Showing posts with label Louisiana. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Louisiana. Show all posts

March 31, 2020

Mega Churches in Louisiana,Ohio,Fl. Can't Afford To Stop Services They Continue Along COVID

                                In Pictures: America's 10 Biggest Megachurches
Congregants of megachurches in Louisiana, Ohio and Florida attended services in defiance of social distancing orders on Sunday morning, even as politicians and doctors took to weekly news shows to warn of coronavirus’s spread in the U.S.

In Louisiana, which has seen a spike in cases and has a shelter-in-place order, the Life Tabernacle Church in the town of Central held services at 10 a.m. More than 550 parishioners attended, about half as many as the week before, pastor Tony Spell told a local news reporter. 

His state’s governor raised alarms Sunday that hospitals in nearby New Orleans could run out of capacity for breathing machines within a week as the state’s coronavirus death toll has climbed to the fourth-highest in the country. “We’re on a trajectory right now where we’ll not be able to deliver the care that people need when they need it,” Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Edwards, who has limited public gatherings to 50 or under, last week urged “all faith leaders to heed this directive”

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci warned that the U.S. could see 100,000 to 200,000 deaths from the virus, a stark counterpoint to discussions about whether to restart parts of the U.S. economy that have been on shutdown.

Pastor Spell told local news outlet NBC15 earlier this month that he didn’t believe his congregation was in danger of infection. “It’s not a concern,” he said. “The virus, we believe, is politically motivated. We hold our religious rights dear and we are going to assemble no matter what someone says.” The church did not respond to request for comment.

The River Church in Tampa, Florida, also held services this Sunday. Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne posted a livestream of the services on YouTube, showing the sizable crowd. Howard-Browne said attendees were practicing “social distancing, or whatever” though the crowd appeared to be dense.

“We are not a non-essential service,” Howard-Browne said during the service. “You’re probably going to get infected at some other place, not here.”

The pastor condemned scientific reports about the virus and said that the pandemic was of less concern than the flu, a view that medical experts have disputed. The church did not respond to a request for comment.

Solid Rock Church in Lebanon, Ohio, with 3,500 members by one recent count, held services Sunday in defiance of a letter from the local health department urging it not to meet, according to a local news report. The church, in a statement, cited its first amendment right to religious assembly.

Some megachurches have opted out of in-person services and turned to live streaming entirely. The Church at Rock Creek, a mega church in Little Rock, Arkansas, not only held online services—it also digitized tithing and children’s activities. Likewise, Joel Osteen, the nation’s best known mega church pastor, held services online, streaming on social media and through his own app.

March 4, 2017

Three Transgender Women Murdered in Louisiana, Community Upset

Emily Lane, | The Times-PicayuneBy Emily Lane, | The Times-Picayune 
There were always days when Syria Synclaire worried whether, as a black transgender woman in New Orleans, a stranger's taunt would one day escalate to something dangerous, or whether she would face harassment just for walking to the bus stop. 
Then Chyna Gibson, who was like family to Synclaire, was shot to death Saturday (Feb. 25) outside a New Orleans East shopping center. Two days later, a second transgender woman, 25-year-old Ciara McElveen, with whom Synclaire worked at a shelter, was fatally stabbed in the 7th Ward.
"I was shocked," Synclaire said. "I was nervous. And I was ultimately frightened. It's real: people's hatred. People's fear of the unknown of trans experience could lead to my death."
New Orleans police say the deaths of Gibson and McElveen do not appear to be connected, and that neither was targeted for being a transgender woman. Still, local and national LGBT advocacy groups say their deaths highlight a disturbing number of violent crimes against transgender people in Louisiana and elsewhere.
Seven transgender women have been killed in the United States in the first two months of 2017, according to the New York City Anti-Violence Project, which tracks homicides of transgender people.  
Do Louisiana hate crime laws cover transgender people?

