#HateCrime

Australian Police Are Offering $1 Million For Info On 1980s Death Of Gay Man

$1 million is being offered to anyone who can provide helpful information to solve a murder from the ‘80s.

In December of 1988, 27-year-old Scott Johnson met his untimely demise. At the time, Australian police believed that Johnson, who was openly gay, had committed suicide by jumping off a beach cliff. As such, the investigation into Johnson’s death was half-hearted.

The family of the US-born mathematician weren’t convinced that Scott ended his life. They believed, and still do to this day, that Scott was murdered.

“Unfortunately, like many other gay men in the 1980s, he got tragically unlucky…assailants killed him because he was gay,” Scott’s brother Steve Johnson told reporters, according to Ten Daily.

Throughout the next three decades, Steve and his family would advocate for a thorough investigation into Scott’s death. This includes a second inquest in 2012 that resulted in an open finding and a third inquest that found that Scott fell from the cliff’s top not because of a suicide attempt but because of actual or threatened violence based on sexual orientation.

This new discovery resulted in the creation of the Strike Force Welsford three months ago. This task force, led by Detective Inspector Peter Yeomans, is trying to re-investigate Scott’s murder with an intent and focus unseen in the last three decades.

In addition, Steve flew to Sydney to join the task force and New South Wales police as they announced a monetary reward for anyone who can provide valuable information for this case.

“There is someone out there who knows the truth, they know how Scott died and there’s a million dollars on the table for you to have the courage to come forward and help us solve this crime,” said NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller at the press conference.

“Someone knows what happened to Scott, either because they were present or because they heard of what happened from others who were present,” added Steve Johnson.

“It is likely that those who were involved in Scott’s death would have bragged about it given the culture of gay-hate among groups in Sydney at the time.”

“It’s 30 years to the day since Scott’s death. I encourage anyone who has any information to come forward and provide it,” he said.

“It’s horrendous to believe that these people are still out in our community – existing, living, free, while Scott … has died a terrible death.”

This Red State with a GOP House, Senate, & Governor May Pass LGBT Protection Bill.

For the first time, Indiana's governor is stating out loud their support for LGBT protection, support for legislation that would give judges power to impose tougher sentences on convicted persons for crimes motivated by factors such as race, religion, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.  But hat is the big issue with this proposal? It is whether protections should be extended to the transgender community. 

The biggest push for this law to include the entire LGBT/Queer community is from businesses.  Tourism leaders and many businesses are making their cases for hate crimes language to provide protections for gender identity. Indy Chamber, Visit Indy, Eli Lilly, the Pacers, and other groups and businesses are speaking up and signing letters emphasizing what they want to see the legislature produce.

One of the roadblocks may be House Speaker, Brian Bosma, who has gone on record to state that gender identity should cannot be a part of the protected classes if there is any hope for the crime law to pass since social conservatives at the Statehouse won’t negotiate or vote for the measure if gender identity is a part of any proposal.

What needs to be known about Indiana is that both the Senate and House are controlled by the Republicans.  Also, the Governor is a Republican. 

A debate over bias crimes legislation like this could further highlight the fractures in the Indiana Republican party since he Governor is supporting including all in this new bill and protection.

Gov. Eric Holcomb has stated on record that he believes the state’s hate crime language needs to include all LGBT community members, just as the executive branch’s employment policy does.

The new legislative session commences on Jan. 3.

Will all eyes be on the very republican Indiana?  Bosma recently ridiculed the new protection policy proponents to not bring "undue attention to our state" over specifics in the hate crime bill.

Indiana is one of just five states without a hate crimes law.


h/t:  indystar.com

Las Vegas Gay Couple Say Violent Attack Was A Hate Crime

A gay couple in Las Vegas, Nevada, were the target of a violent hate crime that sent them both to the hospital.

Charles Clements told local news affiliate FOX5 that when he picked his boyfriend Vincent up from work last Thursday night, they had no idea they were followed home.

