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Day 30: Marsha P. Johnson

Photo from WUWM

​*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions violence, stalking, assault, alleged transphobic hate crime, and distressing imagery.

Please continue with caution.


There has been lots of conflicting evidence and statements about this case so the events mentioned may not be accurate. No one will ever know what truly happened that night so this was written using the evidence that has been presented.

It was early in the morning of the 5th of July, 1992. It was arguably still night. Most of the people in Greenwich Village, New York were still asleep. The only ones who were up at the late hour were mainly prostitutes who were looking for work. Many of them were young women who had been kicked out of their home or left for a variety of reasons. They were desperate for money so they resorted to walking the streets.

One woman was walking around the familiar streets of the village. She had lived in the area for quite some time. She had come to know the people quite well and many of them loved her. She was a kind and generous soul. She was very friendly and wanted nothing but the best for everyone she met. She was the type of person who always had a smile on her face.

It was the hour of 3 in the morning so hardly anyone was on the streets. Other working women of the night were in other areas of town so this woman was all alone. Occasionally a car would pass by her but she ignored them. If the car didn't slow down then she didn't bother.

On that night in particular, she had a lot of things going through her mind. Recently, she had been the subject of harassment. It was nothing unusual for her but it did frighten her. There were some other threats and because of those she didn't want to return to her home. It was a shared home and she didn't want to put anyone in danger.

For what felt like hours now, she had the sense that someone was watching her. She felt it no matter which road she turned on and no matter how far she walked. She just had the constant feeling of eyes lingering on her. It made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up and sent chills down her spine. That feeling is what kept her from returning home. She couldn't risk endangering the people she cared about.

As she walked down the streets, she began to pick up her pace. She had tried to lose the feeling before but it didn't work. Maybe this time would be different. She could only hope. She made various turns and walked as fast as she could without making it seem like she was running away from someone. She walked at a decent pace and as hard as it was, she resisted the urge to keep looking behind her every few seconds.

She wondered to herself who was following her and how they had managed to keep up with her for this long. She couldn't see anyone who appeared to be following her but she knew they were there. She could sense it. Whoever had picked her as their target certainly knew how to hide which made her even more scared. If they were able to hide from her this well then what other tricks did they have up their sleeves?

She continued walking and made her way west towards the Hudson River. There she would be able to clear her head. Perhaps she was over thinking everything and just being a little paranoid. It was possible but it was also possible that her instincts were right and that she was being followed. Right now she just wanted to go to a nice calm place to relax and clear her mind. Nothing had happened to her so far that night despite the constant feeling of eyes lingering on her for what felt like hours.

She just needed to relax. That would do the trick. The sound of the water crashing on the pier would be soothing. She hoped that it would help ease the thoughts that were raging in her mind. At the late hour there would be no one there. She would be able to focus on calming her mind without the distraction from other people.

As she approached the pier, she heard the sound of footsteps on the sidewalk not too far from her. That was strange. Up until now she hadn't heard anything. Why was it only now that she was hearing the footsteps? Was the person following her getting sloppy now? Did they just not care? Or were they getting close enough for the woman to actually hear them now? She now had even more reason to not look behind her. She was afraid of what or rather who she might see now.

She took a deep breath and picked up her pace once more. She tried to shake the feeling but it was of no use. The sense had only increased now. Now that she could hear footsteps it sounded like there was more than one person. At the very least there were two people but there could have been more for all she knew. However, she didn't want to find out.

She kept a brisk pace and soon she could see the water in the distance. When she heard the gentle crashing of the waves she allowed her muscles to relax. She hadn't even realized how tense she was until then. As she grew closer to the water the calmer she became. Slowly she felt the panic leave her mind.

Just as she came within a few meters, she heard the footsteps behind her picking up the pace. A wave of panic hit the woman like a train. This time she turned around to see who had been following her. Some part of her wished she hadn't. When she turned she came face to face with two men. She knew of them. They had the reputation of harassing people like her and even on a few occasions they had shouted some rather nasty things at her. Like many people, the men weren't fond of major change in society, especially when it came to matters they couldn't even comprehend.

Instead of trying to understand the people who wanted to change, they would rather have the people silenced. It was less scary for them. Humans just didn't do too well with change in general. The woman and people like her only wished how even if others didn't accept them, they would someday allow them to live alongside them peacefully in society. She wasn't trying to convert anyone. She simply wanted those who were like her to live without fear of being harassed or worse, killed. Something that was all too common. Something the woman wished would come to and end.

She took a step backwards and the two men took one step towards her. They had wide, evil-looking grins on their faces. It was clear that they meant this woman harm of some sort. She wasn't sure if they were just going to use words or actually put their hands on her. Either way she didn't want to find out. She didn't want to deal with this right now. She had come to the pier to clear her head.

She nervously asked the men what they wanted from her. They said nothing. They just chuckled. One even cracked his knuckles. The woman had a good sense of their intentions now. She knew that she had to get away from them as soon as possible.

She turned around and started running. Unfortunately for her, there was hardly any light and the two men weren't giving up. When she started running, so did they. She ran as fast as she could while the two men did the same. They had set their sights on her and were desperate to catch her. For what purpose, only they knew but the woman knew it couldn't have been good.

She ran as fast as her body would allow. In the darkness of the night, the woman could barely see her surroundings. She stumbled a few times which just made her pursuers laugh. They taunted her to try and get her to slip up again. She did but it wasn't because they were taunting her. Rocks and stones littered the walkway and without much light to guide her, the woman continued to stumble.

Eventually the woman tripped over a fairly large stone and this caused her to fall. She turned on to her back just as the two men surrounded her. They grabbed her and pulled her up to her feet. She screamed and tried to fight them off but they kept a firm grip on her but that wasn't about to deter her. She was a fighter and these men were about to find that out.

The woman stomped down on their feet as hard as she could and was successful in getting them to let her go. When their grips loosened she shoved them off and began running again. She was panicked and in the dark she couldn't properly see where she was going. The adrenaline had her disoriented.

One of the men was quick to recover and picked up a nearby rock. It was a good size and without even thinking he threw it at the woman. She let out a scream when it made contact with her head. She pressed both hands down on the area that had been hit as she felt the pain surge through her head.

Now she was disoriented more than ever. She stumbled a few feet to the side which was a mistake that no one saw coming. She stepped on an old plant of wood that had rotted due to a long time of being splashed by water and not being maintained. It gave out from under the woman and her weight caused more planks to break. She screamed as she fell into the cold water of the Hudson River but she was quickly silenced when she disappeared under the water.

Her two attackers rushed to the edge to see if they could spot her but they didn’t. They didn’t even hear any splashing. She never resurfaced.

Her name was Marsha P. Johnson and she was just 46 years old.

AFTERMATH

Marsha's body was found in the Hudson River near Christopher Street on the 6th of July, 1992 at 5:30 P.M.

After her murder, the police didn't do any investigations. They ruled her death as a suicide and closed it but everyone who knew her knew that it wasn't a suicide. They were convinced that she was murdered so they protested. They demanded that the authorities take this case seriously and put all their effort in finding and arresting the killer or killers.

The medical examiner who looked at Marsha's body made notes that her death could have been a possible homicide.

In 2002 the police changed the cause of death from a suicide to "undetermined". In 2012 they reopened the case and it remains open to this day.

IN LIFE

Marsha "Pay it no mind" Johnson wasn't just an activist. She was also a drag performer, sec worker and was a part of New York's Greenwich Village street life for 30 years. She was such a nice and generous person that she was known as "the Saint of Christopher Street".

She was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey on the 24th of August, 1963. She had said in an interview that she began to wear dresses around the age of 5 years old but stopped after being teased about it. She graduated high school in 1963 and afterwards left her home in New Jersey and went to New York. All she had with her was $15 and a bag of clothes.

In 1962, at 23 years old, Marsha became a key figure in the historic event of the Stonewall riot. The Stonewall Inn originally only served cisgender gays and lesbians but Marsha managed to be the first transgender person to enter nonetheless.

In 1970 both Marsha and her friend, Sylvia Rivera created the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) in Greenwich Village with the goal of helping transgender youth. In an interview Marsha had said that Sylvia deserved all the credit for STAR's creation and that she was more like a vice president.

In the 70s is also when the first pride march occurred and at first, Marsha and Sylvia weren't welcome but they pushed their way to the front.

Shr also worked as a Sex worker which was a dangerous thing to do in the 70s. At one point during this time of her life, Marsha was shot and the bullet was so close to her spine that the surgeons couldn't remove it without paralyzing her so the bullet was left inside her.

In 1975, Marsha was featured in Andy Warhol's polaroid portfolio titled "Ladies and Gentlemen". Warhol's project focused on the Transgender community at the Gilded Grape nightclub. Marsha had said that before she was a drag performer she was "no one, nobody, from Nowheresville". She had a flamboyant style which she created from various things that she often pulled from the garbage bin. This style was incorporated in her drag persona and she was a part of a drag group called Hot Peaches.

In the late 80s and early 90s the AIDS crisis spread throughout New York's LGBTQ+ community. During that time Marsha lost many loved ones and even nursed a friend, David Combs up until his death in 1990. Afterwards she went to join the AIDS advocacy group known as ACT UP.

In 1992 Marsha had revealed that she was HIV positive and had been for the two years prior.

When it comes to her involvement in the Stonewall Riots, many people claim that she was the person who threw the first brick and was the first to resist the police but that may not have been the case. Both Marsha and Sylvia had been present at the time but in 1987 Marsha told historian Eric Marcus that she arrived after the riot broke out. In 2001, Sylvia said that she was at the Stonewall Inn at the time it was raided and that she was not one of the first to resist. Charles Kaiser wrote in his book, The Gay Metropolis that the first person to have resisted could have been a lesbian woman named Stormé DeLaverie who passed away in 2014.

In 2018, a transgender poet named Chrysanthemum Tran has said in an essay that the specific details of who had done what during the event weren't important.

The Stonewall riot was a group effort that would not have been possible with everyone who partook in it.

SOURCES

Articles

  1. ABOUT MARSHA P. JOHNSON”. Marsha P. Johnson Institute, https://marshap.org/about-mpji/.

  2. Brooklyn park to be renamed after trans activist Marsha P. Johnson”. Doha Madani. NBC News, 2 February 2020, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/amp/ncna1128441.

  3. EXCLUSIVE: DA reopens unsolved 1992 case involving the 'saint of gay life'”. Shayna Jacobs. New York Daily News, 16 December 2012, https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/da-reopens-unsolved-1992-case-involving-saint-gay-life-article-1.1221742.

  4. Frameline Voices - Pay it No Mind: The Life and Times of Marsha P. Johnson”. Frameline. YouTube, 29 November 2012, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bo0nYv9QIj4&feature=youtu.be

  5. Google Doodle of Marsha P. Johnson, beloved trans-rights activist, will close out Pride month”. Christina Maxouris. CNN, 30 June 2020, https://www.cnn.com/style/amp/marsha-p-johnson-google-doodle-june-style-trnd/index.html.

  6. Marsha P. Johnson, a black transgender woman, was a central figure in the gay liberation movement”. Christina Maxouris. CNN, 26 June 2019, https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2019/06/26/us/marsha-p-johnson-biography/index.html.

  7. Marsha P Johnson: ‘America’s first transgender statue’ will immortalise Stonewall riots veteran”. Gillian Brockell. Independent, 12 June 2019, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/marsha-p-johnson-transgender-statue-stonewall-new-york-lgbt-a8955766.html?amp.

  8. Marsha P Johnson: Google doodle honours LGBTQ+ rights activist”. Express Web Desk. Indian Express, 30 June 2020, https://indianexpress.com/article/trending/trending-globally/google-doodle-marsha-p-johnson-lgbtq-rights-activist-6482692/lite/.

  9. MARSHA P JOHNSON: HOW THE TRANSGENDER-RIGHTS ACTIVIST BECAME A PIONEER OF THE LGBT MOVEMENT”. Chelsea Ritschel. Independent, 30 June 2020, https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/marsha-p-johnson-google-doodle-transgender-rights-activist-drag-queen-lgbt-a9591731.html?amp.

  10. Marsha P Johnson’s Activism Matters Now More Than Ever”. Susan Devaney. Vogue, 6 June 2020, https://www.vogue.co.uk/arts-and-lifestyle/article/who-was-marsha-p-johnson?amp.

  11. Marsha P Johnson's mysterious death as Stonewall riots legend found floating in river”. Tamara Davison. Mirror, 28 June 2020, https://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/marsha-p-johnsons-death-tragic-22206980.amp.

  12. Pride Month: Who was Marsha P. Johnson and why was she so important?”. BBC News, 30 June 2020, https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/amp/52981395.

  13. Real story of Marsha P Johnson - and what happened at Stonewall riots”. Lewis Knight. Mirror, 28 June 2020, https://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/real-story-marsha-p-johnson-22208097.amp.

  14. THE DEATH AND LIFE of MARSHA P. JOHNSON”. David France. Netflix, 6 October 2017.

  15. 'The Death And Life Of Marsha P. Johnson' Shows Fight For Social Justice Isn't Finished”. Audrey Nowakowski. WUWM, https://www.wuwm.com/post/death-and-life-marsha-p-johnson-shows-fight-social-justice-isnt-finished#stream/0.

  16. The Death of Marsha P. Johnson and the Quest for Closure”. Sal Bono. Inside Edition, 30 March 2019, https://www.insideedition.com/death-marsha-p-johnson-and-quest-closure-51708?amp.

  17. The transgender women at Stonewall were pushed out of the gay rights movement. Now they are getting a statue in New York”. Gillian Brockell. Washington Post, 12 June 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2019/06/12/transgender-women-heart-stonewall-riots-are-getting-statue-new-york/?outputType=amp.

  18. When Will We Stop Searching 'Who is Marsha P. Johnson?'”. Justin Kirkland. Esquire, 30 June 2020, https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/amp33010679/who-is-marsha-p-johnson-pride-2020-essay/.

  19. Why Google Doodle Honored Trans Pioneer Marsha P. Johnson”. Daniel Reynolds. Advocate, 30 June 2020, https://www.advocate.com/transgender/2020/6/30/why-google-doodle-honored-trans-pioneer-marsha-p-johnson.

  20. #Pride50: Marsha P. Johnson — Transgender rights trailblazer”. Gwen Aviles. NBC News, 3 June 2019, updated 4 June 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/marsha-p-johnson-transgender-rights-trailblazer-n1006886.

Image

  1. Martha P. Johnson. WUWM. https://www.advocate.com/transgender/2020/6/30/why-google-doodle-honored-trans-pioneer-marsha-p-johnsonhttps://www.wuwm.com/post/death-and-life-marsha-p-johnson-shows-fight-social-justice-isnt-finished#stream/0.

Day 29: Eric Ohena Lemembe

Photo from CBC News

​*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions violence, brutality, torture, a beating, alledged homophobic hate attack, and distressing imagery.

Please continue with caution.


The day passed just like any other in the city of Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon. It was the 12th of July, 2013 and the people of the city went about their day. They all got up at the beginning of the day when the run rose up in the sky, had breakfast, went to work or school, had a lunch break before continuing then made their way home for dinner.

One man was relaxing in his home in the living room. He had eaten a little while ago so his belly was full. After a long day at work he wanted nothing more than to relax for the rest of the night so that was what he was going to do. He plopped himself on the couch and turned on the TV. There wasn’t anything in particular that he wanted to watch but he was sure that if he kept looking through the channels he was bound to find something he would think was interesting.

As he flipped through the channels, a small group of men approached his home. They made sure to dress and act like they were just on a normal walk in the streets despite the late hour. It wasn’t uncommon to see people out and about at dusk but to have a group out together was a little less common. It wasn’t enough to cause suspicion but the men weren’t about to take any chances. They had to be careful because they had a plan. A plan that they knew was wrong both morally and legally but they didn’t care. They were determined to see it through no matter what.

They felt that their target had to be punished for what he was doing. In their minds, he was doing something wrong and that it went against God’s rules for humanity. This was an unforgivable crime so their target had to be taught a lesson.

They walked up to the apartment and peered inside one of the windows. When they saw that the household occupant was focused on the TV they all smirked. This was their chance. They had to act right away while their target was still distracted.

Quickly, the group of men made their way to the front door where one of them got to work picking the lock. He worked as quietly as he possibly could but wasn’t too worried as the TV would provide enough cover for him. It was fairly loud so any clicks from the lock wouldn’t have been audible to the house’s occupant.

When the door was unlocked, the men kicked it open and charged inside. The man who was sitting on his couch jumped at the sudden sound. He scrambled to his feet just as the group of men barged into his living room. He was so shocked that he could barely say anything. He wanted to ask the men how they got in, why they were there and who they were but he never got a chance.

The moment the men laid eyes on the frightened man, the one who was appointed leader pointed at their target and told his group to get the man. They did as they were told and forced his arms behind his back then tired them together. He tried to fight them but they had the element of surprise on their side and they outnumbered him. He stood no chance.

After a failed attempt of breaking free, the man looked up at the leader and tried to ask what was going on but before he could speak, one of the men holding him punched him right on the jaw. He cried out in pain and looked down at the floor. He was scared of what they were going to do to him.

He had an idea of why they might have sought him out. He didn’t want to believe it but it was the only possible explanation. The only reason that made sense as to why they would have broken into his house and tied him up. People like the man were no stranger to violence but this was different… The man was afraid that this time he wouldn’t make it out alive and if he did, he might have been left permanently disfigured.

He didn’t dare look up at the men now. They didn’t hesitate to hit him for trying to speak. It was best that he didn’t say anything. If he wanted to make it out alive, no matter how slim that chance may be he had to remain quiet and do as the men said. Maybe, just maybe he would live to tell his story.

As scared as he was, the man didn’t struggle when the men hauled him to his feet and forced him out of the room. At first he thought that they were leading him out of the building and to a car but to his surprise, they didn’t. Instead of leaving the building, the men forced the frightened man out of the living room and down the hallway to his own bedroom.

They all made their way into the room where the man was thrown to the ground. He grunted when he landed and his first instinct was to try and get up but one of the men put his foot on his back and forced him back down. The man didn’t fight it. He accepted it. He thought that if he didn’t give these men a reaction then they would get bored of him and eventually leave. He hoped that would be the case. He prayed it was.

He did his best not to give the men any reactions even when they punched and kicked him. No matter what they did or said, he did his best to keep a neutral face but it was quite difficult. The men used more and more force in their kicks and kicked him all over. No place on his body was safe from the constant attacks. Tears rolled down his cheeks when the pain became unbearable but still he barely showed any reaction. It was hard but somehow he managed to suppress his reactions. He winced when a kick was so strong that it felt like it broke a bone. He could feel that his body was covered in bruises.

He breathed deeply in an attempt to calm down. He did his best to focus on anything other than the attack. He thought about the happy moments in his life. He thought about his friends and family and all of the good times they had together. The thought of possibly seeing his loved ones again kept his going.. He would endure this if it meant that he could see them after.

After some time, his tormentors grew tired. They weren’t getting the reaction they were hoping for and that wasn’t any fun. They hadn’t come there just to torture him. They were hoping to have some fun with it but what fun was it if their target didn’t scream or try to get away.

The leader brought this up to his companions and one of them had a solution to their problem. He told the leader that he would be right back before leaving the room. The group of men didn’t know what he was planning but let him be while they resumed the torture of their captive.

They decided to change things up. Two men grabbed the injured man and hoisted him up on his bed. Now they had an easier time punching him. They laughed amongst each other when he flinched or when more tears fell from his eyes.

To them, this man wasn’t human. He was different from them and was a big supporter of others just like him. They all thought that it was messed up. He shouldn’t have a place in the world if he was just going to spread and encourage the perversion. It wasn’t right and they wanted him to know that. They wanted everyone he associated with to know that what they were doing was wrong and that they could go to hell for it if they wanted but they shouldn’t be encouraging others down their path.

When the man came back to the room, this group noticed that he was holding something. It was an iron. The man held it up and smirked. He told the group that it had been charged up as it was cordless and he had just filled it up. His group all let out small cheers and said how this would definitely get them the reaction they were looking for.

They stepped aside and let the man walk up to their victim. He was still lying on his bed and he was covered from head to toe with injuries. His face was soaked in tears and he was in so much pain that even breathing hurt. By now he just wanted it all to end. He didn’t care if he was killed. He just wanted the pain to end. He tried his best to hold out but he had reached his breaking point. When he saw the iron and heard it click as it was turned on he began to panic.

He tried to scoot away when the man approached but he was too injured. He didn’t even move an inch before the other man grabbed him and pressed the now hot iron into his flesh. Now the man began to scream. He thought the pain couldn’t get any worse but he was proven wrong. He continued to scream as the iron was applied to other parts of his body but the worst was his face.

He tried to shove the man off but his companions held the man down. They all laughed. Since they didn’t see him as a human they had no trouble doing these horrific things. In their minds, they were doing nothing wrong but they knew the law said otherwise. However, they also knew that the law would most likely side with them once the truth of who the man was got out. Even if they did get caught, they felt confident that nothing would happen to them.

After many burns, kicks and beatings, the man grew too weak to scream anymore. His throat was sore and his body was weak. He had cried until no more tears formed. Now the men felt like they had enough. It was time they wrapped it up and got going. The last thing they wanted was to be caught. They had stayed there long enough. They didn’t want to risk someone walking in on them if the man lived with someone or was expecting visitors.

Before they departed, they had to finish off the man first. One man took out a hammer that he had brought with him and used it to hit the man’s feet. He cried out again but it was weak. He had been through so much and was in so much pain that he was barely even able to whimper at this point. The man whacked him a few more times with the hammer before another grabbed the man’s head and turned it to the side suddenly. All of the men heard a loud crack and knew that his neck was broken. He died instantly.

His name was Eric Ohena Lemembe and he was only 33 years old.

AFTERMATH

On the 15th of July, 2013 friends of Eric went to his apartment to check on him after not being able to get in touch for two days. When they arrived they saw a padlock on his front door. One of the friends looked in the window and could see the body of Eric inside. They quickly called the police to report the crime scene.

Unfortunately, the investigators didn’t do their jobs properly as no photos or fingerprints were taken at the crime scene and even the medical certificate left out many of the injuries that covered Eric’s body.

The case was originally assigned to the police from the 1st district of Yaoundé but was then passed to the National Security Central Administration. Eventually the case was presented to an investigating judge. About a year after the crime took place, the judge summoned Eric’s mother, sister and brother. His family had been what can only be described as intimidation by the police and some of them were even arrested at the start of the investigation.

No motive has been determined but those who knew Eric say that it was a homophobic attack which the authorities fail to see. By doing so, they are showing others that they can carry out homophobic hate crimes and get away with it which is the wrong message. Neela Ghoshal from Human Rights Watch has said that “the police should not rest until the perpetrators of this horrific crime are brought to justice. President Biya should break his silence on the wave of homophobic violence in Cameroon and publicly condemn this brutal attack”.

Friends of Eric suspect that his murder was done by someone who wanted to kill the LGBTQ+ movement. The year after Eric’s murder, LGBTQ+ activists in Cameroon were the victims of death threats. They filed police reports but it never went further than that. There were no interrogations of arrests.

Neela Ghoshal has said that while she doesn’t know if Eric’s murder will ever be solved but that even if someone kills an activist, they can’t kill the movement for freedom and equality.

“Eric’s legacy will live on. One day, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people will live free and equal in Cameroon.” - Neela Ghoshal, Human Rights Watch Senior Researcher, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program.

IN LIFE

Eric Ohena Lemebre was one of the most prominent and outspoken activists for the LGBTQ+ community in Cameroon, one of the most hostile countries in Africa for the LGBTQ+ community.

He worked as a journalist and executive director of a human rights organization called Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS (CAMFAIDS). This organization’s mission was to defend the rights for the LGBTQ+ community and people who were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. Eric would document the mistreatment gay people suffered in Cameroon. He wrote about the violence they faced, the blackmail they received and their arrests.

On the behalf of CAMFAIDS, Eric collaborated with Human Rights Watch along with two Cameroonian organizations called Alternatives-Cameroun and Association for the Defense of Homosexuals (ADEFHO).

In March of 2013, he helped with researching for and launching a report that talked about prosecutions of consensual sex between homosexuals.

In May of 2013 he participated in drafting a submission for Cameroon’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

He was a regular contributor to a site called Erasing 76 Crimes which focused on anti-gay laws from around the world.

He also worked alongside Colin Stewart, Miles Tanhira, Andy Kopsa, Rachel Adams, Clare Byarugaba, and Albert Ogle on a book titled “From Wrongs to Gay Rights: Cruelty and change for LGBT people in an uncertain world”. He wrote several chapters and the book talks about struggles that the LGBTQ+ community faces in countries where their sexuality is still criminalized.

“Eric was an inspiring activist whose work was deeply appreciated by human rights activists in Cameroon and around the world. Advocating for equal rights in Cameroon, where LGBTI people face severe discrimination and violence, takes tremendous courage. Eric’s activism paved the way for a society based on equality and nondiscrimination.” - Neela Ghoshal, Human Rights Watch Senior Researcher, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program.

SOURCES

Articles

  1. An Assault on a Movement: The Killing of Eric Lembembe”. Damian Ugwu. Huffington Post, 22 August 2013, updated 2 February 2016, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/an-assault-on-a-movement_b_3792598?utm_hp_ref=email_share.

  2. CAMEROON: Assassination of Eric Ohena Lembembe, the investigation remains at a standstill”. Human Rights Defenders. International Federation for Human Rights, 11 July 2014, https://www.fidh.org/en/region/Africa/cameroon/15738-cameroon-assassination-of-eric-ohena-lembembe-the-investigation-remains-at.

  3. Cameroon gay rights activist found tortured and killed”. Afua Hirsch. The Guardian, 18 July 2013, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/18/cameroon-gay-rights-activist-killed.

  4. Cameroon: LGBTI Rights Activist Found Dead, Tortured”. Human Rights Watch, 16 July 2013, https://www.hrw.org/news/2013/07/16/cameroon-lgbti-rights-activist-found-dead-tortured.

  5. Cameroon must investigate gay rights activist killing - groups”. Reuters, 19 July 2013, https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-cameroon-activist/cameroon-must-investigate-gay-rights-activist-killing-groups-idUKBRE96I0OG20130719.

  6. Cameroonian LGBT rights advocate murdered”. Michael K. Lavers. Washington Blade, 16 July 2013, https://www.washingtonblade.com/2013/07/16/cameroonian-lgbt-rights-advocate-murdered/.

  7. Cameroon's Eric Lembembe: Gay rights activist 'murdered'”. BBC News, 16 July 2013, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-23331832.

  8. Couragous Camaroonian Activist Killed Following Months of Anti-Gay Attacks”. Joe Mirabella. Huffington Post, 17 July 2013, updated 2 February 2016, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/eric-ohena-lembembe-killed_b_3608052.

  9. Eric Ohena Lembembe”. Human Rights Defenders Memorial, https://hrdmemorial.org/hrdrecord/eric-ohena-lembembe/.

  10. Gay activist tortured, killed in Cameroon”. Joe Morgan. Gay Star News, 16 July 2013, https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/gay-activist-tortured-killed-cameroon160713/.

  11. Gay Rights Activist Killed in Cameroon”. Jase Peeples. Advocate, 16 July 2013, https://www.advocate.com/crime/2013/07/16/gay-rights-activist-killed-cameroon.

  12. Processing the Murder of Eric Ohena Lembembe”. Neela Ghoshal. Human Rights Watch, 17 July 2013, https://www.hrw.org/news/2013/07/17/processing-murder-eric-ohena-lembembe.

  13. Prominent Gay Rights Activist Tortured And Killed In Cameroon”. CBC News, 17 July 2013, https://www.cbc.ca/strombo/news/prominent-gay-rights-activist-tortured-and-killed-in-cameroon.html.

  14. Prominent gay rights activist tortured, killed in Cameroon”. Dan Littauer. LGBTQ Nation, 16 July 2013, https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2013/07/prominent-gay-rights-activist-tortured-killed-in-cameroon/.

Image

  1. Eric Ohena Lembembe. CBC News, https://www.cbc.ca/strombo/news/prominent-gay-rights-activist-tortured-and-killed-in-cameroon.html.

Day 28: Sherlyn Montoya

Photo from Dosmanzanas.com

​*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions blood, violence, brutality, beating, torture, alledged homophobic hate crime, and distressing imagery.

Please continue with caution.


This story was written on the 28th of June, 2020 and so far no arrests have been made in connection to the case. This story will be updated if and when new information on the case is published.

It was late at night on the 2nd of April, 2017 in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. Most people were at home and getting ready for bed if they weren’t asleep already. It was the end of the weekend. Everyone wanted to get a full night’s rest for the next day. Mondays were hard for many people, especially teenagers and young adults who just wanted to spend their nights with friends.

Late that night, a young woman was on her way home from a long night. She had just finished a drag show in which she was a performer and she had a great time. She had spent her night surrounded by friends and a supportive community. Living in a country where the LGBTQ+ community was looked down upon and violence was common, it was nice to be with people who not only accepted you but who were just like you. The young woman had found a home there and life was looking good for her.

On her way home, she stopped off at a gas station. It was on the way and she needed to pick some things up and fill up the gas of the family car. She parked the car in the parking lot then got her purse and went into the gas station. She picked up a few groceries that she and her family really needed for the next day that she had completely forgotten to pick up earlier that day before her show.

When she got what she needed she went to the cash and paid for everything she had. She bought the gas and filled up the car. While she waited for the tank to fill up, she put the bags of groceries in the back seat of the car. When the tank was full, the young woman got ready to get in her car but a noise behind her stopped her in her tracks.

She turned around to see what had caused the mysterious noise and came face to face with a small group of men. Most of them had serious looks on their faces while some had smirks. Their expressions sent chills down the young woman’s back. It was clear to her that these men had ill intentions. They gave her the creeps and instantly made her feel uncomfortable. As far as she knew, she didn’t know any of the men. They had never met before that night.

She calmly asked them what they wanted and if she could help. The man who appeared to be the leader stared at her for a moment as he pondered the question. It looked like he was making up his mind and deciding on how he was going to respond. After a few moments, he finally spoke. He told the young woman that in fact, she could help them. All she would need to do was to follow them.

Of course, the young woman declined. It was late at night and these men were strangers. She politely declined the men and said that she really had to go home. Her family was expecting her and she was quite tired. The men didn’t like that response so again, they told her to go with them. They promised her that it would be worth her while but again she refused. She tried to be as polite as possible to these men. She couldn’t take any chances with them. One wrong move and they might try to harm her.

When the young woman didn’t seem to give in, the men decided to take matters into their own hands. The leader approached the woman while the others surrounded her to prevent her from leaving. Now she was on high alert. This was serious and she had to be very careful on how she proceeded. She looked up at the leader and asked him what was going on. He simply replied that she was being rude for refusing to go with them. He said that she needed to be taught a lesson.

Her eyes widened in fear. She knew what he was implying. He spoke in a sinister voice with a creepy looking grin on his face. The woman didn’t want any part of that.

She tried to run past him but the other men were quick to line up, shoulder to shoulder which prevented her from escaping. When she tried to get past them, two of the men grabbed her while another put a burlap sack over her head. She tried to scream but she was so surprised from the action that she was unable to let out a loud enough scream for people to hear. She struggled against the men but she was no match for them. She was out numbered and they were stronger than her. No matter how much she fought against them, it was no use.

The men dragged her away from the area to where there wasn’t any light. A good distance away from the gas station was the vehicle the men had arrived in. They had not intended to take this woman or anyone for that matter that night but when they saw her they decided to go for it. They knew that from the moment they saw her, she was different but not in a good way. She was different from others in the community and her kind were not welcome in “their” community. To the men, people like the young woman were not accepted and in their opinion, had no place among them. When they saw the woman, the men decided to show this young woman where her place was.

After shoving her in their car, they drove away to a building that they had designated as their little hide out or meet up spot. It wasn’t too close to other buildings so even if the woman started to scream loudly, no one would have been able to hear her. They hadn’t planned to use the building as a place to take people but it was the perfect spot.

When they arrived, the car stopped and the men got out. They forced the frightened young woman out of the car. The bag was still over her head making it impossible for her to see anything. The men shoved her in the general direction they wanted her to go. She went without hesitation. She had no choice but to do what they wanted her to. They were in control and she was blind. She was at their mercy.

She tried to stay brave but deep down she was terrified. She had no clue where she was or what the men were going to do to her. It was scary. No one said anything except for telling her to keep walking. They did so in a firm and very cold voice. At one point she was sure she could hear one of them chuckle when she stumbled on her way to her destination.

When they reached the room where she was to be held, the men forced her to sit down on a chair where they tied her up. She wanted to fight back against them but fear kept her still. If she resisted them, would they kill her? Turture her? She didn’t want to find out so she complied with every request and demand they made.

The men kept the young woman waiting hours and hours before interacting with her. It started off with just taunting her but when she didn’t give them the reaction they wanted it progressed into kicking then punching. Those started off lightly but eventually grew stronger and stronger the longer the young woman remained silent. The only sounds that came from her were small whimpers which was her reaction to the pain she felt from the kicks and hits. She didn’t speak a single word to her kidnappers out of fear.

Over a day later, the pain was overwhelming. The young woman had been subjected to all sorts of physical pain. The men had surrounded her and all of them took turns beating her. She could hear them laugh the entire time they did this. It was sickening and infuriating. She couldn’t believe that these monsters could be so cruel for seemingly no reason. They hadn’t even alluded to a reason as to why they kidnapped her. Perhaps it was just for their amusement which made them horrible and sick.

Underneath the sack on her head, tears were streaming down her face. She was unbelievably terrified. She just wanted all of this to end. It wouldn’t have mattered if they let her go or killed her. She just wanted the experience to end.

After many hours of the torture, her kindappers finally got tired of her. She wasn’t showing much reaction to the kicking and hitting. They grew tired of her quickly and thought that the best thing to do was to get rid of her.

One of the men left the room and came back with a rope in hand. He looked at the other men in the room and they all nodded. The man with the rope smirked and approached the young woman. She heard his footsteps as he grew closer. She tensed up as she tried to process what was going on. She was afraid to find out.

When the man made his way behind her he very suddenly wrapped the rope around her neck. She tensed up when she felt the rope tighten around her. She coughed and choked. She tried to get as much air as she could but her hands were bound. She couldn't fight back or attempt to loosen the rope. All she could do was sit there and feel the air escape her lungs. It was a terrifying feeling.

The young woman became lightheaded after minutes of strangulation. Eventually her eyes began to close and her head bobbed to the side. Her kidnappers knew she was close to death. The man continued to tighten the rope until she stopped moving then continued to hold it until he no longer saw her chest rise and fall. He held the rope in place until he was sure that she was dead.

Her name was Sherlyn Montoya and she was only 29 years old.

AFTERMATH

The body of Sherlyn Montoya was found two days after she went missing. She had been wrapped in burlap sacks and dumped in an alley located near the gas station where she was last seen.

She was killed by unknown people who are still free. She was working to support her elderly mother and 3 nieces at the time of her death.

Organizations such as The National Network of Human Rights Defenders, the Mesoamerican Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders and the European Union have asked the country of Honduras to look into the case and arrest those responsible for the brutal murder.

Other groups who have demanded justice are: Asociación LGTB Arcoíris de Honduras, Grupo de Mujeres Transexuales (Muñecas Arcoíris), Grupo Lésbico Bisexual LITOS and Grupo de Hombres Transexuales (Muñecos Arcoíris). All of them are Honduran LGBTQ+ advocacy groups.

As of June 2020, there have been no arrests in this case.

IN LIFE

Sherlyn Montoya was a drag performer and an active activist for the LGBTQ+ community. She was a member of a group called the Asociación LGBT Arcoíris (LGBT Rainbow Association) which focused on advocating issues of trandgender women in Honduras.

SOURCES

Articles

  1. El asesinato de la activista trans Sherlyn Montoya golpea de nuevo a la comunidad LGTB hondureña”. Flick. Dosmanzanas, 13 April 2017, https://www.dosmanzanas.com/2017/04/el-asesinato-de-la-activista-trans-sherlyn-montoya-golpea-de-nuevo-a-la-comunidad-lgtb-hondurena.html.

  2. Hallan muerto con signos de tortura a un travesti en Tegucigalpa”. La Prensa, 4 April 2017, https://www.laprensa.hn/sucesos/1059507-410/hallan-muerto-con-signos-de-tortura-a-un-travesti-en-tegucigalpa.

  3. Honduran Trans Activist Strangled Amid Rising Hate Crimes”. teleSUR, 12 April 2017, https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Honduran-Trans-Activist-Strangled-Amid-Rising-Hate-Crimes-20170412-0027.html.

  4. Killing of LGBTI rights defender Sherlyn Montoya”. Front Line Defenders, 7 April 2017, https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/case-history-sherlyn-montoya.

  5. “La Diva”a la que le apagaron sus sueños este día en la capital hondureña”. Redaccion Web. Tiempo Digital, 4 April 2017, https://tiempo.hn/sherlyn-montoya-la-diva-que-le-apagaron-sus-suenos-este-dia-en-la-capital-hondurena/.

  6. Asesinan a Sherlyn Montoya, defensora de derechos trans”. Astrolabio, 18 April 2017, https://www.astrolabio.com.mx/asesinan-a-sherlyn-montoya-defensora-de-derechos-trans/.

  7. Trans activist murdered in Honduras”. Ernesto Valle. Washington Blade, 10 April 2017, https://www.washingtonblade.com/2017/04/10/trans-activist-murdered-honduras/.

  8. Trans woman strangled to death after drag show in Honduras”. Joe Morgan. Gay Star News, 12 April 2017, https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/trans-woman-strangled-death-drag-show-honduras/.

Image

  1. Sherlyn Montoya. Dosmanzanas, https://www.dosmanzanas.com/2017/04/el-asesinato-de-la-activista-trans-sherlyn-montoya-golpea-de-nuevo-a-la-comunidad-lgtb-hondurena.html.

Day 27: Wanda Alston

Photo from the Wanda Alston Foundation

*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions blood, violence, stabbing, knife attack, and distressing imagery.

Please continue with caution.


It was approaching noon on the 16th of March, 2005. Everyone in Washington, D.C was going about their day. Those who were at work were getting ready to go on lunch break. Some had packed a lunch and were going to eat in the office while others packed up their work and were getting ready to head out to a restaurant. Kids at schools were also getting ready for lunch which was their favourite time of the day. Everyone got a break from their jobs or school for roughly an hour and were able to relax or spend time with friends.

One woman was enjoying her day at home. On that particular day she didn’t have to worry about going to work until the afternoon. Her mornings were free but she liked to keep busy so often she would work from home. Her fiancée was at work and wasn’t expected to be home for another few hours so the woman was home alone.

After having a nice lunch, the woman just finished washing her dishes when she heard the doorbell ring. She put the last dish away before drying her hands and making her way over to the door. She had been expecting a package for a few days now and it seemed as if it had finally arrived. She peeked out the door and sure enough, there was her package. She opened the door and picked up the box just as the postal van was backing out of her driveway. Like the kind soul that she was, she waved to the driver who returned the friendly gesture before driving off. She smiled to herself at the positive interaction then went back inside and closed the door behind her.

She made her way back to the kitchen where she put the package on the counter. She retrieved a knife which she used to slice open the tape and opened it up. She retrieved the contents of the package and set it to the side while she disposed of the box.

Just as she finished, she heard a knock on her door. She thought it was a bit odd since she wasn’t expecting anyone. She assumed that a neighbour needed her help with something or perhaps a friend had paid her a surprise visit.