Questions raised after two transgender women in New Orleans are murdered in three days

Three of the seven were killed in Louisiana: Gibson, McElveen and 18-year-old Jaquarrius Holland, who was gunned down Feb. 19 in Monroe. A comment on a GoFundMe page seeking donations for Holland's funeral arrangements notes that Holland "never stopped fighting" to be herself. 
"My FRIEND didn't deserve this at all! SHE was beautiful," the post says.
The Anti-Violence Project reports 23 transgender people were the victims of homicides in 2016. Other organizations that track homicides of transgender people, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the LGBT news organization The Advocate, both recorded 27 homicides of transgender people. All three organizations say the totals were the highest on record.
Anti-Violence Project spokeswoman Emily Waters said the reason the counts don't match is the same as the reason total homicides of transgender people are likely understated: Police and media often identify transgender victims by their birth names, a practice known as misgendering.
"We really are just hitting the tip of the iceberg here," said Waters, of efforts to track transgender homicide victims. "Transgender identities are so often erased, and they so often experience violence because of their identities."
While transgender people have always existed, Waters said, records of violence against them have not always been tracked because the victims are so often misgendered as to render the data meaningless.
The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality found 46 percent of respondents reported being verbally harassed in the past year because they were transgender, and nearly 1 in 10 reported being physically attacked for being transgender. 
Those who commit violence against transgender people target transgender women of color at  disproportionate rates, said Nick Adams, director of transgender media for GLAAD, a media monitoring organization founded in 1985.
"Transgender women of color often live at the dangerous intersection of transphobia, racism, sexism and criminalization, which can lead to high rates of poverty, unemployment, and homelessness, putting them at greater risk for violence." 
All three of the Louisiana transgender women killed in February were black transgender women.
Misgendering by police
Getting accurate data about the number of transgender murder victims is critical, Adams and Waters say, if the scope of the problem is going to be brought to light.
"The more the public becomes aware of something," Waters said, "the more resources get put into it."
The problem for police and news media is that a victim's gender identity is not always accurately reflected on identity documents, such as driver's licenses, that serve as source material for police reports and crime stories. Often when the victim is a transgender person, those documents "do not match how they live authentically," Adams said.
The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found more than two thirds - 68 percent - of the 27,715 respondents had none of their IDs changed to reflect the name and gender they preferred, Adams pointed out. 
Legally changing a name can cost hundreds of dollars and often involves jumping through "bureaucratic hoops," Adams said. Moreover, laws in some states require proof of certain medical procedures to change one's legal sex, another financial hurdle many transgender people have difficulty clearing. 
Until police departments and news media make more of an effort to authenticate gender identity by speaking to family and friends, Adams said, "we won't have good information about how to stop them."   
The New Orleans Police Department has addressed the problem in part by having an LGBT liaison, Sgt. Frank Robinson, dedicated to improving the department's relationship with and treatment of the transgender community.
"In the past, there was a lot of concerns within the LGBT community ... that the NOPD was very insensitive to their needs," Robertson, a 15-year NOPD veteran, is quoted as saying in an NOPD press release distributed Wednesday. "I can bridge that gap to bring us together."
Robertson said when NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison first approached him for the job, he was reluctant to take it because he had not yet "come out professionally." He ultimately  decided giving a voice to the LGBT community on the force outweighed concerns about his privacy. 
Members of the LGBT community are comfortable sharing their concerns and information with him, Robertson said, "because I'm out there with them, fellowshipping with them, hanging out with them."
