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Florida Hate Crime Vigils Held for Gay Murder Victim

RyankeithskippereqflsignFlorida's Freedom Democrats reports that over 1,000 people attended vigils in 14 cities across the state and in Washington DC over the weekend to draw attention to hate crimes and, more specifically, the brutal murder of Ryan Keith Skipper in central Florida in mid-March. The vigils were organized by Equality Florida and Pridelines Youth Services

Skipper's body was found by the side of a rural road near Winterhaven, Florida with more than 20 stab wounds. As I reported late last month, two men have been indicted for the murder.

According to the Freedom Democrats, "The [Miami Dade] Vigil started at 1:00 pm and was held at Pridelines Youth Services. David Cornell, Director of Development at Dade Community Foundation opened the vigil with comments on hate crimes in Miami Dade. Stratton Pollitzer, Deputy Director of Equality Florida, continued with statements regarding hate crimes across Florida and continued inaction from legislators in Tallahassee to address a comprehensive hate crimes bill for Florida."

At 1:20 pm the group held a minute of silence to symbolically observe the moment (it was actually 1:20 am) at which Ryan Skipper's body was discovered 30 days earlier.

Said Chip Arndt, President of Freedom Democrats: "“It is 2007 and we are still arguing whether we should protect GLBT US citizens in Florida and across this country. This vigil honored a loving human being and was very sad. Shame on our government officials and shame on all of us for not standing up for each and every person to be who they are; sticking our heads in the sand is immoral and leads to a generation of youth who think it acceptable to discriminate against others unlike them. I am outraged and it is time to hold every public official accountable for their silence on rights and protections of GLBT peoples."

Miami_skipper_vigil
A few of the Miami Dade vigil attendees.

Information on where to send support to the family of Ryan Skipper, follows after the jump...

Letters of support and donations to the family of Ryan Keith Skipper can be sent to:

The Ryan Keith Skipper Foundation
c/o Jesse Bennett Jr. P.A.
146 Avenue B North West
Winter Haven, FL 33880

You may have missed...
Two Held in Brutal Murder of Gay Florida Man [tr]
Florida Men Indicted for Murder of Gay Man [tr]

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Comments

  1. My family and I, along with about ten other people (ALL, but one, straight) from my church (First United of Tampa, UCC) attended the vigil at USF in Tampa on Saturday night.

    I was very proud that my Pastor, Warren Clark, was a featured speaker who spoke eloquently about the shame and disgrace of homophobia and homophobic violence. He didn't mince words when he talked about how the anti-gay rhetoric of faith groups in America, particularly "Christian" groups, leads directly to hatred for, and violence against, GLBT people.

    Posted by: Zeke | Apr 16, 2007 11:54:04 AM


  2. I applaud Chip Ardnt for the eloquent argument about our country needing to "grow up", and live up to its potential of offering equal protections (and opportunities) to all.

    I think it'll take the help of all Americans embarking in this fight and asking what kind of country we're going to leave to the children; cause these problems are not going to get any better. Esp as we allow the corporate to get richer and richer, and the State to lose more and more power. Protect everyone now, or pay a dear price later.

    And btw just because this topic is about Chip, let there be no jokes about Reichen..aight.

    Posted by: Da | Apr 16, 2007 12:10:53 PM


  3. Three cheers for Arndt—and for you, too, Zeke, and the continued amazing "witness" of UCC. Such continuing horrors as the vicious murder of Ryan are the harvest of the seeds of fear and hatred sown by other churches and they must be called out for it. They are also the indirect product of the dehumanization of gays by people like Don Imus [and his brother who once effectively said on the show that Andrew Cunanan was doing a good thing by killing other gays]. Imus is unemployed today [though still a multimillionaire] only because enough people finally stood up and said, "No more!" Poisonous preachers and politicians will only stop when enough of us stand up to them, too.

    Posted by: Leland | Apr 16, 2007 1:46:04 PM


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