She went over to the door and peeked out the window. It was a neighbour but not one she was well acquainted with. Even so, she opened up the door to see if he needed help with anything. When she greeted him she noticed that he was acting odd. She knew why. She recognized his behaviour. It was the same behaviour she had experienced back when she was a cocaine user.

Worried, she asked the man what she could help him with. He said that he just wanted to borrow some money and he would be on his way. He promised to pay her back as soon as he could but she knew better. She wanted to help him but she knew that being a source of money for him wouldn’t do him any good. It would just teach him that he could ask her for money whenever he needed it. She politely declined but did say that she could help him find a rehab center and support group.

He grew agitated at the suggestion. He explained to her that the system already failed him. He couldn’t rely on getting help but she told him that she could. She worked with helping drug users and that she could help him but he didn’t believe it. That just seemed too good to be true and he wasn’t interested in sobriety. He just wanted some cash to pay for his next his so he asked her again, this time more forcefully. Again she said no and explained how she wanted to help but that wasn’t the way to go about it. He really needed to seek out a rehab facility. He couldn’t come to her for cash which she made very clear.

He quickly got angry when she refused to give him cash. He promised to repay her but she wouldn’t budge. He wasn’t sure how much longer he could take it. He had been on cocaine for days now and needed another hit. He was desperate for it. He couldn’t wait any longer for his next hit and he was going to do anything to get it. His addiction told him what he had to do in order to satisfy his need. It controlled him and he was powerless to stop it. He had no control over what happened next.

Since the woman couldn’t talk any sense into him, she decided that the best thing to do was leave the man be. She offered to help him but he refused. At least he would know where to get help when he was ready for it. She couldn’t force him to do anything and she didn’t know him well enough to keep trying to talk to him. The best thing she could do now was to say goodbye and leave him to his own devices.

She was just about to shut the door when the man slammed his hand on it and pushed back. He pleaded with her. He just needed a little bit of money and then he would be on his way. She shook her head and told him that he wasn’t thinking right. It was the addiction talking and that he needed to seek professional help. She couldn’t do anything for him but when he was ready she would help him find a support group. That was all.

She tried using more force to close the door but still the man pushed back. He was not about to take no for a final answer. He couldn’t. He really, really needed cash or anything he could sell. He wasn’t about to let this stop him. He couldn’t. He took a deep breath and with all of his strength, he pushed the door open.

The woman wasn’t expecting this so the force caused her to stumble backwards into her home. She looked up at the man who had forced his way in and was utterly shocked. She raised her voice at him. How dare he force his way into her own home. If he didn’t leave immediately, she told him she would have no choice but to call the police. This was breaking and entering and it was against the law but the man didn’t listen.

Adrenaline was coursing through his veins. He didn’t have control over himself anymore. The only thing he was thinking about was finding some cash so he could buy some more drugs. It was the only thing he cared about. He didn’t think about potential consequences of his actions. None of that mattered in the heat of the moment.

He pulled out a pocket knife that he always had on him and flicked it open. The woman saw it and began talking to him and attempted to defuse the situation before it got out of hand. She spoke in a calm voice so she didn’t aggravate him but it was too late for her. The man had already made up his mind.

He charged at her with the knife in hand and tackled her to the ground. The woman screamed as she fell to the ground. The man landed on top of her and began jabbing the knife at her. She managed to dodge the first few blows. She held out her arms and tried to grab the knife but the man was full of rage and adrenaline. He was nearly unstoppable.

He kept the knife away from her grasp while attempting to strike her. He did manage to get a few cuts on her arms and would have thought that would have been enough to stop her but it didn’t. He underestimated her. Even though he had caught her off guard, she jumped into defense mode quickly and did her best to fight him off. She tried to scratch his face or anywhere she could reach to try and slow him down but she missed. He was too quick.

He stabbed the knife in her chest. With the amount of force behind the stab, the blade nearly went all the way into her chest. The woman let out a gasp of surprise. She was stunned. The pain spread throughout her chest but she couldn’t let that stop her, not if she wanted to live. She had to do her best to ignore the pain and fight back.

The man pulled the blade out of her chest only to bring it back down again. It went deep again and blood spilled from the wound. With each new injury more blood spilled from the woman’s body. It poured onto the floor and the man’s hand. It made the knife slippery.

At one point, the handle even slipped from his grasp and that made him pause. That pause was just long enough for the woman to use what energy she had left to push the man off her. He stumbled at the surprise shove and fell to the floor. This allowed the woman to roll over on her front despite the massive amount of pain she was in.

She tried to crawl away from her attacker but he recovered quickly. He was back on his feet in no time and pounced once more on the woman. He stabbed her with even more force this time as rage consumed him. He stabbed her until she stopped screaming. He continued until she no longer made any noise and her body went limp.

When she grew quiet, he finally began to calm down. He stood up with the bloody knife in his hand and looked down at the woman. Soon realization set in. He had just killed someone. He stuffed the knife into his pocket and turned to leave. On the way, he saw the woman’s car keys and purse on a table. He grabbed them then ran out of the house as the woman bled out. She passed away on the floor shortly after.

Her name was Wanda Alston and she was 45 years old.

AFTERMATH

After Wanda’s death, the District police shut down the block with police tape for over six hours while they investigated the crime scene. During their investigation, the police took note of Wanda’s missing car along with her purse.

The following day, they got a tip from a witness who had claimed to have seen Wanda’s car. It was a 2000 Nissan Sentra and the witness said that they saw that exact car parked in a driveway only two doors away. They had claimed to have seen the man who lived in the home driving the car.

The police went to investigate and found the suspect a few blocks away from the house where Wanda’s car was discovered. There was a brief chase but the police managed to apprehend the suspect and took him into custody at around 3 P.M. During his arraignment, the suspect was denied bond.

He was found to be in the possession of not only Wanda’s car and keys but her credit cards too. He was a cocaine user and had been high on it for several days before the murder. He admitted to using the cards to buy gas for people’s cars in exchange for cash which he would then use to support his addiction.

The suspect was unemployed 38 year old William Parrot. He was charged with armed, first degree murder. He was sentenced to 24 years behind bars and must serve at least 20 before he can be considered for release.

IN LIFE

Wanda Alston was described by people as being a strong activist and woman, a fighter, and a vocal lesbian. When it came to her being a leader, she was admired by everyone in D.C’s LGBTQ+ community. Keith Boykin, the president of the National Black Justice Coalition said that "Wanda was one of the toughest, most determined people I have ever met in my life".

She was born in Newport News, Virginia in the year 1950. After high school she joined the Air Force and the military provided her a pathway for education and a better life.

In the early 80s she received her bachelor’s degree from Southeastern University before moving in with her brother in D.C in 1985.

In D.C she became addicted to cocaine but she was able to sober up in 1990. It is because of this addiction that she supported drug recovery programs in her area.

In the 90s, she was part of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and later became a part of its National Board of Directors.

In 1992 Wanda was the executive assistant to the president of NOW, Patricia Ireland. Later she became the special projects director.

In 1995 she was the co-loader of the UN’s Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing.

She helped to organize 4 national marches and Washington and 1 in San Francisco and even organized events for the Human Rights Campaign.

In 1998 Wanda helped found the National Stonewall Democrats.

In 1999 she joined the Williams administration as the liaison to the U.S Census Bureau. After she became the director of operations for the Office of Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice.

In 2001 she was named Williams special assistant for lesbian and gay affairs.

In 2004, Williams appointed her to a Cabinet-level position. She was a delegate to the 2004 Democratic National Convention and went to work on John Kerry's presidential campaign.

Before her death she was working on preparing for the mayor’s first LGBTQ+ summit which was scheduled for the 30th of April.

About a year prior to her death, Wanda met 37 year old Stacey Long who she proposed to a few months later. The two had planned to have a wedding ceremony in June.

SOURCES

Articles

  1. A Life Remembered”. Sean Bugg and Randy Shulman. Metro Weekly, 23 March 2005, https://www.metroweekly.com/2005/03/a-life-remembered/.

  2. Arrest Made in Alston Slaying”. Del Quentin Wilber, Allan Lengel and Clarence Williams. Washington Post, 17 March 2005, https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A43577-2005Mar17.html.

  3. Confessed killer of gay activist gets 24 years”. The Washington Times, 29 July 2005, https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2005/jul/29/20050729-102058-9097r/.

  4. D.C.’s Gay Leader Stabbed to Death”. Stefen Styrsky. Gay City News, 30 March 2005, https://www.gaycitynews.com/d-c-s-gay-leader-stabbed-to-death/.

  5. Longtime gay rights activist Wanda Alston killed”. Advocate, 18 March 2005, https://www.advocate.com/news/2005/03/18/longtime-gay-rights-activist-wanda-alston-killed-15456.

  6. Man charged with killing gay rights activist Wanda Alston”. Advocate, 18 March 2005, https://www.advocate.com/news/2005/03/18/man-charged-killing-gay-rights-activist-wanda-alston-15466.

  7. Murder Rocks D.C. Community”. Bob Roehr. Windy City Times, 1 April 2005, http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Murder-Rocks-DC-Community/7840.html.

  8. Wanda Alston”. Wanda Alston Foundation, http://www.wandaalstonfoundation.org/wanda-alston-2/.

  9. Wanda R. Alston”. Daily Press, powered by Legacy, https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/dailypress/obituary.aspx?n=wanda-r-alston&pid=3314127.

Image

  1. Wanda Alston. Wanda Alston Foundation, http://www.wandaalstonfoundation.org/wanda-alston-2/.

Day 26: René Martínez

Photo from Democratic Underground

​*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions blood, violence, beating, brutality, strangulation, and distressing imagery.

Please continue with caution.


This case happened back in 2016 and this article was written in June 2020. So far there haven’t been any arrests in the case.

It was a regular day in the Chamelecón neighbourhood in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. It was nearing the end of the work day for most people while others were getting ready for their shifts if they worked a night shift. It was just a regular day for the residents who thought nothing of it. There were the usual issues with the gangs in the area but the people were so used to it that they hardly registered it anymore. The gangs were just a part of life for them.

One man was just arriving home from work. It had been a long day and all he wanted was to take a nice long shower then relax in front of the TV. He had gotten so much work during the day and there was still so much more that needed to be done. He lived a very busy life but he never complained. In fact, he rather enjoyed it because what he did helped many people in his area and even his country. It was rewarding despite how drained he felt after certain days.

He stepped out of his car then locked it. Just as he was about to take a step towards the house he heard a car racing down the street. He didn’t really think too much about it. Gang members were known to speed down streets or it could have just been some crazy, out of control young adults. Whoever they were pulled up quickly to his driveway. Their vehicle screeched to a halt and two doors slammed open.

The man heard the commotion behind him and turned around to see what was going on. He didn’t have time to process anything. As soon as he turned, two people wearing masks grabbed him by the arms and began to drag him to the car. He called out to them and asked them what was going on and what was the meaning of this. Why were they doing this to him? What he had done to gain their attention? He got no answer from any of them. They simply forced him into the backseat and slammed the doors behind them.

Even before the doors clicked into place the vehicle speed off down the road. The man who had been taken was in such shock that he didn’t even have any words. He just sat there with wide eyes in between two masked figures as they sped off. He didn’t dare look at them. He was afraid of what they would do if he made eye contact. They had been rough with him already. He didn’t want to aggravate the situation. He looked down at his feet as the car drove off.

Just after the car vanished down the street, the other occupants of the house began to panic. They had seen everything through the window. They saw their loved one being forced into a car with these masked people. Even if they wanted to do something, they knew they couldn’t. Who knows what those people would have done to anyone who dared interfered. The only thing they could do was to watch helplessly as their loved one was taken away but once the car disappeared, one of the occupants ran right to the house phone. They picked it up and called the police to report what had just happened.

When the police arrived the people told them what they had seen and described the car and the occupants as best as they could. They had made sure to remember as much as possible but the police weren’t too sure if they could track down the car but they promised the family that they would do their best. They told the family to remain calm, lock their doors and windows and to not give up hope. They would do the best with the information they had and wouldn’t stop until they found the man. That provided them some relief but they were still worried.

~ 🏳️‍🌈 ~

In the car, one of the men pulled a pillowcase over the frightened man’s head while the other tied his hands together with a zip tie. He secured it as tightly as possible which hurt but the man didn’t dare say anything. He had to be very careful with what he said around these men. He wouldn’t be surprised if they beat him over the smallest annoyance.

So he sat there for the duration of the ride in complete silence. He didn’t move a muscle or utter a word. His kidnappers didn’t say anything either. They didn’t even taunt him which he thought to be odd. Surely they would have said something to try and intimidate him but no. The whole ride was quiet and very tense.

When they finally arrived at their destination the man was forcefully pulled from the car and shoved in a direction. He was disoriented as they refused to take off the pillowcase but tried his best to remain calm. He regained his footing and went in the direction he was guided in.

He could tell that they had taken him into a building but he wasn’t sure how big or small it was. He could tell that there wasn’t much light as the pillowcase still allowed him to see the changes in light but nothing else.

He was forced to sit on a chair and did it without hesitation. He knew that the less he fought them, the higher chance he had of making it out of the situation alive. When he was seated he could feel that his legs were bound together. This was probably done as a precaution to keep him from running away but even without the binding the man wouldn’t dare.

When all seemed to settle down, the man found the courage to talk again. He asked what was going on and nothing else. He didn’t want to annoy his kidnappers with being too chatty. He gulped as he waited for a response. The fact that he didn’t get one immediately worried him. Why weren’t they saying anything? Surely they brought him to their hideout for a reason. Were they going to interrogate him for information? Perhaps they wanted names of people in the LGBTQ+ community. It wouldn’t be that shocking if that was what they were after. Maybe they had a hit list and wanted to go after LGBTQ+ people. If that was the case then the man made up his mind. He wasn’t going to say a word even if it killed him. He couldn’t betray the community he loved so much so if he were to die then so be it.

~ 🏳️‍🌈 ~

His kidnappers kept him waiting for a long time. He wasn’t sure how much time had passed but it had to have been hours at least. Minutes could feel like hours if one didn’t know the time and couldn’t see the light of the sun but the man knew it wasn’t minutes that had passed since he arrived. He knew hours had passed but how many, he wasn’t sure. He guessed that maybe five hours had gone by but it could have been more.

Eventually one of them began to speak to him. They started off laughing at him because he looked so pathetic according to them. They were amused at the sight of the man tied up on the chair. The man didn’t flinch or react. He wanted to engage with the kidnappers as little as possible.

When the kidnapper didn’t get the reaction he was hoping for he tried again but to no avail. Angered, the kidnapper now resorted to kicking and punching the man while he continued to taunt him. Still he got no response. The kidnapper turned to his friends and asked what the hell was wrong with the man. Was he broken? Why didn’t anything affect him?

The other men in the room shrugged and suggested things the kidnapper could do to the man. They told him where to hit or kick him and soon his knife got involved. He took it out of his pocket and began to make little slices all over the man’s body. It wasn’t necessarily meant to draw blood but merely to torture him.

The men laughed and soon began asking the man some questions. They asked him why he wasn’t reacting or putting up a fight. They were curious. They asked him if he was afraid, even a little bit but the man refused to engage. He did his best to think of something positive. To pretend that he was somewhere else. He pretended that he was back home with his family and that they were together at the table talking about how their days went.

It almost brought a tear to his eye but he knew that he would return to them soon enough. In time his kidnappers would get bored of him and let him go. He just had to wait this out. Surely his family would have called the police by now. Perhaps they were on their way. He just had to hold on a little longer and then he would be free.

While he was off in his little world, he failed to hear anything his kidnappers were saying to him. This angered them when they didn’t get any response from the man. They continued to beat and cut him but still nothing worked.

After many, many hours they gave up. The man wasn’t talking and it seemed as if he wouldn’t. There was no point in continuing, they reasoned. It was best that they dispose of him since he was of no use to them.

One of the men got out a rope that he had been holding on to for some time and walked up to the prisoner with a smirk on his face. He wrapped the rope around the man’s neck and pulled as hard as he could. The man jerked at the sudden action and tried his best to fight back but he was no match. Not only was he tied up but he was a lot smaller and significantly weaker than the man with the rope. Even if he hadn't been tied up he wouldn’t have stood a chance.

It took some doing but soon the man stopped moving. He no longer struggled. His body went limp and he slouched in the chair but that wasn’t the end of it. He had passed out due to the lack of air but he was still alive. The man knew this so he kept the rope tightened around his neck for a bit longer. After a few more minutes had passed one of the other men came up and checked their prisoner’s pulse. He was dead.

His name was René Martínez and he was 40 years old.

AFTERMATH

René Martínez’s body was found two days later on the 3rd of June, 2016 in Colonia Canada, Choloma in Honduras which is not too far away from San Pedro Sula. After his body was found his family went to the San Pedro Sula’s morgue and identified him. His body showed signs of violence and the cause of death appears to be strangulation.

There is no clear clue as to the motivation behind the killing or who is responsible. As of June 2020, there has been no news on any arrests in the case.

IN LIFE

René Martínez was very popular in his hometown. He was described as one of the main defenders of the LGBTQ+ community. He even was considering running for Congress in 2017 with the Partido Nacional (National Party). He was an enthusiastic demoratic leader who did his best to improve the quality of life for the people in his community.

He worked in the same area where he lived, in the Chamelecón area of San Pedro Sula, Honduras. This area was one of the most dangerous neighbourhoods as it had a high gang presence.

He did many things to serve his community. He worked as the president of his community council, the Comunidad Gay Sampedrana por la Salud Integral (Gay Community of San Pedro Sula for Integral Health), conventional member of the National Party, volunteer youth outreach center supported by USAID, and was a member of the Access Committee for Comprehensive Care of Persons living with HIV in the Northern Coast which was also supported by UNAIDS.

In October of 2015, both USAID and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute sponsored a conference in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The conference focused on supporting the political engagement of the LGBTQ+ community in both Latin America and the Caribbean. Over 300 activists from across the region attended the gathering and René was one of them. Notable people who arrived were Randy Berry and Tamara Adrián who were with a Special U.S. Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons. Tamara Adrián is the first openly transgendered persion who has been elected into the Venezuelan National Assembly.

SOURCES

Articles

  1. “Activists forge ahead in violence-plagued Honduras city”. Michael K. Lavers. Washington Blade, 20 February 2017, https://www.washingtonblade.com/2017/02/20/activists-forge-ahead-violence-plagued-honduras-city/.

  2. “CASE HISTORY: RENÉ MARTÍNEZ”. Frontline Defenders, 8 June 2016, https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/case-history-rene-martinez.

  3. “Honduras Gay Rights Activist Rene Martinez Murdered”. Zachary Volkert. Inquisitr, 6 June 2016, https://www.inquisitr.com/3172662/honduras-gay-rights-activist-rene-martinez-murdered/.

  4. “Matan a presidente de la Comunidad Gay en San Pedro Sula”. La Prensa, 3 June 2016, https://www.laprensa.hn/sucesos/966575-410/matan-a-presidente-de-la-comunidad-gay-en-san-pedro-sula.

  5. “NDI MOURNS TRAGIC ASSASSINATION OF HONDURAN LGBTI ACTIVIST RENÉ MARTÍNEZ”. NDI, 21 June 2016, https://www.ndi.org/NDI_Mourns_Rene_Mart%C3%ADnez.

  6. “Prominent LGBT activist murdered in Honduras”. Michael K. Lavers. Washington Blade, 4 June 2016, https://www.washingtonblade.com/2016/06/04/prominent-lgbt-activist-murdered-in-honduras/.

  7. “René Martinez Izaguirre”. Human Rights Defenders Memorial, https://hrdmemorial.org/fr/hrdrecord/rene-martinez-izaguirre/.

  8. “Rene Martinez, Leader of LGBT Community in Honduras, Kidnapped and Murdered”. Andy Towle. Towleroad, 5 June 2016, https://www.towleroad.com/2016/06/rene-martinez/.

  9. “State Department condemns murder of LGBT activist in Honduras”. Michael K. Lavers. Washington Blade, 6 June 2016, https://www.washingtonblade.com/2016/06/06/state-department-condemns-murder-of-lgbt-activist-in-honduras/.

Images

  1. René Martínez. Democratic Underground. https://www.democraticunderground.com/10141480353.

Day 25: Eudy Simelane

Photo from Friends of a Friend - Eudy Simelane on Facebook

​*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions blood, violence, beating, stabbing, knife attack, sexual assault, rape, and distressing imagery.

Please continue with caution.


It was early in the morning of the 28th of April, 2008 in the township of KwaThema located in South Africa. It was still dark outside although it wouldn’t last much longer. In the next two hours or so the sun would begin to rise and would light up the world. At this hour, people were stumbling out of bars and laughing with their friends. They had spent most of the night out drinking and having fun but now it was time for them to return home however it was quieter than most nights. It was a Monday morning so the majority of people in the town were still at home and in bed. The only ones who were out drinking were people who were lucky enough to have the day off or students who just didn’t care.

One pub in the area was growing increasingly quiet as its customers began to leave for the night. Many of them were quite drunk and those who arrived with friends were leaning on each other for support. There were a few who were still a bit sober but they left the bar earlier than the drunken customers.

One customer was a young woman who was a bit tipsy but not drunk by any means. She was still capable of navigating the world around her and she wasn’t about to forget what happened during the night. Her head was still quite clear but she did have a little buzz. She paid for her drink then gathered up her belongings and made her way to the entrance of the pub.

She had arrived there earlier that night with her friends but eventually they all departed and left her to her own devices. She was fine with that. They had jobs they needed to get ready for and she wondered how they were going to get through after being out for most of the night. She smiled to herself as she suspected many cups of coffee would be involved.

As the young woman walked away from the pub, a small group of men approached her. She quickly did a head count and saw that there were four in total. They all looked to be her age if not a bit younger. They quickly surrounded her making her stop in her tracks. She looked at one who held himself like he was the leader and asked him what was going on. She had met him before but she would hardly call him a friend. He was more of an acquaintance.

He looked her right in the eye and seemed to be studying her. He could probably smell the slight alcohol coming from her and was trying to determine how drunk she was. She thought he was acting a bit odd but thought nothing of it. She gave him a polite smile while trying to ignore the three other men who seemed to be quickly growing closer. She wondered if they knew anything about one’s personal space.

When one got a bit too close for her liking she turned her head towards him and in a firm voice told him to step back because he was too close. It made her uncomfortable. That comment seemed to get to not just that one man but the entire group. The atmosphere suddenly grew tense between them and the men looked at the one who acted as the leader.

He crossed his arms across his chest and looked at the young woman. It appeared as if he was glaring daggers at her and wondered how to proceed with the situation. He gave it a thought for a moment then turned to his buddies and nodded. They nodded in return and this confused the young woman. She had no clue what this behaviour was about. Had they agreed to something before? Perhaps she was overthinking the situation. They probably had plans and just remembered them. They were probably just going. It made her relax and she was about to leave when one of the men grabbed her by the arm.

He shouted at her and asked her where she thought she was going. Confused, she turned to him and said that she thought they were done. She wanted to go back home and go to bed. She was tired and just wanted some sleep. The men chuckled at that and told her that she wasn’t going anywhere.

She was frightened now. She didn’t know any of them well enough to possibly guess what their intentions were. It frightened her. She tried to pull herself free from the man’s grasp but he wouldn’t let go. He had a strong grip on her arm which only tightened the more she struggled. She didn’t want to make a scene at first but now felt like she had no choice. She was afraid of what these men might do to her. This was no time to remain silent any longer.

She prepared to call out for help but the men were quick to figure out her plan. It was almost as if they anticipated this. It was like they planned this from start to finish and every possible outcome. Before she could let out a scream, one of the men covered her mouth with his hand while another got out a cloth which he tied around the lower half of her face. This prevented her from calling out for help. Even if she did manage to make any noise then it wouldn’t have been loud enough for anyone to hear her. There wasn’t much she could do now. All she could really do was try to fight them off but the men easily restrained her. She was helpless.

They managed to tie her hands up despite her attempts to fight them off and when she was properly restrained, one of the men picked her up and carried her off to another location while his buddies followed him. The woman’s legs remained free so she tried kicking him to get him to drop her but he didn’t. He ignored the kicking as if it didn’t even bother him. She tried kicking as hard as she could but still he didn’t react. She screamed despite the cloth that was tied around her mouth. She tried desperately to free herself but nothing worked.

A sense of dread filled her when they arrived at an open field. She didn’t know exactly what their plans or motives were but she had a good guess as to what they were. She knew that there was only one reason why a group of men would bring her to an isolated place such as the field. There was just one reason and it terrified her.

When the man set her down the cloth around her face loosened and fell around her neck. Now that he mouth was no longer covered she begged to be let go. She begged to be spared. She pleaded with them not to hurt her. The men surrounded her to keep her from running and they all smirked as she pleaded. They found it entertaining.

One of the men told the woman that they were going to have so much fun with her. Her eyes widened when he said that. She knew what he was referring to and that was the last thing she wanted. She screamed out when the men began grabbing her clothes and groping her. She tried backing away but there was nowhere to go.

She continued to plead with them but her pleas fell on deaf ears. They wanted to have their way with her and it seemed as if nothing was going to stop that. Tears streamed down her face when she realized that there was no stopping the men. All she could do was sit there and cry as her clothes were ripped from her body. She was forced to lie down on the ground and her limbs were pinned down by three men while the fourth forced himself on her.

She screamed at the top of her lungs. She begged him to let her go. She tried pulling her arms free. She did everything she could think of. The men simply laughed at her and said that by the end of this she would finally be a real woman. In the back of her mind she knew what they were referring to but she was so scared that she couldn’t even think about that. The only thing on her mind was somehow escaping and going to the police.

She wanted the men behind bars for what they were going to her. They were disgusting human beings if they could even be called that. They got off from the suffering of another person. They were enjoying it.

They were sick.

The young woman finally gave up after what felt like forever. The men saw it as a victory and continued all why the woman lay limp on the ground. Tears were pouring down her face and she tried her best to think of anything other than her present. Anything would have been better than what she was experiencing. She closed her eyes and tried to go to a better place. She prayed for death to come and take her. She wanted nothing more than for her suffering to end.

When they men were done they began talking about what to do with her. They didn’t want to let her go. One of them said that she would just go to the cops so if they wanted to get away with the crime then they would have to kill her. This snapped the woman back to reality. She began screaming again and begging to be let go. She promised not to go to the cops but the men didn’t believe her. They knew she would and by now they were getting very frustrated with all of the noise she was making.

One of the men pulled out a knife he had and a second did the same. Only two of them had knives so the other two stepped aside and watched the scene unfold. The two who possessed knives approached the young woman with wide grins on their faces. She screamed at the top of her lungs and tried to scramble away but they grabbed her and pinned her down. They brought the sharp blades down on her and each time a knife punctured her flesh, she screamed. She screamed so loud that she thought her throat would tear open.

The pain rippled through her body. Her tears soaked her neck and upper chest. The salty water soon mixed with her blood. She tried to fight them off for as long as she could but soon the pain became overwhelming. She couldn’t bear it. The pain spread all over her body and soon it weakened her to the point where all she could do was cry.

The tears continued to pour down her face until one man dealt the final blow. One last stab was all it took. He stabbed her and she stopped moving. Her body went stiff for a very brief moment but then relaxed. She was dead.

Her name was Eudy Simelane and she was just 31 years old.

AFTERMATH

After the murder, the killers dragged her body to a nearby drainage ditch where she was dumped. She was then found sometime later and identified.

Four men were arrested for the crime but only two were convicted while the other two were aquitted. One man, aged 24, was convicted and given a life sentence for murder, 20 years for being an accomplice to rape and 15 years for robbery. The second man was sentenced for 32 years in prison. The two men who were acquitted were 22 and 18 years old.

This case is said to have been the first conviction for the crime of “corrective rape”.

IN LIFE

Eudy Simelane was the first woman to live openly as a lesbian in the township of KwaThema. Ever since she was a child, she loved football (soccer).

As an adult she played as a midfielder for the Banyana Banyana national women’s team of South Africa then worked as a coach and referee. At the time, the team struggled as it didn’t have nearly as much respect as the men’s team and one player even said that her team would often play with worn-out shoes. When she worked as a referee, Eudy came out and became an LGBTQ+ activist.

SOURCES

Articles

  1. “Lesbians in South Africa: Raped for a Cure”. Queerty Staff. Queerty, 14 March 2009, https://www.queerty.com/lesbians-in-south-africa-raped-for-a-cure-20090314.

  2. “Life for killing lesbian activist”. News 24, 23 September 2009, https://www.news24.com/News24/Life-for-killing-lesbian-activist-20090923.

  3. “Life for man in rape and killing of lesbian South African footballer”. David Smith. The Guardian, 22 September 2009, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/sep/22/eudy-simelane-gangrape-and-murder.

  4. “Mother of slain lesbian footballer Eudy Simelane passes away”. Roberto Igual. Mamba Online, 17 April 2019, https://www.mambaonline.com/2019/04/17/mother-of-slain-lesbian-footballer-eudy-simelane-passes-away/.

  5. “Murder of a black lesbian soccer player”. Outsports Archives. Outsports, 15 May 2008, https://www.outsports.com/2008/5/15/4045688/murder-of-a-black-lesbian-soccer-player.

  6. “Raped and killed for being a lesbian: South Africa ignores 'corrective' attacks”. Annie Kelly. The Guardian, 12 March 2009, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/mar/12/eudy-simelane-corrective-rape-south-africa.

  7. “Raped for being gay: Scourge of South African sex attacks which men claim will 'cure' women of being lesbians”. Liz Hazelton. Daily Mail, 31 October 2011, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2055289/Corrective-rape-South-Africa-women-attcked-cure-lesbians.html.

  8. “Relief as lesbian's killer jailed”. BBC News, 23 September 2009, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8270417.stm.

  9. “SHOCK AT MURDER OF EUDY SIMELANE”. Staff Writer. Mamba Online, 30 April 2008, https://www.mambaonline.com/2008/04/30/shock-at-murder-of-eudy-simelane/.

  10. “SOUTH AFRICA: STATEMENT BY PAULA ETTELBRICK ON THE KILLING OF FORMER BANYANA BANYANA SOCCER PLAYER EUDY SIMELANE”. OutRight Action International, 5 May 2008, https://outrightinternational.org/content/south-africa-statement-paula-ettelbrick-killing-former-banyana-banyana-soccer-player-eudy.

  11. “South African Soccer Star Eudy Simelane’s Accused Murders Will Finally Stand Trial”. Queerty Staff. Queerty, 26 August 2009, https://www.queerty.com/south-african-soccer-star-eudy-simelanes-accused-smurders-will-finally-stand-trial-20090826.

  12. “Three on trial for murder of gay football star”. Jonathan Clayton. Independant, 26 August 2009, https://www.independent.ie/world-news/africa/three-on-trial-for-murder-of-gay-football-star-26561131.html.

  13. “'We can finally forgive her killers' – Eudy Simelane's family”. News24 Correspondent. News 24, 13 April 2016, https://www.news24.com/news24/southafrica/news/we-can-finally-forgive-her-killers-eudy-simelanes-family-20160413.

  14. “1 of Eudy Simelane’s Killers Was Sentenced to Life. 2 Others Walked Free”. Queerty Staff. Queerty, 23 September 2009, https://www.queerty.com/1-of-eudy-simelanes-killers-was-sentenced-to-life-2-others-walked-free-20090923.

Image

  1. Eudy Simelane. Friends of a Friend - Eudy Simelane. Facebook, 12 March 2016, https://www.facebook.com/1564820093830984/photos/a.1565311407115186/1565311410448519/?type=3&theater.

Day 24: FannyAnn Viola Eddy

Photo from Find a Grave

​*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions blood, sexual assault, rape, brutality, beating, and distressing imagery.

Please continue with caution.


There is still limited information on the case despite the amount of time that has passed. There is next to no mention of who killed her or convictions.

It was a calm night on the 28th of September, 2004 in the city of Freetown located in Sierra Leone, West Africa. In an office building in the town, one person had stayed behind long after her staff and all employees had gone home. She could have gone home too but she was so absorbed in her work that she didn’t want to leave just yet. She was passionate about what she did and when she got started, she found it hard to stop until her work was complete.

As the young woman worked, a group of three men approached the building. Outside was dark with only the street lamps to light their way. While there was a decent amount of light from the street lamps, the men were still hidden in the darkness. They kept to the darkest areas they could find and wore dark clothing. That made them almost invisible to anyone who would have looked in their general direction but luckily for them, due to the late hour no one was in the area except for them. Everyone was already home and getting ready for bed.

No one was there to witness the group of men as they walked up to the office building. One had brought a crowbar which they held firmly in one hand. The man looked around to be sure that no one was around except for his crew and when he was sure that they were alone, he used the crowbar to pry open a door. It took a little effort but he managed to get it open.

Once the door was open the group of men rushed into the building and looked around. They were looking for their target. They knew that she would be the only one there or should be but if there were others then they were prepared to deal with them. Luckily for the men, it appeared as if no one else was in the building. All of the lights were off and it seemed devoid of any signs of life. The only light source came from one room and that was where their target was located.

The men walked as silently as they could towards the room. They were able to see the light from underneath the closed door so they knew that was where she was. They all looked at each other when they were standing next to the door and nodded. When they did, one of the group members kicked open the door and the three men ran inside.

The young woman who was in her office jumped when the door slammed open. She screamed when she saw the group of men run towards her. Her immediate reaction was to jump up from her desk and to try and run away. She had no clue who these men were or what their intentions were. If they were there to rob the place then as far as she was concerned, they could take whatever they wanted. Nothing was more valuable than her life. Her focus was finding the best route out of the room then out of the building.

She tried to run past one of the men as she assumed he was going for one of the more valuable items lying on a desk but he didn’t. Instead, he lunged at her and grabbed her arm causing her to scream. She tried to pull away but he kept a firm grasp on her. He held on so tightly that she felt as if it would leave a bruise later.

She screamed at the man to let her go. She told the group that they could take whatever they wanted. She just wished that they would let her go but one of the men informed her that wasn’t their plan. She looked up in horror at the one who seemed to be the leader as he approached her. She continued to struggle and free herself from her captor but still he kept a firm grip on her. Her struggles only grew the closer the leader got and when he was within arms length, he slapped her across the face and demanded that she stopped struggling but she refused. That angered him.

He grabbed the woman by her other arm and yanked her from the grasp of his fellow group member. With as much force as he could he threw her against a nearby desk in hopes that would slow her down but if anything, it made her more determined to get away. She was becoming more frightened by the second. Her instincts told her that she had to leave if she wanted to leave. She got on her hands and knees and tried to crawl away but she was hurting from the force of the impact. It made it difficult for her to move around which gave her attacker plenty of time to walk up to her and grab her by her hair.

She continued to scream and trash about but instead of this making the man let her go, it just continued to fuel his anger towards her. Eventually, he and his group had enough of her. They didn’t come to deal with a screaming woman. They had a plan to carry out so that was what they were going to do.

The man threw her to the floor this time and pressed his foot down on her stomach to keep her down. She tried hitting his leg to throw him off balance but the more she hit the more pressure he applied until it was physically impossible to add anymore. She began to cough a bit under the compression.

She looked up at the men who were now surrounding her. By now her screams had turned to tears. She was afraid. She was afraid of what was to come. Now that she knew that these men were not robbers and in fact had come for her, she feared for what was to come. She had an idea of what their intentions were and if it wasn’t to kill her… The thought brought panic to her. She preferred that they just killed her right then and there.

With a brave face she looked up at the leader and told him to just kill her. Clearly they had come with the intention to harm her so they might as well just kill her right away and be done with it but the men had other plans in mind. They told her that just killing her wouldn’t be any fun. That would have been boring. The leader said that in time they would end her life but in the meantime they were going to “enjoy themselves”. Her eyes widened when she heard that. She knew what they meant and she didn’t want it to happen.

She resumed fighting the men. She kicked and punched and screamed again. She screamed for help at the top of her lungs even though she knew it was useless. She and her attackers were the only ones in the building. No one was there to hear her or come to her aid. Even if someone was walking on the streets, they wouldn’t have been able to hear her cries. She was on her own. She was alone in the room with the men who had surrounded her.

When she realized that it was useless to fight, she broke down. Tears poured down her face. They streamed down her cheeks and neck as she felt her clothes being torn from her body. She did put up some resistance but there wasn’t much she could do about it. She couldn’t fight back. Both her arms and legs had been pinned down. She was helpless. All she could do was cry.

She pleaded with the men to let her go. She wouldn’t tell anyone about what had happened if they just let her go. They said nothing and laughed at her. They went through with their plan while she had no choice but to endure it. It hurt. Everything hurt. She continued to plead with them. She knew it was hopeless but that didn’t stop her from trying.

Her tears soaked the collar of her shirt as the men had their way with her. It was a horrible experience. She wanted to die. She wished they would kill her so she wouldn’t have to endure this torture any longer but they kept her alive the entire time.

When they were done, she tried once more to get away. She felt like something came alive in her. She found the strength to kick and fight back. She managed to kick one of the men and it felt so satisfying to her when she heard him scream in pain. That gave her even more energy. She stood up and tried to locate the nearest possible exit but before she could even take one step, she felt a sharp pain originating in the back of her head.

She fell to the ground and with a dazed look on her face, she looked up. Standing behind her was one of the men holding a crowbar. She held her head in pain and didn’t put up a fight when she was hit again. She accepted it as she fell to the ground in even more pain.

As she laid there she heard a window smash but she was in too much pain to see what was going on. She assumed that the men were just creating an easy escape route but she soon found out that she was wrong. They weren’t trying to leave. They were just looking for a more efficient weapon…

After shattering the glass, one of the men picked up the biggest shard he could find and walked over to the woman. Underneath his mask he had a smirk on his face.

The woman barely had the energy to look up at him. All she was able to manage was to slightly turn her head and when she saw what was coming, she wished that she hadn’t. The man was looming over her and the glass shard gleamed in the dim light emanating from the single lamp in the room. Everything happened so quickly. The woman barely had time to process it.

The man raised the shard up before bringing it down towards the woman’s face. The sharp glass sliced her skin and she screamed out in pain. It hurt beyond description. She could feel her skin part as the glass sliced it’s way through and she could feel the blood gush from the wound. It wasn’t particularly deep but since it was on the face and it was a long cut there was quite a bit of blood. The smell of iron invaded her senses and it sickened her.

Her attackers laughed at her as she screamed in pain and terror. They were enjoying her suffering. It pleased them. Entertained them. It showed how sick these men were.

The man attacked her a few more times before another one approached her. He punched the screaming and crying woman in an attempt to shut her up but it didn’t work. By now all of them were fed up with her. None of them could believe that she was still making noise even after everything they had done to her.

One nodded to the man. That was the signal. They were sick of her now and wanted to get out of the building. They weren’t sure if someone had passed by and called the cops but they didn’t want to stick around to find out. They had done what they had come to do. It was time they departed.

The man grabbed the woman by the face and snapped her head to the side. He was the strongest of the group which is why he was the one who was chosen for this particular task. That sudden movement was all it took. The men heard a loud cracking sound and the woman went limp. She collapsed in the man’s grasp so he let her go and let her body fall to the ground. She was lifeless. She didn’t move. Her chest didn’t even rise signalling that she was no longer breathing. The men had completed their mission. Now it was time they left.

They grabbed everything that could possibly point the police to them and left from the same door they entered. The woman’s body remained on the ground where it was discovered the following day by her friends and coworkers the following morning.

Her name was FannyAnn Viola Eddy and she was just 30 years old.

AFTERMATH

There are conflicting reports on multiple sites about what happened after the murder and even about the murder itself. A majority of the sources say that FannyAnn Eddy was raped, stabbed then had her neck broken while at least one source said that wasn’t the case and that she was in fact strangled.