In late January, Robertson recorded a video message posted to NOPD's YouTube channel and asking the transgender victim or any witnesses of a videotaped attack in New Orleans to come forward to police. The video, posted that month to social media, showed two men chasing a transgender woman and beating her, talking lightly about the attack, "like it was a game, like they were chasing a rabbit," as Robertson described it in the video. 
After Robertson made the plea for information, the victim came forward to him. The case remains under investigation. 
Although the NOPD has not formally tailored its data collection to capture all LGBT victims in a category, Robertson said Thursday he has recently started his own database. He started on Monday, he said, tracking crime incidents involving members of the LGBT community.
More work to be done
But one officer does not represent a culture change, said Sebastian Rey, a New Orleans-area resident who works with Louisiana Trans Advocates.
Rey said some NOPD officers, like Robertson, "will climb mountains to get you justice." But others come to crime scenes with personal biases on full display. They assume transgender people participate in the "street economy," he said, which may not be the case.
"They view us as being part of the problem, rather than just an innocent victim. And that's not accurate," he said. Some transgender crime victims are reluctant to report crimes because other transgender crime victims have sought help from NOPD only to get their "priors checked" and their "purse searched," he said.  
Many in the transgender community are now eager to improve their relationship with NOPD for a better shot at getting justice, Rey said. NOPD is a "big department," he said, and he understands transgender person's experience with NOPD will vary depending which officer responds. 
"Recognizing their humanity will be a part of them recognizing ours," he said.
A Town Hall organized by advocacy group Transitions Louisiana is planning a town hall meeting Friday (March 10) at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans on Jefferson Avenue. One of the topics will be the transgender community's relationship with NOPD, Rey said. Robertson has been invited to attend.
"We're going to fight back'
Co'Bella Monroe, a 20-year-old transgender woman who lives in New Orleans, said the back-to-back murders of Gibson and McElveen has drawn the transgender community together "just to hold each other, to see where people are hurting and seeing how we can heal."
The local transgender community is tightly knit, she said, like a family. Synclaire, Chyna Gibson's close friend, said that many within that community are less interested in seeking acceptance for living as a transgender person - "Some people will never understand," she said - than in feeling safe.
"We're not causing any bodily harm to anyone," Synclaire said. "We're just literally living our lives and living in our truth."
Synclaire said education is the key to increasing tolerance. She hopes the community understands that Gibson was someone's daughter, someone's niece, someone's sister and someone's friend.
The way she was killed, Synclaire said, suggested the perpetrator took her life "so effortlessly" and thought that because she was a transgender woman, "no one would notice."
"We are going to notice," Synclaire said. "And we're going to celebrate. And we're going to fight back."
Dozens of people on Thursday leaned on each other, some cradling each other's shoulders in their arms, as they gathered at a vigil to remember Gibson at the gates of Louis Armstrong Park. Candles surrounded her portrait, people spoke of their memories, and colored balloons floated into the air.
Beneath many jackets and coats of the people gathered were white T-shirts with a photo of Gibson and the words, "Justice for Chyna."
* Chyna Gibson, 31
Shot to death Feb. 25 about 8:30 p.m. outside the Bella Plaza shopping center in the 4300 block of Downman Road in New Orleans East. Police found her lying between two cars parked in front of a clothing store. Family and friends said she was a originally from New Orleans and performed in drag shows across the country. A friend told a reporter she had been living in California but came to her native New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras. NOPD on Thursday distributed images to the public of two "persons of interest" in the case.
Murder victim Chyna Gibson mourned by family, friends
"Chyna didn't affiliate herself with any kind of drama," a friend said. "It's a shocker to everyone."

