Posts Tagged As: Hate Crimes

Report: Man With Weapons Arrested, Said He Was Going to LA Pride

Jim Burroway

June 12th, 2016

Pride celebrations are scheduled for today in several cities including Philadelphia and Los Angeles, where police in Santa Monica found possible explosives and assault rifles and ammunition in the car of a man who said he was going to LA Pride in West Hollywood:

Early Sunday, there was a call into Santa Monica police of a suspected prowler near Olympic Boulevard and 11th Street. Patrol officers responded and encountered an individual  who told officers he was waiting for a friend. That led officers to inspect the car and found several weapons a lot of ammunition as well as  tannerite, an ingredient that could be used to create a pipe bomb.

The car had Indiana plates. He did make comments that he was in town for the pride event in WeHo this weekend. Source said they did not know of any connection between what happened in Orlando and the investigation has been taken over by FBI.

I’ve already seen reports of police heightening security in LA and Philly.

Council On American-Islamic Relations React

Jim Burroway

June 12th, 2016

We condemn this monstrous attack and offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those killed or injured. The Muslim community joins our fellow Americans in repudiating anyone or any gropu that would claim to justify or excuse such an appalling act of violence.

Rasha Mubarak, the Orlando regional coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Blood Donors Needed In Orlando, But Many Gay Men Can’t Donate

Jim Burroway

June 12th, 2016

If this doesn’t beat all:

The need for blood after a shooting at a gay nightclub resurfaced complaints on social media about limits on gay men’s ability to donate blood. In December, the Food and Drug Administration lifted a lifetime ban for gay men, but continued to prohibit men from donating if they had had sex with men in the past year.

Equality Florida Reacts

Jim Burroway

June 12th, 2016

This is a press release sent out by Equality Florida:

We are reeling from the tragic news that a gunman opened fire on the 2am capacity crowd at Pulse leaving 50 people dead and over 50 injured according to preliminary reports.

We are heartbroken and angry that senseless violence has once again destroyed lives in our state and in our country.

Gay clubs hold a significant place in LGBTQ history. They were often the only safe gathering place and this horrific act strikes directly at our sense of safety. June commemorates our community standing up to anti-LGBTQ violence at the Stonewall Inn, the nightclub that has become the first LGBTQ site recognized as a national monument.

We have received a steady stream of emails and messages from those seeking to help or to make sense of the senseless. We make no assumptions on motive. We will await the details in tears of sadness and anger. We stand in solidarity and keep our thoughts on all whose lives have been lost or altered forever in this tragedy.

Plans are underway for the following. More details to come.

* The GLBT Community Center of Central Florida is now open and offering grief counseling to those affected by the Pulse Orlando massacre. They are encouraging anyone who needs help and support to please come to the center.
Address: 946 N Mills Ave Orlando, Florida 32803
Phone Number: (407) 228-8272

*For anyone needing support today, you may call the Zebra Coalition hotline at (407) 228-1446 to speak to a counselor.

* OneBlood, the local blood bank in Orlando, has posted an EMERGENCY need for O-, O+, and AB Plasma in the light of last night’s tragedy. If any of you have a chance today to go donate blood or plasma PLEASE DO. You could very well save someone’s life. To find a donation center or Big Red Bus near you visit or call 1.888.9Donate.

First Unitarian Church
1901 East Robinson Street
Orlando, FL 32803
now through 1 PM

Weingarten Realty
2566 E Colonial Drive
>12 pm-6 pm

Orlando Donor Center
8669 Commodity Circle
now til 1 o’clock

West Orlando Donor Center
345 W Michigan St Suite 106
now til 2 o’clock

* A vigil tomorrow pending clearance from police. To receive updates on the vigil with details as we receive them, sign up here:

* A GoFundMe account has been set up to help raise funds for the victims and families of the horrific Orlando Pulse Nighclub Shooting:

Early Reactions

Jim Burroway

June 12th, 2016

From CNN:

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement. “The President asked to receive regular updates as the FBI, and other federal officials, work with the Orlando Police to gather more information, and directed that the federal government provide any assistance necessary to pursue the investigation and support the community.”

Lisa Monaco, Obama’s homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, briefed the President, Earnest said. He said Obama asked for regular updates as federal and state officials investigate the shooting, which killed 50 people and wounded at least 53 others.

Vice President Joe Biden has also been briefed on the shooting and canceled a planned trip to Miami, Florida, to attend a fundraiser for Democratic National Committee chairwoman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.