When it comes to after the murder, some sources say that no killer had been arrested in connection to the crime while others say a man known as Mr. Sankoh who was around 19 years of age at the time had been arrested. At least one source said that he was a janitor and former employee of the Sierra Leone Lesbian and Gay Association office. Some sources say that he escaped and hasn’t been convicted for the murder.

No one else has been arrested and there hasn’t been a trial for the murder.

Police don’t consider it to be a hate crime while everyone who knew FannyAnn Eddy believe that it was.

IN LIFE

FannyAnn Eddy was known as a fearless leader of the LGBTQ+ community. She was known to use her own money to buy materials for young lesbian women so they could make clothes and various items they could sell to make a living. She spent much of her time going to schools to educate children about their own self worth. All of her work and courage made her well known throughout Africa and even other countries.

In 2002, FannyAnn Eddy founded the Sierra Leone Lesbian and Gay Association (SLLGA). This group provided both social and psychological support to people in the LGBTQ+ community in Sierra Leone. She was also a member of Sexual-Rights Activists Delegation to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, All Africa Rights Initiative (AARI) and the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL).

She testified in front of the U.N Commision on Human Rights in Geneva concerning the rights of LGBTQ+ people in Sierra Leone. She explained how they faced constant harassment and violence. She said that hate attacks on people identifying as LGBTQ+ went unpunished by authorities which just encouraged the violent attacks and treatment of the LGBTQ+ community.

SOURCES

Articles

  1. “Breaking the Silence on Human Rights Violations in Sierra Leone under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR): A Shadow Report on Discrimination and Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity”. African Men for Sexual Health and Rights Network, Concerned Women’s Initiative of Sierra Leone, Dignity Association of Sierra Leone, Heartland Alliance’s Global Initiative for Sexuality and Human Rights, International Human Rights Law Clinic, American University Washington College of Law, The Initiative for Equal Rights and West African Youth Network. March 2014, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CCPR/Shared%20Documents/SLE/INT_CCPR_CSS_SLE_16487_E.pdf. (Direct Download Link)

  2. “Brutal Murder of Fanny Ann Eddy, Lesbian and Gay Activist from Sierra Leone”. Hans Binswanger. Kubatana, 2 October 2004, http://archive.kubatana.net/html/archive/sexual/041002hb.asp?sector=HR%22target=%22_blank%22.

  3. “FannyAnn Eddy”. Human Rights Defenders Memorial, https://hrdmemorial.org/hrdrecord/fannyann-eddy/.

  4. “Fannyann Eddy”. Joan Nestle, https://www.joannestle.com/dedication/index.html.

  5. “FannyAnn Eddy - Nominee”. Victor Salvo. The Legacy Project, https://legacyprojectchicago.org/person/fannyann-eddy.

  6. “Fannyann Eddy (1974-2004)”. The Hirschfeld-Eddy-Foundation, http://www.hirschfeld-eddy-stiftung.de/en/foundation/about-us/names/fannyann-eddy/.

  7. “FannyAnn Viola Eddy: Speaking Against Silence”. Laura Darling. Making Queer History, https://www.makingqueerhistory.com/articles/2016/12/20/fannyann-viola-eddy-speaking-against-silence.

  8. “SIERRA LEONE: CLARIFICATION ON THE MURDER OF FANNYANN EDDY”. OutRight Action International, 12 January 2005, https://outrightinternational.org/content/sierra-leone-clarification-murder-fannyann-eddy.

  9. “Sierra Leone gay activist killed”. BBC News, 5 October 2004, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3716768.stm.

  10. “Sierra Leone Gay Activist Killed”. The Associated Press. CBS News, 5 October 2004, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/sierra-leone-gay-activist-killed/.

  11. “SIERRA LEONE: IGLHRC MOURNS THE MURDER OF FANNYANN EDDY; CALLS ON ACTIVISTS EVERYWHERE TO RESPOND”. Susana Fried. OutRight Action International, 4 October 2004, https://outrightinternational.org/content/sierra-leone-iglhrc-mourns-murder-fannyann-eddy-calls-activists-everywhere-respond.

  12. “Sierra Leone killing proves human rights defenders are at risk”. Human Rights House Foundation, 24 November 2004, https://humanrightshouse.org/articles/sierra-leone-killing-proves-human-rights-defenders-are-at-risk/.

  13. “Sierra Leone: Lesbian Rights Activist Brutally Murdered”. Human Rights Watch, 5 October 2004, https://www.hrw.org/news/2004/10/05/sierra-leone-lesbian-rights-activist-brutally-murdered.

  14. “SIERRA LEONE: UPDATE - ALLEGED FANNYANN EDDY MURDERER REPORTEDLY ESCAPES POLICE DETENTION IN SIERRA LEONE”. OutRight Action International, 15 July 2005, https://outrightinternational.org/content/sierra-leone-update-alleged-fannyann-eddy-murderer-reportedly-escapes-police-detention.

Image

  1. Fannyann Viola Eddy. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/19893169/fannyann-viola-eddy/photo.

Day 23: Pablo Fullana Borsato

Photo by María Farías

​*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions blood, a knife, stabbing, knife attack, sexual assult, attempted rape, brutality, alleged homophobic attack, and distressing imagery.

Please continue with caution.


There has been no mention online as to what triggered the attack or the events that lead up to it. What is portrayed in this story was created on assumption based on the known facts published online.

It was a Saturday night on the 30th of November, 2019. Nightlife was booming in the town of Colón in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Young people were out in bars or nightclubs with friends or romantic partners and enjoying their time. They danced to the music with their arms up and a drink or two in their hands. In the more busier nightclubs or bars with the loudest music and brightest and colourful lights, people just about screamed in excitement and intoxication as they partied.

In one bar, one that was a bit quieter than most, a young man entered and took a seat at the bar. He ordered himself a drink and enjoyed the solitude. Before arriving at the bar, he had been with some friends and they had all gone bowling. It was fun but he was getting tired. He decided to have a quick drink at a bar before heading home and going to bed.

While he drank, another person entered the bar and sat down near the young man. He looked young, perhaps just at the legal age for drinking. He ordered himself a drink and sat in silence until he glanced over at the man sitting not too far away from him. He was busy watching the TV that was attached to the wall across from their seats but looked over at the young man when he sensed his eyes on him.

The young man was shocked that the man had looked at him and quickly looked away. He tried to pretend that nothing had happened and tensed up when the man came and sat next to him. He introduced himself politely and started a conversation with the young man. He was shy at first but quickly opened up and they began chatting.

After some time, the two had gotten to know each other and moved from the bar to the nearby pool table. They challenged each other to a game and had fun. During the game they sipped on some sparkling wine and got into the competitive spirit.

When the game was over and they both had their fair share of drinks, the young man who was in his 30s invited the younger one back to his house. He said that it wasn’t too far away. They both had quite a bit to drink so he offered the younger one a place to stay for the night where he could sleep off the alcohol. The younger one accepted so they paid for their drinks and left the bar.

They made their way to the older man’s house where he set up his new friend in the guest bedroom. He made sure that he had everything he needed and showed him where the bathroom and towels were. He told him he could use whatever he wanted and to help himself to anything in the fridge if he needed. He even made sure to leave headache pills and a glass of water on the nightstand should the younger man need them. The younger of the two thanked his host and crawled into the bed. It felt so good to curl up under the covers in the nice, warm and soft bed. He fell asleep almost instantly.

The other young man, the owner of the house and host of the younger one went to his room after making sure his new friend was comfortable and had everything he needed. He had drank a bit more alcohol than his friend so he was feeling it more. He was sure he was going to have a decent hangover the next morning but he didn’t have any big plans so it wasn’t that big of a deal. It wouldn’t be nice but at least it would interfere with his day. He would just relax the next day until he felt better.

~ 🏳️‍🌈 ~

The next morning the younger man had gotten up first. He wasn’t as affected by the alcohol as his host was so he didn’t have as strong symptoms. He got out of bed just fine and went to the bathroom to freshen up. When he made his way back to his room, he noticed his host had gotten up and was in the kitchen.

He went over to him to thank him for the hospitality. He approached the other and greeted him with a friendly good morning and polite smile. The home owner turned to face and responded very much the same. He had a bottle of headache pills in his hand and in the other, an empty glass. He filled it up in the sink then set it on the counter so he could open the bottle.

While he was doing that, his guest watched him. He had his mind on something. He was thinking hard about something and as the cogs in his brain turned, he focused on his host. He watched every little movement carefully. He was almost like a predator observing his prey. Just like the other night, the young man and homeowner sensed the other’s eyes on him and turned to face his new friend. He gave him a little friendly smile then prepared to take the pills.

That smile set something off in the 18 year old. Something surged deep inside him and he wasn’t sure what. He had felt this sort of thing before but this time it was different. It wasn’t like the previous times. It bothered him and like all of the other times, he acted out on it.

He rushed towards his new friend and host and slapped the pills and glass out of his hands. They fell to the floor with the glass bouncing off the ground but not breaking and the water spilling all over. The homeowner was stunned at this and asked what on earth had gotten into the other’s mind but before he could even finish speaking he was shoved to the ground. He landed with a thud and grunted. He didn’t have the wind knocked out of him but it felt that way due to the force of the impact.

He looked up at his guest who was now on top of him and pinning him to the floor. He struggled against him but because he had been surprised, his opponent had the upper hand. He pushed up his t-shirt and tugged at his pants and underwear. The older man fought him off the best he could and yelled at him repeatedly to stop. He told him that what he was doing was not only inappropriate but also unwanted and that he would call the cops.

The threat of the cops being called angered and panicked the younger man. He managed to rip off both the older man’s pants and underwear and threw them off to the side. He had planned on removing his pants but the older man managed to shove him off. He kicked him for good measure and ran away. He didn’t even bother trying to reach for his clothes. That would have just wasted his time. He had to get away and fast.

He ran to the living room where he tried to grab the phone but his attacker was quick. He grabbed the other man before he could reach the phone and pulled him down towards the floor. He stumbled as he tried to regain his balance and tried to shake the other man off. It didn’t do much good as he had a secure grip on him.

The older man frantically looked around the room as he looked for something that he could use to defend himself with. To his relief, he saw an empty champagne bottle nearby. It had been left over from a get together he recently had with some friends. He had been thankful that he didn’t throw it out. It was in his reach so he grabbed it and threw it at his attacker but unfortunately it missed. However it did surprise the other man and that was enough for him to let go of his victim.

While it did offer a chance of escape, it also severely angered the attacker. Once he got over the shock of the surprise attack he looked at the other man and glared at him. He told him that he was going to pay for that. He punched him to make sure he stayed down then went over to the kitchen. There, he found a victorinox knife laying on the counter. He picked it up with a smirk and went over to the other man. He was just recovering from the punch when the other approached him. He looked up and his eyes widened with horror when he saw what the other man had in his hand.

He tried backing away but his back hit the sofa and blocked him from escaping. He held out his arms in an attempt to protect himself but it did little good against a sharp kitchen knife. The young man brought it down over and over again on the older man and didn’t stop. He kept stabbing him wherever he could.

How dare this man refuse him. How dare this man fight back against him. How dare he threaten to call the cops. It was wrong of him and he had to be punished so that was what he was going to do.

The knife cut every bit of skin it came in contact with. Blood spilled from all of the wounds. It dripped to the floor forming little puddles that got bigger with every new wound.

When the older man could no longer hold up his arms to defend himself, his attacker saw that as a victory. He now had access to his chest which he stabbed as many times as he could. He plunged the knife in and forced it as deep as it could go before pulling it out and stabbing again in another spot.

Eventually the man’s chest was covered in stab wounds. There appeared to be no place that had been spared of wounds. He slouched against the sofa and with no fight or energy left, he fell to the ground but he wasn’t dead just yet. Somehow he had managed to hold on. That wouldn’t do for the attacker. He wasn’t going to stop until this man was dead. He gripped the knife with his bloody hand and plunged it into the other man’s back.

It was getting harder to hold now due to the blood but it didn’t stop him. Nothing could stop him now. He was in a frenzied state and nothing could snap him out of it now. Not until the adrenaline had worn off. When it did, he took a deep breath and stumbled a bit as he slowly backed away. He looked down at the sight before him.

The body of the man he had met the other night was lying on the ground covered and surrounded in blood. He was completely still. His chest didn’t even rise meaning that he was no longer breathing. He was dead. The young man didn’t know at what point the man had died but he had.

He stared at the body for a little while to see if he really was dead or not. When he was confident that he was he knew that he had to leave. He wasn’t sure if anyone had heard or seen through the windows what had happened. He couldn’t risk the police showing up with him still in the house.

He dropped the knife on the kitchen counter and quickly washed the blood off his hands. Afterwards, he grabbed the broken champagne bottle and shoved it in his bag. After collecting his belongings he ran out of the house and left the body of the homeowner on the ground. The man had died in a violent manner from a seemingly unprompted attack.

His name was Pablo Fullana Borsato and he was just 36 years old.

AFTERMATH

Pablo’s cousin was the one who had found the body. His cousin had tried multiple times to call him throughout the day but received no response. He grew worried with each call that got no response so in the afternoon they made their way to Pablo’s house to check up on him. There they found the body of their cousin covered in blood on the living room floor partially naked. They called the police to report the murder

Pablo had around 60 to 70 stab wounds and the cause of his death was a traumatic cardiac arrest due to the amount of stab wounds to the chest and all of the organs inside such as the heart and lungs.

After the murder, the killer, 18 year old Leonel Fazio left the crime scene and made his way to his mother’s home. It was around 8:30 in the morning when he banged on the window and looked in. He told his mother that he had just killed someone. He was covered in blood and asking her to let him in and provide him a change of clothes. His mother screamed when she saw him which woke up her daughters and the neighbours. Despite it being her son, she didn’t open the door or respond to him. At first, his mother didn’t want to believe what she was hearing. She didn’t want to believe that he had killed someone. She thought that perhaps the blood had come from a cow or pig since he had stolen and killed them in the past.

At around 9 A.M, Leonel had spent around 30 minutes at his mother’s house. She refused to see him so he gave up and went to his sister’s house to seek aid. Like their mother, she too refused to let him in or speak with him.

He had not been allowed to live with either his sister or mother for the past year before the murder. He had been violent, stole and broke things when he didn’t get his way.

When he didn’t get help from either his mother or sister, he left and made his way to the Miter neighborhood, about three blocks away from the murder scene. It was around 9:30 in the morning the 18 year old had exposed himself to an 81 year old woman and attempted to sexually assault her near a bank. Luckily, a person nearby had seen what happened and managed to intervene before he had the chance to do so. During the intervention, the teenager said "I am not afraid of you, I just came from killing one" to the neighbour who had stopped him from attacking the elderly woman.

The police were called to the location and arrested the 18 year old. When the police arrested the 18 year old they noticed blood on his clothing and shoes. They investigated this and found that the pattern on the soles of his sneakers were very similar to footprints left at the crime scene. Upon examining the contents of his bag, they found a broken champagne bottle that resembled the pieces of broken glass at the crime scene.

Leonel Fazio has not yet been convicted and the state of his mentality is being tested. He is well known for being a danger to others as he has a long list of previous offences.

His mother had said that she tried to get help for him because at an early age he showed signs of not being quite right. She wanted him to see a psychologist to see what could be done about his unusual behaviour but no one got in touch with her. Had he received the proper treatment, it is entirely possible that Pablo’s murder could have been avoided.

She also believes that her son could be gay. She says it is a mother’s instinct and that she suspects it after everything she had seen and heard on the topic.

IN LIFE

Pablo was a 37 year old architect and well known member of the LGBTQ+ community. He was part of the first LGBTQ+ group in the city of Colón called the LGBT Colón Collective. This group is responsible for the organization of the first pride march in the town.

Pablo’s friends have said that Pablo was “comprometido fuertemente con la construcción una sociedad basada en la justicia social y la generación de oportunidades para todas, todes y todos” (Translation by me: strongly committed with the construction of a society based on social justice and a generation of opportunities for everyone)*.

He was also the creator of the Open Air Museum or “Museo a Cielo abierto”. This project was to take the Municipal Lake of Colón and turn it into an artistic space in support of both equality and diversity.

(*The reason I included the original Spanish text was to show you the gender inclusive vocabulary oftodas, todes y todos”.)

SOURCES

Articles

  1. “Asesinan de 60 puñaladas a activista LGBT Pablo Fullana Borsato en Buenos Aires”. La Nación. Mundo, 3 December 2019, https://www.elpais.com.uy/mundo/asesinan-punaladas-activista-lgbt-pablo-fullana-borsato-buenos-aires.html.

  2. “Asesinan de 60 puñaladas a un activista LGBTQ en Argentina”. Esteban Guzmán. Los Angeles Blade, 3 December 2019, https://www.losangelesblade.com/2019/12/07/asesinan-de-60-punaladas-a-un-activista-lgbtq-en-argentina/.

  3. “Asesinan de 60 puñaladas a un arquitecto y militante por la diversidad de género”. La Vanguardia, 3 December 2019, https://www.lavanguardia.com/sucesos/20191203/472039673758/asesinan-60-punaladas-arquitecto-militante-diversidad-genero-pablo-fullana.html.

  4. “Asesinan de 60 puñaladas al arquitecto y activista LGBT Pablo Fullana Borsato”. Desde Crespo, 3 December 2019, https://www.desdecrespo.com.ar/index.php/2019/12/03/asesinan-de-60-punaladas-al-arquitecto-y-activista-lgbt-pablo-fullana-borsato/.

  5. “Asesinaron a puñaladas a un activista gay en Colón”. Alejandra Zani. Presents, 4 December 2019, https://agenciapresentes.org/2019/12/04/asesinaron-a-punaladas-a-un-activista-gay-en-colon/.

  6. “Body of architect and LGBTQ activist found dead in brutal stabbing”. Buenos Aires Times, 3 December 2019, https://www.batimes.com.ar/news/argentina/body-of-architect-and-lgbtq-activist-found-dead-in-brutal-stabbing.phtml.

  7. “Colón: a Pablo Fullana Borsato lo asesinaron de 70 navajazos en el tórax, espalda y cuello”. Agencia NOVA, 4 December 2019, http://www.agencianova.com.ar/nota.asp?n=2019_12_4&id=80884&id_tiponota=24.

  8. “Colón: asesinan de 60 puñaladas al arquitecto y activista LGBT Pablo Fullana Borsato”. Diario Primera Línea, 5 December 2019, https://diarioprimeralinea.com.ar/colon-asesinan-de-60-punaladas-al-arquitecto-y-activista-lgbt-pablo-fullana-borsato/.

  9. “Colón: El asesino aplicó setenta puñaladas a la víctima”. El faro, 2 December 2019, http://colonbuenosaires.com.ar/elfaro/colon-el-asesino-aplico-setenta-punaladas-a-la-victima/.

  10. “Conmoción en Colón por el asesinato de un joven arquitecto militante de la comunidad LGTB”. Rojas Ciudad, 3 December 2019, http://www.rojasciudad.net/nota.asp?id=82692&t=Conmocion-en-Colon-por-el-asesinato-de-un-joven-arquitecto-militante-de-la-comunidad-LGTB.

  11. “El crimen del arquitecto: quién es “Leo”, el asesino de las 60 puñaladas denunciado hasta por su familia”. Javier Firpo. Clarín, 3 December 2019, https://www.clarin.com/policiales/crimen-arquitecto-leo-asesino-60-punaladas-denunciado-familia_0_m-7UDWEA.html.

  12. “Escalofriantes detalles del activista LGBT asesinado a puñaladas”. Minuto24. Minuto Rioja, 3 December 2019, https://www.minutorioja.com.ar/policiales/2019/12/03/escalofriantes-detalles-del-activista-lgbt-asesinado-a-punaladas-20778.

  13. “"Incontrolable": el violento pasado de Leo, acusado de matar de 60 navajazos al arquitecto”. Redacción LA. Los Andes, 4 December 2019, https://www.losandes.com.ar/article/view/?slug=incontrolable-la-cruda-historia-de-leo-acusado-de-matar-de-60-navajazos-al-arquitecto.

  14. ““Mami maté a un tipo”, le dijo el detenido por el crimen del arquitecto de Colón a su mamá”. Será Justicia. 4 December 2019, https://www.serajusticia.net/mami-mate-a-un-tipo-le-dijo-el-detenido-por-el-crimen-del-arquitecto-de-colon-a-su-mama/.

  15. “Marchan y reclaman justicia por el asesinato de Pablo Fullana Borsato”. La Izquierda Diario, 4 December 2019, https://www.laizquierdadiario.com/Marchan-y-reclaman-justicia-por-el-asesinato-de-Pablo-Fullana-Borsato.

  16. “Muere el activista LGBT argentino Pablo Fullana Borsato”. Stefano Carbone. Blasting News, 7 December 2019, https://es.blastingnews.com/internacionales/2019/12/muere-el-activista-lgbt-argentino-pablo-fullana-borsato-003029524.html.

  17. “Quién es “Leo”, el sospechoso de asesinar a un arquitecto de Buenos Aires militante LGBTI”. La Voz, 4 December 2019, https://www.lavoz.com.ar/sucesos/quien-es-leo-sospechoso-de-asesinar-a-un-arquitecto-de-buenos-aires-militante-lgbti.

  18. “Un arquitecto y activista LGTBI fue asesinado de 60 puñaladas en Colón”. Soy Buenos Aires, 3 December 2019, https://www.buenosaires.soy/policiales/un-arquitecto-activista-lgtbi-fue-asesinado-60-punaladas-colon-n82018.

Image

  1. Pablo Fullana Borsato. María Farías. Facebook, 26 September 2019, https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10162222136495459&set=a.10150269251055459&type=3&theater.

Day 22: David Kato

Photo from Stringer/AP, source: The Guardian

*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions blood, beating, brutality, and distressing imagery.

Please continue with caution.


There is a decent amount of information on this case but nothing is clear about the motive of the murder.

It was a peaceful day in Uganda. It was Monday morning on the 24th of January, 2011 and a man was on his way to work. Since it was such a nice day and that not too far from his house he decided to walk to the office. Once he got there he went to greet all of his friends and co-workers. After a long time of working together, they all felt more like family than co-workers and were all working towards the same goal.

He greeted everyone with a small smile and tried his best to seem happy but his friends could tell that something was off about him on that particular day. At first, no one wanted to bring it up because they figured that if the man wanted them to know then he would tell them. They didn’t want to pry or make him feel like he had to talk to them.

They let him be until one coworker finally decided to say something. They were worried about their friend and wanted to know why he seemed so sad on that particular day. The friend went up to the man who was sitting at his desk and casually sat down in front of him. The coworker and friend struck up a conversation and when the time was right, asked the man what was on his mind. They pointed out how he hadn’t been acting himself and expressed their concern. They told him that they were a friend and that he could tell them anything.

He paused and thought about it for a moment before nodding in agreement. He inhaled and let the breath out slowly before beginning his explanation. He told his friend that he had received an increase in harassment from multiple people. It began around the 3rd of January and was only getting worse. The man was worried. He didn’t know how far his harassers would take it and feared that one of more of them might escalate from threats to actual violence.

That wasn’t entirely out of the realm of possibility but his friend didn’t want to tell him that. They wanted to cheer him up and help calm him down. They tried to reassure him that things would get better. They said that it probably wouldn’t escalate and to not be too worried about it. No one would have the courage to actually hurt him however deep down, neither of them fully believed it but it did calm the man at least a little bit. Enough for him to continue the rest of the day at work.

~ 🏳️‍🌈 ~

Two days later on the 26th of January, the man was relaxing in his home in Kampala. It was his day off so he decided to stay inside and take some time to rest and relax. The threats he had received continued and were now starting to get to him. He needed something to do to distract him from it. He couldn’t let it affect his work. The day off was one that he really needed. He used it to clear his mind from all negative thoughts and focused on what he would do when he returned to work.

He paced around his house as he pondered. He had many things that he wanted to do at work. There were so many ways of how he could help people. He thought about the different ways that he could stand up to the government to try and improve the lives of people like him. The minorities needed the country to change in order for them to live their authentic lives without the fear of arrest or worse, death.

It was just after lunch he had received a call from a friend and colleague and they spoke for a while. After saying their goodbyes, the man walked around his house and thought about the possibilities of what he could do in order to help the people of Uganda. As he did, he heard a knock on the front door. He stopped in his tracks and looked in the direction of the door. He wasn’t expecting anyone but it wasn’t uncommon for people to stop at his house announced during the day. Thinking it was just one of his friends, the man went over to the door and opened it up.

When he did, he saw that it was a man who he recognized. He wouldn’t say he would have considered the man a friend but he was someone he had helped in the past and was willing to help again if he needed it. He invited the man in his house and led him to the living room where he invited him to sit.

The two men sat on the couch and talked with each other for a while. At first, everything seemed to be going smoothly but at some point things took a drastic turn. The change happened almost instantly. The homeowner didn’t notice it at first. He got up from the couch and was about to make his way to the kitchen but the man he had invited in his home wasn’t about to let him leave.

He reached into his backpack that he brought with him and pulled out a hammer. He hadn’t brought it with the intention of using it but as the way things worked out, it would seem as if he had to, at least in his mind. He pulled it out of his bag and quickly approached the man.

When he got behind him, he brought the hammer down on his head. The man screamed out in pain and fell to the ground. He held his head in pain and when he pulled his hand away he saw that there was blood dripping from a wound. He looked up at the man who had attacked him with terror in his eyes. He saw the hammer in his hand and went into fight or flight mode. Since he had been caught off guard, he was now in no shape to fight. His vision was blurred and his world was spinning. Pain was pulsing through his head and he could feel his blood leak from the wound down his face and soaking his clothes. He had no choice. He had to run if he wanted a chance at survival.

He struggled to get to his feet but managed to make it. He was wobbly as he tried to focus his vision but he didn’t let that stop him. He stumbled to the side as he avoided another swing and since his attacker had lost his balance, it allowed the man to escape. His attacker fumbled and tried to regain his balance while the man did the same as he tried to escape.

Unfortunately, the attacker wasn’t injured. He recovered fairly quickly and hurried after his victim. He swung again but because he was so eager he missed again but his third swing didn’t miss. He hit the man on his head again and he went down. He fell to the ground and landed with a thud. His attacker watched him for a few seconds and when he noticed that the man wasn’t moving, he quickly ran out of the house.

Outside he jumped into a car that had been waiting for him which drove off the moment he got in.

It wasn’t long after that the man’s house cleaner had arrived. When she entered the house she got quite the shock. There was a blood trial on the ground along with some blood splatter on certain areas of the walls. When she saw the blood, she knew what it was immediately. She wanted to scream but she was in too much shock.

She called out for the homeowner after she didn’t see him with a quick glance around the house. Carefully, she stepped further into the house and continued to call out for the man. When she was confident that no one else was in the house, she went to the man’s bedroom. There she found him on his bed and barely moving.

After the attacker had left, the man had managed to crawl all the way to his bedroom. He was in so much pain but he wanted to get to his bed. He felt the life slipping away from him so he wanted a comfortable and familiar place to pace away.

When the house cleaner saw him, she rushed to his side and called out his name. She tried to get him to wake up and to respond but he wouldn’t. When nothing she did worked, she ran to the phone and called for an ambulance.

The ambulance arrived shortly after the call and rushed the injured man to Kawolo hospital but despite all of the hard work the paramedics did to keep the man alive, he died before they reached the hospital.

His name was David Kato and he was 47 years old.

AFTERMATH

The man who was responsible for David’s murder is a man named Nsubuga Enock. He has been arrested and was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the murder.

Officially, the motivation for the murder was said to be a dispute between the two men but information as to what it was had not been released. The authorities claim that the murder had nothing to do with David’s sexuality but many people, including those who were close to him believe otherwise.

IN LIFE

David Kato was an advocacy officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda, also known as SMUG. He was also a prominent voice during the fight against the “Anti-Homosexual” Bill. It proposed a law that would criminalize homosexuality and would make it punishable with a fine and imprisonment. If someone was a “repeat” offender or were HIV positive then they could face the death penalty. The bill also stated that if anyone knew or suspected that someone was a homosexual then they should report them to the authorities within 24 hours.

Prior to his death, David along with many other people had their pictures and personal information like names and addresses published in a local newspaper called the Rolling Stone. The paper claimed that all of these people were LGBTQ+ and said that they should be killed. Since their personal information was released, they were victims of harassment and even violence.

Photo from Stringer/AP, source: The Guardian

In order to get back at the paper and get them to stop the publications, David took the Rolling Stone paper to court and won the case which was a big victory in the country.

Photo by Marc Hofer, source: The Guardian

On the 3rd of January, a High Court judge named Vincent Musoke-Kibuuke had ruled in favour of David. He ordered the newspaper to stop printing the private information of people. It was said that “the exposure of the identities of the persons and homes of the applicants for the purposes of fighting gayism and the activities of gays...threaten the rights of the applicants to privacy of the person and their homes”.

SOURCES

Articles

  1. “David Kato Kisule - Inductee”. Victor Salvo. The Legacy Project, https://legacyprojectchicago.org/person/david-kato-kisule.

  2. “David Kato Laid to Rest”. LGBT+ Rights, News, Press Releases & Statements. Defend Defenders, 28 January 2011, https://defenddefenders.org/david-kato-laid-to-rest/.

  3. “David Kato, Uganda Gay Activist, Brutally Slain”. Max Delany and Godfrey Olukya. Huffington Post, 27 January 2011, updated 6 December 2017, https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/david-kato-uganda-gay-act_n_814775?ri18n=true.

  4. “David Kato, Ugandan gay actvist murdered after photo, address published in tabloid, Rolling Stone”. Aliyah Shahid. Daily News, 27 January 2011, https://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/david-kato-ugandan-gay-actvist-murdered-photo-address-published-tabloid-rolling-stone-article-1.151925

  5. “‘His death made us stronger’: Uganda's LGBT groups on David Kato’s murder”. Aaron Akinyemi. The Guardian, 26 January 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/26/uganda-lgbt-groups-david-kato-murder-5-years-on.

  6. “Joint statement between East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders-Network, Protection International and Foundation for Human Rights Initiative”. Hassan Shire Sheikh and Nerida Nthamburi. Defend Defenders, https://defenddefenders.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/publicstatementonthemurderofdavidkato.pdf. (Direct Download Link)

  7. “Man confesses to murder of Ugandan gay activist: police”. Barry Malone. The Globe and Mail, 2 February 2011, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/man-confesses-to-murder-of-ugandan-gay-activist-police/article564577/.

  8. “Prominent gay rights activist found beaten to death in Uganda”. Mail Foreign Service. Daily Mail, 28 January 2011, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1351414/Prominent-gay-rights-activist-beaten-death-winning-legal-action-newspaper-wanted-gays-hanged.html.

  9. “Sidney Nsubuga ENOCH”. Murderpedia, https://murderpedia.org/male.E/e/enoch-sidney.htm.

  10. “Targeted by gay-hate paper, then murdered in his home”. Paul Peachey. Independent, 28 January 2011, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/targeted-by-gay-hate-paper-then-murdered-in-his-home-2196700.html.

  11. “What David Kato's death can teach the world”. Navi Pillay. United Nations, https://www.un.org/africarenewal/web-features/what-david-katos-death-can-teach-world.

  12. “Uganda gay rights activist David Kato killed”. BBC News, 27 January 2011, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-12295718.

  13. “UGANDA: INVESTIGATE KILLING OF LGBT RIGHTS ACTIVIST”. Amnesty International, 27 January 2011, https://www.amnesty.org/en/press-releases/2011/01/uganda-investigate-killing-lgbt-rights-activist/.

  14. “Uganda: Investigate killing of LGBT rights activist David Kato”. Beth Berton-Hunter. Amnesty International, 27 January 2011, https://www.amnesty.ca/news/news-item/uganda-investigate-killing-of-lgbt-rights-activist-david-kato.

  15. “Uganda man jailed for killing gay activist David Kato”. BBC News, 10 November 2011, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-15685648.

  16. “Uganda: Promptly Investigate Killing of Prominent LGBT Activist”. Human Rights Watch, 27 January 2011, https://www.hrw.org/news/2011/01/27/uganda-promptly-investigate-killing-prominent-lgbt-activist.

  17. “Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato killed”. Agence France-Presse. National Post, 27 January 2011, https://nationalpost.com/news/ugandan-gay-rights-activist-david-kato-killed.

  18. “Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato found murdered”. Xan Rice. The Guardian, 27 January 2011, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/jan/27/ugandan-gay-rights-activist-murdered.

Images

  1. A 2010 copy of Rolling Stone in which the paper reveals the identity of Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato (left). Stringer/AP. The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/26/uganda-lgbt-groups-david-kato-murder-5-years-on.

  2. David Kato was found with serious wounds to his head at his home in Kampala, 26 January 2011. Stringer/AP. The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/26/uganda-lgbt-groups-david-kato-murder-5-years-on.

  3. David Kato was murdered weeks after winning a court case against the Ugandan newspaper Rolling Stone over its policy of identifying homosexuals in its pages. Marc Hofer. The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/jan/27/ugandan-gay-rights-activist-murdered.


Day 21: Walter Tróchez

Photo from SocialistWorker.org

​*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions blood, kidnapping, beating, a gun, gunfire, death by gunshot, and distressing imagery.

Please continue with caution.

There is limited information about this case published online. As far as the articles say, no arrests have been made to this day.

It was the 4th of December in Comayaguela, Honduras. People were walking along the streets going about their days. Some people were going to the shops to buy food or items while others were on their way home from work or school.

One resident of Comayaguela was a young man who was out walking along the streets. He walked past the El Obelisco park and enjoyed his stroll. He had a lot of things on his mind recently. One of the things that troubled him was the possibility of him being followed. He had the feeling that people were following him and had been for weeks. He had seen a grey pickup truck drive by his house on multiple occasions and after weeks he decided to move to another house. He tried his best to avoid being seen but not long after his move, he got the sense of being followed again. It made him paranoid. Even when he sensed a person or persons following him, he didn’t always see who it could have been. Whoever it was, they were skilled in blending in with the crowd.

Even now as he walked by El Obelisco park, the hairs on the back of his neck perked up. The feeling sent chills down his back. He tried to resist the urge to look behind him every two seconds but couldn’t help it. Every few steps he would turn his head ever so slightly to the side and scan his surroundings. He didn’t see anything out of the ordinary but his senses were telling him that something was wrong. He might not have been able to see anyone following him but his instincts told him otherwise.

He knew that it wasn’t the smartest thing to do for him to wander around town so freely but he didn’t want to give into the fear of someone following him. He had work to do. Important work. He wasn’t going to let this stop him no matter how paranoid it made him feel. His work meant everything to him. He knew the danger he was putting himself in by not backing down but it didn’t matter to him.

He tried to ignore the feeling of eyes watching him as he walked by the park. It was just another day for him. He concentrated and forced his eyes forward. He tried to think of anything other than the eyes watching him. He picked up his pace and tried to hurry. He had to get to his destination soon. The sooner he arrived, the more at ease he would feel.

However, he never made it. As he walked along the sidewalk, a familiar looking pickup drove up next to him. It screeched to a halt right beside him and two or more figures jumped out from the truck. He barely had any time to react. Two figures grabbed the young man by the arms, forced them behind his back and shoved him in the back seat of the truck. He tried to call out for help and to demand that they let him go but they didn’t listen. He was so shocked that no words came to his mouth until he was already in the vehicle and they were driving off. By then, it was too late. No one would have been able to hear him. He doubted that anyone even saw what had happened. The area surrounding the park had been very quiet. It was the perfect opportunity for his kidnappers.

Once they were in the truck and it had driven off, the kidnappers placed a hood over the young man’s head and tied his hands behind his back. When he struggled, they beat him in order to quiet him but it did little good. He was a fighter and he wasn’t about to go down without a fight. He trashed and kicked despite being beaten for each attempt to attack. He didn’t stop, not even when they reached their destination.

The kidnappers pulled the young man from the vehicle once they had stopped and threw him to the ground. They thought that perhaps that would get him to stop struggling but they were wrong. He continued to struggle against his bonds and even more when he was hauled up to his feet by his arms. He screamed at them to let him go. He couldn’t see due to the hood but he hoped that someone, anyone could hear his calls for help but where they were was too isolated from the city. No one but his kidnappers heard him. They thought his calls for help were funny and a waste of his energy. They told him to save it. To them, it would be no fun to torture him if he didn’t scream.

They dragged him into a building where he was forced on a chair and tied up once more. This time the ropes were even tighter than before but yet the young man still did not give up. He kept screaming to be let go.

Now that he couldn’t move, his kidnappers laughed at him. They laughed at how pathetic he looked. He was sitting there, wasting his energy trying to fight even though he had to have known it was pointless. He did. The young man did know that there wasn’t much he could do but that still didn’t stop him from trying. At the very least, if they killed him then he wouldn’t go down quietly. He had always been a fighter and always would be. He could hear his kidnappers laugh at his struggle. It made his blood boil. How dare they do something like this. Not only that, but how dare they kidnap him.

When they got tired of his struggling, they finally started to beat him again. They demanded information from him. Information that was quite valuable to them. Information that only he had but the young man was stronger than they gave him credit for. No matter how many times they hit or kicked him, he wouldn’t say a word. He cried out in pain with each blow but he refused to tell them what they wanted to know.

With each blow, the kidnappers grew more and more impatient with him. They continued to beat him until he was covered in bruises from head to toe but still he didn’t not speak. They were astounded by his stubbornness.

They said that if he told them what they wanted to know then they would let him go but as great as that offer sounded, he still refused. He may not have known the kidnappers personally he knew better than to trust them. They would have said anything to get him to talk and he knew it. He wasn’t going to give in because if he did then the other people he worked with would be in danger.

They would be killed.

That wasn’t something he was going to risk. He couldn’t. He would die if that meant that the others would be safe and continue the fight they believed in. The information his kidnappers wanted were details about the leaders and the resistance’s next movements. In the wrong hands, that information would be devastating. Everything he and his friends worked for would have been for nothing.

When they realized that they would get nothing out of their captive, they gave up. They were angry. The whole point for his kidnapping was to get this vital information but it seemed that he wasn’t going to give it up. That was okay. If he wouldn’t give up the information then someone else would but now they wouldn’t need him anymore.

They laughed when they told the young man that they were going to kill him. They told him the different ways they could do it. He heard the sound of a blade slide across a metal surface. He gulped. He could sense that his time was near. He thought he had prepared himself mentally. He told himself the whole way here, wherever here was, that he was prepared to die but now he wasn’t so sure. It wasn’t really the fact that he was about to die that scared him. What scared him was how he was going to die. Were his kidnappers going to make him suffer? Most likely.

He tensed up but nothing happened. In fact, the knife dropped near his feet and there was a commotion. He couldn’t understand what was going on but he heard the men say that something had happened and they needed to go. From the sounds of it, they didn’t bother to have at least one person stay. They figured that with the way that the prisoner was tied up, he wouldn’t be going anywhere.

The young man listened carefully. He waited until he could no longer hear the footsteps or voices of the men. When he no longer heard anything, he stayed still. He waited for countless minutes until he was sure that no one was remaining in the building.

After that he moved around as frantically as he could. He struggled against the ropes until his skin burned. It was painful but it would be worth it if he could escape. Eventually, after a long time, with much determination the young man finally felt the rope losen. He wiggled until his hands slipped free.

Victory.

When his hands were free he yanked the hood off his head and got to work untying his legs. However, this knot seemed a bit too difficult for him to work loose on his own. He was frustrated but soon saw the knife on the ground nearby. He picked it up and used it to cut himself free.

