Tag Archives: Matthew Shepard

Matthew Shepard Murder

Matthew Shepard Murder

October 6, 1998

Before Laramie

The story of Matthew Shepard. He was born in Casper, Wyoming on December 1, 1976 to Judy and Dennis Shepard. He and his family moved to Saudia Arabia when he was a high school junior, but Matthew finished school at the American School in Switzerland because there were no American high schools in Saudi Arabia. 

Matthew was well-liked by his fellow students in both high schools

After graduating from high school and attending a couple different colleges, Matt moved back to Wyoming where he studied political science, foreign relations and languages at the University of Wyoming in Laramie.

Matthew Shepard Murder

On October 6, 1998  Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, strangers to Matthew, met him at the Fireside Lounge in Laramie. Because of his small stature, McKinney and Henderson figured Shepard would be easy to rob. 

They said they'd give a ride home but drove to a rural area where they tied him to a split-rail fence, beat him severely with the butt of a .357 Smith & Wesson pistol, and left him to die in the near-freezing temperatures of the early morning hours of October 7.

18 hour later Aaron Kreifels, a biker, discovered Shepard. So badly beaten that Kreifels at thought Shepard was a scarecrow.  Shepard was still alive but comatose.  

Medics rushed him 65 miles to Fort Collins, Colorado where he remained in a coma for four days. Doctors pronounced him dead at 12:53 A.M. on October 12, 1998. He was 21 years old.
Westboro Baptist Church
On October 17, the Shepard family buried Matthew. Fred Phelps, leader of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, took his church's "God Hates Fags" message to the funeral. Two of his picket signs read: "No Tears for Queers" and "Fag Matt in Hell."
Life sentences
On April 5, 1999 Russell Henderson pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against Aaron McKinney to avoid the death penalty; Henderson would receive two consecutive life sentences. 

The jury in McKinney's trial found him guilty of felony murder. As they began to deliberate on the death penalty, Shepard's parents brokered a deal, resulting in McKinney receiving two consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole.
Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act
On April 3, 2001 Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) introduced the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The bill died when it failed to advance in the Subcommittee on Crime.  

On April 2, 2004 The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act reintroduced. It failed to advance in committee.

On May 26, 2005 The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act reintroduced. It failed to advance in committee. 

On March 30, 2007 The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act  reintroduced a fourth time. The 2007 version of the bill added gender identity to the list of suspect classes for prosecution of hate crimes. The bill was again referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security. 

On May 3, 2007. The House of Representatives passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, but the bill got stuck in Senate committee. 

On September 27, 2007, the Senate passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act  as an amendment to another bill. President George W Bush indicated he would veto the legislation if it reached his desk. Democratic leadership dropped the amendment because of opposition from conservative groups and President George Bush.

President Barak Obama

Matthew Shepard Murder

On April 2, 2009 Rep John Conyers for a fifth time introduced the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. It has the support of President Obama. 

On October 28, 2009 President Obama signed the Act as a rider to the National Defense Authorization Act for 2010. The measure expanded the 1969 United States federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. 

Matthew Shepard Foundation

During the years that followed Shepard's brutal murder, the Shepard family received donations from all over the world. They decided to begin the Matthew Shepard Foundation. It's mission is to empower individuals to embrace human dignity and diversity through outreach, advocacy and resource programs. It strives to replace hate with understanding, compassion and acceptance. [link to MSF]
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October 17 Peace Love Activism

October 17 Peace Love Activism

BLACK HISTORY

TERRORISM
October 17, 1872: President Grant declared martial law and suspended the writ of habeas corpus in nine South Carolina counties. Once he did so, federal forces were allowed to arrest and imprison KKK members and instigators of racial terrorism without bringing them before a judge or into court. Many affluent Klan members fled the jurisdiction to avoid arrest but by December 1871 approximately 600 Klansmen were in jail. More than 200 arrestees were indicted, 53 pleaded guilty, and five were convicted at trial. Klan terrorism in South Carolina decreased significantly after the arrests and trials but racial violence targeting black people continued throughout the South for decades. (see Nov 28)
Lunch counter desegregation
October 17, 1960: in response to the sit-ins that had began on February 1, several chain stores announced on this day that they would desegregate their lunch counters in North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and seven other southern states. This decision was arguably the greatest single victory for the sit-in movement, but many restaurants continued to segregate. (see Oct 19)
BLACK & SHOT
October 17, 2010: force in Pleasantville, N.Y police officer, Aaron Hess shot and killed Danroy Henry, a college running back sitting next to his best friend Brandon Cox from Easton, Mass., Hess fired four rounds, his lawyer said, into the Nissan Altima with Cox and Henry inside, killing Henry, wounding Cox. (B & S, and Henry, see February 14, 2011)