*Ciara McElveen, 25
Fatally stabbed Feb. 27, her body found about 9 a.m. at Columbus Street and North Claiborne Avenue. She was taken to an area hospital, where she died.  According to police, witnesses saw a man in a black car, possibly a Chevrolet Camaro, stop the car and grab something out of the trunk. He walked to the passenger side, where McElveen was sitting, and stabbed her before pulling her from the car. Police on Wednesday released images of a "vehicle of interest," possibly a black Chevrolet Camaro, in the stabbing death.
Pushed to society's edges, 7th Ward stabbing victim 'at peace'
McElveen was the second transgender woman to be killed in New Orleans in a three-day span.

* Jaquarrius Holland, 18
Shot to death Feb. 19 about 8 p.m. on Grammont Street in Monroe, the Monroe News Star reported. The newspaper reported he had one gunshot to the head. Police the next day said Malcom Derricktavois Harvey was wanted in Holland's death on a charge of second-degree murder. The outlet said the gunshot followed a "verbal altercation" between the two. Chesna Littleberry, whose name authored the post on GoFundMe, told Holland loved makeup and hairstyling and earned the nickname "eyelash queen." The Times-Picayune's attempts to reach LIttleberry were unsuccessful. She told that although Holland was like a younger sister to Littleberry, Holland taught her about self-acceptance.
* Devin Diamond, 20
Found dead June 5, 2016, about 4:20 a.m. in a burning vehicle in the 4400 block of Flite Court in Pines Village. The Orleans Parish Coroner said Diamond died of blunt force trauma. Police announced later that month investigators were seeking an older-model red pickup truck with chrome rims, running boards, tinted windows and rearview mirrors, which the department said was a "vehicle of interest" in the case. Diamond's friend George Melichar said Diamond was on a journey of transitioning into a woman and described her as "full of life." Diamond had dreams of becoming a veterinarian or a make-up and hair stylist, her mother Antoinette Diamond said. 
Times-Picayune staff writers Laura McKnight, Richard Webster, Jonathan Bullington and Beau Evans contributed to this report.

October 26, 2016

In Louisiana an Immigrant May Not Get Married [Gay or Straight]

 Humans without human Rights! Louisiana


When Victor Anh Vo went with his fiancée to obtain a marriage license, he instead received a nasty shock: The couple was legally barred from getting married. Both Vo and his fiancée are American citizens of legal age—but Vo was born in a refugee camp and has no official birth certificate. As a parish clerk informed the devastated couple, that disqualifies him from obtaining a license, because Louisiana law forbids anyone without a birth certificate from marrying within the state.

This requirement is no ancient rule. It was enacted just last year during a fit of legislative xenophobia driven by paranoia that immigrants were committing marriage fraud in Louisiana. Now a coalition of attorneys from the National Immigration Law Center, the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, and the law firm Skadden, Arps is challenging the measure in court. Their fight to overturn the law is the first big marriage equality battle post-Obergefell, and it poses a nearly identical question: Can states deny individuals their fundamental right to marry because they don’t think certain people deserve to get married?

On the surface, the Lousiana law, dubbed Act 436, might not appear especially insidious. The bill simply adds documentary requirements to the marriage licensing process. Applicants must now provide a Social Security number and a birth certificate before receiving a license. If they don’t have a Social Security number, then they must present a birth certificate and a passport. If they don’t have a passport, they need official documentation showing that they are in the United States legally—in addition to a birth certificate. (A previous statute allowed an individual with no birth certificate to prove his or her identity before a judge, but that judicial bypass procedure is now gone.) The upshot of these requirements is that someone like Vo, who was born in a refugee camp in Indonesia after his parents fled Vietnam, cannot ever get married in Louisiana.

Why did the Louisiana legislature add these extensive new requirements, which then–Gov. Bobby Jindal happily signed into law? Rep. Valarie Hodges, Act 436’s sponsor, initially asserted that the bill was necessary to “combat marriage fraud” broadly. But after the bill passed, Hodges acknowledged that its true purpose was to combat immigration fraud, stating that her measure was necessary to prevent immigrants from marrying citizens solely to get lawful permanent resident status. Immigrant marriage fraud, however, is not known to be a particular problem in Louisiana—and federal law explicitly grants the federal government, not the states, the power to combat it.

I asked Alvaro Huerta, an attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, what he thought the bill’s true purpose was.

“Act 436’s intention isn’t really combatting marriage fraud writ large,” Huerta told me. “The bill is trying to get at immigrants—and, in particular, making it very difficult for undocumented immigrants to obtain marriage licenses.”

