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.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Murder of Puerto Rican Gay Teen

Juan A. Martinez, 25, was arrested and charged with five counts for the murder of Puerto Rican gay teen Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, 19.

“Juan A. Martinez Matos was arrested late Monday in connection with the slaying of Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, whose decapitated, dismembered and partially burned body was found Friday afternoon on a road in central Puerto Rico.”

Martinez calls the decapitated and dismembered body a cause of “gay panic.” Martinez admits to thinking that Mercado was a female prostitute before inviting him to his home. It was there before the initial act of sex that Martinez found out that Mercado was male.

The U.S. Attorney's Office, in consultation with local officials and other agencies, would determine whether the slaying will be prosecuted as a hate crime.

"It's at a very preliminary stage," Lymarie Llovet, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in San Juan, Puerto Rico's capital, said Tuesday. "There's the potential for a federal investigation."

News organization are reporting that Martinez has been sexually abused by men during a prison term a few years ago which ignited regression.

According to Telemundo and other local reports, Martinez Matos confessed to authorities that he picked Lopez Mercado up from the street, thinking that he was a woman.

When he realized that Lopez Mercado was a man, Martinez Matos said he regressed to an incident when he was sexually assaulted during a prison term, Telemundo and local reports said.

That's when a conflict started between the two, authorities said, leading to the teen's death.

The slaying has received national coverage because of the relentless push by the Puerto Rican gay community. President Obama recently signed the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act which extends protections to acts “motivated by a person's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.”

No word on whether or not Martinez would be charged with a hate crime.

Click link for full story.


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