Showing posts with label Gay Death. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Death. Show all posts

February 5, 2020

The First Gay Federal Judge Dies At 72

 The first openly gay judge appointed to a U.S. federal court died Sunday, according to court officials and colleagues.
Judge Deborah Batts, 72, presided over the bench at Southern District of New York since 1994 and oversaw major cases including the criminal trial against al-Qaida member Mamdouh Mahmud Salim and the defamation lawsuit filed against Bill O'Reilly. A spokeswoman for Fordham University School of Law, where Batts taught for over 30 years, said she died in her sleep.
Batts was slated to preside over the upcoming federal trial of Michael Avenatti over his alleged theft of Stormy Daniels’ book advance. 
She was born in Philadelphia and graduated from Radcliffe College in 1969. Three years later, Batts earned her law degree from Harvard, where she served on the editorial board of the school's Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review.
After graduation, she worked as a judicial clerk in the Southern District of New York and then spent a few years in the private sector. In 1979, Batts became an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York and began teaching at Fordham Law in 1984.
Matthew Diller, the dean of Fordham Law School, called Batts a beloved member of the school's community.
"Since joining the federal bench, we have been fortunate to hold on to her as a superb teacher of trial advocacy and a dear friend. She was a mentor to students and faculty alike. We will miss her sharp sense of humor and the joy that she took in life,” he said in a statement.
Batts worked for New York City's Department of Investigation from 1990 to 1991 as "special associate counsel" and from 1990 to 1994 served as a commissioner in the New York Law Revision Commission.
In 1994, President Bill Clinton nominated Batts to serve as the United States District Judge for the Southern District and she was sworn in on June 23, 1994, becoming the first female black LGBT federal judge in the nation. Batts was named senior judge of the Southern District Court on April 13, 2012, her 65th birthday.
Harvard Law school honored her work in 2001 with an official portrait painted by Simmie Knox. Batts married Dr. Gwen Lois Zornberg, a New York psychiatrist, in 2011. 

January 16, 2020

The Third Suspect Has Been Arrested on The Beating Death of a Bronx Gay Man

Three people have been arrested for allegedly killing Juan Fresnada, 60, who died after suffering a brutal attack on Christmas Eve.

A third suspect has been busted and hit with murder and gang assault charges for his alleged role in the deadly Christmas Eve beating of a 60-year-old gay man in the Bronx.
The NYPD announced the arrest of a 14-year-old boy on the morning of January 10 and charged him with second-degree murder along with two gang assault charges, marking the latest development in a case in which three teenagers have been accused of killing Juan Fresnada as he and his partner, Byron Caceres, were leaving a McDonald’s on Third Avenue near East 164th Street.
The teen, whose identity is being withheld because he is a minor, is the second minor to be charged in the case after a 15-year-old was busted on January 6. Eighteen-year-old Abu Conteh was the first person to face charges in the case, though he has maintained his innocence and claimed to the Daily News that he did not play a role in the attack.
The attackers first targeted Fresnada and his partner in a robbery attempt, but they pounced on Fresnada when he wouldn’t give in, kicking and punching him before hitting him with a steel garbage can. He was transported to Lincoln Hospital, where he died three days later, on December 27.
All three suspects have been charged with murder and gang assault charges, but the two minors are likely to be treated differently because state law considers teens who are 13, 14, and 15 years of age to be juvenile offenders when they are accused of serious or violent felonies. Those cases are reserved for the youth part of the Supreme Court, where defendants are subject to less severe penalties. 
The NYPD did not return emails seeking clarification about whether more suspects are still at large. Police originally said that there were five attackers. Authorities have not produced any evidence pointing to a hate crime in the case or that the attackers knew Fresnada and his partner were a couple. 
The attack drew attention from local leaders who rallied at the scene of the beating on January 7 to raise awareness about violence in the neighborhood. Bronx State Assemblymembers Vanessa Gibson and Michael Blake, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, and Bronx State Senator Luis Sepúlveda were among those on hand.