Vietnam

October 17, 1887: French Indochina was officially formed from Annam, Tonkin, Cochinchina (which together form modern Vietnam) and the Kingdom of Cambodia following the Sino-French war (1884–1885). Laos was added after the Franco-Siamese War in 1893. (see May 19, 1891)

Cold War

Loyalty oath invalidated
October 17, 1952 : a loyalty oath for University of California employees was a major controversy for many years, beginning in 1949. The Board of Regents finally adopted a required oath on April 21, 1950. On August 25, UC fired 31 faculty for refusing to sign the oath. On this day, the California Supreme Court invalidated the law in Tolman v. Underhill. (The university oath was separate from, and in addition to, the Levering Act oath, which was required of all California public employees, signed into law by Governor Earl Warren on October 3, 1950.) (see Nov 1)
Che returned

Oct 17

October 17, 1997: Guevara's remains, with those of six of his fellow combatants, were laid to rest with military honors in a specially built mausoleum in the Cuban city of Santa Clara, where he had commanded over the decisive military victory of the Cuban Revolution. (see April 10, 1998) (NYT article)
Fernald School

mit radiation exp

October 17, 1995: in a lawsuit over radiation experiments MIT researchers conducted at a home for mentally retarded children during the 1950s was filed. The lawsuit came only days after an advisory committee to President Clinton released findings about thousands of human radiation experiments conducted during the Cold War, including tests done at the Fernald School. The committee concluded that the experiments were wrong and warranted apologies to the test subjects but that only a few should receive monetary compensation. (ADA, see February 8, 1996; CW, see May 12, 2002)

see October 17 Music et al for more

“Save the Last Dance for Me”
October 17 – 23, 1960: written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, “Save the Last Dance for Me” by the Drifters #1 Billboard Hot 100. The song was written on the day of Pomus' wedding while the wheelchair-bound groom, who had polio as a child, watched from his wheelchair as his bride danced with their guests.
Beatles first Christmas disc
October 17, 1963: among other things, the Beatles recorded a free flexi-disc to be given away to members of the Official Beatles Fan Club. This was the first of seven such recordings made between 1963 and 1969, and was posted to members on 9 December. (see Oct 21)
“Do Wah Diddy Diddy”
October 17 – 30, 1964: “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” by Manfred Mann #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Cultural Milestone
October 17, 1967: the play, Hair premiered off-Broadway at the Public Theatre and ran for a limited engagement of six weeks. Although the production had a "tepid critical reception", it was popular with audiences. (CM, see Oct 18; Hair, see  Dec 22)
Brian Epstein
October 17, 1967: John, Paul, George, and Ringo attend a memorial service for Brian Epstein at the New London Synagogue, Abbey Road. (see Nov 27)

LGBTQ

Homosexual League of New York
October 17, 1963, LGBTQ: Randolph Wicker, director of the Homosexual League of New York, called for public acceptance of homosexuals as a legitimate minority group. (see December 16) NYT article)
Westboro Baptist Church
October 17October 17, 1998: Matthew Shepard buried. Fred Phelps, leader of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, took his church's "God Hates Fags" message to the funeral of Matthew Shepard, held in Casper, Wyoming. Two of his picket signs read: "No Tears for Queers" and "Fag Matt in Hell. (NYT article) (see April 5, 1999)

Native Americans

October 17, 1988: The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act established the jurisdictional framework that governs Indian gaming. There was no federal gaming structure before this act. The stated purposes of the act include providing a legislative basis for the operation/regulation of Indian gaming, protecting gaming as a means of generating revenue for the tribes, encouraging economic development of these tribes, and protecting the enterprises from negative influences (such as organized crime). (see January 30, 1989)
October 17 Peace Love Activism

Immigration History

October 17, 2013: a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the federal hate-crime convictions of Derrick Donchak and Brandon Piekarsky in the July 12, 2008 beating death of immigrant Luis Ramirez.

The Third Circuit panel in Philadelphia affirmed both convictions and sentences for Donchak and Piekarsky for violating the civil rights of Ramirez, 25, after a booze-fueled confrontation with a group of white high-school football players in the former mining town of Shenandoah.

