1998 Wyoming Attack Remains A Vivid Symbol Of Anti-LGBT Violence
Eighteen years after the horrific murder of Matthew Shepard,Â we remember a gentle young man who became a vivid symbol of the hatred and violence visited upon LGBT people.
On the night of Oct. 6, 1998, Matthew Shepard was lured from a gay-friendly hangout in Laramie, Wyoming, by two young men, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, who pretended to be gay.
McKinney and Henderson drove Shepard to a remote area, beat him with the butt of a .357 magnum pistol, stole his wallet (including his credit card, which provided a first clue to the police) and his shoes (so that he could not walk back), and tied him to a fence.
About 18 hours later, a mountain biker found the brutalized young man. At first glance, he thought what he saw was a scarecrow. Shepard was only barely alive in the 30-degree weather. The only visible part of his bloody face were the tracks made by his tears.
He was rushed to a hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, and put on full life support, but in the early hours of Oct. 12, without regaining consciousness, he expired, with his parents, who had been summoned from their home in Denver, by his side.
As Nikolai Endres observed: “The scarecrow image, a vivid reminder of homosexuals as outcasts, coupled with the Biblical symbol of a crucifixion, caused an outcry across the world. Shepard made the cover of Time magazine and the front page of the New York Times; thousands of candlelight vigils were held across the nation.”
The LGBT community grieved deeply, and our grief was exacerbated by the gloating of homophobes such as the Phelps clan of the Westboro Baptist Church, who picketed Shepard’s funeral with signs alleging “Got hates fags.”
In due course, Henderson and McKinney were convicted of Shepard’s murder. Henderson struck a plea bargain to avoid the death penalty. McKinney was convicted of felony murder after a trial. At the request of Dennis Shepard, he was spared the death penalty and, like Henderson, was sentenced to life in prison.
Matthew Shepard has become a fixture of popular culture, evoked by celebrities and performers in order to signal their position on hate crimes and gay bashings.
Inspired by Shepard’s death, Melissa Etheridge wrote “Scarecrow” on her album Breakdown and dedicated it to Shepard’s memory; Elton John presented a concert in Laramie and played “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” especially for the slain young man; Peter, Paul, and Mary also performed in Wyoming at a concert in Shepard’s memory.
In 2000, MoisÃ©s Kaufman and the Tectonic Theater Project performed the play The Laramie Project in Laramie and then across the country; made into an HBO motion picture in 2002, it has since become a staple of university and community theater.
In 2002, NBC broadcast a made-for-television movie, The Matthew Shepard Story, starring Stockard Channing and Sam Waterston.
In 2008, members of the Tectonic Theater Project returned to Laramie to conduct follow-up interviews with residents featured in The Laramie Project. Those interviews were turned into a companion piece, entitled The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later, which debuted on Oct. 12, 2009.
Shepard also became a poster boy for hate crimes legislation. As a result, he was defamed by right-wing politicians and conservative religious figures. In the House of Representatives, the execrable North Carolina Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx, in a speech characterized by Keith Olbermann as “the most despicable thing said on the floor of the House in decades,” declared that Shepard was not killed because he was gay and that the story of his death is “really a hoax that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these [hate crime] bills.”
Despite the efforts to discredit Shepard, hate crimes legislation finally passed Congress and was signed into law by President Obama on Oct. 28, 2009, eight years after first being introduced. The bill is named the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, after Shepard and an African-American man whose racially motivated murder in 1998 also made national headlines.Â
The hate crimes bill was the first federal legislation that specifically recognized the civil rights of LGBT people. Fittingly, the parents of Matthew Shepard, Judy and Dennis Shepard, were present at the signing ceremony.
Upon the passage of the bill, Judy Shepard issued the following statement: “When Dennis and I started calling 10 years ago for federal action to prevent and properly prosecute hate crimes against gay, lesbian and transgendered Americans, we never imagined it would take this long. The legislation went through so many versions and so many votes that we had to constantly keep our hopes in check to keep from getting discouraged. … We are incredibly grateful to Congress and the president for taking this step forward on behalf of hate crime victims and their families, especially given the continuing attacks on people simply for living their lives openly and honestly.”
