Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Remembering Matthew Shepard 12 Years After His Murder

Today marks the 12th anniversary of the murder of Matthew Wayne Shepard (December 1, 1976 – October 12, 1998). Matthew Shepard was only 21 when he was brutally attacked and murdered in Laramie, Wyoming. He was robbed, pistol whipped and tied to a fence and left to die by two men whom he had met at the Fireside Lounge in Laramie, Wyoming. Mr. Shepard was taken to  Poudre Valley Hospital, in Fort Collins, Colorado, where he was pronounced dead at 12:53 a.m. on October 12, 1998. The authorities arrested  Russell Arthur Henderson and Aaron James McKinney, shortly after his death. Matthew  Shepard's shoes and wallet was found  in their truck, along with the gun used to pistol whip him. The crime was a premeditated one, as collaborated by the two girlfriends of the murderers, both of whom testified that their boyfriends “plotted to rob a gay man”. Both Henderson and McKinley were sentenced to two consecutive life terms.

President Barack Obama, on October 28, 2009  signed into law “The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act”, also known as the Matthew Shepard Act, it  is an American Act of Congress, passed on October 22, 2009. These are some of the  provisions that are included in the bill:

    1.  Removes the requirement that the victim be engaging in a federally-protected activity, like voting or going to school;
    2. Gives federal authorities much greater ability to investigate hate crimes that local authorities choose not to pursue;
    3.  Provides $5 million per year in funding for fiscal years 2010 through 2012 to help state and local agencies pay for investigating and prosecuting hate crimes;
    4.  Requires the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to track statistics on  hate crimes perpetuated against transgender people

If you would like to find out more about Matthew Shepard on what you can do to help the many LGBT facing the brunt of malicious hate crimes, you can do so by visiting The Matthew Shepard Foundation.

Lets do all that we can to stop the brutal hate crimes against the many LGBT youth. There has been a recent rash of violence against many gay teens. Please do what you can to help end this bigotry and injustice. It’s the best memorial any of us can give Matthew and other victims of LGBT hate crimes. 


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