Audrey Stewart, the managing director at the New Orleans Center for Racial Justice, agreed. “This law is not about marriage fraud,” she told me. “It is an attack on immigrant families and communities. And it’s rooted in anti-immigrant sentiment.”

But Act 436’s challengers don’t even need to prove the bill’s insidious intent in court: It is, by its own terms, almost certainly unconstitutional under Obergefell. In that decision, the court reiterated that marriage is a fundamental right, a critical component of the “liberty” protected by the Constitution, and held that states may not deny marriage rights based on some arbitrary distinction. Nationality or immigration status is surely as arbitrary a distinction as gender—so a law that restricts marriage rights on those bases is just as invalid as a law that restricts marriage rights on the basis of sexual orientation. That’s why the suit against Act 436 opens with the stirring peroration from Obergefell, an encomium to marriage proclaiming that all loving couples deserve “equal dignity in the eyes of the law.”

“Obergefell didn’t explicitly extend to immigration,” Huerta told me, “but the argument is there. It’s spot-on precedent for this case. Louisiana can’t pass laws that infringe on that right to marry unless they have a very compelling state reason. And we can’t think of any compelling reasons for wanting to keep some people, particularly immigrants, from getting married to the people that they love—or preventing the people who love immigrants from marrying them”
Without the certificate, how can we be sure they were actually born?

Huerta noted that even if the suit doesn’t prevail under Obergefell, Act 436 is still a straightforward violation of the Equal Protection Clause (which generally prohibits discrimination on the basis of national origin). But Obergefell is the headlining precedent here, and the all-stars of the marriage equality movement have already lined up to support the suit. Indeed, the National Center for Lesbian Rights has already signaled its eagerness to contribute to the litigation in any way it can. I asked the group’s legal director, Shannon Price Minter, why the group was jumping into this battle. He provided me with the remarks he delivered to the National Immigration Law Center in throwing his organization’s support behind the suit:

Speaking on behalf of the LGBT community, whose fundamental freedom to marry was only recently recognized in this country, just last year by the U.S. Supreme Court, we are appalled by Louisiana’s blatant attempt to deny the fundamental right to marry to immigrants, which of course includes many LGBT people who have come to this country from other places and who are now living in Louisiana.
As LGBT people know from recent experience, the purpose and impact of such laws are so invidious and harmful—and especially so here, when the discrimination is targeted at a class of people, immigrants, who have already experienced so much discrimination and abuse and who are under attack in such a vicious way by one of our presidential candidates.

Laws such as these are intended to—and do—send a clear message that immigrants are not entitled to equal dignity and respect, and that their relationships are not worthy of the same protections as other. They have a devastating practical impact as well, as same-sex couples experienced for so many years, in denying couples the ability to protect their relationships and their families.

The connection Minter draws between this litigation and same-sex marriage is potent and depressingly topical. This election season has featured relatively little conversation about gay people’s rights—and extensive debate about the rights of immigrants. Much like George W. Bush campaigned on homophobia in 2004, Donald Trump has rooted his campaign in vicious xenophobia, promoting legalized discrimination against immigrants and making many feel unwelcome in the United States. For LGBTQ advocates, the parallels to their own recent history are impossible to ignore. And Louisiana will soon discover that after Obergefell, the constitutional guarantee of “equal dignity” for all cannot be so easily abridged.

Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers the law and LGBTQ issues

August 19, 2016

Nature Floods Anti Gay Lobbyist Tony Perkins

Sometimes a story is so thick with irony it feels like it has to be an act of divine intervention. Last Saturday, the home of anti-gay-rights lobbyist Tony Perkins was destroyed during the disastrous flood that’s ravaged his home state of Louisiana. Although no one should take an ounce of joy in the destruction of another person’s home, it’s a bizarre twist in the life of a man who claimed that god unleashes natural disasters on America to punish gay people.

