Tuesday, April 21, 2009

10 Years - Judy Shepard Calls for Hate Crime Law

Mother of slain gay man makes plea to update federal statute
With this vital piece of legislation coming before committee Judy Shepard speaks out once again for a hate crimes law. Please go to FightHateNow.org and tell Congress how important this bill is. Don't let another life be lost to hate.

The following is a press release from the Human Rights Campaign about Judy's statement.

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign – the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization – released a video today as part of the effort to pass the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (LLEHCPA) featuring Judy Shepard whose son Matthew was murdered in 1998 because he was gay.

“It’s been ten years since Judy Shepard lost her son Matthew and this video is a painful reminder that the federal government does not have the resources it needs to assist in prosecuting these horrific acts,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Since Matthew’s murder, tens of thousands of Americans have been victims of hate violence and it’s time to give local law enforcement the tools to combat this scourge.”

Tomorrow, the House Judiciary Committee will mark up the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (LLEHCPA), also known as the Matthew Shepard Act. The bill would give the Justice Department the power to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated violence by providing the department with jurisdiction over crimes of violence where the victim is chosen because of the person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

The video profiles the stories of hate crimes victims who were targeted because of who they are. They include:
· Angie Zapata who on a summer night in Greeley, Colorado, was bludgeoned to death with a fire extinguisher because she was transgender.
· Billy Ray Johnson a mentally disabled man from Texas who was taken to a party, ridiculed, knocked unconscious, and then dumped by the side of the road.
· Luis Ramirez who while walking home to his family in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, was beaten him to death by a group of young men yelling racial and ethnic epithets.
· Ryan Skipper of Eloise, Florida, who was robbed, driven to a dirt road and stabbed more than twenty times because he was gay.
· Sean Kennedy, a South Carolina man who died after he was assaulted by a man yelling anti-gay slurs. The state has no hate crime law and his attacker was sentenced to three years in prison.

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