As he was unlocking the front door of their home, Clements heard Vincent call his name. 

“I was about to unlock the door, the next thing I hear, he’s calling my name,” Clements said. “I come back, I see my boyfriend fighting with the guy.”

As two men attacked Vincent, the assault moved to the front porch of their home where a glass table was knocked over and shattered. It was then that one of the attackers reached for a shard of glass.

“He picked up the glass and I was like, ‘Don’t do that,’” says Clements. “He started stabbing my boyfriend in the back. The guy was kicking him in his ribs.”

According to Clements, the attack drew the attention of neighbors who watched from a distance but did nothing to intervene. “Neighbors, everybody just looking,” he said. “Nobody called the police.”

After the two men got in their car and drove away, Clements realized he was bleeding. At the hospital, they learned that the attackers had punctured Vincent’s lung and broken several ribs.

After calling 911, Vincent told police he recognized one of the men as someone who works with him at Walmart. 

“It was all about gay bashing,” Clements told FOX5. “The guy came up to my boyfriend’s job, calling him an abomination, calling him fag.”

“I never been through nothing like this in my life,” he added. “I was so scared.”

Clements is now frightened to continue living in their present home,  “I don’t want to be in this apartment no more because I’m afraid they’re going to come back.”

Clements’ uncle is currently helping the couple to find a new place to live.

Police are investigating the incident but no news on any arrests at this time.

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to help with the couple’s hospital bills and moving expenses.

 

 

(h/t FOX5 News)

French Rugby Players Show Support For Gay Rugby Legend Gareth Thomas

French rugby players are honoring a former teammate who was recently the victim of a hate crime.

A couple days ago, former rugby player Garrth Thomas shared that he was attacked by a homophobic teen. Thankfully, Thomas was able to defend himself and was able to resolve the issue with the help of Cardiff police.

“I want to say thank you to the police who were involved, who were very helpful and allowed me to do restorative justice to the people who did this because I thought they could learn more that way than any other way,” said Thomas.

Now, French players are going to honor Thomas, who played in France for Toulouse between 2004 and 2007, Cardiff police, and the quick and humane way that they resolved the issue.

According to the French Rugby Federation’s Vice President Serge Simon, French players will wear rainbow laces during their match against Fiji in support of the former athlete.

As Simon tweeted:

“Dear Gareth Thomas, all of French Rugby is with you regarding the homophobic molestation you’ve been victim of,” Simon tweeted.

“To show our support, the French rugby players will wear a rainbow shoe lace during the France — Fiji game on Saturday night.

“We’re all in with you in this matter.”

Former Rugby Player Gareth Thomas Says He Was The Victim Of A Hate Crime

Yesterday, former rugby player Gareth Thomas posted a video on Twitter sharing that he was attacked in Cardiff, Wales because of his sexual orientation.

In the video, Thomas says:

“This morning I’ve decided to make what I hope will be a positive video. Last night I was a victim in my home city of a hate crime for my sexuality. Why do I want it to be positive? Because I want to say thank you to the police who were involved, who were very helpful and allowed me to do restorative justice to the people who did this because I thought they could learn more that way than any other way. And also to the people of Cardiff who supported me and helped me because there’s a lot of people out there who want to hurt us. But, unfortunately for them, there is a lot more that want to help us heal. So this, I hope, will be a positive message.”

In addition, Cardiff police later released a statement on Facebook sharing that they are aware of the situation.

The police also shared more information about the incident such as the facts that the attack happened around 9 p.m., that the assailant was a 16-year-old boy, and that he not only admitted to the attack but apologized for it.

As the statement added:

“Restorative justice is about putting victim needs at the centre of the criminal justice system, finding positive solutions to crime and encouraging young people to be accountable for the consequences of their actions.

A hate crime is any crime motivated by hostility on the grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity.

Hate crime has no place in society and has always been a priority for South Wales Police.

We encourage people, whether they are a victim or a witness of hate crime, to report it directly to South Wales Police : Heddlu De Cymru on 101 or 999 in an emergency.”