July 24, 2019

Russian LGBT Activist Knived To Death

A prominent Russian LGBT activist who had been featured on a blocked website that encourages people to “hunt down” sexual minorities has been killed in St. Petersburg.
The website, inspired by the “Saw” horror film franchise and which encourages visitors to track down and assault people believed to be LGBT, was blocked in Russia last week. 
Yelena GrigoryevaDinar Idrisov / Facebook
Yelena Grigoriyeva was found with multiple stab wounds and signs of strangulation near her home over the weekend, fellow activists said on social media.
The activist had regularly received death threats and reported them to the police, who did nothing to protect her before she was murdered, fellow activist Dinar Idrisov wrote on Facebook on Monday.
“A reminder: Yelena was listed on the homophobic ‘Saw’ website which has long threatened LGBT activists across the country,” photojournalist Georgy Markov wrote.
Grigoriyeva had been stabbed at least eight times, the St. Petersburg news website reported.
A suspect in her killing was reported to have been detained. 
Grigoriyeva had maintained an active stance on a range of issues, according to the Mediazona news website. It reported that over the past year she had been detained at rallies against torture and the Chechen-Ingush land swap, as well as at LGBT protests.
Rights activists say violent homophobic attacks have become more frequent since Russia banned “homosexual propaganda” toward minors in 2013. Recent polling suggested that Russian attitudes toward equal rights for LGBT people were at a 14-year high.

             Image result for Yelena Grigoryeva

LGBT rights campaigner Yelena Grigoryeva Yelena Grigoryeva, an LGBT rights campaigner in Russia’s second-largest city of St. Petersburg, has been killed, the local online newspaper Fontanka reported citing police.

She was found dead with multiple stab wounds on July 20 near her house and apparently was strangled, according to Fontanka as well as a Facebook post by opposition campaigner Dinar Idrisov and the Russian LGBT Network.

Idrisov said Grigoryeva had received multiple threats both online and offline.

Aside from LGBT causes, Grigoryeva opposed Russia’s seizure of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea and took part in rallies in support of political prisoners.

"Recently she has frequently been a victim of violence and received murder threats," Idrisov said. Grigoryeva "filed complaints to the police regarding the violence and the threats, but there was no reaction."

It is not clear whether the police are investigating her death as a hate crime.

Based on reporting by the AFP, Fontanka, and Meduza.

Protests in Moscow Against "Putin, Lier"

More than 10,000 people have gathered in Moscow to protest against the controversial ban of some opposition candidates from Moscow city-council elections set for September. The July 20 rally was addressed by leading figures of the Russian nonparliamentary opposition, including anticorruption activist Aleksei Navalny and Lyubov Sobol, who is one of the excluded candidates.

{Radio Free Europe}

July 17, 2019

The Death of Michael Stewart At The Hands of Cops Changed That Community

  • By Matt Barker

It was just before three in the morning on 15 September 1983, and Michael Stewart was on his way back home to Brooklyn after a night out at the Pyramid Club in the East Village. Waiting for a train at the First Avenue station at 14th Street, the 25-year-old whipped out a pen and tagged one of the station’s tiled walls. He was spotted by a New York Transit Police patrol and after a brief chase, caught. Witnesses then reported seeing him beaten while cuffed, though the cops who detained him later claimed he simply fell while attempting to evade them. Heavily bruised and suffering from a cardiac arrest, he was taken to the nearby Bellevue Hospital, where he fell into a coma and died 13 days later.