Biden “offered his prayers for all those killed and injured in the shooting and sends his condolences to all the families and loved ones of the victims,” according to a statement from his spokesman.

Other reactions came in via Twitter

By the way, Rick Scott has spent the about five minutes talking about this on TV without mentioning the word “gay” once. Good job Rick!

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 8.57.35 AM

That last one is from Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick, whose account tweeted that out hours after the shooting started. The time stamp at precisely 5:00 a.m. suggests it was a previously scheduled tweet. It has since been deleted in the past half hour (sometime after 10:20 a.m. Central Time)

“Mommy I Love You”

Jim Burroway

June 12th, 2016

From the LA Times:

Witnesses said they heard at least 40 shots fired, and one witness said the shooting lasted the length of an entire song. As bullets tore through the crowd, men and women took cover by dropping to the floor and crawling for cover. Some apparently hid in the restrooms, including one man whose texts to his mother were broadcast over WFTV-TV:

“Mommy I love you”

“In club they shooting”

“He’s coming”

“I’m gonna die”

“He’s in the bathroom with us”

The fate of the young man, who was not identified by the station, was not immediately known. Just after the shooting, Pulse Orlando posted a note to its Web page that said, “Everyone get out of Pulse and keep running.”

DEVELOPING: At Least 50 Dead, 53 Injured In Orlando Gay Night Club Massacre

Jim Burroway

June 12th, 2016


It is being called the worst mass shooting in U.S. history since the 1921 Greenwood Massacre in Tulsa. These are the basic facts. Shooting broke out shortly after 2:00 a.m. in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.  A police officer was working in the club and exchanged fire with the gunman, identified as Omar Mateen, 29, from Ft. Pierce. Mateen then took about thirty hostages until about 5.00 a.m. when a SWAT team came in to free the hostages. Mateen was killed in the massive barrage of gunfire during the shootout.

The club was packed with about 320 people. As the shooting started, some mistook the gunfire as part of the music, similar to what happened during the first few seconds of the Bataclan theater massacre in Paris. As the tragedy unfolded, the city of Orlando ran out of ambulances to take the injured to hospitals. Some were transported by pickup trucks. Around 2 a.m., Pulse Orlando posted an urgent message on Facebook: “Everyone get out of pulse and keep running.”

Reports about Mateen himself and his possible motives are conflicting right now. His parents are from Afghanistan, but he may have been born in the U.S. He was a U.S. citizen, and worked as a security guard in Ft. Pierce. His father told NBC News that the motive was not religious, but that Mateen became angry two weeks ago when he saw two men kissing in Miami. One report says that Mateen had a license to carry guns. It’s not known whether the guns used in this massacre, which included an AR-15, were legal. Reports also say that police are including a possible terror motive as part of their investigation. Police say that Mateen was “previously known” to law enforcement, but say that he was not under active investigation as of last night. NBC reports that Mateen was in a database as a person of interest, not necessarily as part of a direct investigation but for the potential of  what NBC described as “peripheral associations.”

The L.A. Times put this in context:

Now no other American mass shooting comes close to the lives lost in Orlando on Sunday morning. Not at Columbine High School in Colorado, where 13 people died in 1999; nor in Newtown, Conn., where 26 people were killed in 2012; nor at Virginia Tech, where 32 people were killed in 2007.

Another Honduran LGBT Activist Murdered

Jim Burroway

June 4th, 2016

René Martínez holds a placard reading "I Run for Life. #Chamelecon Peace and Harmony." (via La Prensa)

René Martínez holds a placard reading, “I Run for Life. #Chamelecon Peace and Harmony.” (via La Prensa)

I don’t think there’s anyplace worse in the Western Hemisphere to be LGB or T than Honduras. Activists on the ground there say that more than 150 LGBT people have been killed there in recent years, with two of them — Walter Tróchez and Paola Barraza — being leading activists who lost their lives. René Martínez, who ran an anti-violence outreach center in the Chamelecón neighborhood of San Pedro Sula, Honduras’s second largest city, was killed this past week:

Friends called him Reny.

Friends called him Reny.

La Prensa, a Honduran newspaper, reported Rene Martínez’s family reported him missing on Wednesday after he left his home in the city of San Pedro Sula’s Chamelecón neighborhood and got into someone’s car.

La Prensa reported that Martínez’s relatives identified his body at San Pedro Sula’s morgue on Friday. The newspaper said it appears that Martínez was strangled to death.

