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.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Stab victim's mourners call for hate crime bill

(originally published on gay.com)

Nearly a thousand people gathered in Florida over the weekend to commemorate the brutal slaying of Ryan Skipper, who died last month of more than 20 stab wounds.

Memorial services were held in 14 cities across the state calling on the federal government to pass the federal hate crime bill, the Matthew Shepard Act, which was introduced last week into the Senate and on March 20 in the House.

The two men accused of the murder, William David Brown Junor, 20, and Joseph Bearden, 21, face the death penalty if convicted.

Skipper's body was found March 20 on a rural road in Polk County, Fla.

Polk County sheriff's spokeswoman Donna Wood said Skipper was killed because he made an advance toward Brown, in a striking resemblance to the Matthew Shepard story. Shepard's killers also suggested that he made made unwanted advances toward them.

The night of the murder, Skipper was driving around the town of Wahneta and offered Bearden a ride around midnight, police said. The two went back to Skipper's house, where they smoked marijuana.

The two left Skipper's house and went to another home, where they met Brown, then all left in Skipper's car. It was then that Brown and Bearden allegedly attacked Skipper in his own vehicle. The pair attempted to clean the bloody vehicle and even confessed their crimes to friends, police said.

Skipper's car was found abandoned in nearby Winter Haven. Brown's fingerprints were found inside.

"Ryan's murder was not an isolated incident, but rather the latest in an epidemic of hate violence targeted at gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in Florida and across the nation," said Brian Winfield, communications director for Equality Florida.

"Hate crimes have as their target more than just the victim. They are intended to send a message to an entire community of people and to strike fear into that community. That is why the silence of our state leaders must be challenged."

"Two days ago, that Federal Hate Crimes Bill was renamed the Matthew Shepard Act and was introduced in the Senate," said Winfield.

"I encourage you to contact your congressman and senators and demand that they support the bill. If they ask why, tell them, 'We have our own Matthew Shepard here in Florida; his name was Ryan." (Hassan Mirza, Gay.com U.K.)


Post a Comment

<< Home