Was It a Hate Crime? Police Won’t Say
In a case with possibleÂ markings of an anti-LGBT hate crime,Â authorities in rural Alabama have arrested six people in connection with the murder of a 19-year-old bisexual man last month.Â
Representatives from the sheriff’s department in Walker County, northwest of Birmingham, say they know the motive for the murder of Nicholas Hawkins, who was found shot to death and wrapped in a blanket, buried under brush and debris, on Feb. 16.Â
However, they also say they’re “not at liberty to discuss any motive” publicly, according to a report from AL.com.Â
Although authorities haven’t released any evidence to suggest that Hawkins’ sexual orientation was the motive for his murder, it’s not uncommon for law enforcement officials to avoid labeling incidents hate crimes in the media because they fear negative publicity for their jurisdictions, especially in cases of extreme violence.
Some LGBT advocates have argued that the murder of a young, openly LGBT person in a rural, conservative area should be considered a hate crime until indicated otherwise. Furthermore, Alabama has in many ways been ground zero for backlash against the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of same-sex marriage, undoubtedly creating an even more hostile environment for LGBT people.Â
Hawkins, an aspiring cosmetologist, was returning from a beauty pageant when he phoned his mother at about 8 p.m. on Feb. 13 and said Joshua Adam Reese was trying to kill him, but gave no further details before the call cut off,Â AL.comÂ reported.Â
At the time, the 21-year-old Reese was free on bond on an attempted murder charge from 2013, and police arrested him on an outstanding warrant Feb. 16, labeling him a person of interest in Hawkins’ death. Hours later, after a three-day search, they discovered the body of Hawkins, who’d come out as bisexual in high school but later dropped out due to bullying.Â
Notably, none of the recent local news reports about the investigation into Hawkins’ death have indicated that he was bisexual. In a recent post about Hawkins’ murder, bisexual advocacy group BiNet USA said it is important to refer to the bisexual identities of people lost to violence.Â
“AlthoughÂ not enough informationÂ has been released to know if this was an act of violence due to his sexual orientation, it is important to note statistics showÂ biphobia plays a big part in bullyingÂ and violence,” theÂ group wrote. “It’s equally important to note the bisexual erasure inÂ severalÂ articlesÂ reporting on Nick, that don’t include his orientation. … Nick’s orientation mattered to him, and his loss is certainly a headline for our entire community.”
Hawkins was weeks away from obtaining his GED, and at a vigil for the slain teen, his brother described him as “fragile, innocent and sweet.”Â
“I hope we get swift, severe justice,” Jacob Hawkins said. “From what I was told it was a horrible, horrible death.”
On Feb. 26, police announced they’d charged Reese with murder in the case.
â€œWe feel like our investigation shows that Joshua Reese is the person who shot and murdered Nicholas Hawkins,” Walker County Sheriff Jim Underwood said at a news conference.Â
Two other men â€”Â Danny Lee Jarvis, 22, and Cory Daniel Conner, 28 â€” have also been charged with murder in Hawkins’ death.Â
“I can’t go into what role they played in this case,”Â Underwood said.Â
Like Reese, both Jarvis and Conner had prior criminal records.Â
The sheriff’s office has also charged three people with hinderingÂ prosecution in Hawkins’ murder:Â Colton Stephen Echols, 20, of Sumiton; Tessa Jean Wise, 23, of Dora; Lawanda Marie Reese, 39, of Quinton.
Lawanda Reese is Joshua Reese’s mother, and police say she lied to investigators to aid her son.Â
“It’s said that there were so many people involved,Â young people,Â for a senseless act,” said Hawkins’ uncle, Dan Frederick.
Sheriff Underwood could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday morning.Â
This is a developing story. Details may change. This story may be updated, and NCRM will likely publish follow-up stories on this news. Stay tuned.
Image viaÂ FacebookÂ
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‘I Will Not Stand by Silently’: Sotomayor Blasts SCOTUS Conservatives Over Their Latest Attack on Abortion Rights
“The Court may look the other way, but I cannot.”
