Friday, September 09, 2005

Days of mourning - Part 8: Epilogue

Images (top to bottom): Julio Rivera on the cover of Gay City News; Rodney Velazquez; Gwen Araujo; Sylvia Guerrero holding her daughter Gwen's photo; LaTona Gunn; Sakia Gunn on the cover of Gay City News; Rashawn Brazell; Desire Brazell at adresses media at a vigil in honor of Rashawn; Dwan Prince's mom Valerie Prinez.

Though not by any means a comprehensive listing of other under-reported attacks and murders of LGBT folks, these are the ones that I carry in my heart. Most striking is that in most of these cases, the families of the victims, and particularly their mothers, have been moved to take action on behalf of their sons and daughters. Just like Eddie Garzon’s mother, Leonor, these women have moved earth and heaven to find justice. Leonor Garzon, LaTona Gunn, Sylvia Guerrero, Valerie Prinez are all unsung heroes. And, even though I helped to organize a community meeting with the local police precinct and the hate crimes unit in the Bronx after the gruesome death of Rodney Velazquez, I wonder how his mother is doing and why there seems to be so little additional information on that specific murder.

Julio Rivera was killed in July of 1990. His murder galvanized the Queens gay community and led to the launch of the Queens Pride Parade yet few people at the Queens gay bars would know about him. I briefly made mention of his murder in the blog posts about Eddie but, in a tragic coincidence, Julio was attacked fifteen years ago just two blocks away from where Eddie was attacked.

Rodney Velazquez was found dead in his apartment on August 4, 2002. A report of the shocking murder can be found here, information on a memorial vigil that took place in 2004 in the Bronx can be found here.

Gwen Araujo was killed on October 4, 2002. As I write, a jury has reached 2 verdicts in the trial of three men but the court has ordered the papers sealed while the jury verdict of the third man on trial is determined. This is the second trial after the first one ended with a deadlocked jury. There also were angels at a memorial held on October 1, 2002 and the Advocate ran a moving profile of Gwen’s mother, Sylvia Guerrero, in March of 2004.

15 year old Sakia Gunn, died on May 11, 2003. An interview with Sakia’s mom, LaTona Gunn, and an overview of the community's response to the crime, here, courtesy of Keith Boykin. On further advocacy by her family here. Information about the Sakia Gunn Film Project here. Information on the trial of the confessed murderer here and here.

In February of 2005, parts of 19-year old Rashawn Brazell’s body were found in plastic garbage bags at different sites in Brooklyn. As horrific as the crime was, his mother, Desire Brazell, a social worker, has been tireless in her search for justice. The New York City Anti-Violence Project has accused the NYPD of dragging its feet in this case and the murder has been kept in people's mind by Gay City News and a myriad of blogs and bloggers out there who refuse to let the crime fall from the city's consciousness. Photos I took at a vigil in memory of Rashawn that took place on March 25 in which Ms. Brazell addressed the crowd and media can be seen here.

On June 9th, 2005, Dwan Prince was beaten in a bias incident that has left him in a coma to this date. His mother, Valerie Prinez, met Desire Brazell at a rally organized by Gays and Lesbians of Bushwick Empowered (GLOBE) on June 19th.

Simply, whether hate crimes or not, they all deserve justice...

This is the last in a series of posts, to read previous posts go to:

*** UPDATE: Eddie Garzon: After five years, an arrest (June 29, 2006)

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