The downtown arts community was possessed by a new-found spirit of solidarity and rage 
The arresting officers, all of whom were white, were charged with criminally negligent homicide, assault, and perjury, but those same witnesses who claimed to have seen the incident first-hand were unable to identify any particular officers as the perpetrators. Charges were downscaled and the policemen were put on trial solely for allowing Stewart to be beaten while in their custody. An initial seven-month grand jury investigation than had to be dropped after one of the jurors decided to do their own investigating, jeopardizing the whole case. A retrial was held on November 1985, and the officers acquitted.
Even more so after this outcome, Stewart’s death reverberated as a symbol – and none more so than among New York’s art scene.  As soon as news of Stewart’s vicious arrest began to filter through, and to a backdrop of growing racial tensions in the city, the once determinedly apolitical downtown arts community was possessed by a new-found spirit of solidarity and rage, galvanized into action by the brutality of the police and the fear of further clampdowns.
(Credit: Getty Images)
Basquiat’s Defacement: The Untold Story, a new exhibition that has just opened at the city’s Guggenheim Museum, relays how artists in the city reacted to Stewart’s death. Centring around Jean-Michel Basquiat’s searing painting The Death of Michael Stewart (widely known as Defacement), alongside other works of the artist related to police brutality, it also includes responses to the incident by Keith Haring, Andy Warhol (one of his screen-printed Headline series paintings from 1983 featuring a New York Daily News article on Stewart’s death) and the social realist David Hammons (his 1986 stenciled print The Man Nobody Killed).
Before #BlackLivesMatter
Meanwhile, contemporary news coverage and some of the protest posters that were put up around Lower Manhattan provide the exhibition with extra context. They record the fear and anger from more than 35 years ago that still resonates depressingly strongly today when racialized police brutality has led to the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Stewart was not a core member of the city’s art scene himself – more one of those types who hung around on the outer circles, waiting to find a way in, his ambitions not yet fully formed. On nodding terms with many East Village personalities, the artists, musicians, club owners and filmmakers who had gravitated towards the area in ever-increasing numbers from the mid-1970s onwards, he had just started to exhibit some of his abstract, richly colorful paintings, was taking photography classes and had occasionally done a bit of modeling.
(Credit: Collection of Patricia A. Pesce Allison Chipak/ Guggenheim Foundation, 2018)
He also dabbled in graffiti – though, unlike Basquiat, who started out spray-painting his work on buildings, he would leave his tag (signature) on trains and walls, but nothing more. Of course, though, the police weren’t particularly interested in nuances. Whether it was a name on a wall or a full-blown mural on a subway train, it was much the same thing to them.
Graffiti was more about the act of rebellion than wanting to be an artist; being seen as an artist was, in a way, a little sissy – Lady Pink 
New York had really given birth to the whole culture of graffiti making in the late 1970s. But while it is now an admired feature of the cityscape, 40 years ago it was seen as a gateway to wider criminality, tied in with African-American and Latino gang culture. Graffiti pieces created to cover the whole side of a subway train (known as ‘bombing’), were seen as a particular problem by the authorities. Millions of dollars were spent on extra security and on ‘buffing’; cleaning the trains with chemical solutions.
Lady Pink was one of the first wave of purveyors of what has now become known as ‘street art’ – though she wouldn’t have understood her work as art at the time. “It was exciting to be a rebel,” she recalls. “We wanted to break the law, we wanted the thrill, the chance to prove your mettle. It was more about the act of rebellion than wanting to be an artist; being seen as an artist was, in a way, a little sissy.”
The street art revolution
However, by the early 1980s, thanks to Basquiat and others, being a bonafide graffiti “artist” had become a very real possibility. A new breed of downtown Manhattan galleries, centered on the East Village, was causing a stir in among the former storefronts and crumbling warehouses. Graffiti art quickly found a home in them and, soon, a hungry market. Stewart’s death came just at the moment when the scene was really beginning to come into its own – and so, on top of everything else, his death represented the horrific endpoint of what was seen as an assault on artistic freedom.
Suzanne Mallouk, Stewart’s former partner, was one of the prime movers behind the Michael Stewart Justice Committee, a voluntary lobby group set up in his memory. “I hired his legal team, raising money from the arts community,” she remembers now. “I went to every gallery that was showing graffiti art and asked for donations. I also got a large donation from Keith Haring, who gave the money from a sale of one of his paintings. Madonna did a show at [nightclub] Danceteria and also donated all the proceeds.”
(Credit: Alamy)
Basquiat, who had also previously been in a long-term relationship with Mallouk, had known Stewart but viewed him as a copycat who tried to imitate his painting style, and even his haircut.
However, perhaps even more so because of these similarities between them, Basquiat was deeply shaken by his death. When he visited Haring’s studio soon after (the exact timescale isn’t known), he began painting a response to it on one of the walls. He worked quickly, in growing anger. The work was cut from the wall and remained in Haring’s collection until he died in 1990.
Basquiat’s grief
Echoing a poster designed by Basquiat’s artistic contemporary David Wojnarowicz to publicize a protest in Union Square on 26 September (while Stewart was still alive, in a coma), The Death of Michael Stewart features a black figure in the middle of two police officers bearing their nightsticks. It’s a painting that at once seems to be a private expression of the artist’s grief and a public document - a protest against state violence.
There is a history of state violence against the black body. And I think that’s what Basquiat’s painting represents - Chaédria LaBouvier 
As the Guggenheim exhibition’s guest curator Chaédria LaBouvier said, explaining the anguish infusing the work, in a 2016 interview  “In 1983, we didn’t have a language around police brutality or white supremacy or state violence to talk about these issues publicly. There was, and is, this very real fear that the police if you’re a black person, can kill you and get away with it. I think Basquiat was aware that this was not just about Michael Stewart or even him, but that there is a history of state violence against the black body. And I think that’s what this painting represents: that history of state violence against the black body as an American heritage.”
(Credit: Collection of Monique and Ziad Ghandour/The Keith Haring foundation)
In 1985, Haring produced his own work, Michael Stewart - the USA For Africa, in response to the tragedy: a garish representation of the moment of arrest, featuring Stewart being strangled and beaten while faces around him cover their eyes. Darren Pih, the curator of the Keith Haring exhibition that opened this month at Tate Liverpool, featuring more than 85 of his works, says that Haring became increasingly politicized through the 1980s, spurred on by racism, the Aids crisis, and the growing nuclear threat: “There’s a touch of hippy innocence about Haring. He was politically active, dealing with serious issues, but in a very communicative way, in a fundamentally optimistic way, with a bright, cranked up the palette.”
They know they killed him. They will never forget his screams, his face, his blood. They must live with that forever – Keith Haring 
Nevertheless, Haring had a lot of anger too. It’s there in the Michael Stewart piece, in stark opposition to his usually upbeat work. Writing in his journals after the Transit Police officers were acquitted, his fury jumps off the page: “They know they killed him. They will never forget his screams, his face, his blood. They must live with that forever. I hope in their next life they are tortured like they tortured him.”
Meanwhile, as investigations continued, Mallouk met with African-American community leaders, briefed the press and talked with lawyers, who arranged for an independent autopsy. Unlike the official autopsy by the city’s Chief Medical Examiner Elliot Gross, this found that Stewart’s cause of death was strangulation; however Gross said there was no evidence of this.
Shockingly, Mallouk claims that Stewart’s eyes were even removed during the original autopsy because they “showed hemorrhaging from an illegal chokehold.” “I presented to Mayor Koch a petition of over 20,000 names demanding an inquiry into Gross’s autopsy because it was a clear cover-up,” she tells BBC Culture. Following multiple allegations of misconduct, including against Stewart, Gross' office was investigated by an independent commission of lawyers and pathologists; Gross was cleared of covering up police brutality, but, following a further investigation, he was eventually fired by Koch for bad management in 1987.
After the officers’ acquittal, the Stewart family also filed a civil suit against the 11 men in question and the Metropolitan Transit Authority. Eventually, in 1990, under the city’s new mayor, David Dinkins, they were awarded $1.7million out of court in 1990 in a settlement paid by the Transit Authority (though it did "not constitute any admission of wrongdoing" according to the Mayor's office.
Lady Pink has no doubt about what happened, she says; she can distinctly remember the day after Stewart’s arrest overhearing a policeman telling subway workers about the incident. “I’m standing [at] my train station coming home from school, reading a book and I hear a cop talking to some of the workers from the transit authority, bragging to them how ‘last night we beat this kid so bad that he was banging his own head on the tile wall…’ I pretended to carry on reading my book, but I was listening to them, this bunch of five or six white guys laughing about what had happened. It was a sheer hate crime.”
Basquiat’s Defacement: The Untold Story is at The Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York, until 6 November
Keith Haring is at Tate Liverpool, until 10 November

