like it’d be no big deal.”


In Kansas City, the handling of the recent string of murders has unsettled many LGBT people interviewed by Reuters.

On the night he died, Greene told a friend he was going to meet someone to have sex. Before leaving his house, Greene traded texts with Shaw, or his accomplice, that police later said “were in reference to performing sexual acts.”

As Greene drove to meet the men who would kill him, he called his best friend and kept him on the phone. Greene thought the 18-year-old was cute, but was nervous about encountering two strangers.

Greene parked on a deserted street and wondered if it was the right address when two men approached the car. Greene kept his cell phone on, so his friend could listen. It was 12:45 a.m.

Greene’s voice grew tense, the friend later testified, as Greene, Shaw and Shaw’s friend drove off looking for marijuana. At 1:05 a.m., Greene’s phone cut off.

Law enforcement officials said Kansas City police deemed the killing “a robbery gone bad” because Greene’s cell phone was missing.

During Shaw’s trial, prosecutors argued that Shaw and his friend used Greene’s homosexuality to lure him to the meeting where he was killed. Shaw’s lawyer argued that he was an unwitting accomplice who had no idea his friend planned to rob Greene at gunpoint.

Shaw was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and robbery in May but acquitted of murder. He faces anywhere from probation to 29 years in prison when he is sentenced next month. His friend, who has pleaded not guilty, will be tried for murder in October.

Michael Mansur, a spokesman for the state prosecutor’s office in Kansas City, said he could not comment on a pending case. But he said the office took hate crime allegations very seriously.

“We do look to see whether evidence supports filing a hate crime,” he said in an email.

Another case that members of the LGBT community in Kansas City say should have been prosecuted as a hate crime is the Christmas Eve 2011 murder of Darnell “Dee Dee” Pearson, a transgender woman. Pearson’s killer, Kenyan Jones, shot Pearson after paying her for sex and then learning Pearson was transgender, according to court records.

Jones obtained a gun, hunted down Pearson and shot her at point blank range, the court records said. Convicted of murder but not a hate crime, Jones was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Law enforcement officials said the evidence in the case did not merit a hate crimes prosecution. Friends of Pearson, however, believe she was targeted because she was transgender.

Police are also investigating whether a third killing in Kansas City is a hate crime, as members of the LGBT community contend. Last August, a transgender woman named Tamara Dominguez was run over twice by a truck in a parking lot.

Kansas City law enforcement officials say the safety of the LGBT community is a top priority. After the killings in Orlando, the rainbow flag flew at half staff above the Kansas City state courthouse.

The city, whose population is 69 percent white and 30 percent black, has its first African American police chief. The force includes a diversity unit and a liaison to the LBGT community.

On crime reports, police are required to check a box to indicate whether they believe bias may have played a role. The Kansas City Anti-Violence Program, a local LGBT advocacy group, conducts sensitivity training for local police.

In an interview, Kansas City Police Department spokeswoman Kari Thompson said police comprehensively investigate all attacks against the LGBT community.

"We approach it according to the law. That’s how you are able to convict: by the law and based on facts, not assumptions,” she said. “We have to make sure we are doing everything the right way."

Star Palmer, a friend of Greene and local LGBT advocate, sees it differently.

“Why is it so hard to prove a hate crime is a hate crime?” she asked.

                 Zachary Crockett; data via NCAVP hate crime reports (1996-2014)
Ned Parker and Mimi Dwyer/REUTERS

(Reporting By Ned Parker and Mimi Dwyer; edited by David Rohde.)
 (This June 29 Special Report corrects size of increase in number of people charged with federal hate crimes in paragraph 24, adds that 33 prosecutions in past seven years were under the Shepard/Byrd Act in paragraph 25)

