The New York City Anti-Violence Project’s annual Crisis of Hate report shows a remarkable upsurge of hate-based killings of LGBTQ people.
According to the report, an 86 percent increase in hate violence homicides in the U.S. last year makes 2017 the deadliest year yet for the LGBTQ community. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, a coalition of 40 community-based anti-violence groups, noted the escalation toward the end of the presidential election cycle, and it shows no signs of slowing, according to Beverly Tillery, executive director of the project.
“There are more instances of violence because the climate in the country has changed.”
President Donald “Trump won the election by saying it was time to take back America for people feeling pushed out by LGBTQ people, immigrants and people of color,” Tillery told HuffPost.
“It was a tactical move to attack those communities,” she added. “It worked, and there are more instances of violence because the climate in the country has changed. It has given an opening for people to feel like they can commit acts of hate-based violence without much repercussion.”
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs recorded 52 LGTBQ hate-based homicides in 2017 ― an average of one each week. That’s a sharp increase from 28 single-incident anti-LGTBQ homicides in 2016. (The Pulse Nightclub massacre, which killed 49 people in 2016, is not included when calculating single-incident homicides.)
Those slain last year include:
John Jolly, a 55-year-old black cisgender man, was stabbed to death in August in Manhattan. Nathaniel “The Kidd Creole” Glover Jr., a former member of the 1980s hip-hop group Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, was charged with second-degree murder. According to the Daily News, Glover may have suspected Jolly was hitting on him.
Juan Javier Cruz, a 22-year-old Latinx cisgender man, was fatally shot In August in Lake Worth, Florida. Cruz was reportedly defending a group of friends against homophobic slurs. Nelson Hernandez Mena has been charged in the killing.
Giovanni Melton, a 14-year-old black cisgender man, was fatally shot in October in Henderson, Nevada. Melton’s father, Wendell Melton, is charged. The elder Melton was allegedly upset about his son’s sexuality and the fact his son had a boyfriend.
As in previous years, LGBTQ people of color appear to have borne the brunt of the violence. Of the total number of homicides last year, the report indicates 71 percent of the victims were people of color, and 23 percent were white. Victims were overwhelmingly transgender women and queer, bi, or gay cisgender men.
While the impact of hate crimes transcend all state borders, more than half of the homicides occurred in Florida, Georgia, New York, Louisiana and Texas, according to the report.
Other key findings:
67 percent of the victims were age 35 and under.
59 percent of the victims were killed with guns.
45 percent of the homicides of queer, bi or gay cisgender men were related to hookup violence, typically related to ads placed on personal websites and apps.
Tillery said the total number of LGBTQ homicides is likely much higher, because cases are frequently documented incorrectly. Law enforcement agencies, for example, have been known to mischaracterize lesbians as friends or roommates, she said. In the trans community, victims are often identified by the name and gender on their driver’s license, instead of the name and gender they identify with.
“We know the numbers we report are not taking into account everything that’s happening across the country,” Tillery explained.
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs said the goal of the annual report is to encourage people to “reject anti-LGBTQ bias” and to resist “hateful rhetoric or policies put forward” by the Trump administration and legislators.
It recommends that people urge their representatives to proactively address hate-based violence, and to ensure that their own communities are “safe and affirming for LGBTQ people.”
Later this year, the Anti-Violence Project will be release a second report that will address all incidents of hate-based violence ― not just homicides ― in the LGBTQ community. Those numbers, Tillery said, also appear to be rising.
“There are many people in the community who are feeling impacted right now, whether by experiencing more violence directly or knowing people who have experienced violence,” Tillery said. “People are feeling targeted because of actions of the Trump administration, which are trying to take us back in terms of LGBTQ rights and safety.”
Tillery added: “I don’t know whether all this is based on Trump’s beliefs or not, but at this point, it feels hard to imagine it’s not.”