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Philly Gay Bashing Suspects Held On All Charges, Will Be Back In Court On January 6

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The three suspects accused in a heinous attack on a gay couple in Philadelphia on September 11 will stand trial on charges of felony assault and conspiracy, among other charges, Philadelphia Magazine reports. As previously reported, the defendants are 26-year-old Kevin Harrigan, 24-year-old Kathryn Knott, and 24-year-old Philip Williams. Today's preliminary hearing was to determine whether the prosecution had met the burden of proof required to charge and try the defendants. Judge Charles Hayden Found they had:

The defendants, who previously pleaded not guilty and remain out on bail, appeared in the courtroom with their families, with Knott’s mother crying throughout many points of the proceeding. State Representative Brian Sims was also in attendance in the courtroom, which was crowded but not full.

Two witnesses testified today for the prosecution. Geoff Nagle observed the attack from a third floor window and stated that he heard "cursing and yelling in male and female voices, including language such as 'fucking faggot.'" The other witness was one of the two victims, Zachary Hesse:

Hesse said that when the pair encountered the group at 16th and Chancellor, Harrigan asked, "Is that your fucking boyfriend?" "I said, 'Yeah, that is my fucking boyfriend," he testified. "'Do you have a problem with that?'" Then he testified that Harrigan said, "'So you're a dirty fucking faggot?' So I approached him and said, 'Maybe I am a dirty fucking faggot.' He pushed me, I pushed him."

Then Hesse says that he was surrounded by the group. "I was terrified," he testified. "It's scary to have people surround you, and your arms are being held."

Before closing the hearing Judge Hayden wished all of the defendants "good luck."

Formal arraignment for the plaintiffs is scheduled for January 6th.


Philly Gay Bashing Suspects Due In Court Today: VIDEO

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The trio of individuals accused in the September 11 assault on a gay couple in City Center, Philadelphia, are in court today for a preliminary hearing. The defendants, 26-year-old Kevin Harrigan, 24-year-old Kathryn Knott, and 24-year-old Philip Williams, are accused of aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and criminal conspiracy. All three have plead not guilty. 

From Philadelphia Magazine: 

Here’s what we can expect to happen: The case will be brought before a municipal court judge to determine if there was probable cause to arrest the suspects in September. Attorney for Kevin Harrigan, Josh Scarpello, tells me, “we won’t decide the truth of the matter in that first hearing. It is a probable-cause hearing to establish if the case should go to trial.”

If the case goes to trial — and if no plea bargain is reached — Scarpello suggests that there might not be a trial date until well into the new year. "The earliest would be February or March," he says. "If it's scheduled to be a jury trial, it could take even longer."

The AP also reports that the defendants contest the plaintiff's version of the assault: "Defense lawyers insist that both parties played a role in the encounter, and say the men's sexual orientation wasn't an issue." Despite these claims, reports have abounded that the fight was preceded by homophobic slurs hurled against the victims by the defendants. You’ll also recall the social media sleuthing done by activist Scott Wooledge who dug into accused attacker Kathryn Knott’s Twitter account and found a history of homophobic remarks. 

Social media played a large role in the case from the onset, with the individuals being identified by social media sleuths looking to hunt down the perpetrators of the heinous assault. 

The accused will not face hate crimes charges as Pennsylvania does not currently have hate crimes legislation on the books that covers sexual orientation. However, that may change if State Rep. Brian Sims and State Sen. Jim Ferlo have their way.

Watch a news report on the hearing, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Egyptian TV Reporter Broke Law In Filming Raid Of Gay Bathhouse, Activist Groups Say: VIDEO

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An Egyptian TV reporter broke the law when she disseminated information about some of the more than two dozen men arrested in a raid of a gay bathhouse on Dec. 7, according to a statement from activist groups

Mona Iraqi, a reporter for the pro-government Al-Qahira wal Nas channel, can be seen filming the arrests on her mobile phone above. Iraqi had tipped off Egypt's morality police about the bathhouse and accompanied them on the raid, according to reports. 

Iraqi“With pictures, we reveal the biggest den of group perversion in the heart of Cairo,” Iraqi (right) later wrote on Facebook, where she posted photos from the raid. The Facebook post has since been removed.

