Puerto Rico - first recorded hate crime?

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Puerto Rico - first recorded hate crime?

Postby Jessica » Thu Nov 19, 2009 3:04 pm UTC

Puerto Rico – first recorded hate crime murder? Questioning Transphobia wrote:There are many reports from various sources (Vivir Latino, Dallas Voice and others) about this horrific murder:
"The suspect in the brutal slaying of a gay teenager in Puerto Rico was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder and four other counts, the prosecutor in the case told CNN. Juan A. Martinez Matos was arrested late Monday in connection with the slaying of Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, whose decapitated, dismembered and partially burned body was found Friday afternoon on a road in central Puerto Rico." (Via CNN)

The usual media misgendering seems to be at play here, making it hard to unpick the reports, but several sources point out that:
"Martinez Matos was “looking for women” in a red light district last Friday. He had already been turned down several times, but Lopez Mercado, wearing a blue dress and boots, agreed to get in his car. District Attorney Jose J. Bermudez says that in his confession, Martinez Matos said that he thought Lopez Mercado was a woman." (From 365gay.com via translation of a report in El Nuevo Dia)

Which makes me wonder if the victim may have been a transgender woman, despite the majority of the reports I’ve read referring to a “gay teen” and using male pronouns and a name which may well have been the name in hir legal documentation, but perhaps may not have been the name ze always went by. Regardless, it’s hard not to see it as a blatant and cynical attempt by the accused to lay the foundations for either a gay panic or trans panic defense at his trial.

But it seems the victim-blaming isn’t restricted to just the accused and the media. The local Police Department clearly also has its share of bigots:
"The Puerto Rico Police Department has removed Investigator Angel Rodriguez from the case after Rodriguez made comments suggesting that Lopez was to blame for his own death, according to Edge.
“When these type of people get into this and go out into the streets like this, they know this can happen to them,” Rodriguez reportedly said in a statement to local media outlets." (From EDGE United States via Dallas Voice)

As regards the hate crime aspect:
"Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, the LGBT advocacy group [...] is calling on police to investigate the case as an anti-gay hate crime. Although Puerto Rico added sexual orientation to its hate crimes statute in 2002, Para Tod@s says the statute hasn’t been used to prosecute anti-gay violence. The FBI has announced it will take jurisdiction over the case if it’s determined that Lopez was killed because he was gay." (From EDGE United States via Dallas Voice)

And if it’s determined that ze was killed because ze was trans? I wonder if the hate crime legislation takes account of that possibility.

Anyway. I’d like to close with the words of Bob McCranie, one of the organisers of a candlelight vigil planned for this Sunday:
“A teenager has been burnt and butchered in the streets, and all we can talk about is how many lies are in Sarah Palin’s book, and why Obama bowed to the Japanese prime minister. It is outrageous and unacceptable.” (Via Dallas Voice)

Amen to that.
Note: Links left unlinked.

A day before the Transgender day of remembrance (Nov 20th) we get this fun little story about a teen being brutally slain. And, of course, the media, the accused even the cops are all fucking it up, as usual.

This is just disgusting. And it makes me sick that people do this. Burned. No one deserves to be burned.
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Re: Puerto Rico - first recorded hate crime?

Postby Nemiro » Thu Nov 19, 2009 4:38 pm UTC

Wow. The very first sexual orientation based hate-crime? Kinda makes me wonder how corrupt/biased the cops are.. I am actually more shocked to hear that no murders motivated by this have been committed before.
I can imagine the guy might be a little shocked when he discovered what was what when they got down to the.. erm. Business. But I don't think he can claim gay-panic for such a.. concerted violent act.

Also, those gender-neutrals mess with my head. The way I read this sentence:
Puerto Rico – first recorded hate crime murder? Questioning Transphobia wrote:And if it’s determined that ze was killed because ze was trans? I wonder if the hate crime legislation takes account of that possibility.

My mind wrote:And if eet ees determined zat ze was keeled because ze vas trans?

(I tend to read in Hollywood influenced accents :D)
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Re: Puerto Rico - first recorded hate crime?

