Rashawn & Beyond: Anti-Violence News for Queer People of Color

The Rashawn Brazell Memorial Fund aims to establish a sustainable tribute to Rashawn that promotes critical thought about the impact of violence and intolerance, particularly upon queer communities of African descent.

Through this blog, we provide action alerts, event postings and breaking news as a means of informing these communities in ways that enable them to combat racism and homophobia.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Men Accused Of Brooklyn Bias Attack Charged With Murder, Manslaughter

(original post)

Two of the men suspected in the deadly beating of a gay man in Brooklyn will be facing stiffer charges.

The Brooklyn District Attorney says 19-year-old John Fox and 20-year-old Ilya Shurov are now being charged with murder and manslaughter, on top of the original assault and robbery charges, all as hate crimes.

A third suspect, 16-year-old Gary Timmins could be indicted on similar charges today.

Michael Sandy's family removed him from life support on Friday.

Investigators believe Sandy was lured over the internet to an isolated parking lot near Sheepshead Bay with the promise of a sexual encounter.

He was attacked when he arrived and chased onto the Belt Parkway, where he was struck and killed by a car that left the scene. Meanwhile, community leaders and concerned residents express sorrow at the death of Michael Sandy and for all victims of hate crimes.

photo: blabbeando.blogspot.com

Activists gathered on the steps of City Hall Monday to call for a greater focus on preventing bias attacks.

"Our community mourns the brutal killing of another black, gay, New Yorker," said Tokes Osubu, Executive Director of Gay Men Of African Descent. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Michael Sandy's family and friends."

"Today we come out to say stop the violence throughout the state and throughout the city," added Brooklyn city councilwoman Letitia James.

Attendees also thanked the NYPD for the swift arrest of suspects linked to Sandy's death.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

FBI releases anti-gay hate-crime data

(original link)

Hate crimes in the United States dropped last year by 6 percent, the FBI reported, though hate crimes based on sexual orientation accounted for 14.2 percent of reported incidents.

More than half of all hate crimes were triggered by victims' race, with religion coming in a distant second, the FBI reported Monday, but Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, noted that changes in federal law sought by gay activists would more accurately reflect the extent of anti-LGBT violence.

"Sexual orientation remains the third-highest recorded bias crime in our country, which underscores that anti-gay hate crimes are a very real problem nationwide," Solmonese said Tuesday in a written statement.

"We urge Congress to pass strong hate crimes legislation that protects all citizens -- including GLBT Americans -- so that the federal government can provide aid and support to local law enforcement dealing with these crimes nationwide."

The highest percentage of anti-gay attacks in the 16 years the FBI has tracked them was in 2002, when 16.7 percent of the nation's hate crimes targeted people based on their perceived orientation.

Victim-advocate groups, such as the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, contend that the number of attacks against gays is much higher.

The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, passed in September 2005 by the House but becalmed in the Senate, would update federal hate crimes statutes to include sexual orientation, gender identity and disability.

"While providing valuable data, today's hate crimes report is incomplete," Solmonese said. "It is critical that all jurisdictions treat these crimes seriously and report hate crimes statistics to the FBI and the public.

"The numbers of anti-gay hate crimes also indicate the need for state and local governments to do more to prevent and investigate hate crimes. Bias-motivated crimes require a comprehensive response at every level of government," he said.

The vast majority of hate crimes in both 2004 and 2005 were motivated by race, according to the reports, which detailed the data based on so-called "single-bias" incidents. That means the crime was motivated by only one kind of bias against the victim, according to the FBI.

Victims were assaulted in more than half -- 50.7 percent -- of the hate crime cases against people. Six people were murdered and another three were raped in reported hate crimes last year. The rest of the victims -- 48.9 percent -- were intimidated, the report shows.

The FBI also looked at hate crime incidents that targeted property, with 81.3 percent of cases resulting in damage, destruction or vandalism. Sixty percent of the known offenders in 2005 were white, and 20 percent were black, the report showed.