Man Says Lyft Driver Pulled Out Gun, Used Homophobic Slurs, & Threatened to Kill Gay People

Andres Berreondo did what tens of thousands of us do daily, he ordered a car on a ride share app and waited for the driver.  Today, his experience is one that will have many in our community thinking twice about ordering a ride.

This time, he wasn't sure if he would make it out of his Lyft ride alive.  His trip from his Miami apartment this afternoon to a friend's office, transporting two large boxes causing him to sit in the front passenger seat, was one he was not expecting

"I can tell he was with an attitude, and even from the beginning with this bad energy," he said.

Here is Miami's NBC6 coverage and interview with Berreondo.

How do you react when the driver is not using the GPS?  I usually do strike up a conversation to see what they are thinking and why they are not using the directions provided.

He then pulled out a gun and told Berreondo, "I want to kill everyone that is gay."

I am not sure I would have been as calm as Berreondo was for a full 10 minutes, but the driver did have a gun. 

"I start getting scared and somehow he stops," he said. "He pulled me out like that and kicked me in the leg, I get out of the car.”

"The safety of our community is Lyft’s top priority, and the behavior described here is unacceptable. There is no place in the Lyft community for discrimination or violence of any kind. As soon as we were made aware of this incident, we permanently deactivated the driver. We have been in contact with the passenger to offer our full support, and stand ready to assist law enforcement with any investigation." - Lyft to NBC6


Do you fear riding in a ride share / Lyft / Uber?

Do you take certain precautions while in a ride share vehicle?

Do you worry that the driver may be homophobic?

 

h/t:  NBC6

Queens Man Who Attacked Two Gay Brooklyners Arraigned On Hate Crimes

The man accused of an attack on two men outside of a Brooklyn gay bar has been arraigned.

Back in September, we shared the news that two gay men were attacked outside of a gay bar in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg.

The man confronted the two victims around 1 a.m. on September 23 by yelling out homophobic slurs. He then started a physical altercation by throwing the 29-year-old victim against a tree and punching his 34-year-old companion to unconsciousness.

After several news outlets covered the story and shared a picture that a pedestrian took of the assailant, 25-year-old Brandon McNamara brought himself into police custody.

While McNamara was later released from the Brooklyn Criminal Court on a $15,000 bail, he was charged with assault, menacing, and harassment. All of which, were also charged as hate crimes.

Now, the man, who is reportedly from Queens, will return to court on January 16 with the potential to go to prison for up to 15 years.

Vancouver Police Are Investigating This Man Over Two Hate Crimes On The SkyTrain

It seems that the SkyTrain in Vancouver has recently become an unsafe place for gay couples as reports of two separate incidences of homophobia have sprung up in the same week.

According to CBC News/Radio Canada, a gay couple boarded the train at the Waterfront Station around 2:30 p.m. on September 28. As soon as they entered, a seated stranger kicked one of them in the foot before threateningly approaching them.

“As they entered the train, another man kicked the foot of one of the young men and then left his seat to aggressively approach him. The victim crouched down in fear as the suspect raised his hand as if to hit him, while yelling obscenities and homophobic insults,” said a police report.

Thankfully, another passenger pulled the attacker away before any punches were thrown.

Unfortunately, that didn’t stop the attacker as he released himself and approached the couple a second time. The husband of the initial victim then pushed the train’s yellow emergency strip, but was then hit by the assailant.

Around that time, the train pulled into Granville Station, and the attacker allegedly tried to kick the victims and spit in their faces before exiting the train car. As he walked away, the assailant "continued to hurl profanities and homophobic remarks toward the couple," added the police statement.

“I think what’s most concerning about this particular incident is that the precipitating factor appears to be the sexual orientation of these two individuals,” remarked Sgt. Clint Hampton about the case.

