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Hate Crimes Continue to Plague LGTB Community

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“The unabated continuation of violence against members of the LGTB (Lesbian, Gay, Transgender and Bi-Sexual) community” best described the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) 2004 report, where statistics show that the rise in anti-LGTB hate incidents once again crept uphill, this time two years in a row. Anti-LGTB incidents in Brooklyn, however, have dropped, statistics show. According to the nationwide study, released Tuesday, incident reports made in 2004 follow a disturbing trend that began in 2003, when members of the NCAVP saw a jump in violence after years of substantial decreases. While the increases between 2003 and 2004 are not considered severe, NCAVP members said that any increase in itself is a cause for concern. According to the nationwide study, tabulated from information from 11 cities and states including Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Ohio; Michigan, Houston, Texas; New York City, Pennsylvania and the San Francisco Bay area 2004 saw an eight percent increase in reported violence against the LGTB community. The number included an 11 percent increase in ant-LGTB murders, which rose from 18 in 2003 nationwide to 20 last year, and a four percent increase in victims of anti-LGTB violence, from 2,467 to 2,637. The number of offenders also rose in 2004 from 2,467 to 2,637, statistics show. But, in New York City and its environs, which includes the five boroughs, Nassau and Suffolk counties, as well as northern New Jersey and the city’s northern suburbs, the number of anti-LGTB incidents have dropped by two percent between 2003 and 2004. The small decrease does little to calm the fears of those who suffered through 2003, what the city’s Anti Violence Project (AVP) called a “watershed year” when it came to anti-LGTB violence. In 2003, the AVP saw a 26 percent increase of anti-LGTB violence reports, a 29 percent increase of violence victims and a 23 percent increase in anti-LGTB offenders. The year saw a dramatic jump in crimes against the LGTB community, which saw a “see-sawing” of slight increases and decreases since 2000. According to the hard numbers, incidents of violence against the LGTB community in the New York area fell two percent from 670 incidents in 2003 to 656 in 2004. The number of offenders fell from 1,157 in 2003 to 1,118 last year. Statistics show that the number of victims in 2004 rose by two percent, from 801 to 815. Investigating further, the AVP reported an 11 percent decrease in assaults against the LGTB community, an eight percent increase in assaults with weapons, and a 29 percent increase in “hate-related homicides in New York’s LGTB community,” from seven in 2003 to nine last year. AVP officials determined that 17 percent, or roughly 112 of the 656 incidents of violence against the LGTB community, occurred in 2004. While many hoped that crimes against the LGTB would fall considerably in 2004, the fact that the drop in violence was so small has led some to fear a disturbing trend on the horizon. “Though the number of cases, incidents and victims in 2004 was fairly consistent with what we saw in 2003, the fact remains that in 2003 cases in New York jumped 26 percent over the pervious year,” said Clarence Patton, AVP’s acting executive director. “Therefore, what we’re really seeing here is a continuation of an unprecedented and sustained rise in the level of violence experienced by our community.” “Just this week we’ve heard that the city’s murder rate has continued to fall,” said Basil Lucas, AVP’s LGTB Hate Violence and Police Relations program coordinator. “However, the number of anti-LGTB homicide cases have increased by 29 percent.” “[Nine homicides] seem like a very small number, but it illustrates that this particular type of murder is not being impacted by the efforts being touted by police and city officials.” AVP officials admit that the nationwide numbers they’ve offered do not coincide with yearly FBI statistics, which also track hate crimes against the LGTB community, because they also include crime reports made directly to them instead of law enforcement officials. The remains of a man discovered along the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) tracks Thursday have helped detectives uncover a case of horrifying abuse, where a mentally ill man was chained, doused in scalding hot water and then ultimately killed and dismembered, officials said. As of this writing, the victim’s sister has been arrested in the murder of Robert Heald, whose remains were found along the train tracks on Ocean Avenue between Avenues H and I the afternoon of May 5. The woman, identified as Diane Ahmed, 41, currently of 3154 Emmons Avenue in Sheepshead Bay, was charged with reckless endangerment and unlawful imprisonment in the abuse, but not in the alleged murder and dismemberment. As of this writing, officials from the city’s Medical Examiner’s office have yet to rule on the exact cause of death, although police believe that Heald may have died from being chained to a door and beaten the night before. Officials are currently looking for Heald’s brother-in-law, 51-year-old Ahmed Ahmed, who was allegedly responsible for dismembering the body and putting it in two plastic bags, which Diane Ahmed later disposed of. According to official reports, Ahmed fled the country as long as a year ago, roughly around the time when Heald was killed. Officials said that when they recovered the remains, they were terribly decomposed, leaving investigators to believe that the victim had been killed several months ago. According to published reports, Heald left an adult care facility to live with his sister and brother-in-law, about two to three months before his death. At the time, the couple lived in a home on Newkirk Avenue, with their 13-year-old daughter. Investigators allege that both Heald’s sister and Ahmed would shackle him to doorknobs and radiators, reportedly enraged that the handicapped man continually wet the bed. All the while, the couple would cash Heald’s social security checks and pocket the money, officials said. No one apparently batted an eye when, after months of abuse, Heald died. Officials allege that Ahmed dismembered the body and then handed it over to his wife to dispose of it. Sources said that just last week a family member tipped police off to where Heald’s remains were buried. Police told reporters that, while the medical examiner is still investigating, they may never find out exactly what Heald died from. “His body was that badly decomposed,” officials said. Still, Heald’s death has been determined a homicide, officials said.

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