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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    LGBT community to hold vigil against hate crimes

    A candlelight vigil will be held tomorrow to raise awareness about violence against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, an event that comes one week after an assault outside a local gay bar.

    A UA student and an alumnus were involved in an altercation sparked by intolerance of their sexual orientation on Saturday night near It’s ‘Bout Time, a Fourth Avenue gay bar better known as IBT’s.

    Ryan Burchell, a political science senior, said he was outside of IBT’s when two men began harassing him about being gay.

    A physical fight followed, and Chris Davis, a 2005 UA alumnus, stepped out of a nearby bar to pursue the men who were leaving the area, Burchell said.

    Hate crimes reported to UAPD

    2005 . . . . . . 11
    2004 . . . . . . 9
    2003 . . . . . . 3
    2002 . . . . . . 5

    Police arrested the two men on misdemeanor charges of assault, said

    Officer Frank Omado of the Tucson Police Department.

    TPD Detective Tim Rupel said the assault is not being considered a hate crime by the TPD because classifying a crime as a hate crime involves observing specific details with the nature of the crime.

    “”For it to be a hate crime, we have to go with admissions if they say why they are doing something,”” Rupel said. “”Also,

    We have great programs that are out there to help not only minority students but all students to learn about each other.

    – Brian Shimamoto,
    assistant director for multicultural educatioin and advocacy for residential education

    statements made during the time of crime, tattoos or emblems of something that identifies them toward a group.””

    Davis, who had injuries from the confrontation, said hate crime or not, the incident was hate-motivated.

    “”It is a hate crime as far as how it even got started,”” Davis said.

    Melita Quance, program coordinator for the anti-violence project run by Wingspan, a Tucson LGBT community center, said a candlelit vigil will be held tomorrow to raise awareness about violence against the LGBT community, especially in the Fourth Avenue area, where Philip Walsted was found beaten to death in 2002 because of his sexual orientation.

    Brian Shimamoto, assistant director for multicultural education and advocacy for residential education, said there are doubts about what qualifies as a hate crime.

    “”I understand the process of qualifying a crime as a hate crime, but if they were walking out of a straight bar, that whole situation wouldn’t have happened,”” Shimamoto said.

    Shimamoto said he works on campus to promote multicultural awareness among students in order to prevent the further escalation of hate crimes.

    “”We have great programs that are out there to help not only minority students but all students to learn about each other,”” Shimamoto said.

    Despite these programs, the number of hate crimes reported on the UA campus has increased annually since 2003, according to University of Arizona Police Department reports.

    The figure does not reflect the number of hate crimes that go unreported, nor those that take place on Fourth Avenue.

    Quance said she works to support the hate crime victims who contact her, many from the Fourth Avenue area.

    “”Since Jan. 1, 2006, there have been 27 reports of hate crimes,”” Quance said. “”We consistently get reports about people getting

    harassed in that area because they are perceived to be gay or lesbian.””

    Not all of the reports brought to her organization are reported to TPD because filing a report with TPD requires that the victims be openly gay, Quance said.

    “”That’s just a step some people don’t want to take,”” Quance said. “”Some don’t want any more attention brought to them. For others, there is a sense of mistrust for law enforcement and fear that their reports won’t be taken seriously.””

    Ryan Nourse, an undeclared junior, said many students may be too scared to report a crime.

    “”Depending on how serious it is, I’d probably handle it myself,”” Nourse said.

    However, Quance said it is important to report crimes to the police because this will lead to awareness and more efficient changes.

    Tomorrow will also be a day of remembrance for the 1998 torture and murder of 21-year-old Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyo. – a death that brought national attention to hate-motivated crimes.

    “”I will be speaking at the vigil,”” said Davis. “”This vigil is for everything that has happened to the gay community through hate or ignorance. It’s a reminder to everyone and shows on a larger scale that we’re a community and we respond when one of our community gets injured.””

    The vigil will take place in front of IBT’s tomorrow at 7 p.m.

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