Central to the success of the legislation was indeed the unstinting efforts of Shepard’s parents and the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which they established in 1999 “to honor Matthew in a manner that was appropriate to his dreams, beliefs and aspirations.” The Foundation “seeks to ‘Replace Hate with Understanding, Compassion & Acceptance’ through its varied educational, outreach and advocacy programs and by continuing to tell Matthew’s story.'”
This video from the Matthew Shepard Foundation tells Matthew’s story:Â
In 2012, LeslÃ©a Newman publishedÂ October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard. A slim but powerful volume of poems, “a historical novel in verse,”Â October MourningÂ explores with heartbreaking insight the meaning of a gentle young man’s unspeakable death at the hands of gaybashers.
In 2015, Michele Josue’s highly personal documentary,Â Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine, was issued to critical acclaim.
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Trump Organization Given ‘Corporate Death Penalty’ and Ordered Dissolved by Judge After ‘Persistent Fraud’: Legal Experts
A New York judge has ordered Donald Trump’s business entities in the state of New York, including The Trump Organization, dissolved, and his business certificates canceled, according to legal experts, after ruling that the ex-president for years committed fraud and deceived banks and insurers by inflating the value of his assets.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron “has ordered cancellation of all [NYS] business [certificates] of ‘any entity controlled or beneficially owned by Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Jr, Eric Trump, Alan Weisselberg, & Jeffrey McConney. An independent receiver will manage the dissolutions,” writes former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega.
Correct, @AndrewFeinberg. The judge has ordered cancellation of all [NYS] business certs of “any entity controlled or beneficially owned by Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Jr, Eric Trump, Alan Weisselberg, & Jeffrey McConney. An independent receiver will manage the dissolutions. https://t.co/mK0vkzQXon
— Elizabeth de la Vega (@Delavegalaw) September 26, 2023
The Messenger reports Judge Engoron’s “blockbuster ruling found that the former president and his business leaders failed to correct course after warned of a ‘propensity to engage in persistent fraud,'” and ordered “a quick timeline to dissolve the Trump Organization and other corporate entities.”
MSNBC legal analyst Lisa Rubin explains that the “New York trial court judge has found that Trump, his adult sons, and Allen Weisselberg engaged in a persistent, years-long fraud through ‘fantasy world’ valuations of core Trump assets, including his own residence and various golf courses and office buildings.”
“His decision not only eliminates the need for trial on that claim, but also orders fairly dramatic relief: the cancellation of New York business certificates for all of the entities named as defendants, ‘as well as any other entity controlled or beneficially owned by the individual defendants found liable,'” she adds.
“In addition to finding that Trump committed fraud, the judge canceled the certificates of various Trump businesses, appointed a former judge as an independent monitor of the Trump Organization, and will appoint receivers to manage the canceled LLCs,” writes former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti.
“This is a pretty big deal,” he adds.
Professor of law Ryan Goodman, the former Dept. of Defense Special Counsel says Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron ordered the “corporate death penalty” for the Trump organization. Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance also used the term “corporate death penalty.”
“The leading Republican candidate has been found liable for sexual assault and fraud, his companies found guilty of fraud, and he’s charged with 91 OTHER felony counts. That he is not dismissed politically out of hand says much more about us, than about him,” observes MSNBC’s Andrew Weissmann, the well-known former lead prosecutor in Robert S. Mueller’s Special Counsel’s Office and former FBI General Counsel.
Attorney, retired U.S. Air Force colonel, and former administrative law judge Moe Davis responding to the news, writes: “Trump is the eponymous fraudster. The name Trump is to fraud what Campell’s is to soup, Kleenex is to tissue, and ping is to pong.”