He stood up and when he did, he felt dizzy from the pain. He took a deep breath and shook it off. He couldn’t let that stop him. He had to leave before the men returned. He stumbled out of the room and made his way to the main entrance of the building. Surprisingly, there was no one there. The entire building was empty except for the young man. This made his escape rather easy.

Once he left the property he ran as fast as he could. He ran until his lungs burned. He ran until he reached his home where he locked all of the doors and windows. He closed all of the blinds and barricaded himself in his room for the night.

The next morning he went right to the police station. He rushed in and demanded to speak to an officer. He was in a panic. He was still afraid from what happened yesterday. Even the journey to the police station was scary. There he reported his kidnapping and that he had received death threats before. They took it down and promised him that they would get to the bottom of it.

He hoped they would but there wasn’t much to go on. He described the building the best he could from memory but he wasn’t too hopeful. He knew that the best thing he could do was try and return to his normal life which is what he did.

Days later on the 14th of December, the young man was walking along the streets in the center of Tegucigalpa. It was late at night. The hour was quickly approaching 11 P.M. The young man hadn’t planned to be out so late and he was starting to get tired. He decided that it was time to head home.

He turned a corner when all of a sudden there was a pain in his chest. It was indescribable. It felt like fire was shooting through his veins. He couldn’t breathe and couldn’t move. He collapsed on the ground and spat up blood. He choked on it. He was terrified. He knew he was about to die. He had escaped his kidnappers but it seemed as if they had tracked him down and were now going to finish the job.

He did his best and got out his cellphone from his pocket. He flipped it open and dialed the number of one of his friends. He struggled to speak as the blood poured out of his mouth but managed to tell them the address of where he was located. Just as he told them, he dropped his phone and coughed out more blood. In a panic, his friend dropped their phone and rushed to the scene. They arrived just in time to see the young man being loaded into an ambulance which was called when someone walking by happened to see him lying in a pool of his own blood.

The young man was rushed to Hospital Escuela. He was pronounced dead on arrival. One shot was all it took for him to die.

His name was Walter Tróchez and he was only 27 years old.

AFTERMATH

The police didn’t bother to investigate Walter’s kidnapping. When it came to his murder, it alledgedly took them 12 hours to even go to the scene of the shooting. When they did arrive they were not careful in the least bit when it came to processing and handling the evidence.

When it came to the autopsy, even that was delayed. Even while the police were allegedly investigating the scene of the shooting, Walter’s body was lying in the morgue.

Very little was done to solve both his kidnapping and his murder. This points to the culprits being members of the police which is what Walter had stated before his death. He suspected that the police were guilty and it could be reasonable to think that they were behind his murder as well.

Despite all of the years that have passed, there has still been no mention of any arrests in the case. Supposedly, the records of his report of the kidnapping have been “lost”.

IN LIFE

Walter Tróchez was a well known LGBTQ+ activist and a member of the National Resistance Front in Honduras.

After participating in a march against le coup d'état, Walter had been arrested and even beaten for his sexual orientation.

He had done some undercover work and documented and exposed homophobic crimes and murders that had been committed by the forces who were behind the coup. He took photos and took down testimonies from all of the victims which he gathered as evidence.

SOURCES

Articles

  1. “A GAY TIDE”. The Editors. The Nation, 16 December 2009, https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/noted-100/.

  2. “AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL REPORT 2010”. Amnesty International, 2010, https://www.amnesty.eu/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Annual_Report_20101.pdf. (Direct Download Link)

  3. “En asesinato de Walter Tróchez la policía no protegió la escena del crimen”. Dina Meza. Blogspot, 15 December 2009, http://hondurasenlucha.blogspot.com/2009/12/en-asesinato-de-walter-trochez-la.html.

  4. “Honduran LGBTT activist and coup resistor Walter Tróchez killed”. Dawn Paley. The Dominion, 16 December 2009, http://www.dominionpaper.ca/weblogs/dawn/3072.

  5. “Honduras: Investigate Murders of LGBT People”. Human Rights Watch, 16 December 2009, https://www.hrw.org/news/2009/12/16/honduras-investigate-murders-lgbt-people.

  6. “Honduras: Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review”. Amnesty International, 19 April 2010, https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/36000/amr370052010en.pdf. (Direct Download Link)

  7. “OUR COMPAÑERO IN STRUGGLE”. Center for the Investigation and Promotion of Human Rights in Honduras (CIPRODEH) and Los Necios, Translated by Adrienne Pine. Socialist Worker, 16 December 2009, https://socialistworker.org/2009/12/16/our-companero-in-struggle.

Image

  1. Walter Tróchez. Socialist Worker, https://socialistworker.org/2009/12/16/our-companero-in-struggle.

Day 20: Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien

Photo from NBC News

​*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions blood, stabbing, knife attack, beating, hammer attack, brutality, and distressing imagery.

Please continue with caution.


This story was written using articles that spoke of the husband’s point of view. This is not a reflection of how Christa actually behaved or treated others.

It was a normal day in North Adams, Massachusetts on the 5th of January, 2018. The residents went about their normal lives with going to school or going to work. Towards the evening, people made their way home and began dinner preparations. When the hour began to approach 8 P.M, many residents of Veazie Street were preparing for bed. All leftover food had been put away and all of the dishes were loaded into the dishwashers to be cleaned overnight.

One household on Veazie Street had two residents who went about their night-time routine as they prepared for bed. They had cleaned up after dinner a little over an hour and during this time they had been relaxing in the living room and watching TV. Now it was getting late in the evening so they decided to call it a day. They were tired and just wanted to go to sleep.

It was way too hot upstairs so the couple decided to blow up their air mattress and sleep downstairs for the night. They would deal with the temperature issue in the morning. It was too late for them to think of a solution. The best place they decided to set up was in the living room as it had the right amount of space for the mattress.

Once the air mattress was blown up, the couple put a fitted sheet on it, their pillows from upstairs that already had pillow cases on then lastly a thin sheet. It was still a bit warm downstairs so they didn't want to use a thick blanket. The last thing they wanted was to overheat.

The couple got changed into their pajamas, said good night to each other then laid down and tried to fall asleep. The heat made it a bit difficult but at least it wasn't unbearable like the temperature upstairs. When they were preparing for bed upstairs they could feel the heat and it was quite uncomfortable. Moving around didn't help but even when they were standing still, the two could feel the sweat forming all over their bodies. It was gross. Tomorrow they would definitely think of a way to fix the temperature because they knew they couldn't sleep on the mattress permanently.

The woman seemed fine on the mattress. She got comfortable and tried to sleep but found it difficult. It wasn't just because of the heat but also because of her husband. He kept tossing and turning which caused her to bounce around on the mattress. It didn't bother her at first as she understood how uncomfortable it was but as time went on it became an annoyance. On a regular mattress she wouldn't have bounced around as much.

Some time after she turned to face her husband and kindly asked him to stop. She explained how she couldn't sleep with him moving around so much. He apologized and promised to try and stay still. She thanked him then laid down once more and tried again to fall asleep. At first, all seemed to be fine but when her husband thought that she had fallen asleep he began to toss and turn again.

She was still awake due to the heat and sighed in annoyance when she was bounced around on the mattress. Her husband moved around too much for her liking and made it impossible for her to sleep. Once again she asked him to stop moving but this time he protested. He said that it was difficult for him to fall asleep and that he couldn't help it. His wife explained how it was hard for her too but she was being considerate and did her best to remain as still as possible. She said how she was doing it for him and that he should try considering her feelings too.

Her husband claimed that he was and that he always considered her feelings but that particular night was challenging for him. He just couldn't get comfortable no matter what he did. His wife said that if he stayed in place for more than two seconds then perhaps he would find a comfortable position. Her comment irritated him. He said that he couldn’t stay still because the temperature was just too uncomfortable and that the air mattress didn’t help.

His wife sighed and shook her head. She muttered to herself how inconsiderate her husband was then told him that if she could stay still then so could he. That comment made something shift in him. It got to him. He felt more than an annoyance but it wasn’t quite rage. He couldn’t explain it. He just knew that he really didn’t like the way she was speaking to him. She just dismissed how he felt. It wasn’t fair. To him, she had done it so many times in that past that he was just sick of it. She always did this and he wanted her to stop.

Fed up, he pushed the sheet aside and got up from the mattress. His wife looked up at him and asked him where he was going. This only fueled his anger and he grumpily told her that he was going to the bathroom, not that it was any of her business. She couldn’t believe his attitude but was too tired to deal with him. She just rolled her eyes and turned back over in bed. Now that her husband wasn’t moving around, she had an easier time drifting off. Her eyes grew heavy and she could feel sleep beginning to consume her. Hopefully she would nod off before her husband returned.

He returned a short while later and it sounded as if he had gone to the basement. That was a bit odd but the woman didn’t think much of it. She assumed that her husband had forgotten something down there or just went down to try and cool off.

When he returned to the living room, the man approached the mattress and at first, his wife thought he was about to get back into bed but she never felt a dip in the mattress. Instead, her husband’s footsteps stopped just at the edge of the mattress. She thought nothing of it. Maybe he was looking at something outside of the window or thinking about grabbing a snack. She continued to lie there with her eyes closed but she was jerked awake at a sudden and intense pain located on her head.

She screamed and sat up in bed. She looked up at her husband but due to the darkness, all she could see was his silhouette. In one hand she saw something that looked like a hammer. They had one in the basement. Her eyes widened in terror when she realized what was going on. He had gone to the basement to retrieve the hammer and the pain she felt was caused when the hammer was brought down on her.

She scrambled to get off the mattress and get away from her husband but he was quick. He brought the hammer back down on her head. Each hit caused even more pain than the last. Her head was pounding from the pain and she felt dizzy. It felt like she had the world’s worst migraine.

She pleaded with her husband to stop. She asked why he was doing this. What had she done to deserve this? What caused him to attack? He didn’t respond at first but eventually said that he had enough of her belittling him. He was sick and tired of it and wanted her to stop. He told her that he felt like he had no choice and that she had to shut up.

He continued beating her and she continued to try and escape despite the pain. Her instinct told her to run but all she could do was slowly crawl along the floor. She cried out with each blow.

Her husband tried to aim for her head to give her a quick death but some missed and hit her torso. When he saw that the hammer didn’t work in killing her, he hit her once more on the head then left the living room and went to the kitchen. He slightly stumbled in the dark but didn’t turn the light on. He wasn’t sure how much strength his wife still had so he didn’t want to make it easy for her to escape by turning on the lights.

In the kitchen, he went over to where they kept the knife and pulled out the biggest one he could find. The moonlight provided just enough light to find it and once he picked it up, he made his way back to the living room. His wife was still trying to crawl away and when he approached her, she weakly lifted her head and once again, begged him to spare her. Her husband said nothing and began to stab her.

She cried out in pain when she felt the blade of the knife pierce her back. She felt her blood gush from the wound when the blade was pulled from her. She pleaded with her husband. Begged for her life. She promised that she wouldn’t press charges on him if he spared her but nothing stopped him. He wasn’t about to stop. Not until she was dead.

He stabbed her again, this time he used so much force that the knife stuck in her back. He found it difficult to pull out so he left it. She was on the brink of death but still alive so he picked up the hammer and began hitting her head again. He continued until her body went limp. He was convinced that she was now dead. The screaming had stopped and it didn’t appear as if she was breathing anymore.

Her name was Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien and she was 42 years old.

AFTERMATH

After killing Christa, 47 year old Mark Steele-Knudslien had taken a shower and cleaned the blood off himself. Afterwards he went to a nearby liquor store and bought some alcohol. Upon returning home he attempted to clean up the crime scene.

He gathered some tarp which he wrapped around Christa and the murder weapons. He then set to work trying to clean up the blood with paper towels. He moved the tarp to the basement then left the home once more.

This time he traveled south to the Adams police station. Articles said that Mark walked into the station at around 9:09 P.M on Friday the 5th of January, 2018. He asked to speak with an officer and one went to talk to him. Mark told the officer that he had “done something bad” and that he “should be put in handcuffs”. He explained how he killed his wife.

At 9:02 P.M the Adams police contacted the North Adams Police and informed them of the homicide that occurred at 107 Veazie Street. 25 minutes later at 9:27, police arrived on scene and stayed there for the rest of the night.

The Adams Police Department held Mark Steele-Knudslien overnight and the next morning on Saturday the 6th of January, he was taken to Berkshire County Jail and House of Correction where he was held without bail.

On Monday the 7th of January, Mark was arraigned on one count of first-degree murder where he pleaded not guilty.

On Thursday the 16th of January, 2020 Mark Steele-Knudslien pleaded guilty to the murder of his wife Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien.He was sentenced by Judge John Agostini to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 25 years.

IN LIFE

Christa was the founder of the Miss Trans America Pageant, the founder and CEO of the Miss Trans New England Pageant and helped to organize New England’s first Trans Pride march in 2008. She was very active in the trans community when it came to activism.

One of her friends, Justin Adkins had told the Associated Press that “[Christa’s] thing was always that transgender women are beautiful and need a venue for trans women to be seen as beautiful”.

She is believed to have been the first transgender person to have been killed in the year 2018. Before she died, she posted on Facebook: “My husband and I are going to try to work things out” in 2017 which hinted at troubles in their relationship.

SOURCES

Articles

  1. Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien is the First Known Transgender Woman Killed in 2018”. HRC staff. Human Rights Campaign, 8 January 2018, https://www.hrc.org/blog/christa-leigh-steele-knudslien-is-the-first-known-transgender-woman-killed.

  2. Founder of Miss Trans America pageant is 'stabbed and beaten to death by her husband inside her Massachusetts home after he snapped'”. The Associated Press. Daily Mail, 8 January 2018, updated 24 January 2020, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5248387/Husband-charged-killing-transgender-pageant-founder.html.

  3. HE 'SNAPPED': Miss Trans America Pageant founder allegedly murdered by husband”. Radar Online. Calgary Herald, 10 January 2018, https://calgaryherald.com/news/crime/he-snapped-miss-trans-america-pageant-founder-allegedly-murdered-by-husband.

  4. Husband charged with grisly killing of transgender pageant founder”. John Paul Brammer. NBC News, 12 January 2018, https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/husband-charged-grisly-killing-transgender-pageant-founder-n836066.

  5. Husband of transgender activist Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien admits to her murder; sentenced to life in prison”. Patrick Johnson. MassLive, 23 January 2020, https://www.masslive.com/police-fire/2020/01/husband-of-transgender-activist-christa-leigh-steele-knudslien-admits-to-her-murder-sentenced-to-life-in-prison.html.

  6. Husband sentenced to life in prison for killing transgender wife in North Adams”. Nancy Asiamah. WWLP-22News, 23 January 2020, updated 24 January 2020, https://www.wwlp.com/news/local-news/berkshire-county/husband-sentenced-to-life-in-prison-for-killing-transgender-wife-in-north-adams/.

  7. Husband told police he 'snapped' before killing Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien, founder of Miss Trans America”. Dan Glaun. MassLive, 8 January 2018, updated 30 January 2019, https://www.masslive.com/news/2018/01/husband_told_police_he_snapped.html.

  8. Massachusetts man admits to killing wife, a prominent transgender activist, by stabbing, hitting her with hammer”. Muri Assunção. New York Daily News, 24 January 2020, https://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/ny-husband-trans-activist-christa-steele-knudslien-admits-killing-jail-20200124-dav72nqznnezrd5urxn3aot2j4-story.html.

  9. Miss Trans America founder beaten, stabbed to death in her home”. The Associated Press. CBS News, 10 January 2018, updated 11 January 2018, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/miss-trans-america-founder-beaten-stabbed-to-death-in-her-home/.

  10. Miss Trans America Founder Is The First Known Transgender Person Killed This Year”. Curtis M. Wong. Huffington Post, 9 January 2018, updated 12 January 2018, https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/christa-leigh-steele-knudslien-transgender-murder_n_5a5543a0e4b0d614e48a9f39?ri18n=true.

  11. Miss Trans America founder murdered at home – husband arrested”. David Hudson. Gay Star News, 8 January 2018, https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/steele-knudslien-trans-murder/.

  12. Miss Trans America founder’s husband charged with her murder”. Mariah Cooper. Los Angeles Blade, 9 January 2018, https://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/01/09/miss-trans-america-founders-husband-charged-murder/.

  13. North Adams man admits killing wife, gets life sentence”. Bob Dunn. Daily Hampshire Gazette, 23 January 2020, https://www.gazettenet.com/Mark-Knudslien-sentenced-32202116.

  14. North Adams man held after allegedly killing his wife”. Haven Orecchio-Egresitz. The Berkshire Eagle, 6 January 2018, https://www.berkshireeagle.com/stories/north-adams-man-held-after-allegedly-killing-his-wife,528865.

  15. Number 1- Rest In Power, Christa”. Monica Roberts. Blogspot, 6 January 2018, https://transgriot.blogspot.com/2018/01/number-1-rest-in-power-christa.html.

  16. The death of a North Adams woman has been ruled a homicide”. Frederick A. Lantz. Mass.gov, 7 January 2018, https://www.mass.gov/news/the-death-of-a-north-adams-woman-has-been-ruled-a-homicide.

  17. Woman who founded trans beauty pageants becomes first known trans person killed in America this year”. Emily Shugerman. Independent, 10 January 2018, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/transgender-woman-killed-first-2018-christa-leigh-steele-knudslien-beauty-pageants-a8152226.html.

Images

  1. Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien. NBC News, https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/husband-charged-grisly-killing-transgender-pageant-founder-n836066.

Day 19: Maurice Mjomba

Photo from Maurice’s Facebook

​*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions blood, brutality, a beating, rape, forcable sodomy, strangling, alleged homophobic hate crime, and distressing imagery.

Please continue with caution.


This incident happened back in 2012 but information is limited. There have been no reports of any arrests and the case appears to remain unsolved.

It was getting late in the day on the 27th of July, 2012 in the city of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. A young man had just finished his work for the day. He said goodbye to his friends and colleagues before packing up his things and headed home. He didn’t live too far away from where he worked so the trip home wasn’t very long.

When the man arrived home he went straight for the kitchen and grabbed himself a drink. As he took some sips of his drink, he browsed through his fridge to see what he would have for dinner. He had quite a few ingredients so there were a variety of meals he could make. He debated on what he could make. He wasn’t too sure what he was in the mood for that evening. One potential meal he was thinking about was one he had recently so he decided to cook something else. It was always nice to change it up.

He looked at the time and saw that it was still a little early to start dinner and he wasn’t particularly hungry at the time. He thought about it and decided to wait for an hour or two before he started to cook. It would be a bit later than most people would begin dinner but he lived alone so he was able to eat whenever he wanted.

He closed his fridge and left the kitchen with his drink in hand. He went over to the living room and sat down on the couch. He set his drink down on the coffee table then picked up a book that was on a side table. It had taken him a lot longer to finish it than he would have liked but his work was more important than finishing a book. He loved his work. He loved being able to help others although he was more of a quiet person. While other people were out in the frontlines and really fighting for a change he was happy to help quietly in the background. His work was just as important as people who protested out on the streets.

As he flipped through the book, a group of men approached his house. They were dressed in dark clothes and wore masks which covered their faces. They looked around the area and when they were sure that no one had seen them, they kicked in the door and stormed in the house. The young man was startled when he heard his front door bang against a wall and jumped from his seat. His book fell to the ground and his drink tipped over when his knee hit the coffee table. The cup fell to the ground and the liquid spilled on the surface of the table and dripped to the floor.

The men heard the drink fall and located the room where the sound had come from. They rushed in and surrounded the man who was so shocked that he wasn’t sure what to do. He was going to defend himself but there was nothing in his reach that could have been used as a weapon and there was no place for him to run or hide.

He was trapped in his living room surrounded by a group of masked strangers.

He asked what they wanted but no one responded to his question. He was frightened and held his hands up to show that he meant no harm. He pleaded for them to spare his life and told them they could take whatever they wanted. He even pointed out where his more expensive items were in the house in hopes that the group would take them and spare his life. He even said that he wouldn’t call the police and report them. He would do anything if they just spared him.

However, that wasn’t what the men had in mind. They told the young man that they hadn’t come there to rob him. He gulped nervously and looked at the one who seemed to be in charge. He asked them why they were in his house if they weren’t there to rob him.

One of the men smirked under his mask and pulled out some rope from the bag he had slung around his shoulder. Nothing was said on their end as the man approached the frightened young man with the rope in hand. The young man backed away as far as he could before the back of his legs hit the couch and he fell down on it. He looked up at the man with the rope and pleaded for him to spare him. He wouldn’t do anything. He wouldn’t call the cops. He’d do anything they wanted.

The man said nothing and grabbed one of his arms in a tight grasp. It hurt the young man but he didn’t dare say anything. He was too scared to say anything. He didn’t know why these men had broken into his home and he was afraid to find out. He sat back without a fuss as the man tied up both of his hands. After the knots were secure, another man walked over and slapped a strip of tape over his mouth then another over his nose.

Now the young man started to panic. It was difficult to breathe with the tape over his nose and he struggled to free himself but the men didn’t like that. They demanded that he stop struggling. One of the men had no tolerance for the struggling and began hitting the young man but that wasn’t enough to make him stop. He continued to free his hands but the knots were secure. He then tried to lift his hands to his face to see if he could take the tape off himself but the men didn’t let him. They grabbed his arms and forced them back down. The more he struggled, the more beatings he had received but still he fought back.

One of the men demanded that he stop but that made him fight back even more. He wanted to scream out no and for the men to let him go but the tape muffled his voice.

By this point the group of men were fed up with their victim. They didn’t expect this much resistance from him and it was annoying. They all turned to each other and nodded in silent agreement. They would move on with the next part of the plan they had agreed to before they arrived.

Two of the men grabbed the young man by his upper arms and slightly lifted him from the couch while another ripped off his pants. He screamed under the tape and tried to kick the person but it didn’t work. They scrunched his pants around his ankles which acted like a makeshift rope. It prevented him from kicking his attackers which was his only method of defense.

Panic filled him when he realized that there was no hope of fighting back. He feared what was to come. He didn’t know what their motive for the attack was but he did know what was going to happen to him. All he could do was sit and let it happen. There was nothing he could do. The men had surprised him and overpowered him. They had the upper hand.

Tears streamed down his face as the men attacked him. He was beaten repeatedly with tools the men had brought with them. They had come prepared. It was terrifying.

With each blow he sustained, pain pulsed through his head and chest. Pain shot through his entire body when the men forcibly sodomized him. It was unimaginable. He screamed but the tape over his nose and mouth muted the sounds. No one would have been able to hear him. His neighbours were unaware of what was happening. He knew that he was most likely going to die there.

As the attack continued, he accepted his fate. He stopped struggling. No matter what he did, nothing worked. He wanted to live. He didn’t want to die like that but there was nothing he could do about it. As hard as it was for him, he gave in and accepted his fate. He came to terms with the fact that he was going to die when the men felt like they had done enough.

It felt like ages passed but soon the young man felt the life leaving him. He was fading in and out of consciousness. He couldn’t focus on his surroundings and he could barely hear the men as they taunted him. He was in so much pain that he barely felt it anymore. In fact, he couldn’t feel anything. Everywhere hurt.

The men then pulled out yet another rope but this one was thicker than the one used to tie the young man’s hands together. This one was wrapped around his neck and one man pulled as tightly as he could. The young man felt a burning sensation on the skin of his neck as the rough rope tightened around him.

Breathing was already difficult with the tape over his nose and mouth but now it was almost impossible. His lungs burned as they screamed for oxygen. Out of instinct he raised his hands up to his neck and did his best to claw at the rope but it did nothing. The man who was holding the rope just tightened it and held it in place until the young man stopped moving entirely. He slumped back on the couch and closed his eyes for the last time.

His name was Maurice Mjomba and he was only 29 years old.

AFTERMATH

The exact day and time that Maurice died hasn’t been determined or published online. It has been estimated that he died somewhere between the 27th and 28th of July. One source even said that he most likely died on the morning of Saturday the 28th of July.

His body was discovered on the 30th when neighbours called the police and reported a smell coming from his home. When the police entered they found his decomposing body slouched on his couch with tape covering his nose and mouth, his hands tied together and signs of strangulation. There were even reports of blood emanating from his genitals and anus.

Even after all these years, there has been little media coverage and nothing that mentions arrests of the perpetrator(s).

IN LIFE

Mjomba worked as a training coordinator at the Centre for Human Rights Promotion (CHRP), a human rights activist, a sexual health educator and was a founding member of an organization called Stay Awake Network Activities (SANA).

Stay Awake Network Activities (SANA) is an organization which deals with sexual health awareness in Tanzania for men who have sex with other men. Not only was he one of the founding members but he also worked as an assistant secretary and an executive committee member.

He wanted to fight discrimination against people who had HIV/AIDS and wanted to provide services to help intravenous drug users.

People who knew him in life said that he was hard-working, diligent and an honest person. A person who worked with him known as Pade described Maurice as “a kind, sincere and an open minded person. He was always ready to help others at all times and he would take time to see things are done accordingly and provide solutions”. Pade also said that Maurice has never wanted to be in the forefront when it came to activism. He would work in the background and “when you fall he would catch you. He was a thinker too!”

SOURCES

Articles

  1. ACTIVIST LAID TO REST AS DETAILS OF MURDER SURFACE”. Staff Writer. Mamba Online, 1 August 2012, https://www.mambaonline.com/2012/08/01/activist-laid-to-rest-as-details-of-murder-surface/.

  2. Dead Tanzania gay activist was found bound, gagged and beaten”. Tris Reid-Smith. Gay Star News, 2 August 2012, https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/dead-tanzania-gay-activist-was-found-bound-gagged-and-beaten020812/.

  3. Gay Rights Activist Murdered”. Gay Agenda, 31 July 2012, https://gayagenda.com/african-gay-rights-activist-found-murdered/.

  4. Maurice Mjomba”. Human Rights Defenders Memorial, https://hrdmemorial.org/hrdrecord/maurice-mjomba/.

  5. maurice mjomba”. Ubuntu Biography Project, 10 October 2017, https://ubuntubiographyproject.com/2017/10/10/maurice-mjomba/.

  6. REPORT: TANZANIAN LGBT ACTIVIST STRANGLED”. Staff Writer. Mamba Online, 30 July 2012, https://www.mambaonline.com/2012/07/30/report-tanzanian-lgbt-activist-strangled/.

  7. Tanzania gay rights activist found dead”. Heather Cassell. The Bay Area Reporter, 1 August 2012, https://www.ebar.com/news///242754.

  8. Tanzania: Gay rights activist found dead”. Stephen Gray. Pink News, 30 July 2012, https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2012/07/30/tanzania-gay-rights-activist-found-dead/.

  9. Tanzania LGBT rights activist found dead”. Dan Littauer. Gay Star News, 30 July 2012, https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/tanzania-lgbt-rights-activist-found-dead300712/.

  10. TANZANIA: LGBT Rights Activist Killed, Hate Crime Suspected”. Rod. ROD Online, 30 July 2012, https://rodonline.typepad.com/rodonline/2012/07/tanzania-lgbt-rights-activist-found-dead-foul-play-suspected.html.

  11. Tanzanian AIDS Activist Brutally Murdered, Body Found In Home”. Dan Avery. Queerty, 6 August 2012, https://www.queerty.com/tanzanian-aids-activist-brutally-murdered-body-found-in-home-20120806/amp.

  12. Tanzanie: un activiste gay retrouvé mort à son domicile”. Fabien Carlat. Komitid, 31 July 2012, https://www.komitid.fr/2012/07/31/tanzanie-un-activiste-gay-retrouve-mort-a-son-domicile/.

  13. Tanzanie : Un gay retrouvé mort à son domicile”. Afriqu Infos, 31 July 2012, https://afriquinfos.com/afrique-de-lest/tanzanie/tanzanie-retrouve-mort-domicile-207453/.

  14. UPDATE: Tanzanian activist’s body was bound, gagged, beaten”. Natasha Barsotti. Daily Xtra, 2 August 2012. https://www.dailyxtra.com/update-tanzanian-activists-body-was-bound-gagged-beaten-29437.

  15. 2013 ANNUAL REPORT: Global Trends in 2012 for human rights defenders”. Front Line Defenders, 2013, https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/file/1837/download?token=RQ2HdbT0. (Direct Download Link)

Image

  1. Maurice Mjomba. Facebook, 19 January 2012, https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=104979169625118&set=pb.100003391060916.-2207520000..&type=3&theater.

Day 18: Alesha (Ali Sha)

Photo from the LA Times

​*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions blood, gun, gunfire, death from gunshot wounds, inappropriate treatment from medical professionals and distressing imagery.

Please continue with caution.


This story contains disturbing things that were really said by medical professionals.

It was the evening of the 22nd of May, 2016. It was still early in the evening so people were still walking about the streets of Peshawar, the capital of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan. People were on their way home from work or out doing some last minute shopping for dinner. Those who were at home were preparing the food they would use to make their dinner.

A woman was relaxing in her home, not rushing to make dinner. It was just going to be her in the house and she had leftovers from lunch that day so that was what she was going to have. Since it was just a matter of heating up the food, there was no rush in getting up right away. She decided to wait a little while longer before getting up.

The woman was sitting on the couch in her living room reading a magazine when her phone started to ring. She set the book down on the coffee table then got up and walked over to the phone. She picked it up and answered it. Her friend was on the other line and she sounded troubled. The young woman inquired as to what was going on as she could hear loud voices in the background of the call that were all talking at once. She couldn’t hear most of what was being said but she could make out some words such as, how much? and, when are you available?

The young woman knew those voices. While she couldn’t recognize any individual voice, she knew who the people were. She knew about harassment and a particular group in the area had been after her and people like her for as long as they could remember. They were against transgender people but that didn’t stop them from demanding sex or porn videos from them. These people saw Transngender people as less than human. Maybe they didn’t even see them as people at all.

The woman sighed quietly to herself as she heard the voices of the low-life men in the background. She asked her friend where she was and what was going on. Her friend filled her in. She explained how she and some other friends were just walking in the plaza, minding their own business when a local gang approached them. The friend explained how the gang demanded porn videos of the women and tried to extort them but the women refused to give in. They tried to walk away without confronting them but the men were persistent. The women were now tired of it and were growing more afraid as the minutes passed.

The young woman was worried about her friends and told the woman on the other end that she could make it there in a few minutes. She said to stay calm and that she would handle it when she arrived. Her friend thanked her and apologized for calling her in the middle of dinner. The young woman reassured her and told her that it was fine. She hadn’t even started dinner and didn’t have any major plans. Her friends came first.

After hanging up the phone, the young woman put on her shoes and quickly left the house. She rushed to the plaza that her friend had said they were at and once there, she looked around for them. It didn’t take long. People had already started clearing out and went on their way home so it wasn’t as busy as it would be during the day. The voices of the so called men could be heard loud and clear from anywhere in the plaza.

The young woman followed the sounds of the voices and eventually made her way to her friends. When they saw each other, both women held out their arms and the young woman who had just arrived practically ran into her friend’s arms. All of them knew what this was like, to be harassed by this gang and it was always a frightening experience.

Now that she had arrived, she too was the subject of harassment by the men. They were now demanding porn videos of the young woman and were more persistent now. They weren’t patient men and they wanted things to go their way. If it didn’t, they got angry. They were acting like children who didn’t get their way.

The young woman tried to tell them that she and her friends would not be complying and that they weren’t going to be told what to do. They weren’t going to make porn videos for the men and even if any of the women did make those types of videos, they had the right to deny giving them to anyone. This angered the men even more and they started to raise their voices at the women. Some people who were still in the plaza heard the conversation but didn’t bother to intervene. To them, that was none of their business and the last thing they wanted was to get involved with the gang.

The young woman tried to calm the situation before it escalated but the men wouldn’t back down. Now it was less about wanting certain services from them but more about the fact that the women wouldn’t listen to them and do as they said. In their minds, women, even transgender women should do whatever a man tells them. This was because of their old fashioned mindset and the fact that they saw the women as beneath them and less than a person. The young woman and her friend weren’t about to give into their demands. The group didn’t want the men to feel like winners. By giving in then they would just be teaching the men that with enough pressure, eventually a woman would cave in and obey them.

Eventually, one of the men got frustrated and stormed off. His friends tried to get him to stay but he yelled at them and told them that the women weren’t worth it. He said that they would get what’s coming to them eventually. However, the other men weren’t done with the women yet. They felt like the women had to be taught a lesson.

The one man stormed out of sight while the others turned back to the women. The look on their faces frightened the women. They couldn’t tell what their next move was. They got ready to run and defend themselves if they had to but considering the gang’s reputation, they knew that a fight most likely wouldn’t end well for them. That wasn’t about to stop them though.

As the arguing continued, the man who had left arrived a short time later. He was now on a motorcycle and drove towards his friends. At first, the women didn’t pay him any attention. They didn’t perceive him as a threat but he showed them that in fact, he was.

He drove right up to the young woman and aimed a gun right at her. He shot her roughly six times with one of the bullets hitting her left shoulder. She screamed when the first bullet was fired and by the time the last one had been fired, she was on the ground in pain and blood.

The man who had shot her drove off as fast as he could while his friends ran off in different directions. None of them wanted to be there when the police arrived. They knew there was a small chance that they would get arrested but they didn’t want to take a chance.

The young woman’s friends were screaming and after the gunman drove off, they rushed to their friend’s side. All they could do was scream and cry. They couldn’t believe what had happened. It wasn’t unheard of for a transgender person to be attacked or even killed but none of them could believe that it happened to someone they knew and loved. It just didn’t seem real.

One of them, the one who was the least frantic rushed to a nearby public phone and called for an ambulance. While they waited, the women did their best to keep their friend conscious and to stop the bleeding. They were all crying but tried to put a brave face on for the sake of their friend. They told her they loved her and that help would come soon. They promised that she would be alright and that the doctors would save her. Weakly, the young woman nodded and smiled. Yes, she agreed. She told them that she would recover in no time and life would go back to normal. She asked them not to worry and that she would be better in no time. Her friends weren’t too sure but they all hoped that she was right.

When the ambulance arrived, the young woman was loaded inside and was rushed to the nearest hospital, the Lady Reading Hospital. There, the medical professionals weren’t too sure what to do with her. They were made aware of the fact that the young woman was transgender but weren’t sure where to put her. They tried putting her in the men’s ward of the hospital but her friends who had followed the ambulance to the hospital protested. They told the medical team that she was most certainly not a man so she should be put where she belonged, in the woman’s ward.

The medical team weren’t too sure about that but listened to the patient’s friends. However, when they moved her into the women’s ward, the women who were there had overheard the conversation between the doctors and the friends and argued. They didn’t want to have a “man” in the same ward as them.

Now the medical professionals were confused. If they couldn’t put the patient in either ward, where were they supposed to put them? Until a decision could be made, they placed the stretcher the patient was on next to a lavatory. It wasn’t the ideal solution but it was the best they could do while they worked something out.

The young woman’s friends tried to talk to the medical professionals about the situation and to get immediate medical attention for their friend but the medical professionals had other things on their minds. They turned to the group of women and began asking them questions but they weren’t questions that someone in the medical field should ask their patient or the people accompanying said patient.

The group of male medical professionals began asking the women if their friend, the patient who had been admitted did dancing or even if she was a prostitute. They also asked if the breasts on their friend were actually real and one even asked if their friend was HIV positive or not.

The women were appalled to say the least. They were not expecting these types of questions. Why would the medical team think this was even remotely appropriate? The women were all so shocked that they didn’t even know how to respond.

Eventually, the young woman was admitted to a private room and the medical team attempted to treat her. The only problem was that the young woman didn’t get the necessary treatment such as a blood transfusion when she was first admitted to the hospital. That would have been a reasonable treatment seeing as she had sustained multiple gunshot wounds and therefore was losing quite a bit of blood.

Three days later, on Wednesday the 23rd of May, the young woman succumbed to her injuries and died in the hospital. She died surrounded by friends and family. As they saw the life draining from her eyes, many of them began to cry. They knew what was happening even before the doctors said anything. It was heartbreaking. They weren’t ready to lose her just yet. She was so young. She had her whole life ahead of her. This couldn’t be real.

It couldn’t.

The young woman looked around at everyone who was in the room. She did her best to smile but she was so weak. It was nearly impossible for her but her loved ones knew that she was trying to smile. They saw it on her face even though it wasn’t obvious. Everyone told her they loved her and that they would always remember her.

The young woman closed her eyes and released her final breath as her loved ones looked on.

Her name was Alesha and she was only 23 years old.

IN LIFE

Alesha was a member of a group called Trans Action. In the first half of 2016, she was the 5th member who was attacked. She had said that she danced to earn money to support her mother, sisters and herself. It was one of the only ways for her and people like her to earn a living in the country.

Alesha was a very outspoken and kind person. She participated in a protest the previous December which took place outside of the Press Club in Peshawar. At the time, Alesha had told the reporters covering the event that the people working at the government offices had ridiculed her when she went to apply for a job even though she had 12 years of schooling.

Trans Action is an advocacy group made up of transgender and intersex individuals who work to get equal rights for transgender people in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

SOURCES

Articles

  1. “Alesha Alesha”. Human Rights Defenders Memorial, https://hrdmemorial.org/?hrdrecord=alesha-alesha.

  2. “PAKISTAN: Call to hold inquiry into murder of transgender rights defender who received eight bullet shots”. Asian Human Rights Commission, 27 May 2016, http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/AHRC-UAC-058-2016/.

  3. “Pakistani trans activist shot, dies in hospital after care delayed”. CBC News, 25 May 2016, https://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/as-it-happens-wednesday-edition-1.3599385/pakistani-trans-activist-shot-dies-in-hospital-after-care-delayed-1.3599392.

  4. “Pakistani transgender activist dies after being shot six times and then being denied treatment”. Max Bearak. The Washington Post, 25 May 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/05/25/denied-treatment-at-a-hospital-a-pakistani-transgender-activist-dies-after-being-shot-6-times/.

  5. “Pakistani transgender activist dies after delayed medical care”. Michael K. Lavers. Washington Blade, 29 May 2016, https://www.washingtonblade.com/2016/05/29/pakistani-transgender-activist-dies-after-delayed-medical-care/.

  6. “Pakistani transgender activist who was shot, then taunted at hospital, dies of injuries”. Zulfiqar Ali and Shashank Bengali. Los Angeles Times, 25 May 2016, https://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-pakistan-transgender-20160525-snap-story.html.

  7. “Shot 8 times, Transgender in Pakistan dies as hospital sits on her treatment deciding sex”. India TV News Desk. India TV News, 26 May 2016, https://www.indiatvnews.com/news/world-shot-8-times-transgender-in-pakistan-dies-as-hospital-sits-on-her-treatment-deciding-sex-331107.

  8. “The Attacks Against Transgender Activists in Pakistan”. Matt Vasilogambros. The Atlantic, 25 May 2016, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/05/transgender-attacks-pakistan/484319/.

  9. “Transgender activist critically injured after being shot multiple times in Peshawar”. Iftikhar Firdous. The Express Tribune, 23 May 2016, https://tribune.com.pk/story/1108588/transgender-activist-critically-injured-shot-multiple-times-peshawar/.

  10. “Transgender activist shot eight times, dies”. Yusra Jabeen. Samma, 25 May 2016, https://www.samaa.tv/news/2016/05/transgender-activist-shot-eight-times-dies/.

  11. “Transgender activist succumbs to injuries after being shot multiple times in Peshawar”. Iftikhar Firdous. The Express Tribune, 25 May 2016, https://tribune.com.pk/story/1110151/transgender-activist-succumbs-injuries-shot-multiple-times-peshawar/.

