Friday, September 28, 2007

Murders, Shootings of Newark Teens May Have Been Anti-Gay Hate Crimes

Newark triple murder may be anti-gay hate crime

Victims’ friends ‘driven to despair’ over alleged police, media cover-up

By LOU CHIBBARO JR. | Sep 27, 1:52 PM

A close friend of three college students who were shot to death execution style in a Newark, N.J., schoolyard in August said the students planned to join him in attending a black Gay Pride event in Queens, N.Y., the day following their deaths.

Did the students plan to attend Gay Pride event?

News of the students’ plans to attend the Aug. 5 event at New York City’s Riis Park Beach surfaced after a New Jersey gay group released a letter last week calling on Newark authorities to investigate the murders as possible anti-gay hate crimes.

The murder of the three students and the shooting of a fourth student, who is recovering from a gunshot wound to the head, shocked Newark’s citizens and became the subject of international news coverage.

“[W]e want to know why, although the murders were committed more than a month ago, the fact of the sexual orientation of the youth has never been a part of the media or public discourse of the murders,” said Newark gay activist James Credle in a letter to Newark Mayor Cory Booker.

Activist says "one or more of the murdered students were gay"

“This happened despite the fact that several sources, including friends, boyfriends/lovers of at least one of the victims and perhaps one of the parents knew that one or more of the murdered students were gay,” Credle wrote.

....activists have said police and city officials appear to be ignoring evidence suggesting that the killings were hate crimes related to the victims’ actual or perceived sexual orientation. Credle told the Blade that he and others in the gay community have learned from friends and relatives of the victims that little of value was taken from the victims. He said friends claim all of their wallets were left at the scene.

Credle and others have questioned why the attackers, wielding guns, would have killed the victims if robbery alone was the motive.

Police have said all the victims were upstanding citizens who never had any run-ins with the law. Three were students at Delaware State University and one, Hightower, had planned to begin classes there this fall.

The friend of the student who spoke with the Blade, a 20-year-old Newark resident, said at least one of the victims was openly gay and all the others had gay friends and were known to hang out in “gay circles” at their high schools before going on to college.

The friend declined to disclose his name, saying he is concerned about possible negative consequences of speaking out openly about the sexual orientation of the deceased students.

entire Washington Blade article here

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