…The U.S. Embassy in Honduras on Friday condemned “in the strongest terms the apparent murder of Rene Martínez.”

“A leader in the LGBTI community in San Pedro Sula and a rising political figure in Honduras, his death comes as a great shock,” said the Embassy in a statement. “We offer our condolences to his friends and family, and expect a full and thorough investigation into the circumstances of his death. The United States has already offered our assistance to Honduran authorities working to bring justice in this case.”

According to La Prensa, local officials say they don’t know whether Martinez was killed “for something personal or political, or whether it relates to the anti-violence work he was doing Chamelecón.” Martínez was also a rising figure in the ruling center-right National Party as an advocate for LGBT rights.

San Pedro Sula had been the “murder capital of the world” since 2011 due to drug and gang violence, only to be overtaken by Caracas, Venezuela this year. (Tegucigalpa, the nation’s capital, currently comes in at number 6.) Honduras also scores 31% in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.

West Virginia Law Says This Man Did Not Commit A Hate Crime

Jim Burroway

May 31st, 2016

StewartButtlerIn April, Steward Butler, a Marshall University running back, saw two men kissing in Huntington, West Virginia. He got out of the car, shouted anti-gay slurs, and punched the two men in the face.

Butler, who was expected to be one of the nation’s top running backs, was kicked off the team. A Cabell County grand jury indicted him on two felony counts of violating an individual’s civil rights, and two misdemeanor counts of battery. Cabell County prosecutor Sean Hammers acknowledged that West Virginia’s hate crime law doesn’t cover sexual orientation, but brought the civil rights charges anyway based on sex. Hammers argued that Butler wouldn’t have punched either victim if one of them had been a woman. The misdemeanor charges each allow for up to a year in jail. The civil rights violations carry a ten year prison term. But a judge didn’t buy Hammers’s argument and threw out the hate crime charge:

In a decision this month, Cabell County Circuit Court Judge Paul Farrell said West Virginia civil rights law protects people based on sex, but not sexual orientation, and ruled to drop the hate crime charges against Butler in 60 days, giving prosecutors time to appeal. Many other states specifically mention sexual orientation in listing the categories that elevate violence or threats of violence to a hate crime. West Virginia lawmakers had plenty of chances to follow suit but didn’t, Farrell wrote.

Hammers is appealing the decision to the state Supreme Court. “We now have an incident where two men were battered and their rights were violated,” he said, “and I think that even if we don’t win at the Supreme Court, we definitely put the spotlight on the statute that says, ‘hey, it should be interpreted to cover sexual orientation.'”

HateCrimeMapHate crime laws in fourteen states do not cover sexual orientation. Another six states have no hate crime laws period. One would hope that the federal hate crime law, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, could come into play here, but so far that seems unlikely:

The federal law requires that the crime “affected interstate or foreign commerce or occurred within federal special maritime and territorial jurisdiction.” So, some connection often has to be drawn across state lines — for instance, in a shooting, if a gun was manufactured in another state.

That’s more difficult when a crime is committed with someone’s fists, as in the West Virginia case..


Three Arrested In Philly Gay Bashing

Jim Burroway

September 24th, 2014

Philip R. Williams, Kathryn G. Knott, Kevin J. Harrigan.

Philip R. Williams, Kathryn G. Knott, Kevin J. Harrigan.

Three Philadelphia suspects turned themselves in after the Twitterverse solved a gay-bashing hate crime last week. Kevin Harrigan, 26, Philip Williams, 24, and Katherine Knott, 24, turned themselves in this morning after arrest warrants were issued yesterday. Knott, it turns out, is the daughter of a Chalfont, Bucks County Police Chief Karl Knott. News reports — and these captures from her Twitter feed — suggests she’s a real class act. Her employer at Abington Health’s Lansdale Hospital, where she worked as an emergency room tech, announced that she was suspended for allegedly violating a patients confidentiality by posting an X-ray on her Twitter account. Lawyers for the three however assert their innocence, claiming that it was one of the victims who threw the first punch.

The three face charges of aggravated assault, simple assault, conspiracy and reckless endangerment. The victims, a 28-year-old man and a 27-year-old man whose names have not been released, were approached by what was described as “a visibly intoxicated” group of about a dozen people who, according to police, made disparaging remarks about their sexual orientation. One of the men suffered serious facial injuries, with an orbital fracture and his jaw wired shut. The rest of the group have not been charged in connection with the assault, and police say that the reason for that “will come out in court.” One of those who weren’t charged, Fran McGlinn, was resigned from his job as assistant basketball coach at Archbishop Wood High School.