Postby Jessica » Thu Nov 19, 2009 4:47 pm UTC

I think what it means is that it's the first time the new hate crime legislation was used.

Also, while we only have the word of the defendant, I highly doubt the fact that they had a penis was a shock.
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Re: Puerto Rico - first recorded hate crime?

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Nov 19, 2009 4:49 pm UTC

Jessica wrote:I highly doubt the fact that they had a penis was a shock.

Why do you say that?

The shock is of course not a justification for brutal murder, but I nonetheless find it very easy to believe that finding a penis where you don't expect one would be a shock.
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Re: Puerto Rico - first recorded hate crime?

Postby Jessica » Thu Nov 19, 2009 4:53 pm UTC

I say I highly doubt it because I believe the man knew that they had one when they got in the car.

Trans/cross dressing prostitutes generally advertise being trans/a cross dresser. Because that's their selling point.

But, something happened (maybe intentionally, maybe not) and he then killed them. And is blaming it on "the shock".
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Re: Puerto Rico - first recorded hate crime?

Postby Chen » Thu Nov 19, 2009 5:45 pm UTC

Jessica wrote:I say I highly doubt it because I believe the man knew that they had one when they got in the car.


Besides cynicism or further evidence there's no real reason to believe that considering its the opposite of what the defendant said.

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Re: Puerto Rico - first recorded hate crime?

Postby Jessica » Thu Nov 19, 2009 5:54 pm UTC

Chen wrote:Besides cynicism or further evidence there's no real reason to believe that considering its the opposite of what the defendant said.
Jessica wrote:Trans/cross dressing prostitutes generally advertise being trans/a cross dresser. Because that's their selling point.
Also, there is evidence that in the past, criminals who have done this knew the person was trans, and yet still gave the trans panic defense. Also, while I'm sure that there exist trans/drag etc prostitutes who don't tell their John that they are trans, I doubt how often that happens, for safety reasons. I mean, prostitutes are usually picked up for sex, no? So, having different parts is quite possibly a problem for that?

Finally, if the number of trans prostitutes who supposedly hide their transness, and "get themselves killed" was really as high as the perpetrators say it is, then colour me impressed.

Of course, in most instances, it's the perp vs the victim's word, and in murders the victim doesn't get to say much.
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Re: Puerto Rico - first recorded hate crime?

Postby Belial » Thu Nov 19, 2009 6:03 pm UTC

Chen wrote:
Jessica wrote:I say I highly doubt it because I believe the man knew that they had one when they got in the car.


Besides cynicism or further evidence there's no real reason to believe that considering its the opposite of what the defendant said.


Aside from the fact that it would be completely counterproductive for both business and health to cover that up? And the fact that "trans panic" has been used successfully as a defense repeatedly and therefore would look way attractive to someone on trial for killing a transwoman?

Yeah, it makes way more sense to assume the trans prostitute did something completely nonsensical, unprofitable and borderline suicidal than it is to assume that he's lying to exploit a common transphobic defense. After all, we know transfolk are mysterious aliens whose logic is impenetrable to us reasonable human beings, and this dude seems totally legit.

But I guess "cynicism" is the polar opposite of "wide-eyed naivete"
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Re: Puerto Rico - first recorded hate crime?

Postby Osha » Thu Nov 19, 2009 6:06 pm UTC

The defendant decapitated, dismembered, and burned a gay and/or trans person. Not exactly something you do in the heat of the moment, it takes time to cut people into pieces and burn them after all. So yes, I think we have reasons to question his testimony.

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Re: Puerto Rico - first recorded hate crime?

Postby Crius » Thu Nov 19, 2009 6:16 pm UTC

If they can find someone familiar with the victim, they probably could testify what the victim's normal business practices are, and factor in the likelyhood of the defendant lying.

What would the difference be in the case? The difference between murder 1 & 2, or the difference between murder and a much weaker charge?

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Re: Puerto Rico - first recorded hate crime?

Postby Jessica » Thu Nov 19, 2009 6:23 pm UTC

There probably would be no difference. Either way it falls under the hate crime laws. It might be 1st vs 2nd, but I don't think that's the problem.