  12. “Transgender human rights defender Alesha shot dead”. Frontline Defenders, 26 May 2016, https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/case-history-alesha.

  13. “Transgender woman dies from gunshot wounds after hospital workers can’t decide whether to put her in a male or female ward”. Fionn Hargreaves. The Sun, 25 May 2016, updated 27 May 2016, https://www.thesun.co.uk/archives/news/1215197/transgender-woman-dies-from-gunshot-wounds-after-hospital-workers-cant-decide-whether-to-put-her-in-a-male-or-female-ward/.

  14. “When Being Counted Can Lead to Being Protected: Pakistan's Transgender and Intersex Activists”. Kyle Knight. Human Rights Watch, 6 November 2016, https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/11/06/when-being-counted-can-lead-being-protected-pakistans-transgender-and-intersex.

  15. https://en.dailypakistan.com.pk/23-May-2016/transgender-shot-in-peshawar-after-refusing-to-give-porn-videos-to-extortionists.

  16. https://en.dailypakistan.com.pk/08-Jun-2016/transgender-murder-in-peshawar-alesha-s-supporters-pressured-by-powerful-people-to-drop-murder-case.

  17. https://en.dailypakistan.com.pk/25-May-2016/bullet-wounded-transgender-activist-dies-under-care-colleagues-blame-hospital-staff.

(*The last three refused to load again when I wanted to list my sources. I will check back on a later date to see if the pages will load again. Not sure why they didn't.)

Image

  1. Alisha, 23, was a transgender activist in Pakistan. She died after she was shot and her medical care was delayed. Trans Action Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Los Angeles Times, https://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-pakistan-transgender-20160525-snap-story.html.

Day 17: Lyra McKee

Photo by Jess Lowe

​*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions blood, gun, gunfire, death from gunshot wounds, and distressing imagery.

Please continue with caution.


This story includes a photo of the actual gun and links to videos filmed that night.

It was the night of April 18th, 2019. In Creggan, a housing estate located in Derry, Northern Ireland, a riot broke out. Petrol bombs had been thrown about and many vehicles on the street were either on fire or had just burned out. Some had even been hijacked by rioters. Residents were out on the streets watching as the chaos unfolded.

Police had already established their presence in the area as they had arrived coming in search of guns and explosives in the homes. The police had said that they believed those were being collected and stored in preparation for attacks that had been planned for Easter weekend. That weekend is the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising.

Many police vehicles lined the streets and officers patrolled the area in search of the guns and explosives. Of course, many of the residents didn’t agree with the police presence and retaliated against them causing the fires to start and throwing petrol bombs.

As the riot continued, many civilians stood by on the street or in their homes and watched. The fires burned, the flames seemingly growing bigger as the minutes passed. Some police officers stood by the Land Rover they had arrived in and thought about how they should proceed. They weren’t heavily armed so attempting to stop a rioter required careful thought so no one would get hurt. Who knew what the person would have been armed with. The officers weren’t going to take any chances. Depending on how angry and determined a rioter was, there was a possibility that they would try to set the officers on fire.

Beside the officers stood a group of civilians and reporters who were also watching the incident. The reporters who had gathered were already documenting what they were witnessing with their phones. They were either taking pictures or videos or typing down notes in their phones which they would use for references later when they got to work on an article.

One reporter had arrived at the scene with her romantic partner and together, they were watching as the riots picked up. The reporter was busy taking pictures of the fires and even uploaded one to her Twitter to show the madness that was going on in the area. She was passionate about her work and did it very well. She didn’t want to miss anything that was going on. She wanted to report it accurately so that people who would read her article would get a clear and full picture of the event.

While she was busy taking pictures on her phone, around 11 P.M, a man dressed in all black with a mask covering his face turned the corner of a nearby building. His figure was illuminated by a nearby fire and onlookers noticed as he peeked around the building he was leaning against. He was looking at the group of police and reporters nearby. When he had them in his sights, he pulled out a gun and began firing at the crowd.

All of the people in the immediate area heard the gunshots but many didn’t pay them much attention. With everything that was going on, it wasn’t too surprising to hear gunshots. At first, no one appeared to have been hit so the people didn’t see the need to panic. That was until a woman’s scream echoed throughout the area. It was a high pitched scream and the sound alone was enough to send chills down a person’s spine. The scream was of pure terror.

The shooter who had fired the gun took off right after firing some bullets while another dark figure bent down and collected all of the bullet casings but they went unnoticed by the majority of the people. The people were too busy running over to the screaming woman to see what had happened and if there was anything they could do to help.

When a group of people approached the screaming woman, they saw why she was screaming. Lying on the ground beside the police Land Rover was a woman. She wasn’t moving and through the panic, some people caught sight of blood. They weren’t exactly sure where it was coming from but they knew it was the blood of the woman. Some people overheard a panicked voice of a woman talking about a wound to the head but with all of the commotion, it was hard to tell if that was what she had really said.

A few civilians sprang into action and did what they could to help the officers lift the woman and load her into the back of their vehicle. One man quickly took off his coat and laid it on the ground next to the woman which was used to make a makeshift stretcher. Together, the man and some others lifted the woman and helped load her into the vehicle. When it was done, the officers closed the door and got inside. They drove the woman to Altnagelvin Area Hospital.

The police did what they could to keep her alive on the trip to the hospital but they didn’t have the proper equipment like one would find in an ambulance and they didn’t have the proper training. They made do with that they had and their limited knowledge of first aid but it wasn’t enough. Even if they had been paramedics, they still wouldn’t have been able to help the young woman. The wounds that she had sustained were too great. She was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Her name was Lyra McKee and she was only 29 years old.

AFTERMATH

After the shooting and killing, police had suspected that a dissident republican group called the New IRA had been responsible. That was later confirmed by the group themselves. They claimed full responsibility for what happened and sent their “full and sincere apologies” to the friends and family of Lyra McKee. However, along with the apology, they also attempted to justify what had happened by claiming it was defense against enemy forces.

The New IRA statement read:

“On Thursday night, following an incursion on the Creggan by heavily armed British crown forces which provoked rioting, the IRA deployed our volunteers to engage. We have instructed our volunteers to take the utmost care in future when engaging the enemy, and put in place measures to help ensure this. In the course of attacking the enemy Lyra McKee was tragically killed while standing beside enemy forces. The IRA offer our full and sincere apologies to the partner, family and friends of Lyra McKee for her death.”

The statement came after a protest by the friends of Lyra McKee which took place outside the office of Saoradh. The republican party shares the same way of thinking of the New IRA which is why they were targeted.

Many women put red paint on their hands and marked republican slogans that were outside of the office. Police present on the scene watched and didn’t make immediate arrests. The red handprints represent the blood on the party’s hands over the death of Lyra.

Photo by Cate McCurry

One of the people who took part in the protest, Sinead Quinn, had criticized the party for trying to blame Lyra’s death on an accidental shooting rather than the New IRA.

Some time after Lyra’s death, people were finally arrested in relation to the shooting. One was a 57 year old woman who was arrested under the Terrorism Act. Another was a 52 year old man who was charged with Lyra’s murder, possession of a fiearm with intent to endanger life and professing to be a member of a proscribed organisation. Other men who were arrested were 20, 27, and 29 years old.

In the early part of June 2020, police had found the gun that was used in the shooting and killing of Lyra McKee along with a bomb.

The gun was found by investigators during a search in Derry, the same place where Lyra had been shot in. Police Service of Northern Ireland Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy has said “I can confirm that a gun that was seized and recovered by police last week in Derry was the gun that killed Lyra McKee.”

The gun is a Hammerli X-Esse .22 pistol.

Photo from AFP/Getty

Murphy said that anyone who took part in interacting with the gun that killed Lyra in any way will be tracked down as they are just as responsible for the shooting as the man who pulled the trigger.

IN LIFE

"Within the LGBT community, we have a saying that we tell people, It Gets Better. And what I realized is that It Gets Better for some of us. It gets better for those of us who live long enough for us to see it get better." - Lyra McKee from her TED Talk.

Lyra McKee was a gay rights advocate and people have described her as a rising start in journalism. Patrick Corrigan from Amnesty International tweeted that Lyra’s "commitment to truth was absolute".

Ann Travers, one of Lyra’s close friends has said that Lyra liked to empower people, give them answers and most of all, to help them. She has given Lyra the nickname of Sherlock Holmes because when she started something she didn’t give up. She was very passionate and believed in both social and religious tolerance of everyone.

She has made a huge impact in the LGBTQ+ community in Northern Ireland. She helped support people during their coming out and used her own coming out story to help empower others to live as their true selves.

In 2006, Lyra was named Sky News young journalist of the year and in 2016 she was named in Forbes Magazine as 30 under 30 in media in Europe

She had also signed a 2 book deal with Faber and Faber. Her fourth book is called The Lost Boys.

SOURCES

Articles

  1. “Four arrested over the murder of Northern Irish journalist Lyra McKee”. Ivana Kottasová. CNN News, 11 Fabruary 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/11/uk/lyra-mckee-murder-arrests-northern-ireland-intl-gbr/index.html.

  2. “Gun which killed journalist Lyra McKee recovered by police in Northern Ireland”. April Roach. Evening Standard, 11 June 2020, https://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/lyra-mckee-gun-killed-recovered-police-a4466746.html.

  3. “Journalist killed in Derry 'terrorist incident', say Northern Ireland police”. Kevin Rawlinson. The Guardian, 19 April 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/apr/19/derry-woman-killed-in-terrorist-act-say-northern-ireland-police.

  4. “Lyra McKee: Gun find like a 'punch to the gut', says partner”. BBC, 12 June 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-53020949.

  5. “Lyra McKee: man, 52, charged with murder of journalist”. Ben Quinn and Rory Carroll. The Guardian, 12 February 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/feb/12/lyra-mckee-man-52-charged-with-of-journalist.

  6. “Lyra McKee murder: Journalist shot dead during Derry rioting”. BBC News, 19 April 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-47985469.

  7. “Lyra McKee: Murdered Belfast journalist 'committed to truth'”. Laura McDaid. BBC News, 19 April 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-47987807.

  8. “Lyra McKee: 'New IRA' admits killing of journalist”. BBC News, 23 April 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-48018615.

  9. “Lyra McKee: New IRA says its activists killed journalist”. Matthew Weaver and Kevin Rawlinson. The Guardian, 23 April 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/apr/22/lyra-mckee-friends-stage-protest-derry-offices-saoradh.

  10. “Lyra McKee obituary”. Henry McDonald. The Guardian, 26 April 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/apr/26/lyra-mckee-obituary.

  11. “Lyra McKee: Police recover gun used in journalist's murder”. Zoe Tidman. Independant, 12 June 2020, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/lyra-mckee-murder-gun-police-derry-journalist-a9561626.html.

  12. “Lyra McKee remembered by Sara Canning”. Sara Canning. The Guardian, 15 December 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/dec/15/lyra-mckee-remembered-by-sara-canning.

  13. “Lyra McKee: woman, 57, arrested over journalist's killing”. Matthew Weaver. The Guardian, 23 April 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/apr/23/lyra-mckee-woman-57-arrested-over-journalists.

  14. “Lyra McKee's last article: ‘We were meant to be the generation that reaped the spoils of peace’”. Lyra McKee. The Guardian, 28 March 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/news/2020/mar/28/lyra-mckee-last-piece-ceasefire-babies-growing-up-northern-ireland-in-90s.

  15. “Man charged with murder of Northern Ireland journalist Lyra McKee”. The Associated Press. CBC News, 12 February 2020, https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/northern-ireland-mckee-murder-1.5461084.

  16. “Man charged with murder of Northern Irish journalist Lyra Mckee”. Henry Austin. NBC News, 12 February 2020, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/man-charged-murder-northern-irish-journalist-lyra-mckee-n1135901.

  17. “My friend Lyra McKee lost her life seeking the truth”. Mike Harris. CNN News, 19 April 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/19/uk/my-friend-lyra-mckee-gbr-intl/index.html.

  18. “‘New IRA’ blamed for fatal shooting of journalist in Northern Ireland riot”. Gregory Katz. Global News, 19 April 2019, https://globalnews.ca/news/5184614/journalist-shot-northern-ireland-new-ira/.

  19. “New IRA and Saoradh face backlash over Lyra McKee murder”. Rory Carroll. The Guardian, 19 April 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/apr/19/new-ira-and-saoradh-face-backlash-over-lyra-mckee.

  20. “Northern Irish police arrest four men over killing of journalist Lyra McKee”. Reuters. National Post, 11 February 2020, https://nationalpost.com/news/northern-irish-police-arrest-four-men-over-killing-of-journalist-lyra-mckee.

  21. “Northern Irish police charge man with murder of journalist Lyra McKee”. The Associated Press. The Globe and Mail, 12 February 2020, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-northern-irish-police-charge-man-with-murder-of-journalist-lyra-mckee/.

  22. “Woman arrested over fatal shooting of Irish journalist Lyra McKee”. The Associated Press. Global News, 23 April 2019, https://globalnews.ca/news/5193294/irish-journalist-lyra-mckee-woman-arrested/.

  23. “4 men arrested in connection to killing of Northern Ireland reporter Lyra McKee”. Katie Dangerfield. Global News, 9 May 2019, https://globalnews.ca/news/5257488/lyra-mckee-shooting-northen-ireland-4-arrested/.

Images

  1. A friend of the journalist Lyra McKee defaces the walls of Saoradh’s offices in Derry with red paint as men look on on Monday. Cate McCurry. The Guardian, 23 April 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/apr/22/lyra-mckee-friends-stage-protest-derry-offices-saoradh.

  2. Lyra McKee was shot dead on 19 April last year. Jess Lowe. The Guardian, 12 February 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/feb/12/lyra-mckee-man-52-charged-with-of-journalist.

  3. The Hammerli X-Esse .22 pistol and a bomb were found during searches in the Ballymagroarty area of the city last week. AFP/Getty. Independant, 12 June 2020, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/lyra-mckee-murder-gun-police-derry-journalist-a9561626.html.

Other Media

  1. “Lyra McKee's partner and politicians pay tribute to killed journalist - video”. PA/Reuters. The Guardian, 20 April 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/news/video/2019/apr/20/lyra-mckees-partner-and-politicians-pay-tribute-to-killed-journalist-video.

  2. “Police release CCTV footage of Lyra McKee in crowd moments before she was shot”. Guardian News. YouTube, 20 April 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dcmLDpdD8U.

  3. “Video shows fatal shooting of journalist Lyra McKee at riot in Northern Ireland”. NBC News,19 April 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/video/video-shows-fatal-shooting-of-journalist-lyra-mckee-at-riot-in-northern-ireland-1500052547952.

Additional Information

  1. “How uncomfortable conversations can save lives”. Lyra McKee. TED, November 2017, https://www.ted.com/talks/lyra_mckee_how_uncomfortable_conversations_can_save_lives?language=en.

  2. “My partner, Lyra Mckee, would have been overjoyed about the same-sex marriage bill”. Sara Canning. The Guardian, 10 July 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jul/10/same-sex-equal-marriage-northern-ireland-lyra-mckee-gay-rights.


Day 16: Monika Diamond

Photo from Monika’s Facebook

​*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions blood, gun, gunfire, death from gunshot wounds, and distressing imagery.

Please continue with caution.


This story was written on the 16th of June, 2020. The case is currently on-going and information is limited. The story will be updated when more information is released.

It was early in the morning on the 18th of March, 2020. In the parking lot shared by the Days Inn and Azteca Mexican Restaurant, a small group of five to six people had gathered. They started off talking in a reasonable manner but as the conversation continued, things began to escalate between the group. Voices were raised and fingers were pointed. They had all been so concerned with the issue at hand that they failed to consider the other people who were staying at the inn. No one bothered to lower their voice even though it was roughly a quarter to 4 A.M.

A security guard had heard the argument and went over to the group. They calmly asked that the group please lower their voices and reminded them of the late hour. A few people glanced at the security guard but barely acknowledged them. Whatever they were talking about was more important to them then the concern of the guard and peace of the inn’s guests.

When the security guard realized that they wouldn’t get through to the group after a few failed attempts they gave up. If the group wasn’t going to listen to them then perhaps they would listen to the police. That would be a wake up call for them and hopefully would send the message that this type of behaviour wasn’t appropriate, especially during the hours when most people were trying to sleep.

The guard got on the phone with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police department and asked them to send over some officers to address the group that was causing quite a bit of noise. As the security guard was on the phone, they noticed that one of the people in the group was acting strangely. They had a hand on their chest and appeared to be struggling to catch a breath. Worried, the security guard also called an ambulance to check the person.

Both the police and an ambulance arrived shortly after the call and while the police were talking with the group, the paramedics attended to the person who was having difficulty breathing. They helped the person inside of the ambulance so they could give a proper exam and check vitals and just as the person sat down on the stretcher, a man who had been in the group walked over to the vehicle.

He asked the medics if he could go inside and sit next to the patient for comfort and support. The medics said he couldn’t and the patient pleaded with them, saying that this man was their friend but the medics explained that the rules were no one but the team and patient were allowed in the back of the ambulance. They said that the man would have to wait and reassured to the both of them that the patient would be alright.

The man glanced over at his friend who just nodded and asked him to listen to the medics. They knew what was best and they had rules they had to follow. There was nothing they could do about it so the patient asked their friend to go back with their friends and wait for them or come to the hospital if the medics felt the need to take them there. He nodded and walked away from the ambulance.

The patient remained on the stretcher and let the team conduct their exam to make sure that everything was alright and to see if going to the hospital was necessary. They asked all of the usual questions to get a sense of the patient’s medical history and what happened prior to the difficulty of breathing. The patient explained everything and said that during the conversation that turned into an argument, they began feeling a shortness of breath.

As the patient explained everything, their friend had left the area and returned shortly after. At first glance, everything looked normal. He appeared agitated but to everyone around him, they just assumed that he was worried about his friend. It was understandable. There were a number of reasons why someone could experience a shortness of breath and if they didn’t have anything that could explain it, then it would be concerning.

The police were occupied with the rest of the group and paid next to no attention to the man who had left the scene for a short while. He showed no signs that would have been concerning to the police so they just let him be. He looked around and when he saw that the police weren’t looking at him, he hurried over to the ambulance and climbed in.

The medics protested and told him that he wasn’t allowed inside and that he had to leave. He refused even when one medic put a hand on his shoulder and repeated that he had to leave. It was against the rules for him to be there. He ignored them and pulled a gun out of his jacket pocket. The medics and patient noticed this but before anyone could scream, the gun went off.

The man had pointed it at the person who had said that they were friends and fired it. It happened so suddenly. While the medics wanted to try and stop him, their first instinct was to take cover in fear of being hit or worse, killed. They both fell to the floor of the ambulance and covered their heads with their hands in an attempt to protect themselves.

In the back of the ambulance, the sounds of the gunshots seemed to be amplified and they could hear the bullets penetrate the walls of the vehicle or various objects within. They listened to the sounds of the bullets coming in contact with metal. It was loud and frightening. They had their eyes squeezed shut and hoped that the gunman wouldn’t turn on them when he was done with the patient.

The moment the first bullet was discharged, all of the police officers turned to face the ambulance and pulled out their guns. With the weapons pointed at the vehicle, they rushed over and waited for the person to stop shooting. They heard what was around 10 to 33 bullets being fired inside of the ambulance.

When the shots ceased, the police cautiously approached the vehicle and called out to the shooter. They demanded that whoever it was throw their weapon on the ground then slowly exit the vehicle with their hands up. They waited anxiously and after a few seconds, the gun that had just been discharged fell to the pavement right under the ambulance. It bounced then skidded on the pavement before coming to a halt not far away.

The officers relaxed slightly but didn’t lower their guns. They had to play it safe. They weren’t sure if the shooter had other weapons on them so they continued to point their guns at the doors and kept them on the shooter as he exited the vehicle. He complied with the demands and got down on his knees when ordered then put his hands on his head. Two officers approached him, one keeping their gun on him while the other cuffed him. When he was in cuffs, the police escorted him away and sat him in the back of one of their cars.

While they were doing that, the two paramedics in the ambulance dared to look at the shooter as he left. When he was secure, they got to their feet and rushed to attend their patient.

The patient was covered in blood.

It soaked through their clothes and they were lifeless. It appeared as if they weren’t even breathing. One paramedic grabbed a sterile towel and pressed it over the biggest blood stain they saw while the other checked the patient's vitals.

Seconds past as they examined the patient. It was an anxious wait for both of them. They hoped that the patient would survive. They would do anything in their power to save them but after a few moments of tense silence, the medic who had checked the patient’s vitals finally looked up at their partner. Their partner had a worried look on their face and were about to ask what the vitals were but their partner stopped them with the shake of their head. They said in barely above a whisper that the patient was dead. There was nothing they could do for them. One of those bullets killed them instantly.

The paramedic who had been using a towel to compress the wound relaxed their arms. There was no point in doing that anymore. It was as their partner said, they couldn’t do anything to help. It was always hard when they realized that they couldn’t do anything. Losing a patient was never easy but there were times when that would happen. It never got any easier.

One of the paramedics took a white sheet out and draped it over the victim. They pulled it up over their head then both exited the vehicle to speak with the police. They informed an officer that the patient was dead.

Her name was Monika Diamond and she was only 34 years old.

AFTERMATH

After the suspect was arrested, he was identified as 32 year old Prentice Lavar Bess. He was sent to and currently remains at Mecklenburg County Detention Center Central in Charlotte, North Carolina.

He has been charged with BREAK OR ENTER A MOTOR VEHICLE, MURDER, and LARCENY OF A FIREARM according to the website, MCSO (Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office) where inmate information is stored and published. He is being held there without bail and awaits his trial.

Human Rights Campaign has said that Monika’s death is believed to be the fourth violent death of a transgender of gender non-conforming person in 2020.

IN LIFE

Monika Diamond was active in the LGBTQ+ community in Charlotte, North Carolina. She spent her adult life working to create a community and safe spaces for people in the LGBTQ+ community. She wanted people to be able to come together and celebrate who they are.

She was the founder and co-owner of a company called Ncphyne Promotion Company LLC. Jeremy Robert Whitted is the other co-owner as listed on the company’s Facebook page. The company is an event promotion company that was founded on the 7th of May, 2010.

She also was the co-CEO of a pageant that honours LGBTQ+ mothers called International Mother of the Year Pageantry System.

SOURCES

Articles

  1. HRC Mourns Monika Diamond, Black Trans Woman Killed in North Carolina”. Elliott Kozuch. Human Rights Campaign, 20 March 2020, https://www.hrc.org/blog/hrc-mourns-monika-diamond-black-trans-woman-killed-in-north-carolina.

  2. Man killed after friend opens fire inside ambulance, police say”. WSOCTV.com News Staff. WSOCTV.com News, 19 March 2020, https://www.wsoctv.com/news/local/police-investigating-homicide-south-charlotte/UILVUGUE3VCO5NPABQ3YZRQKLM/.

  3. Monika Diamond: Young transgender activist shot dead in North Carolina”. Maya Oppenheim. Independent, 23 March 2020, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/monika-diamond-dead-trans-lgbt-charlotte-north-carolina-a9418951.html.

  4. ‘Shots fired’: Person dead after someone reportedly opens fire inside ambulance”. WSOCTV. WPXI News, 18 March, 2020, https://www.wpxi.com/news/trending/shots-fired-person-dead-after-someone-reportedly-opens-fire-inside-ambulance/GS45YKCYRBABPOHEZPLIR3JQUQ/.

  5. Trans activist murdered in Charlotte, N.C.”. Tammye Nash. Dallas Voice, 24 March 2020, https://dallasvoice.com/trans-activist-murdered-in-charlotte-n-c/.

  6. Trans Businesswoman Shot to Death While Being Treated in Ambulance”. Trudy Ring. Advocate, 24 March 2020, https://www.advocate.com/crime/2020/3/24/trans-businesswoman-shot-death-while-being-treated-ambulance.

  7. Trans woman is brutally gunned down in front of police while receiving treatment in ambulance”. Juwan J. Holmes. LGBTQ Nation, 22 March 2020, https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2020/03/trans-woman-brutally-gunned-front-police-receiving-treatment-ambulance/.

  8. Trans woman shot to death inside an ambulance as medics fought to save her life”. Josh Milton. Pink News, 21 March 2020, https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2020/03/21/trans-woman-killed-charlotte-north-carolina-ambulance-human-rights-campaign/.

  9. Transgender North Carolina woman shot, killed while being treated inside ambulance”. Crystal Bonvillian. Kiro 7, 23 March 2020, https://www.kiro7.com/news/trending/transgender-north-carolina-woman-shot-killed-while-being-treated-inside-ambulance/M5UXL7Z2AFFFJOT47FTFZDIXYE/.

  10. Transgender woman shot to death in ambulance while being treated in south Charlotte”. Anne Marie Hagerty. 18 March 2020, https://www.wbtv.com/2020/03/20/transgender-woman-shot-death-ambulance-while-being-treated-south-charlotte/.

  11. ***UPDATE*** Westover Division - Homicide in the 100 block of East Woodlawn Road”. City of Charlotte, 18 March 2020, https://charlottenc.gov/newsroom/releases/Pages/Westover-Division---Homicide-in-the-100-block-of-East-Woodlawn-Road.aspx.

Images

  1. I AM THAT GIRL. Monica Diamond. Facebook, 27 February 2019, https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2245642802361605&set=a.1378896025702958&type=3&theater.

Other Media

  1. International Mother of the Year Pageantry System. Facebook, created 10 May 2014, https://www.facebook.com/pg/International-Mother-of-the-Year-Pageantry-System-420994091391049/about/?ref=page_internal.

  2. Ncphyne Promotion Company LLC. Created by Monika Diamond ForevaPetty and Jeremy Robert Whitted. Facebook, Opened 7 May 2010, https://www.facebook.com/ncphynepromotion/.


Day 15: Anthony “Bubbles” Torres

Photo taken by Mike Kepka

​*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions blood, gun, gunfire, death from gunshot wounds, and an alleged homophobic hate crime.

Please continue with caution.


The killer’s motives remain unknown so the altercation in this story is completely made up.

It was the early hours of the morning of September 9th, 2017 in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. People who thrived during the night were out in clubs or on their way home. Those in the night clubs were dancing to the loud music that blasted throughout the building. Colourful lights danced around the dark rooms of the clubs and people were drinking as many drinks as they could handle, if not more. None of them seemed too concerned about the inevitable hangover they would have the next day due to the amount of alcohol they were consuming. They were just enjoying themselves and living in the moment.

As the hour began to approach 3 A.M, at around a quarter to, a man exited a club named the New Century Theater. He had quite the time inside and had quite a few drinks. However, he wouldn’t have considered himself drunk. He was tipsy but not drunk.

As he left the building, he saw someone just across the street. It appeared to be a woman. She was performing music for people who were walking along the street and seemed to be having a good time. He decided to go over and chat her up. With a smirk, he approached who he thought was a woman but as he got closer he noticed a beard and a very masculine build. He was disgusted. How dare this person trick him into thinking that they were a woman when in reality they were a man with issues.

The man could not control his rage. He was so angry at this person who had tricked him. In his mind, this person was sick and shouldn’t have been allowed in any public area. He stomped over to the man dressed as a woman and began to shout at him. He told him what was on his mind. He told the man what he thought about him. That he thought he was sick in the head and that he shouldn’t be allowed to be in public if he was going to look like that. He said that the man needed to be fixed.

The whole time he was on his tirade, the innocent man he targeted who had been minding his own business stood quietly. He listened to every word the man had to say. He let him get the anger out of his system. He knew that not everyone would react as positively as his friends to the way he presented himself. It was unusual but it wasn’t harmful to anyone. Just because it was different from everyone else, the innocent man couldn’t see why people like this angry man felt the need to express their anger, especially to a total stranger. In his mind, it was completely unnecessary and uncalled for.

When the man seemed to finish his rant, the man in drag calmly asked him if he was finished. The man was a bit taken aback by the question and paused for a second before starting his rant all over again. He said that no, he wasn’t done. He wouldn’t be done until all of the freaks were eliminated from the world. In his mind, they had no place among humanity.

The innocent man tried to tell him that people who were in the LGBTQ+ community weren’t doing anything to harm others. The only thing they wished for was for others to be educated on them and hopefully that educated would lead to tolerance and acceptance. He said that was all the LGBTQ+ community wanted. They were never out to convert anyone but to embrace those who identified as queer and to create a safe space for everyone to be themselves.

This just angered the man even more. It was late and he was tired and slightly tipsy. The last thing he wanted at nearly 2:50 in the morning was for some freak to try and explain their messed up point of views to him. He was growing tired of this. He didn’t want to hear anymore on the matter.

As the man in drag continued with his explanation, the man who had confronted him reached into his pocket and pulled out a handgun. The other man noticed it and asked what he was planning on doing with that. He tried not to show fear but on the inside, he was terrified. He wanted to run but he was afraid. He knew that if he made any sudden movement then this man would most certainly kill him. He decided to try and remain calm and hopefully he could de-escalate the situation. That was his only option at the moment so he had to try.

He slowly lifted his hands to show the man that he meant no harm and calmly asked him to put the gun away. He tried to reassure him that the LGBTQ+ community was harmless and reinforced what he had said earlier by saying that all they wanted to spread was love and acceptance for everyone but the other man wasn’t having any of it. He called the man a freak and pointed the gun right at him. He screamed at him how people like him shouldn’t exist in the world then pulled the trigger.

The man was about to scream when he realized that the other was about to pull the trigger but he had been cut off when he was hit with the single bullet. He felt pain ripple through his body when the bullet entered. It was a pain that he couldn't describe. It was like nothing he had ever experienced before. It all seemed unreal.

He collapsed to the ground in a puddle of blood.

His blood.

He choked on the blood that was beginning to pool in his mouth. He spat some out as he tried to clear an airway but every time he spat blood out, more quickly replaced it. His breathing was strained and he felt like he was suffocating. It was a horrible feeling. He was in pain and terrified. If no one came to his aid then he was going to die on the street. That is not the way he saw himself dying. He didn’t want to die. There was still so much he wanted to do in life. This couldn’t be the end for him.

Just after the last bullet had been fired, the man who had fired the shots put his gun back in his pocket and took off running down the street. A few people from the nightclub and those who were just passing by had witnessed the entire altercation. They were all horrified when they witnessed the shooting and some even took cover, afraid that the bullets would hit them too.

When the shooter had finally run out of sight, some people felt safe enough to go and check the victim and see if they could help in any way. Those who felt less sure or couldn’t handle the sight of blood stayed where they were and called for the police and an ambulance.

Police officers were the first on the scene and rushed to help who they thought was a woman. It was later confirmed by their friends that they were in fact a gay man who enjoyed dressing as a woman.

The paramedics arrived not long after and the man was rushed to the nearest hospital which was CPMC Van Ness Campus. There, the doctors did their best to try and save him but despite their best efforts, he succumbed to his injury.

His name was Anothony Torres, known as “Bubbles” and he was 44 years old.

AFTERMATH

In January of 2018, the San Francisco Police had released an arrest warrant for their prime suspect in the murder. They had identified him as 30 year old city resident Hieu Trung Nguyen. He is 6 feet in height, 190 pounds, dark hair and eyes according to the police. His bail was set for 15 million dollars.

No one is sure of the killer’s motive but the police have not publicly announced the murder to be a hate crime. Those who knew Anthony think that they were wrong and that he was attacked for how he identified.

On top of that, The Torres family attorney, Jim Reilly believes that the police had known who the suspect was long before the public announcement.

IN LIFE

Anthony Torres identified as a gay man who created a gender nonconfirming alter ego who called Bubbles. He was a well known DJ, performer, and LGBTQ+ activist.

Around 20 years ago he had created his alter ego, Bubbles. Bubbles could be seen wearing a beehive wig, chunky jewelry, big glasses and bright pink lipstick. Anthony had told the Chronicle that he was a reserved person but when he was Bubbles, he was able to express his flamboyant side.

His friend Charlotte Kaufman had said that he loved house music, dancing, making art and that he “loved all sorts of people”. She continued this by saying that since he lived in Tenderloin, the people of the community knew him well. He would often play music in the street and people have said that he also gave out snow cones and cotton candy. The Chronicle reports that Anthony “was a fixture in the San Francisco club scene, regularly DJing house parties, marches and events”.

His friends had said that before his death, they were planning a going away party for Torress as he was about to leave San Francisco and go to Berlin.

SOURCES

Articles

  1. Anthony Torres, San Francisco DJ Known as Bubbles, Shot to Death”. Trudy Ring. Advocate, 11 September 2017, https://www.advocate.com/crime/2017/9/11/anthony-torres-san-francisco-dj-known-bubbles-shot-death.

  2. Anthony Torres, SF activist known as Bubbles, shot to death in Tenderloin”. Joaquin Palomino. SF Gate, 10 September 2017, https://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/S-F-activist-shot-to-death-in-the-Tenderloin-12187274.php#photo-14085789.

  3. LGBTQ Icon and DJ Bubbles Killed in San Francisco Homicide, Missed By Many”. Saad Qureshi. EDMTunes, 11 September 2017, https://www.edmtunes.com/2017/09/dj-bubbles-killed-san-francisco/.

  4. Police Hunt Suspect In Fatal Shooting Of Popular San Francisco DJ”. Investigation Discovery Crime Feed, 26 March 2019, https://www.investigationdiscovery.com/crimefeed/id-shows/on-tv0/in-pursuit-with-john-walsh/articles/police-hunt-hieu-trung-nguyen-for-killing-of-dj-bubbles.

  5. San Francisco man known as 'Bubbles' in transgender community killed in shooting”. ABC 7 News, 11 September 2017, https://abc7news.com/sf-man-known-as-bubbles-in-lgbt-community-shot-dead/2401799/.

  6. San Francisco mayor, police ask for help in 'Bubbles' homicide”. Bay City News. ABC 7 News, 16 September 2017, https://abc7news.com/sf-mayor-police-ask-for-help-in-bubbles-homicide/2424029/.

  7. San Francisco Police ID Suspect in Fatal Shooting of Beloved LGBTQ Activist”. Bay City News. NBC 7 News, 13 January 2018, https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/san-francisco-police-id-suspect-in-fatal-shooting-of-lgbtq-activist/60815/.

  8. Suspect named in murder of San Francisco transgender activist 'Bubbles'”. Dion Lim. ABC 7 News, 13 January 2018, https://abc7news.com/bubbles-killed-in-san-francisco-transgender-community-shooting-mourns/2937507/.

  9. Transgender DJ Fatally Shot Outside Club in SF’s Tenderloin”. Sergio Quintana and NBC Bay Area staff. NBC News, 10 September 2017, updated 11 September 2017, https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/report-transgender-dj-fatally-shot-outside-club-in-sfs-tenderloin/31577/.

Image

  1. Anthony “Bubbles” Torres. Mike Kepka, The Chronicle, https://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/S-F-activist-shot-to-death-in-the-Tenderloin-12187274.php#photo-14085789.

Other Media

  1. RIP Bubbles Bubblesynski. Dark Entries Records. Facebook, 10 September 2017, https://www.facebook.com/DarkEntriesRecords/videos/10156586841914992/?t=6&v=10156586841914992.

  2. SFPD Identify Suspect in Murder of LGBT Activist 'Bubbles' Torres. KPIX CBS SF Bay Area. YouTube, 13 January 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-n-48vdonyg.


Day 14: Kevin Fret

Photo from Kevin Fret’s official Facebook page

​*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions blood, gun, gunfire, death from gunshot wounds, and an alleged homophobic hate crime.

Please continue with caution.


There has been very little information posted online about what happened that night. The story will be updated when more information is released.

It was early in the morning in the Santurce neighbourhood of San Juan, Puerto Rico. At nearly 5 A.M, many people were still in bed or were just waking up to prepare to go to work. Most of the streets were quiet with the occasional car driving by and the sidewalks were mostly deserted. Hardly anyone was out except for a few people here and there. All of the stores were dark inside. The only light came from the street lights. The sun had barely made its debut in the sky.

Two people were out riding their motorcycles despite the early morning hours. They were riding along Av. Eduardo Conde and enjoying the quiet streets. They had even decided to make it a little race between each other but being mindful of the road's speed limit.

One of the two motorcyclists lived in Miami, Florida in the U.S.A but was in the country of Puerto Rico to visit his brother. It was a great time and he enjoyed visiting the country where his family came from. Despite living in the States, the young man never forgot his roots.

As they rode down the street, they pulled their motorcycles to a stop when someone flagged them down. It was someone they were both acquainted with but didn’t know particularly well. They didn’t have strong feelings either way about the person but they didn’t hate them either. It was just an average relationship.

The two motorcyclists parked their bikes on the side of the road and took off their helmets. They greeted the man on the side of the road who walked up to them and began a conversation. He seemed friendly, as always. They had met up with him a few times before and each time he seemed like a decent guy.

They chatted for a few minutes and one of the motorcyclists asked what the man was doing out so early in the morning. He just replied casually that he couldn’t sleep so therefore was taking a stroll. When he asked the two men what they were doing out at such a late hour they replied with almost the same response. They too had trouble sleeping so they decided to just get up and go for a ride. They hoped that after a little ride they would be tired enough to go back to sleep. When asked if it was working they shrugged and said that so far, it wasn’t.

They said that they were going to keep riding for a little while longer. They wished the acquaintance well and got ready to take off again but he stopped them. He asked them to wait for a bit and chat but they kindly refused and said that they didn’t want to keep him from his walk.

The two young men put their helmets back on and started up their bikes but the other man wasn’t done with them yet. He hadn’t stopped them to cause any trouble but he was feeling agitated that particular night. His agitation only grew with the encounter. The man didn’t know why he felt compelled to stop the two young men. He just felt like it and now they were leaving the conversation so abruptly.

As he spoke with them, he was told about one of the men and the success they had gained in his job. He was on track to becoming a well known artist in the Latin trap music genre. He had gained many fans online and was an inspiration to many people who heard the song that he had released. The more they spoke to each other, the more the man’s anger grew. When the two got ready to leave, he felt as if he was pushed off the edge.

He pulled out a gun from one of his pockets and pointed it in the general direction of the two young men just as they secured their helmets on their heads. They didn’t even notice the gun until it was too late. There was no time to react. The moment they had even registered the gun, it was too late. His finger was on the trigger the moment he pulled the gun from his pocket and he was ready to discharge the weapon. He let all of his anger build until the point of explosion and that resulted in what was about to happen next.

The man fired off one round, then two, and three, and four. Those weren’t enough so he continued to shoot an additional four more rounds before he released the trigger and lowered his weapon. He looked at the two men who he had aimed at. They had both fallen to the ground along with their bikes.

One of the young men was completely still while the other was still very much alert and panicking. He had hidden behind his bike for cover and as curious as he was, didn’t care to even attempt to look at the shooter. He was afraid that if he peeked at him, that he would have taken another shot, this time at his head and potentially killing him. He had been lucky to have been spared any injuries. Despite the lack of proper aim and the amount of bullets that had been fired, he had been spared. Not one of them had even come close to hitting him.

His friend on the other hand didn’t have as much luck as he did.

When he looked over at his friend and saw him lying on the ground. He was sprawled out on the road with his bike lying next to him. On the ground were two separate pools of blood that were forming under the young man’s body. One near his head and the second near his waist. The blood puddle near his head is what concerned his friend the most. That wasn’t a good sign. It didn’t matter if the bullet had hit his head or neck. Neither would guarantee a good outcome for the young man.

He wasn’t sure what to do now. Surely the cops would have been called the moment the first bullet had been fired. It wouldn’t be long now before they arrived. The man who had fired the gunshots had clearly been thinking the same thing.