“Fortunately, there weren’t any major injuries,” he added. “The two individuals went to hospital, were checked out, and later released that day. But of course anybody that goes through something like this… it can be traumatic and they’re going to be shaken up over it.”

According to CTV Vancouver, the Vancouver transit police later released the above video of the suspect on Wednesday (Nov 7) and announced his arrest later that day.

While that man, whose identity has been withheld, is out of custody and will face assault charges in a January court hearing, another couple came forward saying that they were also his victims.

On Thursday, Vancouver resident Rylan Friday came forward with the story that he and his partner were also allegedly threatened on the SkyTrain.

According to Global News, Friday and his partner boarded the train between the Joyce-Collingood and Metrotown stations on June 23. He says that when they entered while holding hands, one stranger yelled out, “Hey guys, you’re being f***ing offensive. There’s a f***ing kid here.”

The heckler later started yelling out homophobic slurs as an argument ensued. Fearing violence, Friday and his partner quickly got off the train.

Friday says that the suspect in this instance was, in fact, the same man who attacked the other couple.

Transit police later confirmed that they are investigating two incidents involving this man, and that both will factor into his upcoming court hearing.

h/t: CBC News, CTV Vancouver, Global News

Samuel Woodward Pleads Not Guilty To Blaze Bernstein Murder

We have another update on the story involving the University of Pennsylvania student who was found murdered and buried near his California home.

21-year-old Samuel Woodward pleaded not guilty during an Orange County Superior Court hearing on Friday for the first-degree murder of 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein.

Earlier, Woodward’s bail was set at $5 million, but Judge Kimberly Menninger altered it so Woodward is now being held without bail on the grounds that he’s a potential danger to the community if released, according to 6 ABC.

Woodward is currently on trial for allegedly stabbing and killing Bernstein while he was home for winter break in January.

Bernstein, who was gay and Jewish, went missing and his corpse was later found in a park in Lake Forest, California.

A police investigation later found out that Woodward and Bernstein, who went to the same high school, met up the night of Bernstein’s disappearance. At some point, a fight broke out and Woodward allegedly stabbed Bernstein 20 times in the face and neck.

DNA evidence has connected Woodward to the crime and his cellphone was found to have anti-gay and anti-Semitic content. On top of that, the authorities have collected propaganda found in Woodward’s home for a neo-Nazi group.

Woodward, is due to return to court on January 25, 2019.  If convicted of the hate crime, he could be sentenced to a life in prison.

For more on this, visit CBS News and 48 Hours

Here are clips about people remembering Blaze and the 48 Hours report In The Name of Hate: Blaze Bernstein murder: Was an Ivy League student slain in the name of hate?

 

 

 

 

h/t: 6 ABC, CBS News

Long Island Man Arrested for Stealing Pride Flags from Church

Sayville Congregational United Church of Christ, located in Sayville, NY is a progressive and inclusive church. The reverend, Ray Bagnuolo, is an openly gay man who has placed pride flags on the church's lawn to promote LGBT pride and to show that the church welcomes people of any sexuality. However, one man has repeatedly stolen the pride flags and, since crime definitely does not pay, he has been arrested, according to ABC News.

The 21-year-old man who stole the pride flags, Ronald Tyler Witt, was arrested at his home in Sayville on Tuesday. He was arrested on six counts of petty larceny as a hate crime.

Bagnuolo says that these thefts are "unnerving" and that "These types of things are meant often to send a message. Sometimes there just a dumb thing that people do, but repeated over and over it begins to feel like there's a targeting going on here and there's a message." I am inclined to agree with that, as the other flags displayed on the church's property remained there. He also said that he does not know Witt but is welcome in the church, as he recognized the thefts as acts of aggression and hate but instead of stealing the flags again, he should talk to the congregation. 

While he does forgive Witt, he is glad that he will be held accountable for his actions, and the rest of the congregation feels the same. 

It's sad to see such crimes in this day and age, but progress is still being made in the advancement of LGBTQ recognition which will hopefully decrease incidents such as this.


h/t: ABC News

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