Justice Sonia Sotomayor expressed outrage at her conservative Supreme Court colleagues Thursday afternoon, after the six right wing jurists went one step further in attacking the constitutional guarantee of abortion.
Voting 6-3 against a women’s health care provider the Court denied a request by Texas Women’s Health, which provides abortion services, to change jurisdictions, which according to Justice Sotomayor the Court should have done.
“The lawsuit is now stalled with the Texas Supreme Court,” Rewire News reports.
Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, a Supreme Court expert calls Sotomayor’s dissent “stunning.”
“This case is a disaster for the rule of law and a grave disservice to women in Texas, who have a right to control their own bodies,” Sotomayor writes. “I will not stand by silently as a State continues to nullify this constitutional guarantee. I dissent.”
She begins her dissent by explaining the case:
“It has been over four months since Texas Senate Bill 8 (S. B. 8) took effect. The law immediately devastated access to abortion care in Texas through a complicated private-bounty-hunter scheme that violates nearly 50 years of this Court’s precedents.”
“Today, for the fourth time, this Court declines to protect pregnant Texans from egregious violations of their constitutional rights. One month after directing that the petitioners’ suit could proceed in part, the Court countenances yet another violation of its own commands. Instead of stopping a Fifth Circuit panel from indulging Texas’ newest delay tactics, the Court allows the State yet again to extend the deprivation of the federal constitutional rights of its citizens through procedural manipulation. The Court may look the other way, but I cannot.”
In response the Guttmacher Institute, an organization focused on sexual and reproductive health and rights, accused the Supreme Court of “once again putting ideology over the rule of law.”
Image via Shutterstock
Ivanka Trump Responds to Committee’s Invite by Saying She Called for End to Violence – Leaves Out ‘Patriots’ Part
Ivanka Trump is responding to her invitation from the January 6 Committee by issuing a statement that is being seen suggesting she has no intention of accepting. Earlier Thursday the Committee sent the former First Daughter and White House senior advisor a lengthy 11-page letter asking for her voluntary cooperation.
A statement from her spokesperson given to CNN White House Correspondent Kate Bennett references a tweet posted by Ivanka Trump the day of the attack on the Capitol – a tweet she was forced to delete after massive outrage.
“As the Committee already knows, Ivanka did not speak at the January 6 rally,” the statement reads. “As she publicly stated at 3:15pm, ‘any security breach or disrespect to our law enforcement is unacceptable. The violence must stop immediately.”
NEW: @IvankaTrump's spokesperson tells me Ivanka "just learned" of the 1/6 Committee's invitation to appear before them, but from the response below, it sounds as though she isn't planning to do so: pic.twitter.com/VXpUXDnEuP
— Kate Bennett (@KateBennett_DC) January 20, 2022
But in the actual Ivanka Trump called the insurrectionists “American Patriots,” as CNN reported that day:
— CNN (@CNN) January 6, 2021
Georgia Prosecutor Asks to Convene Special Grand Jury to Investigate Donald Trump’s Alleged Election Interference
A Georgia county district attorney has requested to convene a special grand jury to assist in her investigation of Donald Trump‘s alleged election interference.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in a letter to the county’s Superior Court chief judge writes that her office “has received information indicating a reasonable probability that the State of Georgia’s administration of elections in 2020, including the State’s election of the President of the United States, was subject to possible criminal disruptions,” according to the Associated Press.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (photo) was forced to release audio of then-President Trump appearing to intimidate him into fixing the election in his favor.
Trump, in the audio, can be heard berating and threatening the Republican Secretary of State, demanding he “recalculate” the losing election results and “find 11,780 votes” for him, which would have enabled Trump to falsely be declared the winner. Raffensberger refused.
“So look. All I want to do is this,” Trump told Raffensberger. “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.”
“There’s no way I lost Georgia,” he added, falsely. “There’s no way. We won by hundreds of thousands of votes.”
Willis told the AP the scope of her investigation “includes — but is not limited to — a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a November 2020 phone call between U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and Raffensperger, the abrupt resignation of the U.S. attorney in Atlanta on Jan. 4, 2021, and comments made during December 2020 Georgia legislative committee hearings on the election.”
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