After firing the eight shots, he put the gun back in his pocket but he didn’t take off right away. Instead, he went over to the young man who was lifeless on the ground and quickly searched him. The gunman reached into the young man’s pockets and fished out his cellphone and wallet. He had gotten his prizes and seemed to be satisfied. He hastily shoved the items in his pocket then took off down the street. He ran as fast as he could then turned a corner and was out of sight.

As he ran off, the surviving young man gained the confidence to peek over his bike and watched as the other ran from the scene. Out of fear, he thought that he should do the same. He had nothing to hide and was completely innocent but he didn’t know what to wait around for the cops. He was afraid that if he stayed, then perhaps the man might return and finish him off. That was the last thing he wanted.

As quickly as possible, he pulled his bike back up into a standing position, made sure his helmet was secure then got on and rode off down the street. He made sure to go in the opposite direction of the shooter in case he turned around to come back. The wheels of the motorbike screeched on the pavement of the road and left a tire tread mark behind. As fast as he could, the young man fled from the scene.

Witnesses in the area who had heard the gunshots who were brave enough to look out their windows saw him leave. To them, he was nothing more than a dark shadow who was in sight for only a moment before he vanished down the road.

Not long after the gunman had fled, the police and an ambulance arrived on the scene. The police secured the area then went to interview the occupants of the nearby homes while the EMTs examined the victim.

He had a bullet wound to his hip and one to the head. Somehow he was still breathing but he was in bad shape. When the EMTs tried to get the young man to respond, he gave them no reaction which concerned them. A head injury was very serious and not something to take lightly. If there was any chance of survival, he had to get to a hospital immediately. They stabilized the victim before loading him in the back of the ambulance. Once he was secure, the doors were closed and the vehicle sped off to the nearest hospital.

The ambulance rushed to the Rio Piedras Medical Center and with very little traffic, they made it there quite quickly. Once there, the patient was unloaded from the ambulance and rushed into the hospital where doctors prepared to treat him. The first thing they did was take his vital signs but they weren’t looking good. They were dropping too quickly. The doctors did everything in their power to save the young man but they were unsuccessful. He died shortly after arriving.

His name was Kevin Fret and he was only 24 years old.

He died a month before his 25th birthday.

AFTERMATH

The police had mentioned that there is a possibility that the murder was a hate crime but didn’t release much information.

While the investigation is underway, there are people who have come up with theories as to why Kevin Fret might have been murdered. One such theory that popped up online was that Kevin had allegedly blackmailed reggaeton star Ozuna 50,000 dollars back in 2017. The theory claimed that the blackmailing was over a pornographic video that Ozuna had filmed but the police had said that Ozuna had testified to a prosecutor in February and was declared to not be a suspect.

Another theory that made rounds happened when the police had brought two suspects into custody over the murder of a Puerto Rican drug trafficker named Carlos Giovanny Báez. People believed that perhaps they were also involved in the murder of Kevin Fret but the direct of the Puerto Rican Homocide Division informed the presss that the cases of Carlos and Kevin were unrelated.

In January after the murder, Kevin’s siblings Doryann and Steven Fret had gone on air on Univision program Primer Impacto where they talked about their brother’s murder. They said that they had been suspicious of the case, especially when it came to the missing cell phone. Steven had claimed that his brother appeared to have secrets that someone didn’t want to be revealed to the public. A secret or secrets that he and his sister were unaware of. Their mother, Hilda Rodríguezeven even spoke up and said that she knew who had killed her son.

IN LIFE

In the recent months leading up to the shooting and ultimate death of Kevin Fret, he had lived in Miami. In June of 2018, Kevin had gotten into an argument with a man in the Brickell Heights condo which is near Southeast Ninth Street and South Miami Avenue. Kevin had claimed that the man had attacked him because of his sexuality. In the altercation, Kevin had thrown a metal bottle at the other man’s head. Kevin had been charged with one count of aggravated battery.

When it came to his personal life, Kevin had lived as gay and gender nonconfirming. He has been described as breaking barriers. He deviated away from the norm and expectations and served the necessary representation that the LGBTQ+ community lacked. He was not afraid to be himself around others and in the public eye and called out the homophobia in the artistic scene.

“I’m going to act like I don’t give a damn about what anybody has to say, with my blonde hair, my black nails, showing my stomach, glittery from head to toe. Young gay guys or young lesbians … are looking at me now like a role model, like wow, if he did it, and he don’t care what anybody else has to say, I can do it.” - Kevin Fret to Paper magazine.

Kevin Fret has been credited with being the first openly gay artist in the Latin trap genre. He wanted to break the molds of the music industry by not only going against gender roles but also by talking about homosexuality with no restraint.

In Latin America it is said that there is a nearly no acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community and no one talks openly about their sexual orientation. The music industry had been characterized by machismo and homophobia attitudes which is what Kevin Fret was fighting against. While there is still much to do in the Latin American music industry, Kevin Fret’s work has made a dent in the process.

He used his Facebook page to address his fans and spoke about the issues that affected the LGBTQ+ community. He has said that he wanted to change people’s minds about the community. He often recorded videos without a shirt on and gave relationship advice and encouraged his fans to find self-empowerment and happiness.

"Homophobia is deeply rooted in our country and represents a formidable factor of discrimination, marginality and exclusion." - Preface of a book on homophobia written by Palmira N. Ríos González.

Kevin had released a queer anthem called Soy Así (“I’m Like This”) and was featured in Mike Duran’s song Diferente (“Different”).

Duran has said that Kevin was a good person. He wasn’t egotistical and always wanted to help others. Kevin told him that becoming a singer had been an uphill battle for him and that it was his dream. Duran then said to Kevin “I have this idea of doing a song that’s for all those people who are different, for all those people who, in one way or another, have something about them that makes them different, and because of that society doesn’t accept them”. He then went on to say that “I make music with my heart, and my heart said in that moment, we have to do this song. It doesn’t matter where Kevin is coming from, his sexual preference, or what he’s done”.

Due to his rising success, he had become a target for harassment and in 2018, Anuel AA had released a diss track which was called Intocable. In it, he used homophobic slurs and inflammastory verses about Anuel’s nemesis Cosculluela. He implied a homosexual relationship between Cosculluela and Kevin. The video has been removed from the internet.

Along with Duran and DJ Candy Boy, Kevin Fret had referred to his sexuality as a “preference” and that it was “a choice” which was the result of his religious upbringing. He knew that the LGBTQ+ community as a whole disagreed with his view and it is something that he acknowledged.

SOURCES

Articles

  1. Death of Gay Trap Star Kevin Fret Highlights Crisis in Puerto Rico”. Suzy Exposito. Rolling Stone, 11 January 2019, https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-latin/kevin-fret-gay-trap-star-murdered-puerto-rico-777229/.

  2. Fans mourn fatal shooting of openly gay rapper Kevin Fret in Puerto Rico”. Gwen Aviles. NBC News, 11 January 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/fans-mourn-fatal-shooting-openly-gay-rapper-kevin-fret-puerto-n957671.

  3. Hispanic Rapper Kevin Fret Arrested for Battery in Miami”. NBC Miami, 21 June 2018, https://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/hispanic-rapper-kevin-fret-arrested-for-battery-in-miami/2044541/.

  4. ‘I’m Here to Change People’s Minds’: Remembering Kevin Fret, Gay Trapero”. Jhoni Jackson. Rolling Stone, 7 March 2019, https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-latin/remembering-kevin-fret-gay-latin-trap-singer-804256/.

  5. Kevin Fret's death: a hate crime?”. Latin American Post, 19 January 2019, https://latinamericanpost.com/25908-kevin-frets-death-a-hate-crime.

  6. Kevin Fret, gay Latin trap rapper, shot dead in Puerto Rico”. Ben Beaumont-Thomas. The Guardian, 11 January 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/jan/11/kevin-fret-gay-latin-trap-rapper-shot-dead-puerto-rico.

  7. Kevin Fret, Latin trap artist, shot dead at 24”. Katie Scott. Global News, 11 January 2019, https://globalnews.ca/news/4837748/kevin-fret-dead/.

  8. Kevin Fret, Openly Gay Latin Trap Artist, Is Shot and Killed in Puerto Rico”. Karen Zraick. The New York Times, 10 January 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/10/us/kevin-fret-dead-puerto-rico.html.

  9. Kevin Fret: Rapper shot to death in Puerto Rico at 24”. Jack Guy. CNN, 11 January 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/11/americas/kevin-fret-gay-rapper-dead-scli-intl/index.html.

  10. Latin rapper Kevin Fret faces judge after Brickell fight”. 7 News WSVN, 21 June 2018, https://wsvn.com/news/local/latin-rapper-kevin-fret-faces-judge-after-brickell-fight/.

  11. Latin Trap Artist Kevin Fret Shot Dead At 24”. John R. Kennedy. iHeartRadio, 11 January 2019, https://www.iheartradio.ca/news/latin-trap-artist-kevin-fret-shot-dead-at-24-1.8663706.

  12. Rising Hispanic Rapper Kevin Fret Shot, Killed in Puerto Rico”. NBC Miami, 10 January 2019, updated 11 January 2019, https://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/rising-hispanic-rapper-kevin-fret-shot-killed-in-puerto-rico/3190/.

  13. Well-known gay rapper murdered in Puerto Rico”. Michael K. Lavers. Washington Blade, 10 January 2019, https://www.washingtonblade.com/2019/01/10/well-known-gay-rapper-murdered-in-puerto-rico/.

Image

  1. Kevin Fret. Kevin Fret Official. Facebook, 10 APril 2018, https://www.facebook.com/KevinfretOfficial/photos/a.2021145258160327/2021649604776559/?type=3&theater.

Day 13: Joe Rose

Photo from the Montreal Gazette

​*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions blood, violence, beating, stabbing, knife attack, homophobic slurs, homophobic hate crime, and distressing imagery.

Please continue with caution.


This story happened quite a while ago and all of the articles concerning it when it first came out have not been published online.

On the night of the 18th of March, 1989 a young man was getting ready to head out for the night with friends. He picked his clothes carefully so he would fit in with the nightlife at a dance club and styled his bright pink hair. He couldn’t wait to meet up with his friends and have fun. All of them had been excited ever since they planned the night out.

After he got ready, he went to see his younger brother who was in another room. He asked the 20 year old if he wanted to join him and his friends for a fun night out but his brother politely refused. He said that he would love to but he was in a band and they had a gig which he had to attend. His brother was understanding and wished his younger brother luck. His brother also wished him luck and hoped that he and his friends would have a good time. He said that next time he would join them. The two waved before the older brother left the house and walked to the nearest bus station.

He waited for a few minutes before the next bus arrived and hopped on. When the bus grew closer to his stop he pressed the button to signal for the driver to pull over which he did and let the young man off at his desired stop. From there it was a short walk to the nightclub where his friends were already outside and waiting for him. They all greeted each other with smiles and hugs then proceeded to enter the building.

Inside loud music was blasting that felt like it shook the walls. All around bright lights filled the room and moved in time with the music. The group of friends quickly made their way to an empty spot where they began to dance together. At one point, one went over to the bar and ordered some drinks which they brought back to their friends. This continued well into the night.

When the night began to turn into day, many of the partygoers began to leave the club. Many of them had been there for countless hours. It was time they went home and slept off the alcohol. The group of friends went their separate ways after leaving the club except for two. The young man with the bright pink hair had invited one of his friends to stay the night at his place since it was closer. He didn’t want his friend to make his way home by himself at such a late hour.

The young man and his friend made their way to the Atwater metro station and went to a bus stop where they could get on the 358 bus. They didn’t have to wait long and soon a bus heading east arrived. The bus driver stopped to let them on and when they paid they went to sit down. Due to the late hour they had their pick on where they wanted to sit. They had been the only ones on the bus at the time but about halfway through their journey the bus stopped again and this time let on a group of four teenagers.

The two friends didn’t even bother to look up at the group of teenagers as they entered the bus. They just talked amongst each other and just as the bus began to drive away, the teenagers decided to cause some trouble. Together, all four of them made their way over to the two friends and targeted the one with the bright pink hair. They began taunting him and called him a faggot.

At first, the two friends tried to ignore the teens. They didn’t want to engage and encourage them but their silence did the exact opposite. The teens continued to taunt and harass him and when they didn’t get the reaction they wanted, they took it a step further. One of the teenagers tried to get the attention of the young man by calling him a faggot once more and when he finally looked up, the teenager brought his fist down on his face.

The young man was so shocked and the punch was so unexpected that he didn’t have any time to defend himself. The force of the punch sent him to the floor of the bus and the teenager’s three friends quickly circled him. The man’s friend tried to intervene but the group shoved him aside so they could focus their attack on the pink haired man.

They had him completely surrounded and began kicking him. All of them began screaming at the young man who curled up in a ball in an attempt to protect himself from the blows. His friend sat on the ground shocked as he watched the attack. He wasn’t sure what to do. He didn’t know how he could have helped. There were four attackers against his friend and they were getting more and more violent as the minutes progressed.

He turned to the bus driver for help but he didn’t even glance in their direction. He just continued to drive the bus as if nothing was happening. The young man thought that either the bus driver was completely deaf or just a heartless individual who didn’t seem to care that one of his passengers was being attacked.

He got up from the ground and tried to call out to the bus driver for help but he didn’t even bat an eye. This angered one of the teens who then turned his attention on the young man. The last thing any of the teens wanted was for the bus to pull over and the cops to be involved.

The teen grabbed the young man and threw him against the seats. He felt pain in his back from the impact but it wasn’t a serious injury. He looked up at the teen who began to kick him repeatedly. When the teen noticed how he wasn’t fighting back and how he stopped saying anything he left him and went to join his group to continue the assault on the pink haired young man.

The young man was yelling at them, begging them to stop. He wanted to know why they were attacking him. One of the teens answered him and said that they were attacking him because he was a disguting faggot who didn’t deserve to live. He and people like him had no place in their society and therefore, deserved to be attacked. Anyone who looked as gay as he did deserved what was coming to them.

The words stung worse than any of the blows. The young man couldn’t understand how anyone could be so cruel to something who they didn’t even know. How could one person, let alone four hold so much hate to a single person? A person who was just on his way home and minding his own business. The two young men didn’t even look at the teens as they boarded the bus. What caused them to look at the two and think that they should attack them?

The young man attempted to stop them again but failed. They just found a new place to kick on his body. During the attack, one of them pulled out a pocket knife and flicked it open. Both friends froze. Their hearts stopped the moment they heard the flick as the blade was released.

The young man with the pink hair looked up at the attackers and all he could do was watch as the one wielding the knife plunged it into his flesh. He cried out as the pain rippled through the immediate area of the stab wound. The sharp blade separated his flesh and blood gushed from the wound. Tears streamed down his face and the teenagers continued to stab and kick him. No matter what they wouldn’t stop.

The young man’s friend watched in horror as the group attacked. He was so close that every time the knife was pulled from his friend, his blood, his friend’s blood, landed on him. It made him feel sick. He wanted to try and stop them but he was too scared. He was paralyized in fear. No matter how much he wished he could do something his body refused to move. It was as if he had turned to stone.

The bus continued to drive its route and just as they approached Frontenac, the young man could feel the life leave his body. With each blow and stab he grew weaker and weaker. He was no longer able to defend himself. He didn’t have the energy. The pain he felt was unbearable. He was bruised and cut all over. There was nothing he could do. His friend also had some injuries but they were nowhere near as serious as the pink haired man.

With the station in sight, the teenagers told each other that they had to hurry up and get ready to run once the bus doors opened up. They all nodded in agreement and dealt the final blows to the young man on the floor, covered in blood. His body was limp and nearly lifeless. His breathing was strained. He felt like he was suffocating.

When the bus came to a stop, the group of teens bolted from the doors the moment they opened. The bus driver watched them go without trying to stop them. He looked back at the two young men who remained onboard. The one who had minor injuries crawled over to his friend and checked to see how he was doing. When he tried getting his friend to respond, he panicked when he remained lifeless. In desperation, he got on his knees and began to attempt to resuscitate him. He kept this up until the police arrived. When they did, they went over to the two and checked the lifeless body. With a heavy heart, one officer put a hand on the young man’s shoulder who was trying to save his friend and had to tell him to stop. There was nothing more he could do. His friend had died.

His name was Joe Rose and he was only 23 years old.

AFTERMATH

After Joe Rose’s tragic death, his parents had claimed that the bus driver didn’t activate the emergency signal that was on the bus. This led the transit commission to order the bus driver to pay the parents 25,000 dollars in damages.

The four teenagers who committed the murder were eventually convincted for the crime.

The youngest was 14 years old and he was sentenced to 6 months in a youth home.

There were two who were 15 years old and one was sentenced to 11 months and the other 3 years in a youth home.

The oldest was 19 years old so was convicted in an adult court. He was sentenced to 7 years in prison.

(*Note*: I used male pronouns but in the articles I found there were no personal pronouns for any of the attackers.)

IN LIFE

Joe Rose was a nursing student who attended Dawson College. He was the founder of the LGBTQ+ club at the college which is known as the Etcetera Club in the year 1985. It was a safe place for LGBTQ+ students to meet up and get to know each other. In honour of him, the college erected a plaque in the Conrod´s café.

He lived openly as a gay man and was known for his bright pink hair. He was active in the LGBTQ+ community and vocal about the struggle for gay rights.

He also campaigned for HIV/AIDS awareness and wanted to start a branch of ACT UP in Montreal. Living with AIDS, he struggled with recurring pneumonia and severe weight loss at the time of his death.

SOURCES

Articles

  1. Activist seeks public honour for Joe Rose, whose murder galvanized Montreal's gay community”. John MacFarlane. CBC News, 30 October 2019, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/joe-rose-frontenac-metro-1.5340281.

  2. City to consider naming public square after slain LGBTQ activist”. Adam Kovac. CTV News, 3 November 2019, updated 4 November 2019, https://montreal.ctvnews.ca/city-to-consider-naming-public-square-after-slain-lgbtq-activist-1.4668620.

  3. Prejudice to pride: The forgotten murder of Joe Rose”. Richard Burnett. The Montreal Gazette, 20 March 2015, http://www.montrealgazette.com/health/Prejudice+pride+forgotten+murder+Rose/9619291/story.html.

  4. 30 years later, Montreal's gay community reflects on the murder of Joe Rose”. John MacFarlane. CBC News, 19 March 2019, updated 20 March 2019, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/joe-rose-murder-30-years-1.5062744.

Images

  1. “Joe Rose remembered”. Allen McInnis. The Gazette 14 March 2014, http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Rose+remembered/9619465/story.html.

  2. Prejudice to pride: The forgotten murder of Joe Rose”. Richard Burnett. The Montreal Gazette, 20 March 2015, http://www.montrealgazette.com/health/Prejudice+pride+forgotten+murder+Rose/9619291/story.html.


Day 12: Nare Mphela

Photo from the video uploaded by Iranti Media on YouTube

​*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions blood, violence, stabbing, knife attack, burned corps, home intrusion, and alleged hate crime.

Please continue with caution.


This story happened earlier this year and the case is on-going. Information published online is very limited.

It was an ordinary day in the village of Sekgakgapeng, Mokopane, South Africa. The people of the village were enjoying their days and going about their business. The adults came to and from work while the teenagers and young adults came and went from school or part time jobs if they had one.

One young woman had just gotten home from her job and was quite tired. She made it into her house and shut the door behind her. She sighed in relief knowing that a nice hot bath followed by some dinner was waiting for her shortly. She had been so busy that day that she could use a nice long rest. If she could, she would have slept for a week or more. As she entered the house she set her purse down on a table near the door which she closed and locked behind her. She then went to her bedroom and straight for the bathroom. In her room she shredded the clothes from her body and left them on the floor to deal with after her shower.

When she entered the bathroom she turned on the water and when it was ready she got in the tub and relaxed. She let go of the tension that had built up during the day and leaned back. This is just what she needed. At that moment, nothing bothered her. She was able to forget about the stress and her worries. For a short while she was able to just relax and forget about any worries. Once she was done with the bath, she got out and dried off. She got dressed in something comfortable then threw her dirty clothes in the hamper. She would wash them on a later day. At the current moment she didn’t have enough clothes to even fill the washing machine.

After that, she went to her kitchen to begin preparations for dinner. She hummed to herself as she gathered the ingredients and began chopping up the food. When everything was ready, she put them in a pot that had been boiling water on the stove and began making soup. It was something simple and quick to make which is just what she wanted after a long day at work. After she had her dinner, she washed all of the dishes and put away the extra food.

Now she had the rest of the night to herself, she decided to sit back and relax in her bed with a book. She had been reading something for the last few days and was nearly finished. She was sure that she would be able to finish it that day. She grabbed the book from the bookshelf then headed for her bedroom. She went in and closed the door behind her then got comfortable in bed. She opened the book to the page she had bookmarked the last time she read it. She got engaged with the story almost instantly and was so focused that she failed to hear the front door opening. It had been opened slowly and carefully to limit the amount of noise the hinges made. The door had opened up just wide enough for the person to enter the house and was left open as they made their way in. They walked quietly through the house and stopped just outside of the bedroom. They made sure not to stand in front of the door in case the room’s occupant could see their shadow from the crack at the bottom of the door.

The person stood there with their ear pressed against the door and listened to what was happening in the other room. They could faintly hear the sounds of pages from a book being turned then rustling in the bed. They figured that the occupant had finally laid down and was drifting off to sleep. That was good. It was just what the person wanted. They waited for a while to give the woman time to fall asleep before quietly opening the bedroom door.

They opened it just enough to peek inside and looked at the woman in bed. She didn’t stir so she hadn’t heard the door as it opened. The intruder grew a bit bolder and stepped inside the room. Again, the woman didn’t wake up. With an ever growing confidence, they approached the bed and as they got closer they pulled out a knife from their pocket.

Now they were standing over the woman in bed. They looked down at her for a few seconds. It would be an easy kill. She was asleep and defenseless. This would be over in a matter of minutes. The intruder brought down the knife on the woman but it didn’t kill her. It sliced her arm and the pain jolted her away. She screamed and scrambled out of the bed.

In her panic she got tangled up in her sheets and fell to the floor. She looked around the room to see what had caused the pain in her arm and when she saw the intruder she began screaming even louder. The intruder didn’t like this. The last thing they wanted was for someone to hear the woman and come rushing to see what was wrong. They had to finish her off quickly and leave before the police showed up.

They rushed around the bed to the screaming woman and began jabbing the knife at her. Some swings landed while some missed. The woman wasn’t about to let the intruder kill her. Not if she could help it. If she was going to die then she would die fighting. She wasn’t about to make this easy for the intruder.

She fought them off the best she could. She punched and kicked and if she could, bit them too. She did anything she could to defend herself and injure her attacker. However, all this accomplished was making them even angrier. They grunted whenever the woman had managed to land a punch or bit them. After one particularly nasty bite the intruder slapped the woman as hard as they could across her face. The force was enough to stun her and caused her to fall to the ground. She held her face in pain and looked up at the attacker.

By now she was covered in wounds that varied in sizes and depths. All of them stung and bleed. For some, the blood barely left the cut while others were so deep that blood was pouring down her body and soaked her pajamas.

Tears streamed down her face as she looked up at her attacker. She begged with them to spare her life. When they told her that they couldn’t then she demanded to know why they were doing this. They gave her no answer. Instead they continued to attack her and landed some deep stab wounds to her chest. One stab managed to puncture a lung and she struggled for breath. She felt like she was suffocating and every breath she took burned with an unimaginable pain. A pain that she had never felt before. It frightened her. She saw her death was drawing closer with every passing second. She wished she had been able to fight off the attacker. This was certainly not the way she saw her remaining hours on earth.

She had put up a good fight but her intruder had the upper hand. They had attacked her out of nowhere and surprised her. She had no way of defending herself. She was on the ground and her attacker stood above her. Now that she was weak from the wounds to the chest, it was easy for the intruder to finish her off. One more stab and they could see the life drain from her eyes.

She gasped. Her world was blurring then slowly faded into darkness. Her lifeless body collapsed to the ground of her apartment. The intruder pulled the knife from her chest then pulled a lighter from their pocket. They ignited it then dropped it near her body. The flames quickly grew and surrounded her. Now was the time for the intruder to leave which they did. They made their way out of the front door and escaped the area before anyone could stop them.

~ 🏳️‍🌈 ~

On the 5th of January, 2020 the residents of Sekgakgapeng village began noticing strange things. Things that they could no longer ignore. For one thing, the car that belonged to a neighbour and fellow resident had not moved in quite a while. Day in fact. There had been no evidence that it had been moved for a long time and they were starting to get concerned. With every day that passed they checked the property and the car stayed in the exact same spot every time they checked. That troubled them but soon a smell began emanating from the neighbour’s house.

It was a horrific smell and one that no one was able to identify. It smelled worse than anything they had ever come across before with the hint of something burning. When the smell didn’t go away and instead grew stronger they knew that they had to do something. They didn’t want to intrude so they decided to call the Limpopo police to check in on the neighbour.

The police arrived and knocked on the door but got no response. They tried again but still nothing. Each time they were met with an eerie silence. After many failed attempts one officer tried opening the door and found it was unlocked. That wasn’t a good sign. Worried, they looked at each other then nodded and carefully entered the house.

Once inside they saw that there had been a fire. The place was covered in ash and things had burned beyond recognition. Somehow, the building was still standing and didn’t have any noticeable signs of a fire from the outside. The fire had gone out on its own and left a scene of destruction behind.

There was no way that anyone would have survived if they had been in the house they reasoned so instead of calling out to someone they got to work looking for a body. It was a depressing task and all of them hoped that they wouldn’t find one. They all hoped that whoever lived in the house had not been inside at the time of the fire but unfortunately, they were wrong.

When they arrived in the bedroom they were met with a grizzly sight. On the floor next to the bed was the body of a person. At the time they weren’t able to tell if it was a man or a woman. Their initial reaction was to look away from the horrific sight. The body had been burned up but not completely. The fire hadn’t gotten hot enough to burn it to ash. Much of the flesh was still intact but because of the fire, it was a hard thing to look at.

The police called for the corner to come pick up the body and began to investigate the death. Upon asking the neighbours they learned the possible identity of the remains inside.

The victim’s name was Nare Mphela and she was just 28 years old.

It was later confirmed that the remains found in the house were in fact Nare Mphela’s and that she also had evidence of stab wounds.

IN LIFE

Back in 2014, Nare had problems in high school. Being transgender, many people didn’t understand her and this caused to different forms of bullying from not only her peers but from her school’s principal too. According to Nare, one day he walked into the classroom and began talking about homosexuals. When someone asked who in the room was gay the principal pointed to Nare and said that she was gay. When she confronted him about it he apparently just left so she took up the issue to the teacher of the class who would later speak to him and told Nare that he wouldn’t do it again.

When he next entered the class he asked the same question and again someone asked who in the class was gay. Yet again the principal pointed to Nare and said “can’t you see him? You’re in the same class” which caused Nare to start crying. She said how she ran out of the class to find her teacher and explained that the principal had singled her out again.

She had then taken it into her own hands and reached out to the coordinator of the Limpopo LGBTI organization for support. From there she was referred to Iranti.org who went to Limpopo to meet with the organization and Nare. The Iranti team then got a pro bono lawyer to represent Nare and who helped her build an equality court case against the principal. Unfortunately, due to how long the courts took on any case, not just LGBTQ+ related ones, it took quite long for the case to appear in court.

During that time Nare went to high school in fear and said how her principal would hit her for no reason. He had even encouraged students to harass her. He told them to follow her to the bathroom and to grope her to see what kind of genitals she had.

She had failed grade 12 so she tried going back the following year in 2015 but then the principal had said that he would only accept students from Moletji. Nare decided to go to Gauteng to find work and save up so she could go back and finish school later on.

On the 10th of March, 2017 Nare had won the court case and the principal was accused of breaching the Equality Act. She was given a total of 100,000 rand which was divided into three groups. The first 20 thousand were for the psychological damages she had gone through and that she would need the money to pay for counseling. The next 20 thousand was used to pay for Nare to go back and finish her education. Finally, the last 60 thousand rand were for the pain and suffering that Nare had gone through.

Along with the payments, the principal was ordered to go through sensitization training. This is where he would go to learn how to appropriately treat students who identify as LGBTQ+ to hopefully prevent him from harassing another student in the future.

They also wanted the Department of Education to come up with a policy for LGBTQ+ issues that represents the voice of the community. They wanted other LGBTQ+ students to feel safe and have a safe and positive learning environment.

Back in 2015, before they won the case, Iranti had a dialogue with the Department of Education and the LGBTQ+ community to look at trans issues at school. This is where Nare spoke about her case.

In a statement, Itranti.org had said that Nare was “a fierce activist who fought for her right to education” and “a devoted Christian and a fierce advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community”.

SOURCES

Articles

  1. Anger as killer of trans activist Nare Mphela remains free”. Mamba Writer. 7 February 2020, https://www.mambaonline.com/2020/02/07/anger-as-nares-killer-remains-free/.

  2. 'Fearless' transgender activist Nare Mphela found murdered”. Iavan Pijoos. Times Live, 10 January 2020, https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2020-01-10-fearless-transgender-activist-nare-mphela-found-murdered/,

  3. Shock as school transgender rights champion Nare Mphela murdered”. Luiz DeBarros. Mamba Online, 8 January 2020, https://www.mambaonline.com/2020/01/08/shock-as-limpopo-school-trans-rights-champion-murdered/.

  4. "Transgender activist found murdered in Limpopo". PressReader, 11 January 2020, https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/weekend-post-south-africa/20200111/281543702863885.

  5. Transgender activist Nare Mphela found murdered, boyfriend questioned”. Canny Maphanga. News 24, 9 January 2020, https://www.news24.com/news24/southafrica/news/transgender-activist-nare-mphela-found-murdered-boyfriend-questioned-20200109.

Other Media

  1. Transgender Victory in Limpopo: Nare Mphela’s Story”. Iranti Media. YouTube, 31 March 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fr0t5BpS-GQ.

Day 11: Noxolo Nogwaza

« No to lesbophobia! No to impunity! » (Translation by me.)

Photo from Amnesty Paris

​*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions blood, extreme violence, sexual assault, beating, torture, and a homophobic hate crime.

Please continue with caution.


This story occurred back in 2011 and so far no arrests have been made in the case.

It was late at night in South Africa on the 23rd of April, 2011. The bars were packed with young people who were out with friends and wanting to enjoy the night. Inside of the bars, music was blasting so loud that it was almost deafening and lights were flashing in a rainbow of colours over the crowd. One bar in particular was quite busy. It was located in the township of Tsakane.

Two young women had gone out to the bar from their homes in the neighbouring township of Kwa-Thema and were enjoying the night together. Their lives had been so busy with their families and jobs that they just wanted to take the night off to get together and have fun. They decided to go to the next township as a sort of adventure and to go to a new place. It was fun and they enjoyed themselves.

When the two young women arrived at the bar they went inside and grew excited when they heard the music blasting throughout the room. They all grinned to each other in excitement then navigated their way through until they found an empty table. They sat down and ordered some drinks and enjoyed the evening. At first, all seemed to be going well for them. They were happy and enjoying each other’s company but at some point during the night a group of men approached their table.

The young women were polite and welcomed the company. One of them asked if the men would like to join them but they declined and went straight to the point. Her friend had caught their attention and they wanted to take her elsewhere to have some fun. Their implication was clear. Both of the women knew what they meant by fun but the young woman’s friend wasn’t interested. They hadn’t come to the bar for that type of fun which the young woman told the men but that didn’t stop them. They were determined to take the woman somewhere else and they wouldn’t take no for an answer.

During the little spat that they were having, the young woman got up from her seat and marched up to one of the men. She looked him right in the eyes and spoke in a firm and serious tone. She told him that her friend would not be going with them and that they needed to accept that. She had the right to say no and the men had no right to continue pressuring her. They had to acknowledge that she had boundaries and made them clear. If all they were going to do was keep up the behaviour then she said that they had to leave them alone.

The men didn’t enjoy being told what to do and cussed her out. Her friend was embarrassed and just wanted to leave. She expressed this but the young woman said that it was nonsense. They shouldn’t let the men ruin their fun night out but her friend was uncomfortable now and really wanted to go home. It was getting late now and they were both getting tired. It was about time they headed home but the young woman wanted to stay for a while longer.

Once the men had left, finally getting the message she turned to her friend and told her that she was more than welcome to go but she was going to stay. At first her friend didn’t seem too sure. She didn’t want anything to happen to her but the young woman assured her that she would be fine. She promised that she wouldn’t be much longer and would be home soon. Her friend gave it some thought then nodded. They said their goodbyes and the young woman watched as her friend left the bar.

Shortly after her friend left, she decided that she should go too. She paid for her drinks then left and began to walk home. On her way home, not too far from the bar the young woman actually ran into an acquaintance of hers. Although she was tired, she did stop to speak to them as it was only polite since they had called out to her. She tried keeping the conversation short but the acquaintance had a lot to say. They were in quite the mood to chat despite the later hour.

Finally, after a while of chatting the young woman was able to say goodbye and continued to go on her way. It was a pleasant chat and she was the type of person who always enjoyed a nice conversation but she was tired and a bit buzzed from the drinks she had earlier. She couldn’t wait to go back home and get into her nice warm bed. The next morning she suspected she would have a little bit of a headache but it wouldn’t be too bad. She hadn’t drank that much.

A little ways from the bar, the young woman had gotten a strange feeling and it wasn’t because of the alcohol. She had this strange sensation that she was being watched. She stopped in her tracks and looked around but didn’t see anyone. It was dark out so perhaps they could have been hiding in the shadows which would have been easy but it appeared to her as if she was all alone. It sent chills down her spine. She didn’t like this feeling. She turned and resumed walking, this time picking up her pace a little. The sooner she got home, the better.

As she walked, she heard the crunch of someone walking only a short distance behind her but she didn’t stop. She figured that it was perhaps someone walking home from the bar like herself. She didn’t see the need to look behind her at every strange sound even though the feeling of being watched never went away. She wished it would go away. Perhaps it was just her mind playing tricks on her. That had to be it. She was just tired. All she needed was some sleep and then she would be back to normal and those thoughts would go away.

She turned the corner of a street when suddenly, a hand reached out of the darkness and grabbed her arm in a firm grasp. She let out a scream and tried to shake the hand loose but the more she struggled, the tighter the grip became. Soon she felt like if the person didn’t let her go then her arm would break in two. The fingernails dug into the flesh of her arm and underneath she could already feel her arm begin to bruise.

She called out to whoever was holding her to let her go. She asked why they had grabbed her. What was the meaning of this? Why had she been targeted? Did they mistake her for someone else? She tried telling the person that they must have been mistaken and that she wasn’t the person they were looking for.

She jerked her arm away but the person still held on and now they stepped closer to her. Now, the young woman could see their face. She didn’t recognize them but now she could see that the person who had grabbed her was a man. He looked serious and had a dangerous look to him. She couldn’t tell what exactly the expression on his face was due to how dark it was but she knew that whatever he intended to do to her was sinister in nature. It didn’t take sight to sense such a thing.

She continued to demand that he let her go but he refused. Suddenly she was pushed to the ground and she could hear more footsteps approaching. She tensed up and looked around to see what was going on but it was difficult due to the low light. From where they were in the township, there was hardly any light. The only thing that illuminated them was the moon and stars but that didn’t do much good.

She looked around as the group of men surrounded her. She felt vulnerable being on the ground but when she tried getting up she was shoved back down. When she felt their hands on her she began to scream. She twisted and trashed but they didn’t stop. She knew what they were about to do to her. It was common for people like her to experience this but she never would have imagined it would happen to her. She knew that the risk was high but this all happened so suddenly. It was almost hard to believe that this was real.

She cried and fought the best she could but the men had the upper hand. She screamed at the top of her lungs and begged them to let her go. Not once did she stop fighting them. She refused to give in. That would only be giving them a victory and she refused to do that. She was going to fight to the very end. She was determined to. She wanted to fight and get away from them. She wanted to be able to put these disgusting men behind bars for the rest of their lives where they belonged. They had no place in society.

Even though she put up a good fight, in the end the men had their way with her and finished her off. They picked up stones that were nearby and threw them at her. Another man found a beer bottle that had been dropped closeby and picked it up. While holding the neck, he smashed the bottom on a pavement brick then stabbed the young woman with the shards. She screamed in pain as the glass was embedded in her flesh.

Tears streamed down her face and she continued to plead for the men to stop. They just looked at each other and laughed. Some of the men began to beat her. They were now sick of her fighting back. They were annoyed by it. They thought that she would have given up by now but she proved to be stronger than they gave her credit for. In between the beatings, more stones were thrown at her, this time harder than before. She tried to block them with her arms but it did little good.

One man had noticed the brick nearby and had an idea. While the other men beat the woman and threw stones at her, he walked over to the brick and picked it up. It was a bit on the heavy side but he managed. He brought it over to the crying and screaming woman and dropped it on her head. Unfortunately, that didn’t kill her on the first try so he repeated the action. A few more attempts and she had finally stopped screaming.

The group of men then rolled her over and her now lifeless body fell into a drainage ditch. They left the area quickly after that in fear that someone would catch them. The next morning on the 24th of April at around 9 o’clock in the morning, people nearby had discovered the body of the young woman.

Her name was Noxolo Nogwaza and she was only 24 years old.

AFTERMATH

After her murder, the police didn’t take the case as seriously as they should have. They failed to take critical steps that would have been vital for collecting evidence which would have aided the investigation.

Months later on August 19th, many people were frustrated with the police. They wanted to know why nothing was being done and why the case didn’t progress. Out of frustration, a large group that consisted of hundreds of LGBTQ+ activists and supporters got together and marched up to the police station. They complained about how the police failed to take action about the “corrective rapes” that plagued Johannesburg’s East Rand townships. During the protest, they sang “Noxolo is not sleeping” in reference to Noxolo Nogwaza’s violent sexual assault and murder.

Lindi Masindwa, the deputy chairwoman of the ANC Women’s League in Ekurhuleni said that they wanted the police to speed up the investigations and for actual progress to be made. The people had presented a memorandum to Hlula Msimang, the chief of the Ekurhuleni metro police department. In it they wanted to bring an end to homophobia in the police department and for the police to have a greater commitment when it came to investigating hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community. They had given the police and General Mzwandile the provincial commissioner of the SAPS 30 days to respond to the memorandum. If they failed to respond then the group had said that they would march to Petros’s Johannesburg office instead.

Nonyaniso Nogwaza who is Noxolo’ cousin had said in an interview how the family had gone to the police several times inquiring on how the investigation of her murder was going. Each time the police had told them that “the case is still under investigation” and nothing else. Nonyaniso has said that “the only way to bring peace to our hearts is if the police find the ­people who killed Noxolo and bring them to justice”.

A protester named Leonard Nkosi had said “we will continue living in fear unless the criminals are brought to justice”.

In the year 2012 the family of Noxolo were informed by the police that the case had been referred to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions where a decision would be made regarding the case.

In March of 2013 the family were then informed that an “informal” inquest would take place the following month in April in the local magistrate’s court. This inquiry would be a limited procedure and as a result had left the family of Noxolo and their supporters with many unanswered questions and very little justice.

In May of 2011, the Parliament had formed a national task team which would deal with hate crimes that resulted in murders and the “corrective rape” crimes. This team had been formed as a result in the response to a petition on change.org about the targeted rape of lesbian women.