None of the suspects will be charged with a hate crime because Pennsylvania’s hate crime law does not include sexual orientation. At a news conference in Harrisburg yesterday, several Democratic state lawmakers urged the passage of proposed legislation to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s hate crimes statute. One of those lawmakers, Allegheny County Sen. Jim Ferlo, took that opportunity to come out in grand fashion: “I’m gay. Get over it. I love it. It’s a great life.”

The Whole Twitterverse Is Watching

Jim Burroway

September 17th, 2014

Last Thursday, a gay couple in Philadelphia was attacked by what was described as a “gang of eight to twelve” at about 11:00 p.m. A witness described the attackers as “tall, masculine-looking dudes,” about 30 or 31 in age. One of the victims — they have chosen to remain unidentified — was reportedly sent to the hospital with multiple fractures.

Sources tell NBC10 the 27-year-old and 28-year-old victims were walking from a restaurant in the area of 16th and Chancellor around 10:45 p.m. Thursday. Suddenly they were approached by a visibly intoxicated group of two men and six women.

Witnesses say someone in the group asked, “Is this your f****** boyfriend?”

When one of the victims told them yes, the group allegedly attacked them, punching and kicking them in the face, head and chest. Police say one of the suspects then snatched a victim’s bag containing a cellphone, wallet and credit cards. The group then fled in an unknown direction.

On Tuesday, Philadelphia police released a video of a group of people that they identified as suspects in the attack:

Within hours, Real Housewives of New Jersey cast member Greg Bennett tweeted two photos from the video to his 157,000 followers, along with another photo of a group of people dining at a restaurant that night that he thought looked like some of the suspects:

Bennet tweeted that “a friend of a friend of a friend saw my tweet… (and) sent me the pic. I wanted to get the word out.” And things quickly moved from there. Other tweeps identified the restaurant as La Viola, and saw some that some of the people in the photo had checked in at the restaurant that night on Face book.

A local reporter then tweeted that lawyers for people in the group had called police to make arrangements for them to come in. No arrests have been made yet, but Philly police say that this is how crimes will be solved in today’s social media culture:

NPR’s Melody Kramer has documented the timeline here.

Hate Crimes and Domestic Terrorism

Rob Tisinai

May 6th, 2014

What should we call perpetrators of hate crimes? “Hate criminals” hasn’t caught on. “Perpetrator of a hate crimes” is a mouthful. So what’s an alternative?

I vote for “terrorist.” Or, if you prefer, “domestic terrorist.” It’s blunt. And it has  legal justification.

I’ve spent too much time on message boards correcting our opponents’ understanding of hate crime legislation and explaining that bias crimes don’t just affect the immediate victim, but intimidate victimize an entire class of people. I’ve had the best luck with anti-gay conservatives by laying out a scenario where someone is targeting elderly women on their way home from church. A pattern like that, or even a single attack backed up with some graffiti, could intimidate a whole community of elderly women from attending services. That expanded group of victims is why hate crime legislation — which doesn’t actually make anything illegal — is justified in giving heavier penalties to traditional crimes when they’re committed out of bias.

That’s where domestic terrorism comes in. It has a legal definition in the US:

(5) the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—

(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;

(B) appear to be intended—

(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and

(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

(A) applies. (C) applies. And (B)(i) is exactly what we’ve been talking about. (The “or” at the end of (ii) indicates that any of those subbullets are sufficient.)

This works for the man who tried to burn down a bar full of gay patrons — even if, mind-bogglingly, he’s been charged with neither a hate crime or terrorism. And it works for those vandalize homes with graffiti saying, “You are not welcome here,” and “We cannot coexist with Third World scum.”

“Terrorist” (or, as W would say, “trrrrrist”) is a word conservatives love. But just as they’ve co-opted much of our language, I feel comfortable doing the same to them. Every time one of our opponents makes a mocking comment about hate crimes, I’ll have no trouble doubling down and calling these “perpetrators” exactly the name they deserve. Terrorists they are, and terrorists they should be called.

NYE arsonist pleads guilty

Timothy Kincaid

May 2nd, 2014

On New Year’s Eve, someone set fire to the stairwell in Neighbors nightclub in Seattle’s Capitol Hill. Fortunately, among the revelers were some military personnel who put out the fire and saved 750 lives.