The data was collected from city, county, state, tribal and federal law enforcement agencies across the United States.

Monday, October 16, 2006

A rally for justice in alleged hate crime

Michael Sandy died five days after he was beaten, then hit by a car

(Brooklyn - WABC, October 16, 2006) - There is no word yet on whether murder charges will be filed against three men for the death of a gay black man in Brooklyn last week.

Michael Sandy died on Friday, five days after he was beaten and then hit by a car as he ran away from the men who attacked him -- men, police say, he met on a gay Internet chat room.

The three suspects, we're told, will more than likely be facing murder charges in the very near future.

Meanwhile, leaders in the black gay community are condemning the tragic death of Michael Sandy, the victim of what some here say is a hate crime.

Leticia James, NYC Councilwoman: "Michael was attacked and killed because he was young and gifted, gay and black. He was intentionally lured to a site and savagely beaten."

Police are investigating Sandy's death as a possible bias crime, classifying it as anti-gay. And with the three suspects allegedly contacting Michael Sandy online, there is growing concern this too is cyber stalking.

Mike Osgood, Deputy Inspector with NYPD: "This is the first use of the World Wide Web to lure somebody ... it's definitely the first ... in the city of New York."

Sandy, investigators reveal, was lured into a sexual encounter at Plum Beach where he was savagely beaten, allegedly by three men from Sheepshead Bay. Sandy, trying to escape, ran onto the Belt Parkway where he was struck by a car.

He died a day after his 29th birthday after his family took him off life support.

"According to one witness, Sandy looked so scared that he bolted into the third lane of traffic ... where he was struck by a vehicle," Osgood said.

Nineteen-year-old John Fox along with 16-year-old Gary Timmmins and 20-year old Ilya Shurov were first arrested and charged with assault and robbery during a hate crime. Phillip Smallman is the attorney for John Fox.

"He's told me he wasn't involved in violence regarding the man who was there. He was very clear about that, " Smallman said.

Action Alert

Supports Rally in Memory of Michael Sandy


At 5pm today Black LGBT leaders will meet for a rally and press conference on the steps of New York City Hall. In the wake of the fatal attack of Michael Sandy, the 29-year-old black gay man who died as a result of a gay bashing incident that occured last Sunday, Black LGBT organizers and activists will demand both an end to hate violence in the city and accountability from city leaders.

The rally is sponsored by People of Color In Crisis, the New York State Black Gay Network, Gay Men of African Descent, the New York City Anti-Violence Project and the National Black Justice Coalition.

You can read more about the attack here.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Hate crime victim taken off life support

(Brooklyn - WABC, October 13, 2006) - The family of a Brooklyn man unplugged him from a life-support machine, and police are considering increasing charges against the three men accused of luring him to a secluded spot and beating him into a coma.

Eyewitness News has learned, twenty-eight-year-old Michael Sandy was taken off life support at Brookdale Hospital Friday afternoon. His family left him on life support in a coma since the Sunday night attack.

Three suspects were charged with bias crimes in connection with the attack that put Sandy in a coma.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the charges could be upgraded if Sandy died.

The suspects allegedly met Sandy in an Internet chat room for gay men and lured him to Plumb Beach near Sheepshead Bay on the pretense of having sex.

According to criminal complaints, the suspects, all from Sheepshead Bay, jumped Sandy when he arrived at Plumb Beach.

"While there, [they] dragged Mr. Sandy out of his car, punched Mr. Sandy, and Mr. Sandy then ran onto the Belt Parkway" and was struck by a car, according to the complaints, quoting statements by the suspects.

"After Sandy had been struck .. . and was laying on the ground, informants observed [one of them] go through his pockets," the complaint said.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Left for dead in thug attack

(original post)

Michael Sandy, 28, is in a coma after being chased onto Belt Parkway and hit by a car Sunday night.