However, many activists have questioned how effective this new team would be. Funeka Soldaa, the Free Gender director and member of the task team had even said that she was frustrated with the lack of progress they were making. She had doubted that the government even had the appropriate funds to support the initiative. She said “I’m not sure if the government was ready to establish such a team. I think they were just responding to national and international pressure”.

Two years later in 2013, a subgroup of the task team had been created and it was called the rapid response team. One of the jobs assigned to this group was to look into and help bring a close to the 43 unsolved cases of violence that had been targeted to people in the LGBTQ+ community. Noxolo’s case was one of those that were on the list.

Around halfway through the following year of 2014, the team had finalised 19 of the 43 cases. However, Noxolo’s was not one of those 19.

To this day, there hasn’t been any progress made in Noxolo’s case. Those who are responsible for her horrible and violent death remain unpunished and free to go wherever they please. Her family has not been able to find peace knowing that the killers are still free and other people remain at risk of harassment and violence. The killers are free to attack other people so long as they remain free and those who feel the same might be motivated to do the same as the police have made no arrests in the matter.

IN LIFE

Noxolo had lived openly as a gay woman which her family supported. Her aunt had told a local newspaper that she used to buy Noxolo clothes that had been made for men.

Noxolo was also a member of the Ekurhuleni Pride Organizing Committee (EPOC) where she had campaigned for rights and equality for the LGBTQ+ community.

The organization aimed to empower the LGBTQ+ community and educate them on how to combat hate crimes, discrimination and injustice. They had also been organizing LGBTQ+ pride parades since 2009 for not only Noxolo’s home township of Kwa-Thema, but other townships that were nearby in the Ekurhuleni district.

The community knows of EPOC and how members are part of the LGBTQ+ community themselves from being gay, lesbian, transgender or other. This has resulted in the members facing harassment and even attacks because of their visibility.

Noxolo was also very passionate about soccer and she would play street soccer. In the room that she shared with her daughter, she had covered the walls with posters of a local soccer team that she liked.

While she had never finished school, her friends had said that she loved reading and how she always had a book in her hands when she wasn’t playing soccer.

She found it hard to keep a stable job with good income but she didn’t let that stop her from doing her best to support her two children.

Her friends had described her as shy and quiet but also a fighter. She had always stood up for things she believed in such as fighting for LGBTQ+ rights. Her colleagues at EPOC had said that she was a hard worker, reliable and talkative.

SOURCES

Articles

  1. Brutal murder of lesbian activist condemned”. Staff Reporter. Mail & Guardian, 3 May 2011, https://mg.co.za/article/2011-05-03-brutal-murder-of-lesbian-activist-condemned/.

  2. Noxolo Nogwaza”. HRD Memorial, https://hrdmemorial.org/hrdrecord/noxolo-nogwaza/.

  3. REMEMBERING NOXOLO NOGWAZA”. Staff Writer. Mamba Online, 24 April 2013, https://www.mambaonline.com/2013/04/24/remembering-noxolo-nogwaza/.

  4. S. African lesbians targeted in rapes, slayings”. The Associated Press. CBS News, 11 May 2011, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/s-african-lesbians-targeted-in-rapes-slayings/

  5. Solve rape cases, activists demand”. Staff Reporter. Mail & Guardian, 26 August 2011, https://mg.co.za/article/2011-08-26-solve-rape-cases-activists-demand/.

  6. South Africa gay rights activists warn of homophobic attacks after murder”. David Smith. The Guardian, 3 May 2011, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/may/03/south-africa-homophobic-attacks.

  7. South Africa killing of lesbian Nogwaza 'a hate crime'”. BBC, 3 May 2011, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13265300.

  8. South Africa: No Arrests in Lesbian Murder Case”. Human Rights Watch, 2 May 2011, https://www.hrw.org/news/2011/05/02/south-africa-no-arrests-lesbian-murder-case.

Image

  1. Noxolo Nogwaza. Cécile Coudriou. Amnesty Partis, https://amnestyparis13.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/pour-noxolo-contre-lhomophobie-et-limpunite/.

Further Information

  1. Meet The People Fighting Homophobia And Transphobia In Africa”. HuffPost Spain. Huff Post, 29 February 2016, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/love-is-not-a-crime-photography-exhibition-highlight-africas-lgbt-activists_n_56d0c4cbe4b03260bf76e2eb.

Day 10: Lindokuhle Cele

Photo posted by Ken Ferror on change.org

​*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions violence, blood, stabbing, knife attack, homophobic hate crime, and distressing imagery.

Please continue with caution.


This story was written on June 10th. The case is currently on-going so information is limited.

The day was the 6th of February, 2020 and the hour was quickly approaching dinner time for most families. Many people who were living in the K section of Umlazi, South Africa were in the process of cooking dinner or were just beginning to think about doing so. Those who were coming back home from work were thinking about the possible meal they would eat on that particular day.

In one household, a family was just starting to begin their dinner preparations. There was a woman who was getting on in years and with her in the house was her grandson who was a young man and upcoming aspiring singer. She and the whole family were very proud of his accomplishments and they hoped that he would find success in the music industry. He had already created and published a song that had gotten a lot of positive feedback from his friends and those in the community who heard it. His family, especially his grandmother hoped that he would achieve the success that he seeked and deserved.

The woman went over to the kitchen and opened the fridge. She scanned the contents in search of some food that she would cook for dinner. She had planned to make one of her special recipes that her grandson particularly enjoyed. He of course, loved anything she cooked but that dish in particular was his favourite. However, this meal required meat and as she looked through the fridge she realized that she had run out.

When her grandson entered the kitchen to ask if she needed help, he noticed the puzzled look on her face. When he asked what was wrong, she turned to him and explained that they appeared to be out of meat. She apologized for not being able to cook his favourite meal and that she would have to cook something else. She explained how she would just go out the next day and get it but he was a kind young man who wanted to help others, no matter what. He reassured her that it was no big deal and that he could quickly go to the local butcher shop and pick up whatever she needed. She told him that it wasn’t necessary and that she could easily make something else but he offered. He would have enjoyed anything she made but he told her that if he went now it would spare her a trip later on.

She gave it some thought then agreed. It wouldn’t take her grandson that long and it would be nice to have some meat on hand. He was right, it would spare her a trip later on. She agreed then went over to her purse and pulled out some cash. She counted it then handed her grandson enough to pay for the meat. She then went back to the kitchen and on a piece of paper, wrote down the meats that she wanted him to buy. She also handed the list over and her grandson scanned the contents. She told her grandson to use the money to pay for the meat and that he could keep the rest. He tried telling her no, and that he would give her the change but she insisted. She said that it was the least she could do to thank him for volunteering to help her. When she didn’t stand down the young man dropped it and agreed to keep the change.

He gave his grandmother a parting hug before leaving the house. It was just after 5 P.M so there weren’t that many people out on the streets. There were some but most were already home from work. Those who were out were coming back from work and decided to stop by some shops on the way.

Upon making it to the butcher’s shop, the young man saw that there were already quite a few people inside the building. Since they had arrived before him, he would have to wait for service. It was no big deal for him. He wasn’t in a particular rush and he was sure that the line would go down at a reasonable pace.

In order to keep the place from being too crowded, the young man decided to go outside and wait for some people to exit. He thought that he could also use the fresh air. Perhaps it would help inspire him for a new song.

He stood just outside of the shop and looked up at the sky. It was a nice day out. The young man closed his eyes and took a deep breath in and slowly let it out. He thought about his latest project and when his next performance would be. He thought about his friends and family and how lucky he was to have them. He stood apart from most people but those who knew him didn’t care about that. To them, he was someone that they cared about and loved. He was no different in their eyes and he couldn’t be more thankful for that. His family had been so supportive of not just him but of his future career. They all wanted to see him become an artist and they all believed that he had a good chance of achieving that goal. He was a very talented young man and very creative and had an amazing singing voice.

While he stood there and thought about his future, a taxi cab pulled up to the front of the shop. The young man didn’t notice as a man got out of the cab and began walking towards the shop. At first, it seemed like this was just another customer who was making a quick stop on the way home but the man didn’t head for the door. He turned and made his way for the young man.

As he approached, he pulled a knife from his pocket and picked up the pace. Again, the young man thought nothing of the footsteps that grew closer and closer to him. If someone had wanted to get his attention then they would have called out to him but this man didn’t. There was no reason for the young man to turn around to see who was approaching so he continued on with his thoughts.

The man who had gotten out of the taxi continued walking towards the young man and felt a sense of relief when he didn’t turn around. When he stood right behind him he held up the knife and plunged it right into the other’s back. The pain from the stabbing jolted him from his thoughts. The young man was utterly shocked. He had no idea what was happening. All he knew was that he was in pain. He could barely tell where the pain was coming from. All he knew was that it was coming from his back.

He turned around and came face to face with a man he recognized. It was a man who was fairly well known throughout the community and not in a positive way. In fact, he was known as a rapist but he never faced jail time which had been upsetting to not only his victims, but their families and the community. It just wasn’t right.

The young man was confused as to what this man was doing. He had no time to react when this man lifted his hand and this time, plunged the knife in his chest. This stab wound was deeper than the first one. The pain now spread from the young man’s back to his chest. It hurt for him to breathe. He looked up and watched as the knife was brought down again. This time slicing his face.

He screamed out in pain. He tried to shield himself but it did no good. The man had come out of nowhere and surprised him. He had the upper hand. He loomed over the young man and continued his attack. He never stopped. Not even when the young man asked why he was doing this. What was his motive? What reason had the young man given him to prompt an attack? He had been nothing but kind to everyone he met. Why did this man hold such strong and negative feelings toward him that motivated the attack?

Even as the stabbing continued, the young man continued to plead for his life. He begged the man to stop. He asked him why. He called for help. He made as much noise as he could to draw attention from people nearby but no help came. The people in the butcher’s shop looked out the window and watched the attack. They were all horrified but too scared to do anything. They knew who that man was but they were afraid of him. They were afraid that if they tried to intervene that perhaps he would attack them too. After all, he was holding what looked to be a butcher’s knife and was demonstrating his power. He had used so much force with the attack that it knocked the young man to the ground. He was powerless to stop the attack.

With each new wound, more pain shot through his chest and face. He could feel as his blood soaked through his clothes and poured down his face. He could taste the blood when it reached his mouth. It had a bitter and metallic taste to it. The smell overwhelmed his senses. Along with the blood, the young man could also taste his tears that mixed with the blood.

The witnesses heard the attacker scream at his victim. He screamed horrible words to him. He told his victim how disgusted he was with him and his particular lifestyle. How a man loving another man was gross and wrong. His victim kept repeating how he was sorry and that he wanted to be spared but that seemed to just fuel the man’s rage. He told his victim that he was going to disfigure him. He was going to cut up his face. He was going to ruin it so the young man would not be able to continue on with his life being a pretty boy. He said that all of this was unnatural and just downright wrong.

Then something terrible occurred.

Something that the witnesses and the young man had not been expecting. Something that was disturbing. His attacker took the knife and with one swoop, drove it into his left eye. He howled in pain. He screamed at the top of his lungs. The sound was distressing to those who were nearby. It disturbed them but still they couldn’t find the courage to stop the attack. The fear held them back. All they could do was listen to the commotion.

They watched as the attacker tried to pull the knife out but it had gone so deep and his victim struggled to fight him off. Accompanied by the blood, pulling the knife out was more difficult than the man had thought it would be. He wanted to continue his rampage and finish off his victim. In desperation, he grabbed the knife with both hands and pulled but he only succeeded in cutting his hands in the process. He hissed in pain and yanked his hands away. Now they weren’t just covered in his victim’s blood, but now his too.

With the injuries on his hands, the attacker thought the best course of action was to flee the area. He had done enough damage and he was sure that the police would be arriving any moment. He had done his job. His victim had been disfigured. Now he had to leave so he took off. When he was out of sight, the people inside of the butcher’s shop finally felt safe enough to check on the young man. Some ran over to him while others who had a weak stomach stayed inside. One customer got on the phone with the police right away and informed them that an ambulance was needed right away.

The people did their best to stop the bleeding but there had been so many injuries to the young man. There was blood all over and it soaked right through his clothes. It was a horrific sight. Just the blood alone was disturbing but the knife made it worse.

When the ambulance arrived, the young man was placed in the back and rushed to the hospital. He was taken to Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital. The EMTs did their best to treat his injuries but the damage had been too severe. When the ambulance arrived, a doctor checked the patient and confirmed that he was dead.

The young man’s name was Lindokuhle Cele and he was only 23 years old.

AFTERMATH

The suspect who attacked Lindokuhle was identified as 30 year old Mvuyisi Noguda. The community knew him as a rapist.

He managed to flee the scene and went into hiding but a family member of his convinced him to go to the hospital to treat his injuries, according to Lindokuhle’s aunt in an interview. Once he left, the family member then called the police and informed them where Mvuyisi was headed.

He was arrested at the hospital and is in jail as he waits for the trial to begin.

He had told some friends that he didn’t like Lindo because of how he identified as a gay man. He said how he hated Lindo for being beautiful and because he was famous, admired and loved by so many people. For all those reasons he wanted to not just kill Lindokhule, but to completely ruin his face and to make him blind.

IN LIFE

Lindokuhle Cele was a young man who dreamed of becoming a singer. Online, he went by the name of Lindo Sea and he had created a song titled “Young Love” which can be heard online.

Lindo’s aunt, Nombuso Cele has described him as a “loving person” who always had a smile on his face, always laughed and was a person who wouldn’t even hurt a fly.

She even said that the family loved him, regardless of his sexuality. They understood how he didn’t choose to be gay. He was just born that way and the signs had been present ever since he was young. Instead of hating him for something not in his control, they embraced and supported him.

A friend of Lindo’s, Nokukhanya Mathebula also commented on how wonderful of a person he was. They said that if friends got into a fight, he would be the one to step up to stop the bickering and help come up with a solution.

SOURCES

Articles

  1. Durban man to appear in court for brutal stabbing of gender activist”. Orrin Singh. Sowetan Live, 10 February 2020, https://www.sowetanlive.co.za/news/south-africa/2020-02-10-durban-man-to-appear-in-court-for-brutal-stabbing-of-gender-activist/.

  2. Durban musician brutally killed in alleged homophobic attack”. Gcinokuhle Malinga. East Coast Radio, 10 February 2020, https://www.ecr.co.za/news/news/durban-musician-brutally-killed-in-alleged-homophobic-attack/.

  3. Every person’s silence against violence gives perpetrators licence to kill”. Gushwell Brooks. Mail & Guardian, 26 February 2020, https://mg.co.za/analysis/2020-02-26-every-persons-silence-against-violence-gives-perpetrators-licence-to-kill/.

  4. FAMILY OF MURDERED LINDOKUHLE CELE BELIEVE WITNESSES FEAR ACCUSED”. Nkosikhona Duma. Eyewitness News, https://ewn.co.za/2020/02/17/family-of-murdered-lindokuhle-cele-believe-witnesses-fear-accused.

  5. Gender Activist: SA Man To Appear In Court For Brutal Stabbing”. African Punch, 11 February 2020, https://africanpunch.com/gender-activist-sa-man-to-appear-in-court-for-brutal-stabbing/.

  6. Human Rights Commission on brutal murder of gay rights activist, Lindokuhle Cele”. South African Human Rights Commission, 20 February 2020, https://www.gov.za/speeches/human-rights-commission-brutal-murder-gay-activist-20-feb-2020-0000.

  7. Justice for Lindo: Address homophobia during SONA, Mr President”. Mbali Ntuli MPL. DA KwaZulu-Natal, 13 February 2020, https://kzn.da.org.za/2020/02/justice-for-lindo-address-homophobia-during-sona-mr-president.

  8. KZN gender activist's horrific murder sparks cry for tolerance”. Nkululeko Nene. Independent Online, 16 February 2020, https://www.iol.co.za/sunday-tribune/news/kzn-gender-activists-horrific-murder-sparks-cry-for-tolerance-42819929.

  9. Lindo Cele murder accused bail hearing postponed”. Roberto Igual. Mamba Online, 18 February 2020, https://www.mambaonline.com/2020/02/18/lindo-cele-murder-accused-bail-hearing-postponed/.

  10. Lindo Cele murder is third LGBTIQ killing in just two months”. Roberto Igual. Mamba Online, 13 February 2020, https://www.mambaonline.com/2020/02/13/lindo-cele-murder-is-third-lgbtiq-killing-in-just-two-months/.

  11. Lindokuhle Cele’s alleged killer abandons bail bid”. Nkosikhona Duma. MSN News, 25 February 2020, https://www.msn.com/en-za/news/crime/lindokuhle-celes-alleged-killer-abandons-bail-bid/ar-BB10nLxn.

  12. Lindokuhle Cele's alleged killer seeks bail”. Nushera Soodyal. East Coast Radio, 10 February 2020, https://www.ecr.co.za/news/news/lindokuhle-celes-alleged-killer-seeks-bail/.

  13. Man accused of killing Lindokuhle Cele abandons bail application”. Khalesakhe Mbhense. SABC News, 25 February 2020, https://www.sabcnews.com/sabcnews/man-accused-of-killing-lindokuhle-cele-abandons-bail-application/.

  14. Man accused of killing musician and LGBTQI activist Lindokuhle Cele to apply for bail”. Jenna Etheridge. News 24, 11 February 2020, https://www.news24.com/news24/southafrica/news/man-accused-of-killing-musician-and-lgbtqi-activist-lindokuhle-cele-to-apply-for-bail-20200211.

  15. Queeraktivist und Sänger in Südafrika ermordet”. Leander Milbrecht. Männer, 14 February 2020, https://www.maenner.media/gesellschaft/ausland/queeraktivist-und-saenger-in-suedafrika-ermordet/.

  16. SOCIAL MEDIA LIVID AFTER ALLEGED HOMOPHOBIC ATTACK”. Journalism Editor. IzikoDUT, 10 February 2020, http://journalismiziko.dut.ac.za/current-affairs/social-media-livid-after-alleged-homophobic-attack/.

  17. The man accused of killing LGBTQI activist Lindokuhle Cele is applying for bail”. COSMO. Cosmopolitan, https://www.cosmopolitan.co.za/politics/man-accused-lindokuhle-cele-bail/.

  18. WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT: Man to appear in Umlazi court for murder of Lindo Cele”. SABC News, 10 February 2020, https://www.sabcnews.com/sabcnews/warning-graphic-content-man-to-appear-in-umlazi-court-for-murder-of-lindo-cele/.

  19. WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT: Man to appear in Umlazi court for murder of Lindo Cele”. Shaddy Mavasa. NWERETI NEWS. 10 February 2020, https://www.nweretinews.com/2020/02/10/warning-graphic-content-man-to-appear-in-umlazi-court-for-murder-of-lindo-cele/.

  20. WARNING GRAPHIC DETAILS: Budding musician killed in suspected homophobic attack”. Wendy Mothata. SABC News, 9 February 2020, https://www.sabcnews.com/sabcnews/warning-graphic-details-budding-musician-killed-in-suspected-homophobic-attack/.

Images

  1. Lindo Cele. Ken Ferror. Change.org, https://www.change.org/p/government-getjustice4lindo?recruiter=1041983757&recruited_by_id=10888ec0-4b3b-11ea-991a-e5c74caf5e97.

  2. Young Love. Lindo Sea. SoundCloud, https://soundcloud.com/lindo-sea/young-love.


Day 9: Óscar Cazorla

Photo from Educa Oaxaca on Twitter

​*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions blood, stabbing, knife attack, and home intrusion.

Please continue with caution.


As of writing this on June 9th, the story is relatively new. Information published online is limited. This story will be updated when new information is available.

It was Sunday the 10th of February, 2019 and the town of Juchitán de Zaragoza, in the Mexican state of Oaxaca was bustling with life. People were crowding the street of the market either looking for things to buy or hoping to sell. All along the street were stalls full of a variety of food, garments or works of art. Anything a person could think of was available for purchase. Everything had been carefully crafted by the sellers and their families. All of them were beautifully decorated with bright colours and intricate designs that had been in their culture for centuries.

When the sun began to make its way down, the sellers began to pack up their products and close their stalls for the day. The streets were becoming quiet as the foot traffic died down. All of the townsfolk had bought what they required for the day and were now on their way home to their families. Now was the time for dinner preparations.

One man had made his rounds at the market and purchased some food that he would use for dinner that night. He was planning on cooking one of his favourite meals. He said his goodbye to the stall owner that he bought the food from before heading back home. The man knew many people in the town and he was well known and loved. He was a very kind man who always brightened up everyone’s day when they were around him. The stall owner waved at the man and wished him a pleasant evening. He wished the other man the same and was on his way.

As he walked back home, people who knew him waved as he passed them by. He waved back and wished all of them a good evening. Had it not been so late, he would have stopped to chat with some of the people who passed him but everyone was eager to get home and have dinner with their families before heading off to bed. Tomorrow was another big day and everyone wanted to get a good night’s rest.

The man arrived at his house and noticed that the sun was nearly gone from view. The sky was now dark but not completely pitch black. What remained of the sun still gave off some light but it wasn’t enough for a person to rely on for sight. All of the homes in the neighbourhood had their lights on as people went about preparing dinner.

The man entered his home and went to the kitchen. There he unpacked all of the food he had bought and took out some pots and cooking utensils. He put the pot on the stove after filling it with water and put some potatoes in to boil. While they were cooking, he then went to prepare the vegetables. He chopped them up just the way he wanted and added them in a second pot. That night felt like a good night to have some stew, he thought.

He went about monitoring the food to make sure everything cooked evenly and to prevent it from burning. Since it was just him in the home, he only made enough food for himself. All of the leftover food that wasn’t used he put away for tomorrow.

Once the food was ready he set up his spot on the table and sat down. He said a prayer before eating the meal. It was delicious. It was just like the meal his mother used to make. She had taught him everything she knew and he had memorized all of the recipes she taught him. Some of them had her own little twist that made them even more delicious than the original recipe.

When he had finished, he got up and began washing the dishes. He had preferred to wash them the same evening rather than leaving them until the next day. That way he would be able to start his day without facing a pile of dirty plates and cutlery. With the dishes now washed, he dried them off and put them away. The mess was gone and out of sight. He didn’t have to worry about that so he went to prepare himself for bed.

It had been a long day and he couldn’t wait to go to sleep. He wanted to lie down in bed and relax. He wanted to forget about the very busy day and calm his mind. As he washed his face, he took some deep breaths as he prepared his mind for sleep. Now was not the time to think about anything. He wanted to completely clear all thoughts so that his mind would be calm enough to fall asleep.

After his nightly routine, the man went to his bedroom and headed for the bed. Just as he approached, he heard a strange sound coming from outside his house. Actually, it wasn’t all that strange. It was the sound of car tires but what was strange to him was the fact that they sounded as if they were pulling up to his house. That was odd given the time of day. If the car had just been passing by then he wouldn’t have given it a second thought but this, this was very strange. Out of curiosity he went to investigate.

He kept the lights off inside his house to keep himself out of sight. He wasn’t sure who was approaching his house. They could have very well been bad people who wished to do him harm but they could have also been a friend who needed his help. What they could have needed him for at this house was beyond him but it always remained a possibility. To be on the safe side however, he kept his house completely dark incase, on the off chance that it really was a bad person with malicious intent.

He slowly and carefully approached the kitchen window that looked out to the front of his house. He saw a vehicle drive up to his house at a steady pace and even though it was dark outside, he knew he had never seen it before. He was confident that it did not belong to anyone he knew. Now he was concerned. Who could it be? Who was coming to his house at such a late hour? Why? What could have been so important that this person or persons had to speak to him right away? Could it not have waited until morning?

He was about to open the door but hesitated. His gut feeling told him that something was wrong. No normal person would come visiting long after the sun had gone down. It just wasn’t a reasonable hour for visitors. Had it been one of his friends then he would have opened the door immediately but he didn’t. He hoped that whoever it was would just go away. Perhaps they had the wrong house. Maybe they would realize that when they got to the door.

He decided to ignore it. If that was the case then after a few knocks they might realize that this wasn’t the address they were looking for. He decided to go to bed. He was quite tired and was in no mood to deal with lost travelers. Any other time he would have been happy to help but this was his personal time and he had just gotten ready to go to sleep. He figured that the person would figure out their way eventually. If they didn’t get a response from him then he figured they would just go to the next house that had signs of life for help.

The man walked back to his room and just as he reached the door, he heard a rather loud knock on the door. In fact, it was so loud that it was more of a pounding than an actual knock. It startled him. Why did this person feel the need for such aggression? They didn’t pull up quickly so clearly they didn’t have an emergency. Perhaps they wanted to make sure that the household’s occupant heard them in case they were sleeping.

It was strange and unsettling to the man.

He looked back at the front door and just stared at it as the pounding continued. At first he thought that the person would just give up and leave but as the seconds continued, that seemed unlikely. Now the panic was begging to build. Who on earth was outside of his house and why were they pounding away at the door? It sounded like they were trying to break it down.

Slowly the man inched his way into his bedroom. He hoped that it was dark enough in his house to hide his figure from the outside. If he was lucky, the person at his door would stop and leave. When he was safe inside his room he shut the door, careful to not make a sound and looked for a good place to hide. He wasn’t aware of the person’s intentions so to be on the safe side, he figured that he should hide. If they wanted to harm him then he didn’t want to easily hand himself over to them.

Just as he scanned his room, he heard the sound that he had been dreading since this began. He heard his front door give out from the attack and the person making their way inside. He heard their footsteps thunder around the main living space as they appeared to be looking for him. They were inside. They were inside his house and their intentions for him appeared to be harmful in nature.

The man had never been so frightened before in his life. There was no one in his town who had a bad thing to say about him. He hadn’t done anything to anger anyone and he never tried to do such a thing. All he wanted to do was spread peace and love throughout the community that he loved so much. Why would anyone want to break into his home? Was it to rob him? As far as he was concerned, the intruder or intruders could take whatever they wanted. Things could easily be replaced after all.

The man was now desperate for a place to hide but there wasn’t anywhere in his room that would suit his needs. He was scared. He didn’t want any trouble. He just had to hope that whoever had broken into his house would spare him.

Since his house wasn’t very big, it didn’t take long for the intruder to find him. The man backed away from his bedroom door when it slammed open. The intruder kicked it in and the man could hear the metal of the hinges creak, moan and snap as they were broken.

He looked right at the intruder and held up his hands. He told them that they could take whatever they wanted. All he asked was that they spared him. He pleaded for his life. He begged them and got on his knees while keeping his hands up to show that he was no threat.

The intruder looked at him for no longer than a second before they acted. In one of their hands was a knife that the man hadn’t noticed at first. He was too focused on the figure’s silhouette and watching to see what his next move was going to be. He prayed that this person would spare him, take whatever they wanted and leave.

However, it seemed that this intruder had other ideas in mind.

Before the man could react, the intruder ran towards him, knife in hand and took aim. The man barely had time to blink before the knife was impaled into his chest. Whoever this was, they had good aim and knew where to stab someone. The knife had gone right through the chest and pierced the man’s heart.

He died almost instantly.

With the intruder’s job seemingly complete, they quickly fled the scene. They got back into their car, pulled away from the house and raced down the road. No one had known what happened at first but when the car’s engines revved, many people became curious. Some looked outside of their homes and one noticed that a neighbour’s door was open. That was odd. The person and some other people gathered together and went to investigate. They were worried about their neighbour and wanted to make sure he was alright. When they entered the house they were met with the disturbing site of the man lying on his bedroom floor. Under his body, a large puddle of blood had formed around the body.

The man’s name was Óscar Cazorla and he was 68 years old.

IN LIFE

During his life, Óscar Cazorla was a man who identified as neither male nor female but a third gender. This third gender originated in Mexico and predates the Hispanic era. The indigenous people of Mexico, in the area of Juchitán de Zaragoza are known as the Zapotec. In their culture they have what is known as a third gender called muxe, plural muxes. Someone who identifies as a muxe is not a male or female but rather somewhere in between. They were male at birth but tend to dress and act feminine rather than masculine.

In Juchitán de Zaragoza they are more accepted than in other parts of Mexico and are open to live freely. People who identify as muxes are seen as a female rather than a male by the Zapotecs. If a muxe were to have sexual intercourse with a man who identified as a heterosexual then it would be no different than if he had intercourse with a cisgendered woman. The man would never be considered homosexual if he had intercourse with a muxe and it is important to point out that a muxe would never have a sexual relationship with a homosexual man as they are seen as a female rather than a male.

Along with identifying a muxe himself, Óscar was very vocal about bringing awareness about the muxe people. He had fought for more than 40 years for LGBTQ+ rights and recognition, especially when it concerned the muxe people. He was one of the founders of the group called “Las Auténticas Intrépidas Buscadoras de Peligro” which is a group run by people who identify as muxes and it was formed in 1976. It was designed to celebrate sexual diversity and to bring the people of the community together.

Óscar had also founded a festival known as “The Muxe Ball” in hopes that it would get rid of discrimination and homophobia. He said that the ball was a place where no one judged each other. People just enjoy the celebration, drink, eat and dance. The ball takes place every November where roughly 3,000 muxes walk through the streets of Juchitán de Zaragoza in celebration and pride.

SOURCES

Articles

  1. “Asesinan a activista de la comunidad LGBT en Oaxaca”. CNN News, 12 February 2019, https://www.cnn.com/videos/spanish/2019/02/12/asesinato-oscar-cazorla-comunidad-lgbt-activista-oaxaca-juchitan-muxe-derechos-humanos-sot-vo-perspectivas-mexico.cnn.

  2. “Hallan muerto al activista muxe Óscar Cazorla”. Hola News, 13 February 2019, https://holanews.com/hallan-muerto-al-activista-muxe-oscar-cazorla/.

  3. “Hallan muerto con signos de violencia al activista muxe Óscar Cazorla en el sur de México”. Univision Y Agencias. Univision, 11 February 2019, https://www.univision.com/noticias/asesinatos/hallan-muerto-con-signos-de-violencia-al-activista-muxe-oscar-cazorla-en-el-sur-de-mexico.

  4. “In Oaxaca’s Istmo de Tehuantepec region, the traditional indigenous division of three genders is seen as a natural way of being.”. Ola Synowiec. BBC, 26 November 2018, http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20181125-the-third-gender-of-southern-mexico

  5. “México: Exigen justicia por el crimen del activista muxe Óscar Cazorla”. Agencia Presentes, 11 Februar 2019, https://agenciapresentes.org/2019/02/11/mexico-exigen-justicia-por-el-crimen-del-activista-muxe-oscar-cazorla/.

  6. “LGBT activist in Oaxaca found slain; promoted Zapotec ‘3rd gender’”. Yucatán Expat Life, 11 February 2019, https://yucatanexpatlife.com/lgbt-activist-in-oaxaca-found-slain-promoted-zapotec-3rd-gender/.

  7. “LGBT activist Oscar Cazorla killed in his home in Oaxaca, Mexico”. Sofia Lotto Persio. We The People, 18 February 2019, http://www.gaysonoma.com/2019/02/lgbt-activist-oscar-cazorla-killed-in-his-home-in-oaxaca-mexico/.

  8. “Muxe activist, Oscar Cazorla, murdered in his home in Juchitán, Oaxaca.”. Paxton Orglot. Voices In Movement, 11 February 2019, https://voicesinmovement.org/muxe-activist-oscar-cazorla-murder-oaxaca/.

  9. “ONU-DH condena asesinato del defensor de derechos humanos Óscar Cazorla en Oaxaca”. Martes. Naciones Unidas Derechos Humanos, 12 February 2019, http://www.hchr.org.mx/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1227:onu-dh-condena-asesinato-del-defensor-de-derechos-humanos-oscar-cazorla-en-oaxaca&Itemid=265.

  10. “Óscar Cazorla”. HRD Memorial, https://hrdmemorial.org/hrdrecord/oscar-cazorla/.

  11. “Óscar Cazorla fue asesinado en su casa; era activista muxe de la lucha por los derechos LGBT”. INFOBAE, 10 February 2019, https://www.infobae.com/america/mexico/2019/02/10/oscar-cazorla-fue-asesinado-en-su-casa-era-activista-de-la-lucha-por-los-derechos-lgbt/.

  12. “ZAPOTEC ADVOCATE FOR MUXE AND LGBTQ RIGHTS MURDERED IN MEXICO”. Cultural Survival, 1 March, https://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/zapotec-advocate-muxe-and-lgbtq-rights-murdered-mexico.

Image

  1. Óscar Cazorla. Educa Oaxaca. Twitter, 13 February 2019, https://twitter.com/laminuta/status/1095700052058742784/photo/1.

Day 8: Xulhaz Mannan & Tonoy Mahbub

Photos from Facebook and Frontline Defenders.

*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions blood, stabbing, a machete attack, extreme violence, and distressing imagery.

Please continue with caution.


This story is unique as it includes two victims. They were together when they were attacked and killed so there was no way I could just focus on one.

The streets of Kalabagan, a district in Dhaka, Bangladesh were bustling with life. People were out either riding bikes, driving cars or walking along the streets. They were either heading to the stores to buy things or going back home after being at the shops while others were on their way home from work or on their way to see some friends.

The day was the 25th of April, 2016. While people were out walking along the streets, two young men had gotten together in an apartment on the first floor of a building located at 35 Lake Circus Road. Also in this apartment was the mother of one of the young men who was cleaning in the kitchen with the aid of the house help. The help had been hired as the woman was in her 70s and feeble so she required aid to do work around the house.

While the two were in the kitchen, the two men were in the living room and talking. They were discussing a variety of topics. They had been friends for a while now and found that they had lots of things in common. This allowed them to talk for hours on end without ever running out of things to talk about. They would frequently visit each other’s homes or go out to meet each other to chat about the latest thing on their minds.

While they were enjoying the conversation, a group of young men were approaching the apartment. They all had backpacks slung around their shoulders and approached the gates of the apartment building. There, they were met with a security guard who was patrolling the entrance. He stopped the group of about six men and asked them what their business was at the apartment. One man stepped forward and said that they were employees at a local postal service and that they had a parcel for one of the residences in the building. The security nodded in acknowledgment and told them to wait where they were. He explained how he was going to inform the resident about them then he would let them in. They reluctantly agreed and watched as the security guard opened the door and went into the building.

He went to the apartment the man had pointed out and knocked on the door. One of the young men, the one who lived in said apartment got up from his spot on the sofa and excused himself from the conversation with his friend. He went over to the door and cracked it open. Upon seeing the security guard, he opened it up and greeted him with a friendly smile. The guard informed the young man that there was a group of curriers at the gate who said that they had a delivery for him and asked if he was expecting one. The young man’s eyes widened in surprise and shook his head from side to side and confirmed that he was not. This made both of them suspicious but before they could decide on how to proceed with the matter, the group of young men rushed towards the apartment.

The security guard could see that they were armed with machetes and guns. He tried to stop them. He shouted at them to stop but they didn’t. They kept running towards the apartment. He grabbed his baton and prepared to fight but there were too many of them and they were armed with actual weapons but that didn’t deter him. He raised the baton, ready to attack but in an instant one of the men knocked it from his hand and brought down a machete down on his left arm. He screamed out in pain and clutched the wound, trying to put pressure on it to stop the bleeding. He looked up at the man who had wounded him and watched, in too much pain to defend himself as the man brought the machete down towards his face.

While the security guard was being attacked, the other men rushed into the apartment. The first of the group brought the machete down at the young man who resided in the apartment who had answered the door. Everything happened so fast that he didn’t have time to process. He didn’t even have time to react when the man rushed towards him. In a split second, the man had embedded the machete he was holding into the young man’s neck. He could feel the blood pouring from the wound and soak his clothes. It was warm and sticky and reeked of iron.

At first, he couldn’t believe that this was happening. It just didn’t seem real. He was in such shock that the pain didn’t even register at first. It all happened too fast but he sure felt the pain when the machete was yanked from the wound. He lifted a hand and felt around where the blood was coming from. It stung horribly but he still put his hand over the area to try and stop the blood flow. It didn’t help. The moment his hand covered the wound, the machete was brought down on his again, this time on his face. This blow caused him to collapse to the floor. His entire head exploded in pain. He raised his hands up to defend himself but that didn’t stop his attacker who just kept hacking him with no remorse or guilt on his face.

Inside the apartment, the other men rushed in and began attacking his friend. He had seen the attack on both his friend and the security guard and attempted to hide but the men were fast. They stormed in and saw him. He froze in a panic when the men entered and surrounded him. He didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know how to fight. He saw that they were all armed and any hope of escape fled his mind. He was unarmed. He had nothing he could use to defend himself with. All he could do was watch as the men charged at him with their weapons raised. He could hear them all chant Allahu Akbar. It frightened him. They chanted in sync and it sounded ominous.

It was terrifying.

When one man ran towards him, he tried moving out of the way but he was surrounded. Another man grabbed him and shoved him towards the attacker who had charged. He stumbled forward and just as he looked up at the attacker, he had brought down the machete on his face. Pain radiated throughout his head. He could feel his flesh part due to the gash and the blood pour down his face.

This was it. He was dying. He was going to be killed. He had no means of defense. There was nothing he could do. This attack was so sudden. He had no time to prepare or react. All he could do was watch as the attackers brought down their machetes on him.

The second blow sent him to the ground. He listened as they continued to chant Allahu Akbar. As they attacked, he weakly looked in the direction of the door. He wondered what had become of his friend. From where he was, he couldn’t see him. All he could see was an attacker leaning over the body and hacking away. Even though he couldn’t see his friend, the sight was disturbing nonetheless. Soon his vision began to blur. He knew his time was coming.

He closed his eyes and accepted his fate.

Now that the attackers had gotten to their targets, the security guard had been long forgotten. He watched in horror as the men began attacking the apartment’s resident and his friend. They ran inside like a herd of angry bulls. Their footsteps sounded like thunder. He feared not only for his life but the life of the household occupants. There was no way he would be able to stop them by himself. He had to get help.

Despite the pain, he got to his feet and as quickly as he could, ran from the building. When he ran outside, he began shouting for help. Many people who were walking along the street looked at him and many gasped in horror when they saw his injuries and the blood that stained his uniform. He collapsed down on one knee on the opposite side of the road from the apartment building. Several people rushed to his aid. One person pulled out a handkerchief and pressed it to the injury above his eyes while others looked at the building from where he came.

They wondered if anyone else was going to exit. Would they be injured too? Or would they be the ones who attacked the poor security guard? Everyone tensed when they heard gunshots being fired inside of the building. Some women gasped, others let out a scream. All of them were too scared to run. They just waited to see what would happen. A few minutes later they got their answer.

It wasn’t long before the group of attackers ran from the building. The witnesses on the street all froze as they watched them. The men took one look at them and ran at full speed down the street called Dolphin Goli.

With all of the commotion going on, neighbours were drawn to the apartment. When the yelling faded as the attackers got further away, the other residents felt safe enough to open their doors and peeked in the hallway. They noticed blood on the floor and rushed to the apartment to see what had happened. At the door they saw a horrific sight. Lying on the ground before them was the body of the young man who lived in the apartment and his face and neck was covered in gashes that had been caused by the machete.

His name was Xulhaz Mannan and he was only 35 years old.

They all gasped. Beside his lifeless body was his mother. She was a fragile woman who was kneeling beside the body of her son. Tears were streaming down her wrinkled skin. The sight made her seem more weak and feeble than she really was. The horror of the scene made her appear to have aged drastically. The neighbours heart’s broke at the sight. When the woman noticed their presence, she looked up at them and pleaded for them to take her son to the hospital. One of the neighbours crouched down beside the woman they knew as Sakhina Begum and wrapped an arm around her to try and comfort her. She patted their hand at the kind gesture and continued to cry. While that one neighbour stayed by her side, some others went over to the other body in the room. This sight was just as horrific as the first. It made them feel sick to their stomachs. Both bodies were drenched in blood which had pooled underneath them. The smell of iron overpowered their senses.