June 4, 2019

The Beating Death of a Black Trans Woman Changed Dallas

By Quinton Boudwin 

DALLAS — On April 12, Muhlaysia Booker, a black trans woman from Dallas, was jumped by a group of men yelling homophobic slurs in the parking lot of her apartment complex. A video of the beating was broadcast all over the world.

Days later, she went public and spoke out against her attackers, backed by members of the black trans community in Dallas.

“She knew she had to. But that's not what she wanted. She didn't want to do it. And she didn't want to do it because she knew her doing it would put other people’s lives in jeopardy,” said Booker’s friend Robyn “Pocahontas” Crowe.

Four weeks later, Booker was found dead from a gunshot wound to the head.

Booker was the fifth trans woman killed so far this year, and one of 133 killed in the last six years, according to LGBT advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign. Two-thirds of those murdered were black, and more were killed in the South than in any other region.

But Dallas is supposed to be different. Since at least the 1970s, the city has had a vibrant LGBT community, concentrated in the historic neighborhood of Oak Lawn. Today, that community has several allies in government and law enforcement.

But Muhlaysia Booker’s friends say that progress is limited by race and class — and specifically, that it does not extend to black trans women like them, and that the city has done nothing to stop the violence they routinely face. Even Oak Lawn, the city’s historic "gayborhood, has been gentrified beyond recognition.

“It makes us feel like we’re not wanted anywhere,” said Booker’s friend Mieko Hicks.

VICE News went to Dallas to learn how Muhlaysia Booker’s death affected the city’s black trans community.

