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Police Arrest 6 in Murder of Bisexual Teen Who Told Mom, ‘Somebody Is Trying to Kill Me’

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Was It a Hate Crime? Police Won’t Say

In a case with possible markings of an anti-LGBT hate crime, authorities in rural Alabama have arrested six people in connection with the murder of a 19-year-old bisexual man last month. 

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. 

However, they also say they’re “not at liberty to discuss any motive” publicly, according to a report from AL.com. 

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. 

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, AL.com reported. 

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. 

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. 

“Although not enough information has been released to know if this was an act of violence due to his sexual orientation, it is important to note statistics show biphobia plays a big part in bullying and violence,” the group wrote. “It’s equally important to note the bisexual erasure in several articles 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.” 

“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.

“We 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. 

Two other men — Danny Lee Jarvis, 22, and Cory Daniel Conner, 28 — have also been charged with murder in Hawkins’ death. 

“I can’t go into what role they played in this case,” Underwood said. 

Like Reese, both Jarvis and Conner had prior criminal records. 

The sheriff’s office has also charged three people with hindering prosecution in Hawkins’ murder: 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. 

“It’s said that there were so many people involved, young people, for a senseless act,” said Hawkins’ uncle, Dan Frederick.

Sheriff Underwood could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday morning. 

 

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.

 

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'CLARIFYING THINGS'

Mark Meadows Retweets Trump’s Denial He Tested Positive for COVID Before Debate – a Fact That Appears in Meadows’ Book

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Less than 24 hours after former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows appeared to agree to cooperate with the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, news broke that The Guardian had obtained a copy of his new book, and from it the revelation that three days before appearing on stage with Joe Biden at the Sept. 26 presidential debate the then-president, Donald Trump, had tested positive for coronavirus.

Never mind that a second test showed a negative result – one Harvard epidemiologist says that merely meant Trump was not yet infectious but he was, by the debate, “blazing positive” but decided to go on a potentially infect countless others. That act, the noted disease specialist and professors says, “was a massive, dangerous and likely intentional decision.”

Trump, as usual, especially in recent days, issued a quick statement via his spokesperson, this time denying the revelation in Meadows’ book, a revelation The Washington Post Wednesday afternoon reported it had confirmed with two other former Trump aides.

What is stunning is that, as Politico National Political Correspondent Meridith McGraw notes, Meadows himself retweeted Trump’s statement of denial:

The Washington Post also notes that at least six people close to Trump tested positive for coronavirus shortly after the debate, including Melania Trump, Hope Hicks, Stephen Miller, and Kayleigh McEnany.

“Trump on Wednesday was furious that Meadows revealed the anecdote in his forthcoming book and that it was published via the liberal-leaning Guardian website, according to a person familiar with the former president’s reaction, who requested anonymity to reveal a private conversation,” the Post adds. “Meadows through an emissary has offered to put out a statement ‘clarifying things,’ but that offer was rejected, the person said.”

Which is likely why he decided to retweet Trump’s statement.

Writer and political activist Don Winslow has another take on the day’s events:

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BREAKING NEWS

Watch: Stacey Abrams Announces She’s Running for Governor of Georgia

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Stacey Abrams has just announced she is running for governor of Georgia. Abrams, the former Minority Leader of the Georgia House of Representatives for more than six years ran for governor in 2018, losing by a slim margin to then Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp in a race many saw as tainted by his voter suppression actions.

Abrams went on to become a highly-effective voting rights advocate and activist, and many credit her with helping elect Joe Biden president by helping him win the state by registering an estimated 800,000 more voters.

Watch:

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'PRETTY STARK DIFFERENCE'

‘The Former President Was Suggesting People Inject Bleach’: Psaki Smacks Down Doocy Over COVID Deaths

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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was quick to scuttle Fox News’ president anti-Biden propagandist after he tried to turn today’s news about then-President Donald Trump hiding the results of his positive COVID test barely days before standing on stage with Joe Biden at a Sept. 2020 debate into a story about President Joe Biden’s success in scuttling the pandemic.

“There’s a lot of talk about the first Trump-Biden debate today,” Doocy began. “But at the second one in 2021, roughly 220,000 Americans had already died of COVID. Joe Biden said about Trump, ‘anyone who was responsible for that many deaths should not remain as President of the United States of America.’ Is that still the standard now that more Americans have died under President Biden?

“I think the fundamental question here is what are you doing to save lives and protect people?” Psaki responded, with a tinge of anger. “And the former president was suggesting people inject bleach. He apparently, reportedly didn’t even share with people he was going to interact with that he had tested positive for COVID himself. He continued to provide a forum for misinformation, which probably led to people not getting, not taking steps forward to get to protect themselves, to wear a mask, to eventually get vaccinated. This President has made the vaccine widely available. He’s relied on the health – the advice of his health and medical experts, and he is trying to be a part of solving this crisis, getting the pandemic under control. And I think there’s a pretty stark difference between their approaches. ”

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