Note to Congressman Serrano, Congresswoman Velazquez, Bronx Borough President Diaz, Councilwoman Arroyo, State Senator Serrano,
This is from Charles Rice-Gonzalez, a Bronx resident, cultural leader and community activist.....
I learned of the brutal murder of a gay teen in Puerto Rico. He was decapitated, dismembered and burned. The investigation is underway, but the investigator has said some remarks that should be criminal. He said on a public televised statement that 'people who lead this type of lifestyle need to be aware that this will happen'.
This has caused a huge reaction from the gay community in Puerto Rico and it's starting to bubble here, too, but it's a difficult situation. Never in the history of Puerto Rico has a murder been classified as a hate crime. Even though Puerto Rico has to follow U.S. federal mandates and laws, many of the laws that are passed in the USA such as the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act that Obama recently signed into law, do not always directly get practiced in Puerto Rico.
This morning an arrest was announced. This case needs to be closely monitored for what may be the double victimization of Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado. There may be an attempt to paint this as a crime of passion, “gay panic”, and/or “prostitution gone bad” instead of the horrific act of hateful violence it was.
I want you, our elected officials to publicly:
1. Denounce the brutal murder of the openly gay Puerto Rican 19 year old Jorge Steven López Mercado.
2. Demand that the goverment of Puerto Rico provide investigators that are sensitive and concerned about the well being of all people of Puerto Rico including Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people.
3. Request a full investigation leading to and conviction of the perpetrator(s) and the enforcement of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
4. Call for an island-wide education program that points out the pathology of homophobia and holds accountable people who exercise it.