After surveillance video was released, concerned citizens recognized Musab Mohammed Masmari, with whom various neighborhood business had experienced run-ins. Although police responded with snail speed, eventually Masmari was arrested after he purchased a one-way ticket to Libya Turkey.

Now Masmari has pled guilty (Seattle Times)

A man accused of setting a fire inside a crowded Capitol Hill gay nightclub on New Year’s Eve pleaded guilty to arson this afternoon in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

Musab Mohammed Masmari, 30, was charged in a felony information in federal court yesterday after previously having been charged with first-degree arson in King County Superior Court.

He signed a plea agreement in which federal prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed to a prison sentence of five years, although the maximum penalty is 20 years. Sentencing is scheduled for July 31.

There were no enhancements for hate crimes, terrorism, or attempted murder. It is unclear whether he was eating twinkies at the time he set fire to the stairwell.

But hey, at least he will be imprisoned for five years – unless he is paroled. And that’s a full 2.4 days for each person whom he attempted to kill that night.

Zimbabwe: it’s ok to stab gay people

Timothy Kincaid

March 26th, 2014

It’s beginning to look as if the entire population of the continent of Africa has lost its collective mind. Here’s the latest evidence.

In Zimbabwe, a man was acquitted of stabbing another man because he accused the victim of being gay. (DailyNews)

With regard to the nature of the case, [regional magistrate Sikhumbuzo] Nyathi also admitted that issues pertaining to homosexuality in Zimbabwe were controversial.

“In Zimbabwe, the issue of homosexuality is a controversial one to such extent that it has drawn into the fray, the highest office in the country. Some people are known to hold strong views on homosexuality,” he said.

As a result Nyathi, found Phiri not guilty.

City to Gay Bar Owner, Site of Anti-Gay Attacks: Stop Calling 911

Jim Burroway

September 12th, 2013

Cocktails Lounge, on Cleveland’s West Side, has been the scene of at least two designated hate crimes in less than a week and at least six attacks on patrons since spring. Two weeks ago, Jared Fox was surrounded by a gang of juveniles, beaten and robbed while they shouted anti-gay epithets. These things are the kind of attacks that can happen in any American city, but they’re happening in Cleveland now, where the City’s Director of Public Safety, Martin Flask, is on the case: he sent a letter to the bar’s owners demanding that they stop calling 911 so often:

Our records indicate from September 02, 2012 through September 01, 2013 Cleveland Police Officers and/or Dog warden have been dispatched and responded to your property located at 9208 Detroit Avenue inns for various Calls for service. Repeated calls to the same property place an and inappropriate burden on the taxpayers of the City of Cleveland and on our safety forces. The estimated cost for the city safety forces to respond to your property is approximately $100.00 per call for service.

l am confident that we share the same goal and that you will take the necessary steps to eliminate the repeated calls for police services to your property. Therefore, within 10 days of the date of this letter, you will be required to submit your action plan to the First District Neighborhood Police Commander (623-5105), outlining your strategy to eliminate the problems at this location.

Cocktails Lounge manager James Foster was appalled at the letter.

Foster said what’s most frustrating is that the majority of those police calls didn’t have to do with the lounge itself. Instead, managers and patrons called about incidents happening near the lounge.

“It’s your neighborhood bar, everybody knows everybody, everybody’s got nicknames,” said Mary Wishar, a regular at Cocktails who describes the lounge as friendly and safe.

Outrage erupted on social media yesterday after the letter went public. City Councilman Jay Westbrook, who represents the ward where Cocktails is located, said, “Just when we thought we were turning a corner with these incidents, the safety director shot us in the foot.” Mayor Frank Jackson ordered Flask to rescind the letter:

“If I had to do it over again, I would have handled this particular situation differently,” Flask said. “After reviewing this issue with Mayor (Frank) Jackson, he has directed me to rescind the letter and instead set up a meeting with the District Commander and the property owners so that we can work together to address the issues raised by the calls for service to 9208 Detroit Avenue.”

Lyons could not be reached for comment Wednesday night. The letter said 13 police reports were filed over the one-year period for everything from fights to robbery. None of the calls, Flask said, involved hate crimes currently being investigated by police.

“(I)t is an early warning letter that the Department of Public Safety sends to property owners to help prevent a location from becoming a ‘nuisance property'” Flask said. “224 such letters have already been sent to various property owners this year.”

Cleveland was selected to host the Gay Games in 2014.

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