Donchak, then 20, and Piekarsky, then 18, were found guilty of the federal charges by a federal jury sitting in Scranton on October 14, 2010. Each was sentenced to nine years in prison followed by three years of supervised release. (see March 3, 2014)

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October 6 Peace Love Activism

October 6 Peace Love Activism

US Labor History

“The Jazz Singer”

October 6 Peace Love Activism

October 6, 1927:  “The Jazz Singer” – the first feature-length sound film in the US – opened in New York City. Within three years, 22,000 theater jobs for musicians who accompanied silent films were lost, while only a few hundred jobs for musicians performing on soundtracks were created by the new technology. (see Nov 21)
UAW
October 6, 1976: the UAW ends a 3-week strike against Ford Motor Co. when the company agrees to a contract that includes more vacation days and better retirement and unemployment benefits. (see January 28, 1977)
Feminism
October 6, 1986: female flight attendants won an 18-year lawsuit against United Airlines, which had fired them for getting married. The lawsuit was resolved when a U.S. district court approved the reinstatement of 475 attendants and $37 million back-pay settlement for 1,725 flight attendants. (United Airlines, Inc. v. McDonald, 432 U.S. 385 (1977)) (Feminism, see Nov 1; Labor, see February 2, 1987)

Nuclear/Chemical News

October 6, 1961: the Soviet Union above-ground nuclear test. 4 megaton.

President Kennedy, speaking on civil defense, advised American families to build bomb shelters to protect them from atomic fallout in the event of a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union. (see Oct 23, 1961)
Films about living in fallout shelter

 

1965 World Series

October 6 Peace Love Activism

October 6 - 14, 1965, World Series: LA Dodgers against the Minnesota Twins. LA in 7 games.

LSD

October 6, 1966, LSD : a new federal law made possession of LSD illegal. (see Oct 20)

Cultural Milestone

October 6, 1967: after many young people left the Haight-Ashbury at the end of a tumultuous, those remaining in the Haight wanted to commemorate the conclusion of the event. A mock funeral entitled "The Death of the Hippie" ceremony was staged on October 6, 1967, and organizer Mary Kasper explained: We wanted to signal that this was the end of it, to stay where you are, bring the revolution to where you live and don't come here because it's over and done with. (see Oct 17)
October 6 Peace Love Activism

Yom Kippur War

October 6, 1973: the fourth and largest Arab–Israeli conflict begins, as Egyptian and Syrian forces attack Israeli forces in the Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights on Yom Kippur.

Irish Troubles

October 6, 1981:  Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Prior, announced a number of changes in prison policy, one of which would allowed prisoners to wear their civilian clothes at all times. This was one of the five key demands that had been made at the start of the hunger strike. Prior also announced other changes: free association would be allowed in neighboring wings of each H-Block, in the exercise areas and in recreation rooms; an increase in the number of visits each prisoner would be entitled to..(see July 20, 1982)

LGBTQ

Matthew Shepard murder

 

October 6 Peace Love Activism

October 6, 1998: Matthew Shepard met Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson for the first time at the Fireside Lounge in Laramie, Wyoming. It was decided that McKinney and Henderson would give Shepard a ride home. McKinney and Henderson subsequently drove the car to a remote, rural area and proceeded to rob, pistol-whip, and torture Shepard, tying him to a fence and leaving him to die. According to their court testimony, McKinney and Henderson also discovered his address and intended to steal from his home. Still tied to the fence, Shepard, who was still alive but in a coma, was discovered 18 hours later by Aaron Kreifels, a cyclist who initially mistook Shepard for a scarecrow. (see Oct 12)
Melissa Ethridge, “Scarecrow”

Showers of your crimson blood
Seep into a nation calling up a flood
Of narrow minds who legislate
Thinly veiled intolerance
Bigotry and hateBut they tortured and burned you
They beat you and they tied you
They left you cold and breathing
For love they crucified youI can’t forget hard as I try
This silhouette against the skyScarecrow crying
Waiting to die wondering why
Scarecrow trying
Angels will hold carry your soul awayThis was our brother
This was our son
This shepherd young and mild
This unassuming one
We all gasp this can’t happen here
We’re all much too civilized
Where can these monsters hideBut they are knocking on our front door
They’re rocking in our cradles
They’re preaching in our churches
And eating at our tablesI search my soul
My heart and in my mind
To try and find forgiveness
This is someone child
With pain unreconciled
Filled up with father’s hate
Mother’s neglect
I can forgive But I will not forgetScarecrow crying
Waiting to die wondering why
Scarecrow trying
Rising above all in the name of love
Elton John, American Triangle