Cops check blue Mazda belonging to Michael Sandy, along with bag, left in parking lot at Plumb Beach in Brooklyn.

A man found near death on the side of the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn - chased by thugs from a notorious gay pickup spot right into traffic - may have been the victim of a hate crime, police said yesterday.

Michael Sandy, a gay black man who was an interior designer for Ikea, suffered brain damage in the attack late Sunday night. The 28-year-old was in a coma and on a ventilator yesterday at Brookdale University Hospital, as his mother, father and dozens of friends prayed at his bedside.
"He can't breathe on his own," said Sandy's aunt Calypso Rose McCartha-Lewis. "He is brain damaged. We have to pray. It is a horrible, frightening thing to have happened."

Two white men grabbed Sandy shortly after he pulled into the parking lot at Plumb Beach, a known gay cruising area near Knapp St., shortly after 9 p.m. Sunday, according to cops.

At some point, he broke free and ran onto the roadway, where he was struck by a car in the center lane, according to police. The driver of the car that struck Sandy did not stop.

The assailants dragged his battered body off the highway - leaving him for dead only after one rifled through his pockets, cops said.

The NYPD Hate Crime Task Force is investigating whether the assault was a bias crime - if Sandy was targeted because he is black or gay, or if the assault was simply a robbery.

"We don't have any suspects," a police source said.

Sandy, whose blue Mazda was still idling in the parking lot when police arrived, may have been planning to meet someone he encountered on an online gay chat room, his friends told police.

A witness who called 911 after seeing the attack said one of the thugs dragged Sandy's broken body off the road, made what appeared to be a pointed search of his pockets, then ran back onto the road as if looking for something. Police later found Sandy's cell phone in the road, leading them to suspect the two men may have feared their phone numbers were recorded in his phone, sources said.

Witnesses said the two men - estimated to be in their late teens or early 20s - fled the scene, leaping over sand dunes and disappearing into the park. Police removed surveillance video from a nearby 7-Eleven store, a nearby Comfort Inn and a women's homeless shelter to look for the two attackers.

Sandy was supposed to meet up with one of his former Williamsburg roommates Sunday night, but never called, friends said.

"He texted me and said he would call me later. But he never did. . . . It is very disturbing," said the ex-roommate, who asked not to be named.

Sandy's family and friends begged anyone who was in the area Sunday between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. to come forward with any details, no matter how insignificant.

"It's sad to see something like this happen to such a nice person," said Michael Crawford, 23, a dancer and one of Sandy's current roommates. "I hope it wasn't because he was gay."

With Jotham Sederstrom, Nancy Dillon and John Lauinger

Monday, October 09, 2006


(original link)

October 9, 2006 -- A man was beaten, chased into traffic and hit by a car, and then dragged off the road and pummeled again by his attackers in a possible hate crime reminiscent of the notorious Howard Beach attack of 1986, sources told The Post.

The victim, a 28-year-old black man, had been in the parking lot of Brooklyn's Plum Beach off Jamaica Bay around 9:30 p.m. when he was attacked by a group of whites, a preliminary investigation revealed.

They chased him into traffic, where he was sideswiped by a car.

Then he was dragged back to the side of the road and beaten again, according to the sources.

He was found unconscious and rushed to Brookdale Hospital.

Cops from the Hate Crimes Unit were on the scene.

Plum Beach is known as a gay cruising spot and detectives were trying to determine if either race or sexual orientation was the motive for the attack, the sources said.

There were no immediate arrests.

In the Howard Beach attack three bat-wielding white men chased three blacks who had ventured into a pizza parlor in the predominately white neighborhood.

One of the victims, 23-year-old Michael Griffith, ran onto the Belt Parkway - only a few miles east of last night's attack - and was killed by a car.

Three white men were convicted: Jon Lester served 12 years in prison and in 2000 was deported back to his native England.

Scott Kern was released from prison in 2002 and Jason Ladone in 2000.