April 6, 2016

Gay Couple Assaulted for a Kiss at South Beach Speaks Out

A Los Angeles man who was attacked and placed in a submission hold inside Miami Beach's Burger King Whopper Bar last month is speaking out about what happened. NBC 6's Jamie Guirola reports. (Published Monday, April 4, 2016)A Los Angeles man who was attacked and placed in a submission hold inside Miami Beach's Burger King Whopper Bar last month is speaking out about what happened.
The incident was caught on camera and police are searching for the men who attacked Jordan Schaeffer and his partner. "Even talking about it makes me uncomfortable," Schaeffer said.The fight happened around 3 a.m. on March 14 at the Whopper Bar at 1101 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach police said.
Gay Tourist Speaks About Attack in Miami Beach
[MI] Gay Tourist Speaks About Attack in Miami Beach
A Los Angeles man who was attacked and placed in a submission hold, inside Miami Beach's Whopper Bar, is speaking out about what happened. NBC 6's Jamie Guirola reports. (Published Monday, April 4, 2016)
It was Schaeffer's first time in Miami Beach and he didn't leave with a good impression. Photos show welts, bruises and cuts all over his face.
“We're in 2016 and especially in a city like Miami Beach, where I thought being homosexual would be pretty accepted, it's just not right that anyone should suffer," Schaeffer said.
The 25-year-old was attacked while waiting for food at the Burger King location which is across the street from the police department headquarters. He said he was targeted because he's gay.
"It was just a simple kiss with my boyfriend," Schaeffer explained. "Then right after that kiss, I started walking over and that's when I was approached by this gentleman."
Police Release Video of Wild Fight in Miami Beach Restaurant
[MI] Police Release Video of Wild Fight in Miami Beach Restaurant
Police have released video and said they are looking for two men after a wild brawl inside a Miami Beach restaurant that began with two men kissing. NBC 6's Dan Krauth reports. (Published Thursday, March 31, 2016) 

Surveillance cameras show a man approaching Schaeffer after he came out of the bathroom. Schaeffer said he used a derogatory term for homosexuals.
"'Why don't you show if you're tough or not you little f----,'" Schaeffer recalle
 Police said one of the unidentified subjects appears to have experience in martial arts. He body slammed Schaeffer, put him in a leg hold and took swings at his face."It all happened so fast once I got slammed to the ground. It's just kind of a blur," Schaeffer said.
He is now back in Los Angeles and recovering from multiple injuries to his lip, nose, face, wrist and back. But it's the psychological healing that needs the most attention.
"The biggest injury has been all the emotional trauma. We were going to Miami for a relaxing weekend and it was traumatizing, to be honest," Schaeffer said.
His lawyers said if and when the suspects are caught, they should face the heaviest charges.
“We believe this was a hate crime against Jordan because of his sexual orientation," Attorney Douglas Ede said.
Miami Beach Police said they're looking for two men seen in the video, who were allegedly involved in the fight. Anyone  recognize them, you're urged to call Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS.

October 20, 2015

Misery is… 'Being Gay in Syria’ [See 4 Cases]

Khalid*, 36, a gay man from Iraq who fled rape and persecution for the relative safety of Lebanon. Photo: Robin Hammond
The high-summer fields stretch towards the distant Mediterranean like a billowing patchwork quilt. Following the contours of Lebanon’s foothills, a small group of hard-faced Arab youths slip in and out of view between derelict farmsteads and crumbling, bullet-pocked minarets.

Behind them is, literally, the road to Damascus. The refugees have just crossed illegally from Syria into Lebanon, in the narrow margins between the only two official border crossings left open between the countries. The Mount Lebanon range has long been the cruellest of demarcations. Those who are crossing it now are in fear of their lives. Most are young and, mercifully, fit enough to flit nimbly between checkpoints. Some are gay - and they've embarked upon this journey not knowing if they will find safety or further persecution on the other side of the border in Lebanon. It is a risk they are prepared to take.

"In my opinion, it cannot get any worse than being gay in Syria today," Halim*, a human-rights campaigner, tells me in a packed bar in Lebanon's capital, Beirut. "It's a place where you don't know your enemy. Seeing people you have had casual sex with being taken in on the street, and wondering if they will take you down with them. Lovers turning on lovers. 
Wolfheart*, 29, a gay man from Lebanon, was arrested, tortured and imprisoned for cruising. Photo: Robin Hammond
"Also, this isn't just an Islamic State story," he continues. "If you are gay, you have many enemies intent on your persecution: the government, Islamic State (IS), al-Nusra [the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda]. That's not including your own extended family: they are often enemy number one." On the table in front of us is an untidy ring-binder detailing the torture that has been inflicted on gay men in Syria. Methods include the shabeh, which roughly translates as "the ghost" and involves handcuffing the victims' arms behind their backs and using them to hoist their bodies into the air, putting extreme pressure on the shoulder sockets, often until they pop out.

Other men accused of being gay, who have been abducted in the night by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's agents, describe being placed, helpless and motionless, inside the rims of large tyres and brutalised with electrodes and iron bars. The testimony of one Homs teenager details, in spidery writing, how he had his testicles smashed with a hammer by a member of the Syrian Republican Guard.