In a 2015 interview, Perkins agreed with Messianic Jewish pastor Jonathan Cahn that Hurricane Joaquin was a “sign of God’s wrath” over the legalization of gay marriage. Perkins responded affirmatively saying, “God is trying to send us a message.” Perkins has a dark history of supporting violence against gays. As president of the Family Research Council he once backed the “Kill the Gays” bill in Uganda calling it an effort to “uphold moral conduct that protects others.”

Although Perkins has yet to attribute the Louisiana flood to the wrath of a supernatural being, he did say it was a “flood of near-biblical proportions” in an interview with the Family Research Council. “We had to escape from our home Saturday by canoe. We had about 10 feet of water at the end of our driveway. Our house flooded, a few of our cars flooded.” It’s good news that Perkins is safe, maybe this experience will allow him to reflect on the real causes of natural disasters. Like, extreme humidity and near-stationary low pressure hovering over the Gulf Coast, perhaps?

[NBC and The Guardian also ran postings on this story]

May 27, 2016

LA.Enacts Hate Crime Law for Cops[Violence vs.Cops All Time Low]

Image result for hate crimes cops

Crimes against police are the most severely punished in all 50 states and most countries but someone in Louisiana which is one of the states that have always had problems protecting the elderly, gays, Transexuals, blacks, bi racial minorities, have now made the police another minority.

 However this minority carry guns and more. It has the power of the government behind it plus the credibility of the courts and the most severe crimes from something as simple as resisting arrest and as serious as murder. On the other hand when someone is injured by the police the injured or family of disease face an almost unscalable mountain not just for justice but many times just for monetary damages to cover some of the expenses. Almost all of the cases never reach a jury. 

It is right and just that the penalties are high for crimes against law enforcement and if a legislature believes they should be higher then they should be. But by putting police or any other governmental institution in the same field as a gay man beaten to a pulp just because he is gay or a senior citizen because they are senior citizens and thus easy prey then the classification stops in helping deterrence of this crime. As you include any government agency,  be the Police, IRS or FBI you obscure the reason and the effectivity of hate crime law.
If one knows takes into account the result of this law and the fight against hate crime and equal rights persist, would a homophobic, racist bias law maker have introduced it to dilute the LGBT and others putting Police Squarely Vs. equal rights in Louisiana and others that will pursue the same route? Noh! Really? This law is not intended to fight crime against cops and police ing would be made more difficult with resentment from minorities.  How does that helps?

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe. Albert Einstein

Yesterday late afternoon 
New York Times reported on this story:

Hate crime statutes originated as a response to bigotry, a special penalty for singling people out for abuse based on factors like race, ethnicity, sex, religion, sexual orientation or, most recently, gender identity. On Thursday, Louisiana became the first state to add law enforcement officers to that list.

A bill signed into law by Gov. John Bel Edwards on Thursday set off a debate over whether the measure was really needed to protect officers, or whether, as civil rights groups charged, it was an effort to dilute the basic meaning of hate crimes and to undermine the movement protesting the use of force by the police. A similar bill is pending in Congress.

The action comes at a time of fierce national debate over policing and race. High profile deaths of African- Americans in the hands of police — from Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., to Eric Garner in New York City — have prompted intense criticism of law enforcement. That criticism has come in street demonstrations and on social media, spawning the Black Lives Matter movement. Some law enforcement groups have charged that those protests have led to an increase in attacks on police officers, though there is little data to support that. Still, some supporters of law enforcement have adopted the slogan, “Blue Lives Matter.”

“I’ve read various accounts of people who I would say were employing a deliberate campaign to terrorize our officers,” said state Representative Lance Harris, the Republican author of the Louisiana measure. “I just wanted to give an extra level of protection to the people who protect us.”

Ernest L. Johnson, Sr., president of the Louisiana branch of the N.A.A.C.P., countered, saying, “Hate crimes law is based upon a history of discrimination against certain groups of people, and a bill like this just tries to water down that reality, because there is not a history of discrimination against police and firefighters.”