Really, I bring it up because I want to combat the meme that trans women are out to play peek-a-boo with their penis and men. That's something which is often passed around in the media (Women surprising men with their cocks), and I hate it. As a trans woman myself, I dislike the implication that I try and fool people. I know that I have a penis. I know that. I would not show anyone my penis unless they wanted to see it and knew what it was.

But that's neither here nor there. It's a tragedy that this happened. But, the real tragedy is that it happens all the time. every 3 days a trans woman is killed world wide.
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Re: Puerto Rico - first recorded hate crime?

Postby Chen » Thu Nov 19, 2009 6:45 pm UTC

Jessica wrote:There probably would be no difference. Either way it falls under the hate crime laws. It might be 1st vs 2nd, but I don't think that's the problem.

Really, I bring it up because I want to combat the meme that trans women are out to play peek-a-boo with their penis and men. That's something which is often passed around in the media (Women surprising men with their cocks), and I hate it. As a trans woman myself, I dislike the implication that I try and fool people. I know that I have a penis. I know that. I would not show anyone my penis unless they wanted to see it and knew what it was.


I didnt mean it in the sense that the victim deliberately hid the fact that they were transexual. Maybe they figured the guy knew for whatever reason (particular area of town, the fact that they're always there etc) and thus didn't say anything. I'd agree that deliberately hiding the fact generally has little benefit for a prostitute (though I suppose it could be hidden if they were only trying oral sex or something else where their genitals wouldn't come into play), but him not realizing that the person in question was a transexual does not necessarilly mean it was deliberately hidden.

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Re: Puerto Rico - first recorded hate crime?

Postby Jessica » Thu Nov 19, 2009 7:08 pm UTC

We'll never know the truth, only what the survivors have to say. There may be a reason why he says he was surprised. I just hate hearing that meme propagated. Because it's blatantly wrong. and yet the media continues to portray trans people as deceivers. Like they're these "evil gay men" who are trying to have sex with straight men to sully their straightness.

I just hate it so much.
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Re: Puerto Rico - first recorded hate crime?

Postby MrGee » Thu Nov 19, 2009 7:39 pm UTC

Jessica wrote:We'll never know the truth, only what the survivors have to say. There may be a reason why he says he was surprised. I just hate hearing that meme propagated. Because it's blatantly wrong. and yet the media continues to portray trans people as deceivers. Like they're these "evil gay men" who are trying to have sex with straight men to sully their straightness.

I just hate it so much.


But, I thought transgenderism was like cooties or AIDS in Africa...if you give it to someone else you don't have it anymore! :/

I agree that the burning and dismemberment of the corpse tends to make a gay panic defense completely laughable.

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Re: Puerto Rico - first recorded hate crime?

Postby Teapot » Thu Nov 19, 2009 7:56 pm UTC

MrGee wrote:I agree that the burning and dismemberment of the corpse tends to make a gay panic defense completely laughable stupid.
Changed because the word laughable in connection with any part of this crime made me feel a little queasy (I know it wasn't meant like that, it just didn't sit right with me).
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Re: Puerto Rico - first recorded hate crime?

Postby MrGee » Thu Nov 19, 2009 8:06 pm UTC

Teapot wrote:
MrGee wrote:I agree that the burning and dismemberment of the corpse tends to make a gay panic defense completely laughable stupid.
Changed because the word laughable in connection with any part of this crime made me feel a little queasy (I know it wasn't meant like that, it just didn't sit right with me).


"Laughable" in the sense of "inviting ridicule". The fact that this defense often works is more a result of the jury's hatred for gays than its inherent legal merit.

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Re: Puerto Rico - first recorded hate crime?

Postby Chen » Thu Nov 19, 2009 8:13 pm UTC

MrGee wrote:I agree that the burning and dismemberment of the corpse tends to make a gay panic defense completely laughable.


The gay/trans panic defense is pretty laughable flat out I'd say. Hell, even if the psychological trauma of being intimate with a homosexual/transgender did cause a panic, why would we accept that killing the person is acceptable? Frankly I don't want people in my society who have the tendancy to kill things as a first response when they become spooked and/or disgusted with something.


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