For gay people on the run from Syria, being "out" in Lebanon isn't an option, either. Lebanon now has the highest proportion of refugees in the world, with Syrian refugees making up a quarter of the country's population. "We know hundreds, thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender [LGBT] refugees are coming across, but if we start counting, it could be used against them and us," says Halim. "It's better they slip unnoticed into Lebanon. Prejudice against gay men and women doesn't stop at the border. The trouble is, they are being arrested and abused here in Lebanon, too.”
Sally*, a gay man who identifies as a woman, had to flee her Islamic State-held home town in Syria. Photo: Robin Hammond

Later, we sit in a cafe as it winds down for the night, restlessly sipping strong black coffee and examining a map showing routes across the border. Halim plays a video montage on his tablet. Frantic Arabic news commentators begin speaking over slow-motion footage of a masked IS executioner clutching what looks like a gleaming saif sword. In the dirt before him kneel four condemned souls, each accused of sodomy. An elderly man, a magistrate, steps up.

To me, he is familiar - I have seen him before in IS showreels. The magistrate uses a microphone to read to the crowd a few adulterated utterances from the Koran, and their fates are sealed.
I remain glued to the screen, waiting for the camera to pan away from the execution, but no respite comes. A head rolls in the dust, then a second and a third. Fountains of blood jerk from the necks of the men. As I give the tablet a final, reluctant glance, the camera pans to the crowd. No longer baying 
over the bodies, they have moved on, bored and traumatized all at once. 

Nathalie*, 41, who describes herself as a woman who used to be a man, is from Syria, where she was tortured. Photo: Robin Hammond
In recent months, the photojournalist Robin Hammond and I have interviewed gay citizens in Africa and the Middle East. Theirs is a narrative of great pain and desperate suffering. Here in the Middle East, it is clear that the taboo against same-sex activity is getting stronger, not weaker, and a corrupted version of Islam finds itself at the heart of much of this hatred.

Homosexuality is legal in the Palestinian Authority-controlled West Bank, but not in Hamas-controlled Gaza. In nearly 50 Muslim-dominated countries, individuals face criminal sanctions for private consensual relations with another adult of the same sex. But in the IS-controlled regions of Syria and northern Iraq, the persecution of gay men and women has reached a new level of malice.
In the early evening in a crumbling tenement in Beirut's southern suburbs, we meet four gay Syrian men. Safehouses have a uniformity of sorts. There are always broken TVs. Strong black tea is offered. Furniture is sparse, curtains torn. Threadbare carpets are laid out with small low tables. Without exception, cigarettes are passed around to calm the nerves. A battered Toshiba laptop sits in the centre of the one-bedroom apartment. On its screen, another film is on a loop.

A middle-aged man, handsome, grey-bearded, hands bound, is being held by his ankles from a 10-storey building by IS thugs dressed in leather jackets and long blue tunics. The man is held for several minutes as he weeps, before he is dropped onto the concrete some 30 metres below. On impact the baying mob, including children, cheer and laugh. As has been the case in other rooftop-to-ground murders of allegedly gay men at the hands of IS, the victim survives the fall, twitching in the dirt, but is stoned to death by the bloodthirsty crowds. For their convenience, jagged rocks have been supplied and left in small piles.

"They are holding out his mobile phone on the ledge as evidence," says Sami*, a gay man in his early 30s, from Raqqa, the IS heartland in northern Syria. "They are using it to justify the execution. Social media is killing our brothers. It is the first thing IS are asking for at checkpoints now: 'Hand over your mobile!' If they find anything that links you to another man - photographs, your Facebook profile, a single text you cannot explain, anything - then you are dead. It is over for you."
To prove his point, Sami opens Manjam, which he describes as a popular gay "hook-up" app, adopted from Turkey into Syria and surrounding countries. "Look at this," he says. "In 2013, there were perhaps a few thousand Syrians active on Manjam. The Assad regime generally looked away - in the north, at least.”

Sami counts the active accounts within Syria and finds 26 profiles in use in Raqqa. "How many of those 26 are IS hunting?" he asks. "Who would have a death wish to use a gay app there?" The broader truth is that governments across the region are also using digital surveillance to entrap, detain and harass homosexuals.

Police in states where homosexuality is outlawed frequently use apps to convince men to meet them, before arresting them, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based NGO that monitors the use of technology in the violation of human rights. A 30-year-old man was recently arrested in Saudi Arabia after asking men out for dates on Facebook.

Everyone in this shabby room acknowledges that IS alone did not bring homophobia to Syria. Gay men there have long been the target of "honour killings", as they are considered a disgrace to their families. Others have been imprisoned.

The civil war, however, has intensified the persecution. At the heart of the IS plan to target and wipe out the LGBT community are the Hisbah - the religious police, named after a Muslim doctrine that translates roughly as “accountability".

"IS want the Muslim world to know that they are executing gays, because it displays their credentials as enforcers of sharia law," says Ryan Mauro, a security analyst at the Clarion Project, a US-based NGO that works to combat extremism. “There is widespread anti-homosexual sentiment in the Muslim world because of the belief that sharia requires the execution of gays."

