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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Hate Crimes Rose 8% in 2004, Report Says
by Andrew Davis
2005-05-04

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The Center on Halsted's ( COH's ) Anti-Violence Project ( AVP ) , in conjunction with the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs ( NCAVP ) , released its annual report on violence against LGBT individuals.

Across the nation, NCAVP reported an eight percent increase in reported incidents of anti-LGBT violence. Such incidents rose from 1,720 in 2003 to 1,792 in 2004. In Chicago, the total number of reported crimes and offenses increased from 65 in 2003 to 93 in 2004.

The total number of victims nationwide also increased, rising from 2,042 in 2003 to 2,131 in 2004. In Chicago, numbers of victims rose 16 percent, from 56 in 2003 to 65 in 2004. The number of female victims in Chicago increased 100 percent from 13 to 26 while male victims declined slightly and the number of transgender victims remained the same.

The Chicago Police also reported a 10 percent increase in anti-LGBT violent crimes.

Perhaps most disturbing is the 11-percent increase across the country in anti-LGBT murders, which rose from 18 in 2003 to 20 in 2004.

Four of those reported murders took place in Chicago and included a 17-year-old African American transgender woman and her friend, aged 18, and the mother of a two-month old. Suspects in the case have been captured and charged with shooting the victims and leaving them burning in their vehicle.

The other two Chicago murder cases were of gay men: Charles Gibson, 54, and Kevin Clewer, 31. Whereas Gibson's perpetrator has been apprehended, Clewer's case remains unsolved. ( In fact, in the Clewer case, police released a possible suspect after he provided no helpful information. )

After reading the report, Clewer's brother Ron Clewer stated to COH that, ' [ i ] n looking at this year's report with all of these numbers, it was hard to see Kevin reduced to a statistic. ... My family's hope is that we will be a part of the change to end violence so no other family has to experience what we are going through now.'

NCAVP's report on hate violence in 2003 detailed the rapid shift and 26% increase in anti-LGBT violence as the nation responded politically and violently to such victories for the community as the striking down of sodomy laws across the country and the right for same-sex couples to marry in Massachusetts. The 2004 report looks at the continuation of that atmosphere, which lasted through numerous anti-lesbian and gay state ballot initiatives, a presidential call for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and the demonization of lesbians and gay men in particular in the 2004 election cycle.

In response to both the local and national statistics, Robbin Burr, COH's executive director, commented, 'We are distressed that acts of violence continue to plague our community, but we take heart in the tremendous courage exhibited by the survivors who come to us for assistance. We thank the NCAVP for their diligent work on behalf of LGBT people and join with them in recommitting ourselves to ending the cycle of violence.'

The report examined data compiled from almost 2,000 hate-related incidents in 11 cities, states, and regions across the country. Those areas included Chicago; Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio; Colorado; Houston, Texas; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; the New York City area; Pennsylvania; and the San Francisco Bay area. Additional information was included from Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri; Tucson, Arizona; and Vermont. NCAVP's report is the most complete examination of such violence against LGBT people.

See www.ncavp.org .


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