Seen him playing in his backyard
Young boy just starting out
So much history in this landscape
So much confusion, so much doubtBeen there drinking on that front porch
Angry kids, mean and dumb
Looks like a painting, that blue skyline
God hates fags where we come from’Western skies’ don’t make it right
‘Home of the brave’ don’t make no sense
I’ve seen a scarecrow wrapped in wireLeft to die on a high ridge fenceIt’s a cold, cold wind
It’s a cold, cold wind
It’s a cold wind blowing, Wyoming
See two coyotes run down a deer
Hate what we don’t understand
You pioneers give us your children
But it’s your blood that stains their hands

Somewhere that road forks up ahead
To ignorance and innocence
Three lives drift on different winds
Two lives ruined, one life spent

Same-sex marriage
October 6, 2014: the US Supreme Court let stand an appeals court rulings allowing same-sex marriage in five states. The development cleared the way for same-sex marriages in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. Gay and lesbian couples started getting married in those states within hours. (see Oct 8)

BLACK HISTORY

October 6, 2009: Beth Humphrey, a white woman from Hammond, Louisiana, called Keith Bardwell, a justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, to ask him to sign a license for her to marry Terence McKay, an African American man. Bardwell’s wife informed Humphrey that he would not sign a marriage license for an interracial couple. Bardwell, a justice of the peace for over 30 years, later estimated he had denied marriage licenses to four interracial couples during the previous two and a half years.

After his refusal was publicized and generated controversy, Bardwell defended his actions, insisting in interviews that he is “not a racist” and claiming he denied marriage licenses out of concern for the problems that would face an interracial couple’s children. He said he “does not believe in mixing races in that way” and believes “there is a problem with both groups [of whites and African Americans] accepting a child from such a marriage. I think those children suffer and I won't help put them through it.”

Humphrey expressed shock at Bardwell’s views: “That was one thing that made this so unbelievable. It's not something you expect in this day and age.” Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal called for an investigation and disciplinary action by a state commission that reviews the conduct of lawyers and judges in Louisiana. The ACLU, Center for Constitutional Rights, and local NAACP called on Bardwell to resign from his position, which he did on November 3. (see Oct 10)

SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE

October 6, 2014: the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of John Freshwater, an Ohio science teacher, who was fired for teaching creationism instead of evolution. Freshwater taught eighth-grade science at Mount Vernon Middle School until 2011, when the Board of Education removed him after it was revealed that he decorated his science classroom with Bible verses, attacked the theory of evolution, and gave extra credit for attending creationist films. (2010 NYT article) (see Dec 1)

Crime and Punishment

Overcrowding

October 6 Peace Love Activism

October 6, 2015: according to federal law enforcement officials the Justice Department prepared to release roughly 6,000 inmates from federal prison as part of an effort to ease overcrowding and roll back the harsh penalties given to nonviolent drug dealers in the 1980s and ’90s.

The release was scheduled to occur from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2, and would be one of the largest one-time discharges of inmates from federal prisons in American history, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing matters that had not been publicly announced by the Justice Department. (see Nov 24)
DEATH PENALTY
October 6, 2015: District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock blocked Montana from using a particular drug in lethal injections, effectively halting executions in the state until an adequate substitute can be found or lawmakers change the law.

The barbiturate pentobarbital does not meet the state law's standards for executions, Sherlock said. He stressed that his ruling was not on whether the death penalty was constitutional or whether the drug's use constituted cruel and unusual punishment, but only whether the drug satisfied the law.

 "Scrupulous adherence to statutory mandates is especially important here given the gravity of the death penalty," Sherlock said in his order. (see January 12, 2016)

Sexual Abuse of Children

October 6, 2016: the Archdiocese of New York announced the establishment of an independent program that would allow victims of sexual abuse by members of the clergy to apply for compensation from the church, even for abuse claims that are decades old. (see March 1, 2017)

Women’s Health

October 6, 2017: President Donald Trump’s administration issued a new rule that allowed all employers to opt out of including birth control in their health insurance plans for any moral or religious reason, rolling back the Obama-era requirement that guaranteed contraception coverage at no cost to 62 million women.

Requiring insurance plans to cover birth control imposes a “substantial burden” to the free exercise of religion guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, and could promote “risky sexual behavior” among adolescents, the administration told reporters.

Nuclear/Chemical News & ICAN

October 6, 2017: The Nobel Committee awarded the 2017 Peace Prize to The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons [ICAN]. The committee stated: "for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons" as the reason for selecting ICAN for this award. (Nuclear, see Oct 13)

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