The horrific scene that resulted when a gunman opened fire on innocent victims in a gay nightclub and killed 50 people in cold blood is the latest in a series of violent attacks against the LGBT community. Following this event in Orlando on early Sunday morning at Pulse Nightclub, another armed individual terrorized people in the streets of West Hollywood during their gay pride parade.
— ABC News (@ABC) June 13, 2016
Events like these, although devastating and appalling, are nothing new to those in the gay community. New York Daily News sheds light on the handling of such unspeakable crimes that have occurred over multiple decades. Although the crimes go back countless decades, the publication indicates why the documents based on such crimes are virtually non-existent in the United States.
“Back in 2009, a federal law was instated after hundreds of crimes had already been committed because of people’s sexual orientation. The law classified those attacks as ‘hate crimes.’ It wasn’t until 2013, where crimes based on sexual orientation were even documented by the FBI, making it difficult to say just how many occurred over the years.”
By 2014, when documentation of the events by the FBI began, there were nearly 100 occurrences in this single year alone. There is no telling how many have come before 2013, yet that number likely climbs into the thousands. Although there have been countless terrible anti-LGBT crimes committed over the years, there are those which stand out as the most deadly and gruesome of them all. The publication notes these for all to understand just how prevalent violence against this community has been over the years.
There is no question that crimes against members of the gay community go back even further than this first event mentioned, which took place in 1969, and is known as The Stonewall Riots. This occurrence happened on New York City’s Christopher Street when patrons and employees of the Stonewall Inn were the focus after police raided the gay club. The NY Daily News relays the details of the violent raid that later led to the uprising of the LGBT liberation movement.
“Employees of the Inn were arrested and drag queens and a lesbian were forced into police cars, which led to an eruption of violence… In the days following the incident, countless demonstrations began as the formation of the Gay Liberation Front and other LGBT organizations.”
Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, the black street queen and Latina transwoman who started the Stonewall Riots. pic.twitter.com/6aJ15BcODP
— Steve Silberman (@stevesilberman) June 13, 2016
Another horrific act that took the lives of 32 innocent people happened in New Orleans in 1973, when an arsonist intentionally set fire to a gay club called Upstairs Lounge. The crime was never solved and went virtually ignored by politicians and church members. This remains one of the largest and most devastating massacres at a gay establishment until the recent Orlando tragedy. Many of the burned victims could only be identified by their dental records.
The Otherside Lounge in Atlanta was the location for the 1997 attack of a bomber named Eric Rudolph, who is also responsible for the 1996 Olympic bombing. The type of bomb Rudolph used in the lesbian night club in 1997 was a nail bomb, and when it detonated five bar patrons were injured. Rudolph was quoted as referring to homosexuality as an “aberrant lifestyle,” and stated that the bombing at the establishment was “meant to send a powerful message in protest of Washington’s continued tolerance and support for the homosexual political agenda.”
Although between the years of 2000 and 2015 there were a number of other unthinkable crimes committed that were anti-LGBT in nature, one which additionally stands out involves the 2015 Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem. An Orthodox Jewish man, just let out of prison, after being sentenced to 10 years for the same crime, returned to the parade and stabbed six people while killing one. Yishai Schlissel apparently told police he attended the parade to “kill in the name of God.”
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) June 14, 2016
Whatever the motive that these attackers use to justify their atrocious acts, this hate must be faced with appropriate protocol by officials to remind any who are plotting to go about committing a similar act, in the name of their god or based on their own warped perception as to what is the right or wrong lifestyle, to think twice. Additionally these criminals must appropriately be brought to justice.
For the victims of the Orlando shooting, it was all too apparent that the gunman was not only heartless and hate-filled, but incredibly deranged and void of any and all emotion as he took 50 lives that night while injuring over 50 more. CNN shares the words of one surviving victim, named Norman Casiano, who detailed the behavior of the gunman.
“The shots sounded louder. They were getting closer. A man outside the stall collapsed in a pool of his own blood. Casiano heard a laugh. The sound of ‘pure evil,’ he said. ‘It didn’t sound like a person.’ The gunman, later identified as Omar Mateen, didn’t utter a word. There was another bloodcurdling laugh.’It was like a laugh of satisfaction.'”
[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]