The room smelled of death.

This man was Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy and he was only 25 years old.

Roughly 300 yards away from the apartment building on Dolphin Goli street, a group of police officers were patrolling the streets when a group of men ran towards them. The officers could see some of them were armed with machetes and guns. They took out their guns and shouted at the men to stop but they didn’t. They continued to run at full speed no matter how many times the police demanded they stop.

When they got close enough, Assistant Sub-Inspector Momtaz tried to stop one of the men. He grabbed the man by his arm but one was still free and that was the hand that wielded the machete. He turned around and began swinging the weapon at the officer. He cried out in pain when the machete sliced him and let go of the man who made a quick getaway with the other members of his group. Some of the other officers fired their guns to try and slow the group down but they were also met with gunfire. They took cover and when they looked up to get eyes on the men, the officers saw no sight of them.

They had escaped.

AFTERMATH

After the vicious attacks, the bodies of both Xulhaz Mannan and Mahbub Tonoy were taken to Dhaka Medical College where their autopsies would be performed. The cause of death for both men were the injuries that had been sustained to their heads.

Prior to the killings, both Xulhaz and Tonoy had received death threats, said a close friend in an interview. It came just days before the two were killed. Despite this, they refused to back down and stop doing their work. Mannan had thought that his work was too important to just abandon so he didn't leave the country even though he had multiple opportunities to do so.

Parvez, the security guard of the building who had been attacked was transported to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital where he was treated for his injuries.

Eyewitnesses had placed the group of men between the ages of 22 to 28 and estimated there were around 5 or 6 attackers. They were all wearing similar looking clothes, carrying backpacks and holding machetes and guns.

The police who were investigating the grouseme murders believed that this attack had been planned out beforehand and the victims had been followed for days before they were killed. The police didn't believe that it was a random attack. At the scene investigators had found a bag, mobile phone and various things that had been left behind by the attackers.

Later on, an Al-Qaeda affiliated group in Bangladesh had claimed responsibility for the attacks. On Twitter, a handle called Ansar Al Islam that supposedly belongs to the group had made a post. In it they claimed that the two men had been "pioneers of practicing and promoting homosexuality in Bangladesh" which was the reason for the killings. The group wanted to silence them. Since February 2015, Islamist militants had targeted everyone who didn't fit the mold of society such as atheist bloggers, academics, any religious minorities and even foreign aid workers.

In Bengladesh, homosexuality is illegal. The country's top religion is Muslim and it has a population of around 160 million people. If someone is arrested for homosexuality then they can be faced with big fines or long prison sentences.

About a month after the killings, a man was arrested in connection for the double homicide. He was identified as a 37 year old man named Shariful Islam Shiab. He denied being involved but police said that he owned one of the two guns that was used in the murders. He was arrested in Kushtia, a southwestern district in Bangladesh. Another killer who was arrested was identified as 25 year old Asadullah, who goes by the alias Fakrul. He was arrested in Tongi.

Despite all of the arrests, 8 in total, no formal charges have been made on the men who partook in the violent attack.

IN LIFE

Xulhaz Mannan was the founder of the first and only LGBTQ magazine in Bangladesh called Roopbaan which came out in 2014. The goal was to promote acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community in Bangladesh. The name Roopbaan came from a Bengali folk character who symbolizes the power of love. The magazine contained many submissions of articles, photographs and even first person stories of people who lived in Bangladesh.

Xulhaz Mannan was also responsible for the Rainbow Rally which began in 2014 and was held every year on the country's new year on April 14. However, in 2016, the police had forbidden the rally from taking place due to the threats that had been received from Islamists.

Xulhaz had become a Protocol Specialist for the U.S embassy and served for 8 years before joining USAID in September of 2015. He was in the Democracy and Governance office where he worked as the Project Management Assistant. He was described by Gayle Smith, the USAID administrator as having "a dedicated and courageous advocate for human rights".

His friend Mahbub Tonoy also worked for the magazine and like Mannan, was an openly gay man.

*** IMPORTANT ***

I realize that different articles have slightly different accounts and information so I just picked the bits of information that seemed to make more sense. For those of you who haven’t read the articles, some say that the security guard let the men in while others say that he went to check with Xulhaz to see if he was expecting a package. No matter how reliable a source is, there will always be slight variations to a story when it comes to the news.

SOURCES

Articles

  1. "Alleged militant held for Bangladesh activist murders". Agence-France Presse. The National, 15 May 2016, https://www.thenational.ae/world/alleged-militant-held-for-bangladesh-activist-murders-1.200672?videoId=5709586588001.

  2. “Al-Qaeda affiliate claims responsibility for killing gay activist in Bangladesh”. Ruma Paul and Serajul Quadir. Business Insider, 26 April 2016, https://www.businessinsider.com/al-qaeda-affiliate-says-killed-gay-activist-in-bangladesh-2016-4.

  3. “Al-Qaeda affiliate says it killed a gay rights activist and his friend in Bangladesh”. Peter Holly. The Washington Post, 26 April 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/04/25/leading-gay-rights-activist-hacked-to-death-in-bangladesh/.

  4. “Al-Qaeda claims murder of Bangladesh LGBT magazine editor hacked to death”. Sadie Levy Gale. Independent, 26 April 2016, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/xulhaz-mannan-al-qaeda-murder-bangladesh-lgbt-magazine-editor-hacked-to-death-a7001896.html.

  5. “Al Qaeda group claims responsibility for Bangladesh LGBT hacking murders”. Elliot C. McLaughlin, Don Melvin and Tiffany Ap. CNN News, 27 April 2016, https://www.cnn.com/2016/04/25/asia/bangladesh-u-s-embassy-worker-killed/index.html.

  6. “Bangladesh charges eight over murder of LGBT+ activists”. Naimul Karim. Reuters, 13 May 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-bangladesh-lgbt-murder/bangladesh-charges-eight-over-murder-of-lgbt-activists-idUSKCN1SJ1K9.

  7. "Bangladeshi Gay Activist, Friend Hacked to Death in Latest Attack". Wajahat S. Khan and Corky Siemaszko. NBC News, 25 April 2016, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/bangladesh-charity-worker-friend-hacked-death-latest-attack-n561741.

  8. “Bangladesh: Investigate LGBT murders”. Human Rights Watch, 26 April 2016, https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/04/26/bangladesh-investigate-lgbt-murders.

  9. “Bangladesh LGBT editor Xulhaz Mannan hacked to death in brutal attack”. Joe WIlliams. Pink News, 25 April 2016, https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2016/04/25/bangladesh-lgbt-editor-hacked-to-death-in-brutal-attack/.

  10. “Bangladesh Police Arrest Islamist Over Gay Activists' Killing”. Ruma Paul. The Wire, 16 May 2016, https://thewire.in/world/bangladesh-police-arrest-islamist-over-gay-activists-killing.

  11. “Bangladesh Police Make Arrest in Hacking Death of Gay Rights Activist”. The Associated Press. NBC News, 16 May 2016, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/bangladesh-police-make-arrest-hacking-death-gay-activist-n574296.

  12. “Bangladesh’s Al Qaeda branch claims killing of gay rights activist and friend”. Mohiuddin Kader and Shashank Bengali. Los Angeles Times, 26 April 2016, https://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-al-qaeda-bangladesh-killings-20160426-story.html.

  13. “Editor Of Bangladesh's Only LGBT Magazine Is Hacked To Death”. Lauren Hodges. NPR, 26 April 2016, https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/04/26/475717047/editor-of-bangladeshs-only-lgbt-magazine-is-hacked-to-death.

  14. “Eight al-Qaeda linked militants charged with LGBT murders in Bangladesh”. Joe Wallen. The Telegraph, 13 May 2019. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/05/13/eight-al-qaeda-linked-militants-charged-lgbt-murders-bangladesh/.

  15. “Founder of Bangladesh's first and only LGBT magazine killed”. Saad Hammadi and Aisha Gani. The Guardian, 25 April 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/25/editor-bangladesh-first-lgbt-magazine-killed-reports-say-roopbaan.

  16. “Islamist Extremists Weren't the Only Killers Of My Friend Xulhaz Mannan”. Hadi Hussain. Huffington Post, 30 April 2016, updated 15 July 2016, https://www.huffingtonpost.in/gaylaxy/xulhaz-mannan-a-friend-an_b_9780806.html.

  17. “LGBT magazine editor stabbed dead at Dhaka home”. Star Online Report. The Daily Star, 25 April 2016, updated 1 May 2016, https://www.thedailystar.net/city/2-stabbed-dead-kalabagan-1214434.

  18. "MAHBUB TONOY". Front Line Defenders, https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/mahbub-tonoy.

  19. “Remembering the Two Unsung Heroes Who Fought For LGBT Rights in Bangladesh”. Shakhawat Hossain. The Wire, 25 October 2016, https://thewire.in/rights/remembering-two-unsung-heroes-fought-lgbt-rights-bangladesh.

  20. "Statement by USAID Administrator Gayle Smith on the Death of Xulhaz Mannan". U.S Embassy Dhaka. U.S Embassy, 25 April 2016, https://bd.usembassy.gov/statement-usaid-administrator-gayle-smith-death-xulhaz-mannan/.

  21. “The Killing of an LGBT Journalist in Bangladesh”. Marina Koren. The Atlantic, 26 April 2016, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/04/bangladesh-lgbt-editor/479763/.

  22. “Tracked for days before murder: IGP”. Star Online Report. The Daily Star, 26 April 2016, https://www.thedailystar.net/city/kalabagan-double-murders-planned-police-chief-1214848.

  23. “USAID honors Bangladesh activist on second anniversary of murder”. Michael K. Lavers. Washington Blade, 25 April 2018, https://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/04/25/usaid-honors-bangladesh-activist-second-anniversary-murder/.

  24. “Xulhaz-Tonoy Murder: Another ABT man arrested”. Staff Correspondent. The Daily Star, 17 January 2019, https://www.thedailystar.net/city/xulhaz-mannan-and-tonoy-murder-1-key-accused-held-dhaka-tongi-1688317.

  25. “Xulhaz-Tonoy murder: Key accused confesses”. Star Online Report. The Daily Star, 24 January 2019, https://www.thedailystar.net/city/xulhaz-mannan-tonoy-murder-key-accused-confesses-1692319.

  26. “2 hacked to death in Dhaka flat”. Staff Correspondent. The Daily Star, 26 April 2016, https://www.thedailystar.net/frontpage/gruesome-1214722.

  27. “7 took part in Kalabagan twin murder: Guard”. Star Online Report. The Daily Star, 27 April 2016, https://www.thedailystar.net/city/7-took-part-kalabagan-twin-murder-guard-1215340.

Images

  1. Xulhaz Mannan. Posted by Xulhaz Mannan, Facebook, 21 December 2014, https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152562723006305&set=pb.680026304.-2207520000..&type=3&theater.

  2. MAHBUB TONOY. Uploaded by Front Line Defenders, https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/mahbub-tonoy.

FURTHER INFORMATION

  1. "USAID honors Bangladesh activist on second anniversary of murder". Michael K. Lavers. Washington Blade, 25 April 2018, https://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/04/25/usaid-honors-bangladesh-activist-second-anniversary-murder/.

  2. "XULHAZ MANNAN: A FRIEND, AN ALLY, A FELLOW RAINBOW CONSPIRATOR". Hadi Hussain. Gaylaxy, 26 April 2016, http://www.gaylaxymag.com/exclusive/xulhaz-mannan-a-friend-an-ally-a-fellow-rainbow-conspirator/#gs.87vxwm.

  3. "XULHAZ MANNAN". Amnesty International. https://www.amnesty.org.uk/files/2017-10/Online%20casesheets%20TIER1%20Xulhaz%20Mannan%20WEB.pdf?xnIrexzoYTRAEpTeDItl3Q5HX5zZOMXK.


Day 7: Dustin James Parker

Photo posted by Oklahomans for Equality McAlester - seeq.lgbt‎ on Facebook

​*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions gun violence, shooting, and gunshot related death.

Please continue with caution.


This story was written on June 7 and is a currently on-going case with limited information. It will be updated when more information is released.

Fireworks went off when the clock hit midnight. People inside their homes were cheering, clapping and drinking in celebration. It was now the year 2020. It was a new decade. A new chapter in people’s lives. A time to make new memories. It was something to celebrate.

While people were with friends and family and enjoying the celebrations, a young man was out driving the streets in his taxi cab. The company he worked for was Rover Taxi and they were offering free rides to people that night to help celebrate the new year. So far the man had given a few rides to people going to see different friends or to take the New Year’s celebrations from the bar back to their home. Everyone he had picked up were quite drunk, especially as the night progressed and they were all full of smiles and laughter. Some passengers were louder than others but they were all nice people who thanked the driver the best they could for the free ride before going about their business.

It was a fairly busy night and while the young man wished he could go home to his wife and kids, he also felt the need to help his community. He was just that kind of person. They all would have been asleep anyway. He thought he could be more useful out in the streets driving people and making sure they arrived safely at their destinations.

After hours of driving, the sun was already rising and the world was getting brighter. The young man had dropped off some people when he received a call. It was a customer who wanted a ride to their friend’s house. That was no problem so the young man agreed and was told to head to 200 W Delaware Ave in McAlester, Oklahoma. That wasn’t too far away from his current location. Once arriving at the destination he sat there and waited for the customer to show up.

~ 🏳️‍🌈 ~

Brian West was awoken early in the morning to his doorbell going off. He sat up and rubbed the sleep from his eyes and wondered who it could be. He could see through the blinds that it was still a bit dark out. He looked over at his clock and saw that it was just a little past 7 A.M. That was strange, he thought. Who could be at his door at this hour?

He got out of bed and went to find out. He cracked open the door and was shocked to see two police officers standing at his door. He was a little worried. Why was the police paying him a visit so early in the morning? He was about to ask when one officer asked if he was indeed Brian West. He nodded and confirmed that was his name then asked them why they were at his house? He then got the most shocking news of his life. The news took his breath away.

Dustin Parker was found dead in his taxi cab. He was only 25 years old.

That couldn’t be right. How could that be?

He saw Dustin yesterday. He was fine. He didn’t have any health issues. Brian felt paralyized. He wanted to ask what happened but he was afraid of the answer. Did he really want to know? Was he ready for it? Somehow he managed to utter the word ‘how’ to the police. He watched their expressions. They were serious but behind that one could see the sadness in their eyes.

This was the type of news that was always the hardest.

Dustin was shot to death.

Brian felt like he couldn’t breathe. Shot? Dustin had been shot? Who would do such a thing? Why? What had he ever done to deserve that fate? He had been nothing but kind to everyone he interacted with. No one would have had a reason to kill him. It was impossible. However, the police were standing at Brian’s door and had just told him that his friend was dead. It was real. This was happening but Brian couldn’t believe it. He didn’t want to believe it. He didn’t want to believe that his friend was dead.

He then thought about Regina and the children. Did Dustin’s family know about his death? When he asked the police they said that the family would be notified soon. Brian’s heart broke for Regina. She and Dustin had four children and one had a disability. How was she going to manage now? The community was going to have to come together to help support her. After hearing about the death of her husband, the last thing she needed to worry about was how she was going to support her children financially.

That is just what the community did. There were fundraisers created with the donations going to the family. As what was said in an interview, the money wouldn’t bring back Dustin or replace the hole in the hearts of his loved ones but it would help take the worry and stress away from Regina about how she would support her four children.

IN LIFE

In the city of McAlester, Oklahoma, everyone mourned the tragic and untimely death of Dustin Parker. He was well known and loved throughout the community. He was the type of person who would give the shirt off his back to help someone, said his friend Brian in an interview.

He was a trangendered man who was a well known member of the LGBTQ+ community in his area. He was one of the founding members of the group called Southeastern Equality, known as Oklahomans for Equality McAlester - seeq.lgbt on Facebook. He was also largely responsible for the McAlester city’s first Pride Parade in October, 2019. He was vocal about not only the LGBTQ+ community but also about human rights. His friend Brian explained how Dustin wanted to help other people and to keep them from going through the pain he went through as he grew up. Not only that but he also wanted to encourage people to have more conversations about human rights.

It it said that Dustin’s death is the first confirmed killing of a transgerdered person in the United States in the year 2020.

In memory of his death, Oklahomans for Equality posted on Twitter @/okeq that they lowered the Transgender flag to honour him.

Photo posted by Oklahomans for Equality (@/okeq) on Twitter

SOURCES

Articles

  1. Community wraps their arms around the family of Dustin Parker”. Tatianna Taylor. KJRH News, 2 January 2020, https://www.kjrh.com/news/local-news/community-wraps-their-arms-around-the-family-of-dustin-parker.

  2. Dustin Parker: A Tribute to Murdered McAlester Taxi Driver”. Jessica McBride. News Break, 4 January 2020, https://heavy.com/news/2020/01/dustin-parker/.

  3. HRC Mourns Dustin Parker, Trans Man Killed in Oklahoma”. Elliott Kozuch. Human Rights Campaign, 2 January 2020, https://www.hrc.org/blog/hrc-mourns-dustin-parker-trans-man-killed-in-oklahoma.

  4. Investigation continues into deadly shooting”. Adrian O'Hanlon III and Derrick James. McAlester News, 1 January 2020, https://www.mcalesternews.com/news/investigation-continues-into-deadly-shooting/article_2e8f1878-2cbc-11ea-9e09-fbe89e151462.html.

  5. McAlester police identify taxi driver shot, killed”. Megan Butler. KTUL News, 1 January 2020, https://ktul.com/news/local/mcalester-police-investigate-shooting-death-of-taxi-driver.

  6. Oklahoma: Police search for suspect in murder of trans activist”. Nexstar Broadcasting, 6 January 2020, https://www.myarklamiss.com/news/national-news/oklahoma-police-search-for-suspect-in-murder-of-trans-activist/.

  7. Oklahoma transgender taxi driver, who helped organize his city's 1st pride parade, shot dead on New Year's Day”. Akshay Pai. MEA WorldWide, 4 January 2020, https://meaww.com/oklahoma-transgender-taxi-driver-who-helped-organize-citys-first-pride-parade-shot-dead-new-year-day.

  8. Person of interest in fatal shooting questioned, released”. Derrick James. McAlester News, 7 January 2020, https://www.mcalesternews.com/news/person-of-interest-in-fatal-shooting-questioned-released/article_a0bea0a6-2d8b-11ea-9e3a-af5739c486d8.html.

  9. Police question, release person of interest in deadly McAlester taxi shooting”. KTUL staff. KTUL News, 2 January 2020, https://ktul.com/news/local/police-release-person-of-interest-in-deadly-mcalester-new-years-day-shooting.

  10. Police search for suspect in murder of trans activist in Oklahoma”. Doha Madani and Suzanne Ciechalski. NBC News, 2 January 2020, https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/police-search-suspect-murder-trans-activist-oklahoma-n1110571.

  11. Police: Second person questioned in fatal shooting”. Derrick James. McAlester News, 7 January 2020, https://www.mcalesternews.com/news/police-second-person-questioned-in-fatal-shooting/article_f4ee246a-0071-5bb9-805d-a35afab86a72.html.

  12. Police seek suspect in Oklahoma transgender man's killing”. Associated Press. The Washington Times, 3 January 2020, https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/jan/3/police-seek-suspect-in-oklahoma-transgender-mans-k/.

  13. Trans man shot and killed while driving a taxi is the US’s first known violent trans death of 2020”. Vic Parsons. Pink News, 3 January 2020, https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2020/01/03/dustin-parker-violent-death-oklahoma-transgender-murders-2020/.

  14. Transgender activist, 25, is found shot dead behind wheel of his taxi on New Year's Day hours after his cab company offered customers free rides home to keep people safe”. Ariel Zilber. Daily Mail, 4 January 2020, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7850829/Transgender-activist-25-helped-organize-Oklahoma-towns-pride-parade-shot-dead.html.

  15. Transgender community activist shot, killed: Police”. Ella Torres. ABC News, 3 January 2020, https://abcnews.go.com/US/transgender-community-activist-shot-killed-oklahoma-police/story?id=68057714.

  16. Transgender Taxi Driver Gunned Down on the First Day of 2020”. Kate Sosin. Logo NewNowNext, 3 January 2020, http://www.newnownext.com/transgender-man-killed-first-day-of-2020-homicide/01/2020/?fbclid=IwAR1a30G-q3mYk1yAkPwqG9vqsWtEAbYbrR2ziucLk00HGAqN-AzcnAq05ec.

  17. Widowed mother of four tells her story after her husbands murder case remains unsolved”. Tatianna Taylor. KJRH News, 26 May 2020, https://www.kjrh.com/news/local-news/wife-of-man-killed-on-new-years-day-tells-her-story.

Images

  1. Photo of Dustin James Parker, Memorial Service For Dustin Parker. Posted by Oklahomans for Equality McAlester - seeq.lgbt‎. Facebook, 4 January 2020, https://www.facebook.com/seeq.lgbt/photos/gm.616663775767556/910156052713763/?type=3&theater

  2. Lowering the Transgender flag in honour of Dustin. Oklahomans for Equality. Twitter, 2 January 2020, https://twitter.com/okeq/status/1212830392740405248.


Day 6: Zak Kostopoulos

Photo by Natasa Pantazopoulou, from Zak’s Facebook

​*** IMPORTANT ***

This article mentions blood, police brutality, beating, violent attack, and distressing imagery.

Please continue with caution.


This story was very popular in Greece when it occurred and prompted people to protest as the police failed to act right away to investigate this case which is still on-going.

It was midday in Athens, Greece on the 21st of September, 2018. The Omonia Square was bustling with life as people walked the street going in and out of shops or who just like to glance in the windows. The restaurants were also very busy that day. Citizens and tourists came and went from the shops in search of a quick snack or drink.

A little after noon, a young man was walking along Gladstone Street and enjoying the day. He was well known in his community and was a very friendly and cheerful person. He wanted to spread positivity in the world and was very vocal about it.

He had spent his childhood in the United States until he was around eight years old. That was when his parents thought it would be best to move back to Greece so they would be closer to family and so the boy could be more connected with his roots. It was quite the shock for the boy but he soon grew accustomed to the new surroundings and found his place in the community. He made friends and found social groups who accepted him and there he could be himself. It was a good life for him and everything seemed to be going well.

Sometime in the hour of 2 P.M, the young man made his way to a café where he and his friends agreed to meet up the previous day. All of them had been busy at their jobs and wanted to get together to chat and catch up on what had happened since last time they met. He arrived at the same time as one of his friends and they greeted each other before going inside.

The two went inside the café and got themselves something to eat and sat at a table while they waited for the others to arrive. They had finished their snacks just as the other arrived and when they saw them enter the shop, they called them over. They all came and sat with them for a bit before getting up to also get something to eat.

While the little group was in line waiting for their turn to order, a small group of men entered the café. The friends noticed their presence but paid them no attention. They continued talking with each other but paused when a commotion broke out a few tables over. The men had begun arguing with some other patrons at the café and the argument was getting heated rather quickly. All throughout the café people began whispering to each other as they wondered what they men were arguing about. They heard bits and pieces but nothing that gave them a clear picture.

When the men noticed that people were whispering and staring they stopped screaming at their targets and looked around the shop. They yelled at people to back off and to mind their own business and this caused many to quickly avert their gaze. None of them wanted to get caught up in the middle of that spat. Those men, while not incredibly muscular, did look pretty strong. They definitely looked like they would be able to hold their own in a fight.

There was only one person who didn’t look away and that was the young man. The aggressive man seemed to take that as an invitation to fight. He stormed up to the young man who dared look at him, got in his face and screamed at him and asked him what he wanted. The young man simply asked the other if it was necessary to cause a scene in the café. He asked what the other men did to warrant such aggression. His friends tried to quietly encourage him to stop and walk away but he ignored them and held his ground.

He wanted to try and de-escalate the situation before it turned violent. The main aggressor didn’t seem to like that too much. He demanded that the young man get up and fight him like a real man if he insisted on interfering in someone else’s business. The young man declined and simply asked that the group of men didn’t cause any trouble. That seemed to be the last straw for the aggressor. He clenched his hand up into a fist, pulled his arm back and swung at the young man. His fist made a direct hit to the young man’s abdomen and the force knocked him off his seat.

Screams broke out in the café and the young man’s friend’s immediately rushed to his defense while the aggressor’s team did the same. Despite the young man’s protests, a fight between the two groups broke out. He tried yelling at them to stop but his voice was drowned out by the yelling of the people from both groups. They were so focused on fighting each other that they actually forgot about the young man’s presences entirely.

He remained on the floor and watched as the other patrons fled the café, not wanting to get dragged into the fight as well. As he watched his friends engaged in the fight, he felt like he had to do something. He couldn’t just sit back and watch as the people he cared about got hurt but he was sore from the punch so he was in no condition to fight.

Ignoring the pain the best he could, he crawled away from the immediate area and when he reached the entrance, got to his feet and staggered out to the street. He made his way a few meters down from the café and shouted at anyone who would listen for help. Unfortunately for him, those who heard and saw him took one glance and looked away. That didn’t stop him from trying to get their attention.

He kept trying but when no one listened he stumbled to the doorway of a bakery. He continued to call out for help and this finally caught the attention of three men who went over to the young man to see if they could assist him in any way. When they asked him what was wrong all he could say was that he needed help. The men noticed that this young man appeared to be disoriented so one man who wore a white shirt went into the store and purchased a water bottle which he offered to the young man who took it but did not drink.

The young man then tried to make his way inside the bakery but a man with a yellow shirt blocked his path. He told the young man that he shouldn’t go in and used his body to block the entrance every time he tried to enter the shop. He pleaded to the men to let him in, that he had to get help but when they asked him why, he just said that he needed help. Without him giving an explanation, the three men told him that he should be on his way. He wanted to protest and anxiously shifted from one foot to the next but eventually gave up. He was worried for his friends and hopped that they were alright but was still too shocked to go back and check. He had to find help elsewhere so he walked away.

He only went a few feet away to a jewelry store. The men watched him go and despite the shop owner having stepped out for a bit, the door opened and the young man made his way inside. The man in the yellow shirt watched then followed the young man, worried that he might possibly be stealing something. He and some other bystanders watched the young man as he staggered in the shop and when he saw that no one was inside, he attempted to make his way back out but the door wouldn’t open. It locked after the young man had entered and now only the store owner could open it.

In a panic from being locked in, the young man picked up a nearby fire extinguisher and tried to break the glass on the door but it was too strong. However, that didn’t stop him. He had to get back to his friends. To hell with his sore abdomen. He had to make sure that they were okay and he wasn’t about to let the locked door stop him.

He went over to a small window located near the ground and smashed the fire extinguisher against it. The glass of this window was weaker than the door and shattered under the force. With an opening now available, the young man set the fire extinguisher down and crawled out through the window but was met with a small crowd that had now gathered, among them was the store’s owner who was not pleased.

The moment the young man made it out from the store, the group of men began kicking and yelling at him. He did his best to shield himself from the attacks but there were too many. The blows kept on coming and the men shouted at him. They called him a no-good thief. This puzzled the young man. He wasn’t a thief. Why would these men think such a thing? All he was doing was trying to seek help for his friends.

It started off with just two men kicking him but soon others joined in after witnessing the commotion. He tried pleading with them to stop as he did his best to defend himself but they didn’t stop. The kicks continued. To the young man, the incident seemed to last forever and when it finally died down he was left weak and unable to move. All he saw was a blur of faces and he could faintly hear a voice calling for someone to call an ambulance. He felt relieved. He would get some help after that and when the police arrived then he would be able to inform them what happened at the café with those men and his friends. He wanted to ask the cops to check in on them to make sure they were alright.

He didn’t know how much time had passed but soon the police and medics arrived on scene. While the officers interviewed witnesses, a medic checked on the young man’s injuries. He tried communicating to the medic, to tell him about his friends but he was unable to speak. He was in so much pain and he was numb.

Without being able to speak, he took it upon himself to check on his friends. He ignored the pain and pounding in his head and managed to get up on his feet. He tried to leave and make his way back to the café but he could barely walk. His legs felt stiff. He stumbled a few steps and when the police noticed him trying to leave they immediately rushed to stop him. He fell to the ground before two officers surrounded him. They pinned him to the ground and to the young man’s surprise, he felt his hands forcibly turned behind his back and felt the cold metal of handcuffs as they clicked around his wrists. That couldn't be right. Why was he being arrested? His head hurt so much that he could barely make sense of anything that was happening around him.

He tried to tell the authorities of his friends at the café. He wanted to tell them that they should go check on the situation there. What if it had escalated? What if one or more of his friends had ended up like them? Nearly everyone had run out of the shop when the fight broke out. Would there have been anyone who would have seen the incident and called the police? What if one of them had been seriously injured? More so than him? He turned his head the best he could to face the cops but this little action was enough to tip them over the edge.

The young man felt the police officers kick him as he was pinned to the ground by at least three officers. How could this be happening? What had he done to justify this much force? It was unnecessary even when dealing with an armed criminal but the young man wasn’t armed. Not only that but he had already been beaten down. He was of no threat to anyone.

As the pounding in his head continued, the young man could feel himself drifting off into unconsciousness. He didn’t try to fight it. He let himself fall asleep. At least if he was unconscious he wouldn’t be able to feel the kicks that the police were giving him. The last thing he was able to make out through his blurry vision was the pool of blood that now surrounded his head.

Blood.

His blood.

Despite him now being unconscious and unable to do anything, the police kept the handcuffs on the young man. After giving him some more kicks, they deemed it safe enough for the medics to come over. The medics placed the young man on a stretcher and carried him to the ambulance. He was loaded in the back and when the doors were shut the vehicle rushed to the nearest hospital while the medics did their best to treat his injuries.

However, the young man died before they could reach the hospital.

His name was Zak Kostopoulos and he was just 33 years old.

AFTERMATH

After his death, people demanded answers. They turned to the coroner's office who initially said that the cause of death couldn’t be determined at the current moment because an initial examination of the body showed injuries that could not explain the death. They were minor bruises and nothing that would suggest a cause of death. For that to be confirmed they had to wait on lab tests. When those came back it revealed that Zak was not under the influence of any sort of drugs or alcohol which many believed at first. The official cause of his death was listed as an Ischaemic attack that was a direct result of his injuries since he had no history of heart issues.

An Ischaemic attack is also referred to as a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) but is also known as a "mini stroke". This condition is caused when the brain is temporarily denied a blood supply which means there is no oxygen being delivered to the organ. This leads to symptoms that are similar to a stroke but it doesn’t last as long. A person can feel the effects for a few minutes or up to a few hours and they can completely go away within 24 hours. If not treated right away it can lead to death which is seen in Zak’s case.

At first, the authorities weren’t rushing to investigate. They felt like the case was closed. They were so unconcerned with it that they allowed the jewelry shop owner to clean up the mess which could and probably did result in the destruction of potential evidence which would have been vital to understanding this case.

Nothing had been done such as arrests or even an investigation until videos began to surface on the internet of the incident. Those videos were important when it came to revealing what really happened. The videos came from cellphone cameras and surveillance cameras from the bakery. Only when these got huge media attention was action taken against the people who beat Zak.

A year after his death, justice had still not been brought on the men who had attacked Zak which led to protests across Greece and even in other European countries. His family had filed a lawsuit against the two men for “murder on intent” and a lawsuit against the officers involved for “manslaughter” but they didn’t have too much faith in the system.

At first, before the video surfaced, the officers all denied the claim that they had used excessive force. They claimed that they were just doing their job and responding to a call about an armed robber however that claim would be difficult to defend after multiple videos from different angles made rounds on the internet.

Now, after all this time a trial date has been set. On Facebook, a user by the name of Nikos Tsatsalidis says that the trial is set to take place on October 21st, 2020. This is 25 months after Zak’s brutal murder.

When it comes to the report of him being armed with a knife, there was a knife found on the scene but it still has not been confirmed to be Zak’s or not. There were traces of a fingerprint on said knife but it hasn’t been confirmed to be Zak’s or not as there are others all over. This is a result of multiple handling the piece of evidence beforehand which can complicate the case.

IN LIFE

Zak was a gay man and a well known figure in the Greek LGBTQ+ community and was an activist for that cause along with bringing awareness about HIV/AIDS. He had made a YouTube video back in 2013 where he spoke about what it’s like living as someone who has been diagnosed with HIV and reassured others who might also be diagnosed with it as part of a campaign.

Along with being an activist for these two causes, he was also a drag queen who went by the name of “Zackie Oh” when performing. For Pride the following year in Greece, they dedicated it to Zak.

Photo shared by Facebook user Natasa Lymperopoulou

~~~

*Zak’s mother wrote a letter demanding justice which you can read here*.

(For those of you who are curious, I have tracked down the location where this took place: Gladstonos, Athina 106 77, Greece. Judging from my research, this seems to be the approximate place where the incident occurred.)

SOURCES

Articles

  1. Coroners Attribute Zak Kostopoulos' Death to Ischaemic Event Related to Injuries”. The National Herald, 20 November 2018, https://www.thenationalherald.com/archive_general_news_greece/arthro/coroners_attribute_zak_kostopoulos_death_to_ischaemic_event_related_to_injuries-48682/#gsc.tab=0.

  2. Coroner's Office: Death of Zak Kostopoulos Not Linked to Substances”. The National Herald, 20 November 2018, https://www.thenationalherald.com/archive_whats_new/arthro/coroner_s_office_death_of_zak_kostopoulos_not_linked_to_substances-14454/#gsc.tab=0.

  3. Demand Justice for Zak Kostopoulos”. Amnesty International, https://www.amnesty.org/en/get-involved/take-action/greece-justice-for-zak/.

  4. DNA evidence but only partial prints found on knife in Zak Kostopoulos incident”. Newsroom. The Greek Observer, 9 October 2018, https://thegreekobserver.com/blog/2018/10/09/dna-evidence-but-only-partial-prints-found-on-knife-in-zak-kostopoulos-incident/.

  5. Forensics mystery: Zak Kostopoulos DNA found on “his” knife but no fingerprints”. Keep Talking Greece, 9 October 2018, https://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2018/10/09/zak-kostopoulos-knife-dna/.

  6. Forensic report on death of LGBTQ activist inconclusive”. Ekathimerini, 24 November 2018, https://www.ekathimerini.com/232906/article/ekathimerini/news/forensic-report-on-death-of-lgbtq-activist-inconclusive

  7. Gay activist dies in Athens after brutal public beating”. Alexander Kacala. NBC News, 25 September 2018, https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/gay-activist-dies-athens-after-brutal-public-beating-n913056.

  8. Gay activist Zak Kostopoulos lynched to death in Greece”. Sofia Lotto Persio. MSN News, 24 September, 2018, https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/gay-activist-zak-kostopoulos-lynched-to-death-in-greece/ar-AAAAu1N.

  9. IN LOVING MEMORY OF ZAK KOSTOPOULOS”. André Lund Rømer. Human Library, 21 October 2018, https://humanlibrary.org/in-loving-memory-of-zak-kostopoulos/.

  10. Officers to appear in court over Kostopoulos death”. Ekathimerini, 3 December 2018, https://www.ekathimerini.com/235296/article/ekathimerini/news/officers-to-appear-in-court-over-kostopoulos-death.

  11. POLICE OFFICERS CHARGED OVER DEATH OF GREEK GAY HIV ACTIVIST ZAK KOSTOPOULOS”. Laurence Barber. The Star Observer, 6 December 2018, https://www.starobserver.com.au/news/international-news-news/police-officers-charged-over-death-of-greek-gay-hiv-activist-zak-kostopoulos/173942.

  12. Queer activist beaten to death in the street as a crowd stands and watches”. David Grant. Queerty, 24 September, 2018, https://www.queerty.com/queer-activist-beaten-death-street-crowd-stands-watches-20180924.

  13. Remembering LGBT activist Zak Kostopoulos: killed by a lynch mob, slandered by Greek media”. Maria Soulis, Translated by Veroniki Bacharidi-Krikoni. Global Voices, 3 December 2018, https://globalvoices.org/2018/12/03/remembering-lgbt-activist-zak-kostopoulos-killed-by-a-lynch-mob-slandered-by-greek-media/.

  14. Six in the dock over death of gay activist”. Ekathimerini, 20 January 2020, https://www.ekathimerini.com/248642/article/ekathimerini/news/six-in-the-dock-over-death-of-gay-activist.

  15. THE KILLING OF ZAK KOSTOPOULOS”. The Forensic Architecture Team. Forensic Architecture, 9 April 2019, https://forensic-architecture.org/investigation/the-killing-of-zak-kostopoulos.

  16. Transient ischaemic attack (TIA)”. NHS, 21 January 2020, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/transient-ischaemic-attack-tia/.

  17. Transient ischaemic attack (TIA)”. The Stroke Foundation, https://strokefoundation.org.au/About-Stroke/Types-of-stroke/Transient-Ischaemic-Attack-TIA.

  18. Un militant LGBT grec décède en plein centre d'Athènes : que s'est-il passé ?”. Philippe Peyre. Komitid, 26 September 2018, https://www.komitid.fr/2018/09/26/un-militant-lgbt-grec-decede-en-plein-centre-dathenes-que-sest-il-passe/.

  19. Zak assassiné à Athènes le 21/09/18”. Paris-Lutte, 10 October 2018, https://paris-luttes.info/zak-assassine-a-athenes-le-21-09-10819.

  20. Zak Kostopoulos family file against jeweler and estate agent for “intentional murder””. Keep Talking Greece, 13 Febuary 2019, https://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2019/02/13/zak-kostopoulos-murder/.

  21. Zak Kostopoulos: Protesters demand “Justice” one year after his brutal murder”. Keep Talking Greece, 22 September 2019, https://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2019/09/22/zak-kostopoulos-justice-protest/.

  22. Ζακ Κωστόπουλος: Video από κάμερα ασφαλείας λίγο πριν το θάνατό του”. NewsIt, 3 October 2018, https://www.newsit.gr/ellada/zak-kostopoulos-video-apo-kamera-asfaleias-ligo-prin-to-thanato-tou/2629407/.

  23. Ζακ Κωστόπουλος: Υπάρχουν μάρτυρες που κρύβονται; Ποιοι ήταν μαζί του λίγο πριν τον θάνατό του”. NewsIt, 27 September 2018, https://www.newsit.gr/egklhma/zak-kostopoulos-yparxoun-martyres-pou-kryvontai-poioi-itan-mazi-tou-ligo-prin-ton-thanato-tou/2624673/.

Images

  1. Photo of Zak Kostopoulos. Natasa Pantazopoulou, uploaded by Zak Kostopoulos. Facebook, 2 December 2013, https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10202443985558732&set=a.1590904330307&type=3&theater.

  2. Photo of Zak Kostopoulos. Natasa Lymperopoulou. Facebook, 20 October 2018 https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1990661247646590&set=t.1166839111&type=3&theater.

Other Media

  1. Post concerning Zak Kostopoulos. Gregory Vallianatos. Facebook 23 September 2018, https://www.facebook.com/gregory.vallianatos.3/posts/10215075816521586?tn=-R.

  2. Athens Pride Week 2019”. This is Athens, http://www.thisisathens.org/events/thens-pride-week-2019.

  3. "You've got this" #HIV campaign - Zak Kostopoulos". Zak Kostopoulos. YouTube, 28 August 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xhn0d6KUDU&feature=share.

  4. Post with trial date. Nikos Tsatsalidis. Facebook, 4 June 2020, https://www.facebook.com/nikos.tsatsalides/posts/10220197140870828


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