“The men and women who put their lives on the line every day, often under very dangerous circumstances are true heroes and they deserve every protection that we can give them,” said Mr. Edwards, a Democrat whose family ties to law enforcement run broad and deep. His brother, Daniel, is the sheriff in Tangipahoa Parish; another brother, Frank, is the police chief of Independence, a town in the parish; and their father, grandfather and great-great-grandfather were also sheriffs in Tangipahoa.

William J. Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, an alliance of officers’ unions, lauded the bill. “I think it’s fair to say that officers are under attack nationwide, and this is a reasonable response,” he said. 

But violence against police officers stands near an all-time low, according to data kept by the F.B.I. and private groups. In recent years, homicides have been less than half as common as they were in the 1970s, when there were far fewer officers. In 2015, 41 officers on duty were “feloniously killed,” a category that excludes accidental deaths, the second-lowest figure in the last 60 years; the lowest was in 2014.

So far this year, 20 officers have been fatally shot while on duty, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. That is up from 16 at the same point last year, but it is a pace that would still make 2016 one of the least deadly years on record.

Mr. Harris, Mr. Johnson and others have cited two fatal incidents in particular. Last August, Darren H. Goforth, a Harris County sheriff’s deputy, was shot to death in Cypress, Tex., as he was getting gas for his patrol car; and in December 2014, the New York City police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were shot to death as they sat in a patrol car in Brooklyn.

In each case, law enforcement officials attributed the killings to hatred of the police. The leader of a police union in New York blamed Mayor Bill DeBlasio, who had voiced sympathy for protests against police killings, for the shooting there. The Harris County sheriff, Ron Hickman, said anti-law-enforcement speech, which he linked to Black Lives Matter, had promoted the killling of officers; a statement he later said he regretted, though he said he still believed that Deputy Goforth had bee targeted.

The assailant in New York had made it clear that he intended to kill officers in retaliation for the killings of black men, but in the Texas case, officials have not said what evidence they have about a motive. Both gunmen had histories of severe mental illness.

“Perception matters, and low-frequency, high-impact events drive perception,” whether that means viral video of a shooting by an officer, or violence against an officer, said Jim Bueermann, president of the Police Foundation, a national group that researches and advises law enforcement. “Police officers believe that the odds have increased that they will be assaulted and ambushed and attacked, even though the numbers may not support that,” he said.

Louisiana, like many states, already had a law that increased penalties for crimes committed against emergency responders. The hate crimes statute, which is separate, provides that up to five more years can be added to the prison sentence of a person who is convicted of a felony if the court finds that the victim was chosen based on prejudice against certain groups.

Mr. Harris noted that among the criteria already in the law were “membership or service in, or employment with, an organization.” That meant, he said, that adding law enforcement officers and firefighters simply makes explicit what was already implied.

The Louisiana bill caused few ripples until it was close to becoming law; some of the groups now lined up in favor and against it were not aware of it until a few days ago. It passed Louisiana’s Republican-controlled House on a 92 to 0 vote. In the Republican-controlled Senate, it passed 33 to 3. Mr. Harris said he never expected it to draw much attention, but this week he said he had fielded calls on it from around the country.

Allison Padilla-Goodman, director of the Anti-Defamation League for the region that includes Louisiana, said hate crimes laws originated because crimes motivated by bias were often brushed off, but “there is zero confusion that a crime against a cop gets treated very seriously.”

She added, “Hate crimes are about an identity-based bias, an immutable characteristic that a person cannot change. Adding a professional category changes and confuses the meaning of that.”

Mr. Bueermann, a former police chief of Redlands, Calif., said that covering officers under hate crimes laws “can reinforce the notion that hatred of a group because of who they are has no place in our society, which is good,” but it should be coupled with holding officers to higher standards of conduct.

He cautioned that the law’s supporters had opened a new debate that could go in directions they might not like.