May 8, 2019

Black and Gay, Dead From Walgreens Security guards

By Minyvonne Burke at NBC News
The sister of a man shot and killed by a Walgreens security guard after he was suspected of shoplifting has filed a wrongful death lawsuit claiming her brother was a victim of bias because he was black and gay.
The suit, filed with the Los Angeles County Superior Court on April 26, states that Jonathan Hart was "maliciously, wrongfully, intentionally, negligently and/or carelessly" shot in the back of his neck and killed in December 2018 by armed guard Donald Vincent Ciota II.
Ciota, Walgreens and two security companies that work with the store chain are named in the suit.
Image: Jonathan Hart
Jonathan HartCoutresy of Jasmyne Cannick
Ciota, 28, allegedly confronted Hart and two of his friends inside the Hollywood, California, store on Dec. 2 because he thought Hart was stealing. The two men got into a physical altercation, and Ciota allegedly pulled out a gun and shot Hart as he fled.
Carl Douglas, an attorney for the man's family, said Hart, who was in his early 20s, gay and homeless, was hit in the neck and died hours later at the hospital.
The complaint, which denies that Hart was shoplifting, accuses Ciota of targeting Hart because of his race and sexual orientation. According to the lawsuit, Hart and his friends had allegedly complained to a Walgreens employee prior to the shooting about Ciota's "aggressive and hostile manner."
Hart was walking toward an exit when Ciota, who had a Taser and a gun, allegedly grabbed his weapon, yelled "freeze" and then fired a shot, according to the lawsuit.
"Jonathan committed no crime or other act against defendant Ciota, or any other person, to justify the use of deadly force against him. He was unarmed and did nothing to cause defendant Ciota to believe he was confronting an imminent threat to his life or anyone else's life," the lawsuit states. Ciota was charged in January with one count of murder. He pleaded not guilty during a court appearance that same month, NBC Los Angeles reports. Records show that Ciota is being held at a Los Angeles jail on $3 million bail. His lawyer did not return a request for comment by NBC News.
The suit accuses Walgreens of staffing armed guards in stores located in predominantly African American and Hispanic communities or with a high homelessness rate.
Walgreens said in a statement Tuesday that any suggestion that customers are racially profiled or discriminated against is "false and contrary to our deep commitment to inclusive diversity."
"As we stated at the time this tragic incident occurred, we immediately terminated the security company that employed the guard involved," the company said. "We are fully committed to providing a safe environment for our employees and customers in the communities we serve."
Hart's sister, Psykssyanna Hart, is seeking an unspecified amount of damages.

May 7, 2019

Brunei Feeling The World Pressure Backs Down on Death To Gays But it Still Could Be Imposed


Brunei has backtracked on enforcing laws introduced last month that would have made sex between men and adultery punishable by stoning to death.
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah on Sunday extended a moratorium on the death penalty to cover the new legislation. 
The rethink follows a global outcry over the laws, including boycotts and celebrity protests.
While still on the statute books for some crimes, no executions have been carried out in Brunei since 1957. 
Last month Brunei rolled out a strict new interpretation of Islamic laws or Sharia. 
In a speech, the sultan said he was aware there had been "many questions and misperceptions" regarding the implementation of the legislation, called Syariah Penal Code Order (SPCO).
While saying that a moratorium on the death penalty would be applied to the SPCO he also defended the new rules, saying their "merit" would become clear.
The speech marks the first time the country's ruler has spoken publicly about the legislation since their introduction. 
Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said she was "delighted the death penalty has been removed and that the de facto moratorium which has been in place for more than two decades, will also cover the SPCO".
Homosexuality was already illegal in Brunei and punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Muslims make up about two-thirds of the country's population of 420,000. 

What are the laws?

The small South-East Asian nation first introduced Sharia law in 2014, giving it a dual legal system with both Sharia and Common Law. 
The first phase covered crimes punishable by prison sentences and fines. 

Media caption"As a kid... we were taught the stones should not be too big"

The laws introduced on 3 April marked the next phase of the legislation, and covered crimes punishable by amputation and stoning.
Under the legislation: 
  • Offenses such as rape, adultery, sodomy, robbery and insult or defamation of the Prophet Muhammad carry the maximum penalty of death
  • Lesbian sex carries a different penalty of 40 strokes of the cane and/or a maximum of 10 years in jail
  • The punishment for theft is amputation
  • Those who "persuade, tell or encourage" Muslim children under the age of 18 "to accept the teachings of religions other than Islam" are liable to a fine or jail
  • Individuals who have not reached puberty but are convicted of certain offenses may be instead subjected to whipping.

What was the reaction?

The laws sparked international outrage, throwing the tiny South-East Asian nation into the global spotlight. 
Ahead of their implementation, the UN warned that the laws contravened international human rights standards set out in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights - which was ratified by Brunei in 2006.
Celebrities including George Clooney and Elton John called for a boycott of luxury hotels with links to Brunei over the legislation.
Mr Clooney said the new laws amounted to "human rights violations".
Many in Brunei's gay community expressed shock and fear at the punishments.

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