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Sadness On Our Streets

As I continue to compile the list of names of GLBT persons for our sister web-site, The PATH Project (thepathproject.wordpress.com), I ran across this article. 

Sadness On Our Streets


Hundreds attended a vigil for Simmie Williams, Jr. two weeks ago. Simmie was the 17-year old shot to death on Sistrunk Boulevard on February 22nd. The next day, February 23rd, Melbourne Brunner was viciously attacked outside a popular Las Olas restaurant. Brunner said he was beaten by a stranger who walked by his table and targeted him for no other reason than he was gay.

Have South Florida’s former gay-friendly streets become too gay-unfriendly for the gay community? Should we just stay in our homes?

On January 3rd, Alexio Bello’s housekeeper found him stabbed to death inside his Miami apartment which had been ransacked. This was the first murder in Miami for the year 2008. Do our own homes no longer provide a safe haven?


“Things have consistently been this way,” said Scott Hall of the Gay American Heroes Foundation, an organization with a traveling memorial to those who have been killed in anti-gay hate crimes, “but since it’s currently in our backyard, we are more focused on it. There are about 20 formal gay hate-related murders in the country a year. There are actually more, but, because of differing laws in the country, not every one is classified a hate crime.”

Simmie’s vigil took place on Sistrunk Boulevard near a chain link fence where he was found dead. A memorial of candles, stuffed animals and a rainbow flag marked the area. Simmie’s mother, Denise King held a photo of Simmie and wept as community activists were speaking.

“I’m still in shock,” Denise King told me, “it’s like a bad dream. The community needs to pull together to stop the hate. They need to take it to Tallahassee or the Supreme Court. I lost my son because of all this stuff.”


After the vigil, over 100 participants gathered at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of South Florida and discussed the recent violent attacks on the gay community. The gathering also donated money to help pay Simmie’s funeral expenses. Additional money was donated to Crime Stoppers for a reward leading to the arrest of the murderer(s).

According to Gay American Heroes, anti-gay hate crimes are up nationwide and 2008 is off to a deadly start which averaged one every ten days during the first six weeks of 2008, the most recent being young Simmie’s.

Lawrence King, an openly gay, 15-year-old student in Oxnard, California, was shot in the head by a 14 year-old classmate on February 12 while sitting in class at his junior high school. King was proclaimed brain dead ten hours later in hospital and was kept on ventilators for organ donation. One classmate reported that, “King would sometimes go to school wearing make-up and high heels [and] King’s appearance was ‘freaking the guys out’.” The killer has been charged with a hate crime murder and may be tried as an adult.


Alexio Bello, a 68-year-old, gay man, was found stabbed to death at his home Miami, Florida in January. A young, homeless man, who Bello had taken into his home, was identified as a “person of interest” by police. The case is pending.

Police continue to investigate the murder of a transgender woman in Detroit, Michigan earlier this month. Police have not released the name of the victim. The National Center for Transgender Equality has accused police of mishandling the murder investigation, citing that “police do not usually identify murder victims by the clothes they wear.” The case is pending.

Patrick Murphy was shot three times in the head in Albuquerque, New Mexico in January. Murphy was a well known drag performer in the community. Last year, Murphy won title of Miss New Mexico Gay Rodeo Association. The case is pending.

But who’s to blame for this rise in hate crimes?


“I blame the man that shot my son. I blame any person who shoots anyone else in hate crimes and the parents to teach hate to their kids. I accepted my son for who he wanted to be and I was not going to turn my back on him because he was gay. Parents need to sit down and talk to their child [about tolerance towards gays],” said Denise King.

Scott Hall blames Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle and the incident last year over the new public restrooms which Naugle made the erroneous claims that they are required to keep gay men from having sex in the restrooms. These claims made Naugle the darling of the religious right and prepares him for a U.S. Congressional run later this year. “Naugle encourages people to believe that gay people are evil or bad. He validates hate as a way to rid the world of gays,” Scott said.

Michael Rajner of UNITE Fort Lauderdale claims there’s “not one person to blame for contributing to the hate out there. Really, it’s the intolerance of many religious groups along with the hatred by our [political] leadership. This leadership has become a symbol of the leadership we need to change.”
But can we be safe in the streets of our community? According to Michael Rajner, “Live your life as normal. Don’t live in fear. Police will tell you that to be safe you should always be aware of your surround

But can we be safe in the streets of our community? According to Michael Rajner, “Live your life as normal. Don’t live in fear. Police will tell you that to be safe you should always be aware of your surroundings. Keep an eye out to see if anyone is following you. Always travel in pairs and not alone. And most importantly, do not be afraid to report incidents to the police. Only when incidents are reported to the police can laws can be enacted or changed. Do not be afraid, but be conscious that hatred does exist.”

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Written by kickingalion

November 29, 2008 at 4:40 am

The PATH Project

Due to the overwhelming interest

we are able to announce the creation of The PATH Project

now presented at thepathproject.wordpress.com.

Written by kickingalion

November 23, 2008 at 11:54 pm

The PATH Project

Kicking A Lion presents

The PATH Project:  A Memorial To Victims of GLBT Hate Crimes.

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs documented 9 anti-LGBT murders in 2005 alone. According to the FBI, 14 percent of hate crimes in 2005 were motivated by sexual orientation bias. This means that gay people — or people perceived to be gay — are disproportionately the victims of these terrible crimes.

If you know of a victim of a GLBT Hate Crime, please email us at kickingalion@live.com.

Written by kickingalion

November 23, 2008 at 5:44 pm