Trump Committed Fraud and Deceived Banks While Growing His Real Estate Empire, Judge Says: Report
Donald Trump committed fraud, deceived banks, and inflated the value of his real estate holdings a judge said Tuesday, granting New York Attorney General Letitia James partial summary judgment in her civil case against the ex-president.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron “has ruled that Donald Trump committed fraud for years while building the real estate empire that catapulted him to fame and the White House,” The Associated Press reports. Judge Engoron “found that the former president and his company deceived banks, insurers and others by massively overvaluing his assets and exaggerating his net worth on paperwork used in making deals and securing financing.”
“The decision, days before the start of a non-jury trial in Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit, is the strongest repudiation yet of Trump’s carefully coiffed image as a wealthy and shrewd real estate mogul turned political powerhouse,” The AP adds.
Attorney General James “is seeking $250 million in penalties and a ban on Trump doing business in New York, his home state. The trial could last into December, Engoron has said.”
READ MORE: McCarthy Now Blaming Likely Shutdown on Fentanyl, President Biden, and His Own House Republicans
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McCarthy Now Blaming Likely Shutdown on Fentanyl, President Biden, and His Own House Republicans
Speaker Kevin McCarthy during a raucous gaggle with reporters Tuesday afternoon blamed the increasingly likely shutdown of the federal government on fentanyl, President Joe Biden, and his own House Republicans.
Political experts have said the Republican Speaker could avoid a government shutdown, which will happen at midnight on Friday if legislation is not passed, by making a deal with Democrats and a small number of House Republicans. Doing so would likely cost him his job.
Asked on Tuesday by CNN’s Manu Raju, “Are you ruling out a clean CR without any border security?” McCarthy immediately launched in to a diatribe.
“You know what’s so concerning here? What do you tell to the families that tomorrow morning are gonna wake up and their child’s dead? Because fentanyl came across?” he asked the CNN reporter (video below). “What do you tell to that border agent that you saw the other day? Now his network doesn’t believe it but he’s all in blood. Or the cartels, the billions of dollars that they’re making. Or to the young girls that get raped?”
Another reporter, seemingly frustrated, interjected and asked, “But what do you tell the workers who are concerned they’re gonna get furloughed next week because there is no agreement in your chamber, sir?”
“Well, I know. It’s easy,” McCarthy claimed. “All the President has to do is say, ‘You know what, as one of my fundamental jobs as the President of the United States is to secure our border.'”
Another reporter, ignoring the Speaker’s apparent obfuscation, loudly asked, “Speaker McCarthy if we see the rule votes fail later today, is it possible to even move on to a CR [continuing resolution] for you?”
“Oh, yeah, I never give up,” McCarthy said smiling.
“I know that,” she replied, “but do you think you have the votes?”
Again, not delivering a straight answer, McCarthy smiled and replied, “Oh, I’ve got a lot of things I can try.”
CNN’s Raju reported that McCarthy, when asked about the “math,” meaning if he has the votes to keep the government open, said: “What’s concerning to me is that there are people in the Republican Party who will take the position of President Biden against what the rest of Americans want.”
That could suggest some Republicans have indicated they would vote with Democrats on a bill to keep the government from shutting down.
Raju also reported he asked “Speaker McCarthy if he believes he could survive a vote to oust him from the speakership, as [Rep. Matt] Gaetz has threatened, and he said: ‘I don’t count that vote.'”
NPR’s Joel Rose has reported, “Close to 90% of … fentanyl is seized at ports of entry. Immigration authorities say it is smuggled mostly by U.S. citizens, as well as other travelers who are legally authorized to cross. Virtually none is seized from migrants who are seeking asylum.”
On Monday The Washington Post Editorial Board wrote: “The U.S. government will almost certainly shut down on Oct. 1, the work of ultraconservative holdouts who want to ‘burn the whole place down,’ as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) put it. Yet, for now, Mr. McCarthy does not appear willing to take away the matches. He could sideline the objectors by calling House Democrats and agreeing to pass bipartisan legislation to fund the government.”
Watch McCarthy below or at this link.
When asked if he has the votes for a continuing resolution to avert a government shutdown if the House rules vote fails, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) says, “I’ve got a lot of things I can try.” pic.twitter.com/byzQP5XUCc
— The Recount (@therecount) September 26, 2023
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