“At some point, someone might suggest that abortion physicians should also be protected,” he said, “that if you are hunted down because of your profession, whatever the profession, that should be a hate crime.”

March 30, 2016

Democratic Gov. Reversing Gov.Jindal Anti Gay Bigotry Exec.Orders

John Bel Edwards (Photo via Facebook).
                                    John Bel Edwards (Photo via Facebook).
  Spokeswoman for the office of Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) has told reporters that the governor intends to rescind an executive order targeting the LGBT community that was signed into effect last year by former Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), as first reported by the Hollywood publication Deadline. The executive order, which is currently still in place, allows businesses and state agencies that receive taxpayer money to cite “sincerely held religious beliefs” as justification for refusing to provide goods and services to LGBT people and same-sex couples.
Jindal, who was in the midst of running for the GOP presidential nomination at the time and desperately wanted to court social conservatives, issued the order after a state House committee failed to pass a bill that would give people who object to homosexuality massive leeway in how they choose to discriminate against LGBT people. Jindal’s order does not expire until 60 days after the end of this year’s legislative session.  Shauna Sanford, a spokeswoman for Edwards, said the executive order is still in the drafting stage.
“As far as Jindal’s religious liberty order, the governor intends to rescind it in the near future,” Sanford said in a statement.
Reversing Jindal’s order would mark Edwards’ second prominent move towards promoting LGBT equality. Upon taking office earlier this year, Edwards issued an executive order prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in state employment and by companies that contract with the state. 
Deadline reports that Edwards is particularly interested in courting the film industry. Louisiana already offers generous tax incentives for production companies to film in the state. Like Louisiana, the state of Georgia has also reaped financial benefits that come from offering the tax breaks to the film industry. For the past two weeks, Georgia has been under the spotlight as Gov. Nathan Deal has weighed whether to sign or veto an anti-LGBT “religious freedom” bill that would have mirrored Jindal’s executive order. Under pressure from the film industry — including some companies that threatened to stop filming should the anti-LGBT bill become law — and the local business community, Deal eventually decided to veto the measure.

June 25, 2015

Largest Modern Slaughter of Gays in the U.S.

 Duane George “Mitch” Mitchell (left), 31, a beauty supply salesman and assistant pastor at the LGBTQ-friendly Metropolitan Community Church, died going back into the fire to save his partner, Louis Horace Broussard (right).ohnny Townsend/LGBT Religious Archives Network 

You've probably heard of New York City's Stonewall Inn, famous for its role in the LGBTQ rights movement and a newly designated landmark. What most Americans have never heard of is the story of the largest killing of gay people, all men, in US history.
Four years after the Stonewall Uprising, on June 24, 1973, 32 people were killed at the Upstairs Lounge in New Orleans, Louisiana. The building wasn't up to code; many guests were unable to escape to safety after an arsonist set the building on fire. The initial police report described a "possible arson."

Since the fire started in the entrance and blocked the fire escape on the second floor, it was impossible for lounge guests to safely escape. Graphic created by Dan Swenson,
Many others survived, some led to safety by a bartender.
As Elizabeth Dias and Jim Downs shared in a 2013 must-read essay in Time magazine:
The Jokes began almost immediately. The Rev. Troy Perry, founder of the MCC, flew in the morning after the fire and remembers a radio host asking on air, "What do we bury them in?" The punch line: "Fruit jars." The police department's chief of detectives reinforced the homophobic climate when he told reporters that identifying the bodies would be tough because many patrons carried fake identification and "some thieves hung out there, and you know this was a queer bar."
Despite the city's reputation for tolerance, there were consequences to being gay there in 1973. One victim, a teacher, was fired while in critical care at Charity Hospital after his school learned that he had been at the bar. He died days later from burns.
No convictions were made; the site is recognized by the National Park Service as a “place of loss." 

Media reaction to the mass killing at Upstairs Lounge reflected society's view on homosexuality
In this video from the coverage, CBS described the building as "a hangout of homosexuals":

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