On January 12, in a wooded area near the small town of Varnado, Louisiana, a worker who was sent to check the water levels of a nearby lake came across a horrific discovery, the body of a young man who’d been beaten, tied up and shot to death. The body, it was soon discovered, was that of openly Gay Black high school senior, Ja’Quarius Taylor. Family members and loved ones are insisting that what happened to Ja’Quarius was a hate crime. According to the family attorney, “We hope the FBI will get involved because of the perceived conflicts of interest and family relations the local sheriff may have. We’re looking at this as a hate crime based on the race and sexual orientation of Ja’Quarius Taylor.”
Twenty years ago, political prisoner and journalist Mumia Abu Jamal wrote about violence against the LGBTQ community in the aftermath of the Matthew Shepherd murder that shocked the nation, in which Shepherd was brutally bludgeoned, hung from a fence and left for dead. As Ja’Quarius Taylor’s horrific slaying shows, Abu Jamal’s commentary is every bit as relevant today as it was in the year 2000.
[Political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal wrote the following statement denouncing recent anti-gay murders, including the killing of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyo., Billy Jack Gaither in Sylacauga, Ala., and Henry Edward Northington in Richmond, Va.]
[Abu-Jamal sent his statement of solidarity in response to a request by Monica Moorehead, a Workers World contributing editor. Moorehead is also a leading organizer of the “Millions for Mumia” national mobilization organizing for the April 24 march in Philadelphia.]
“The sickening attacks on gay people in cities across the nation recently is a reflection of the sickness that simmers at the core of the American soul. It is here that a truly perverse hatred is bred, and, from here that all attacks are launched against all who are seen as Other.
This violence, which seems psychosexual in nature, is an attack on the self, that seeks to destroy a part of the self that threatens the self. From Matthew Shepard, to Alabama, to that bloody American ground that was once the seat of the Confederacy, Richmond, violence, spawned by the dark pit of hatred and fear, is unleashed by men who claim a false and twisted “purity.”
More often than not, those who find themselves attacking gay folks violently are replaying a violence that they grew up with, or that they continue to act out of, against their family or children.
Is it a coincidence that Richmond, the city where a Black man was burned to death and decapitated, follows several months later with the decapitation and torture of a gay man? I think not.
This cruel and savage violence must be stopped-but it won’t be the cops that stop it, for they are the agents of legalized state violence. The brutality that occurs in their own homes daily, the recent spate of cops who kill their wives and kids, more than proves it.
The people are the solution! So my thanks to the Rainbow! Ona Move! To Freedom! Free the Move 9!”