The language of persecution comes from both sides. To prove his point, Sami recites a description of "gay traits" found in IS pamphlets in Raqqa, later discovered to have been taken from a government-controlled Syrian newspaper. " 'A gay man can have a loose wrist, a noticeable way of using the fingers, sitting and crossing the legs together in a feminine manner and an interest in gossip and whispers. These are among homosexuals’ main distinctive features.' "

Knowing who the enemy is has become increasingly difficult for gay people. From the ranks of its own religious police force, IS is believed to have deployed undercover agents to entrap those who have been accused by others of being gay.

Elmo*, a doctor now working in a call centre in Beirut, fled his IS-held town in Syria after a member of his family - a cousin attempting to curry favour with his new masters - betrayed him to the militants. Such betrayals are common.

"The attitude now if you are gay and trapped inside [Syria] is, 'Trust nobody', " says Elmo. "Not your mother, nor your closest friend. The only difference between all the factions is that some will torture you before they kill you if you are outed and caught.”

Testimonies gathered by Proud, a campaign group set up by Bertho Makso, a gay Lebanese man, include reports of decapitations, and one of a transgender woman in a Damascus suburb who was hanged by her breasts until she died.

A similar database compiled by New York-based NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) late last year detailed a male couple who were captured by the Syrian government after being identified as gay, based on text messages between them. The men were beaten, referred to pejoratively as tante (auntie), and for 10 nights were forced to strip and have sex with each other in front of their Syrian army interrogators, who used chalk to make up their faces.

Another man, who used to work in the fashion industry, was abducted by unidentified armed men in an area of Damascus controlled by the Syrian army. He said they similarly referred to him as tante, forced him to strip and raped him.

HRW says that the ordeal for gay men doesn't necessarily end at the Lebanese border. In a number of cases, the NGO has documented gay men being subjected to excruciating and abusive anal exams by the Lebanese Internal Security Forces. This, despite calls by Lebanese doctors and the justice minister in 2012 to abolish the practice, which amounts to torture.

The road back towards the Qalamoun mountains in Syria passes through Ersal. This town in the Lebanese Bekaa Valley, whose name means "Throne of God" in Aramaic, has become one of the flashpoints of the region. This isn't my first time travelling along this confusing line in the sand. Here, portraits of Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and fallen Hezbollah fighters dot the walls of residences.
Elsewhere, Sunni-populated areas have become de facto safe havens for Syrian rebel fighters. Equally, Shia areas of the northern Bekaa Valley look out with trepidation at the rise of extremist Sunni Salafi-jihadi groups. To the outsider, the whole area is impenetrable.
For the Syrian refugees who have made it to the fragile sanctuary of the Bekaa, the journeys of exile are far from tales of liberation.

"The road to the Lebanese border has become known as the Corridor of Death," says Sally*, a gay man who now identifies as a woman, whom I meet in Beirut. "There are perhaps 50 or 60 checkpoints. The soldiers are bored and isolated. They single out anyone they suspect of being gay.

"They keep us behind at night," she continues, looking away, wincing. Sally was living in Deir ez-Zor, the largest city in eastern Syria, when IS entered her district. "I knew from reports that they were carrying out executions for 'crimes' like pre-marital sex and homosexuality. The Hisbah, their religious police, hunted from house to house. Families were turning on families. I knew it was only a matter of time before one of my relatives reported me. Because I am feminine, I knew I would be singled out.”

Sally details her journey, on which Syrian soldiers sexually abused her at a number of checkpoints. In return for "favours", she was allowed to pass. Eventually, she reached the Lebanese border. A journey that should have taken seven hours took almost a week.

increasingly, those in flight like sally have nowhere to run. Lebanon is turning the taps off, managing its borders through just two official crossings, Masnaa in the Bekaa Valley, and Arida, to the north. Lebanon's border with Syria stretches 375 kilometres and covers rough terrain that cannot be monitored through human efforts alone. Helicopters mounted with infrared cameras fly overhead. But those determined to cross still do, making their way across country to the suburbs of Beirut.

IS is not the first organisation to use barbarism against LGBT people as a weapon of war, and they won't be the last. But their levels of violence and depravity are unprecedented. Without some kind of intervention, this civil war will continue to drive Syria's gay men and women to make the perilous journey into Lebanon via the foothills of Mount Lebanon - or across the Kabir River, which forms the northern border of the two countries - with no guarantee of a safe haven on the other side. 

* Names have been changed
This is an edited version of a story first published in The Sunday Times Magazine, London.

  Sydney Morning Herald 



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