A trailer promoting Iraqi's investigative report said it would reveal "the secret behind the spreading of AIDS in Egypt,” and she defended the three-part series an interview with Voice of America.  

But 10 activist groups from the Middle East and North Africa have issued a statement accusing Iraqi of criminal conduct. The statement was published by Cairo gay activist Scott Long's A Paper Bird:

"Besides prying into people’s intentions and their private, consensual practices, this presenter clearly violated articles 75 and 58 of the law of criminal procedures: these prohibit anyone from disseminating information about persons arrested by the police to others who do not have standing in the case. We demand that the presenter, Mona Iraqi, be held accountable before the law for misusing her profession to violate the privacy of others and slander and misrepresent them, and for pursuing professional benefit regardless of consequences."

The raid was part of a horrific, unprecedented crackdown on LGBT people by the Egyptian government under President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, who seized power last year. According to the activist groups, more than 150 people have been arrested on the assumption that they are gay or transgender — even though homosexuality is not technically illegal — since June 30, 2013: 

"In some cases prison sentences of eight or nine years have been imposed, on legal grounds that are incorrect or fabricated. The arrests have been accompanied by a still more monstrous media crusade, publicizing the personal information of those arrested, publishing their pictures, even posting filmed interviews with them. The media present homosexuals as a group of 'sick' individuals and criminals in need of therapy — or paints them as a deviant community that spread after the revolution."

In September, Grindr sent a message to all Egyptian users warning that police officers may be “posing as LGBT on social media to entrap you.” And on Nov. 1, eight men were sentenced to three years in prison after taking part in an alleged same-sex wedding which was recorded and posted to YouTube.

Following the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, LGBT people in Egypt hoped for freedom under a new democracy, The Washington Post reports. But those hopes have been dashed as as-Sissi aims to distract people from Egypt's economic woes and appear as socially conservative as the Muslim Brotherhood from which he seized power.  

Once in police custody, LGBT prisoners are often subject to anal examinations, beaten and threatened with rape, The WaPo reports. They are reluctant to contact their families due to the social stigma of homosexuality, and few attorneys will represent them.  

Sadly, al-Sissi's government is funded in part by the US. The Washington Blade reports that the State Department issued a statement in response to the bathhouse raid, but officials have not said whether the US will cut funding to Egypt, as it did in response to Uganda's anti-homosexuality law. From The Blade:  

The U.S. during the 2014 fiscal year gave $1.5 billion in aid to Egypt, with the majority of it going to the country’s military. The State Department said more than $7 million of this allotment went to “other security assistance programs.” 

Watch the first part of Iraqi's report, for which she is getting hammered on her Facebook page, AFTER THE JUMP ...

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Minnesota Man Receives Six Month Jail Sentence After Shooting Gay Couple With BB Gun

OdegardA Minnesota man, Wayne Steven Odegard, who harassed patrons and shot a gay couple with a CO2 powered BB gun outside of a Minneapolis gay club in September was sentenced on Thursday to spend six months in Hennepin County adult detention center reports LGBTQ Nation. The court also ordered Odegard to undergo chemical dependency and psychological evaluations and attend anger management classes. Due to the factor that his crime was based on the sexual orientation of his victims, the court raised his probation period from three years to five years.

The attack occurred on Sept. 25 when Odegard approached the Saloon bar on Hennepin Avenue and started harassing patrons standing outside, hurling gay expletives and making disparaging remarks toward the crowd and a gay couple holding hands. Shortly after his remarks, Odegard pulled out the BB gun and began shooting into the crowd of patrons. Tyler Erickson, a security guard for Saloon, witnessed the entire altercation and pursued Odegard as he fled the scene.

EricksonSaid Erickson:

"I ran after him and then it ended up he shot a different gay couple in the leg, with that gun and it went through his jeans and drew blood.

"He told me multiple times that I’m going to go to hell and he’s going to bring me with him. He recited a biblical passage — I think it’s a Deuteronomy passage."

Erickson caught Odegard and held him until police arrived, charged and arrested Odegard for making terroristic threats-Odegard plead guilty to the charges in October. No one was seriously injured in the attack; the man shot in the leg only suffered minor injuries.


Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson Resigns: VIDEO

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The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown August 9, has resigned from the Ferguson Police Department.

In a telephone interview Saturday evening, Wilson said he resigned after the police department told him it had received threats that violence would ensue if he remained an employee.

“I’m resigning of my own free will,” he said. “I’m not willing to let someone else get hurt because of me.”

He said resigning was “the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”

On Monday, a grand jury decided not to indict Wilson in Brown's death.

Read Wilson's resignation letter:

I, Darren Wilson, hereby resign my commission as a police officer with the City of Ferguson effective immediately. I have been told that my continues employment may put the residents and police officers of the City of Ferguson at risk, which is a circumstance that I cannot allow. For obvious reasons, I wanted to wait until the grand jury made their decision before I officially made my decision to resign. It was my hope to continue in police work, but the safety of other police officers and the community are of the paramount importance to me. It is my hope that my resignation will allow the community to heal. I would like to thank all of my supporters and fellow officers throughout this process.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch adds:

Anthony Gray, an attorney representing the Brown family, said he believes Wilson was acting merely for his own benefit.

“It’s probably in his best interest to sever his ties with the Ferguson community, as well as the Ferguson police department,” Gray said. “I think this incident has severely compromised his ability to police in the way he was paid to do by the city.”

Watch a news report on Wilson's resignation AFTER THE JUMP...(autoplay)

And if you missed our coverage of LGBT organizations reacting to the grand jury decision, click here

Continue reading "Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson Resigns: VIDEO" »


Grand Jury: No Indictment of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the Shooting Death of Michael Brown

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A grand jury has decided not to indict Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown back on August 9. 

Earlier today, CNN reported on what would happen to Wilson should the jury not move forward with indictment charges:

If the grand jury clears him of wrongdoing and Wilson wants to remain on the job, he could put up a fight. The police union would back him, said Paul Callan, a CNN legal analyst and former New York prosecutor.

"In the end, he has certain due process rights under Missouri law, and they can't just summarily fire him because he's unpopular," Callan said. "They will have to prove that he violated some aspect of his employment contract as a police officer, or civil service regulations. Otherwise, he will have a very good lawsuit."

Still, most people believe Wilson will never again wear a badge.

"If I'm the mayor of Ferguson, believe me, you would want that cop out because you know that he will be controversial," Callan said. "He will be distrusted by the citizenry and maybe subjected to abuse when he's out on the street. It's just going to be nothing but trouble. They're going to find a way to get him out. They may try to buy him out."

Watch live feed of MSNBC's coverage of the news, AFTER THE JUMP...

UPDATE I: Lambda Legal reacts -

"While there will be debate and disagreement about the facts that led to the grand jury decision announced today in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by Police Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MO, there is no debate about the facts that a terrible tragedy took place and that another unarmed young black man lost his life at the hands of a police officer. Around the country, we continue to witness similar tragedies and loss of life that have resulted from the deadly combination of racism, police profiling, excessive use of lethal force and a general disregard for the lives of black and brown people.

"We mourn Michael Brown and every victim of police violence by continuing to work for justice -- for better policing and fairer laws. As an organization fighting for the rights of LGBT people and people living with HIV, we know that bias and prejudice can lead to injustice. We believe that these issues must be addressed in a systemic way and that regardless of one decision, all of us must be active participants in holding law enforcement agencies accountable for ending the unchecked assault on the lives of all of our communities that are marginalized and criminalized -- whether on the basis of race, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression or economic status.

Update II: NCLR reacts -

“We vacillate between heartbreak and outrage at the decision from the grand jury. Injustice is too tame a word for what today’s decision represents. The fact that an unarmed black youth can be fatally shot by a police officer with no accountability or consequence is a chilling commentary on the worth afforded to young, black lives and the sorry state of racial justice in this country,” said Kate Kendell, Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

“We stand with our colleagues in the broader civil rights community in condemning the grand jury decision, and send our strength and support to the family and friends of Michael Brown and the entire Ferguson community as they continue to grieve their tragic loss. We also urge the Department of Justice to take action to address the longstanding history of racialized intimidation and discrimination by the Ferguson police,” Kendell concluded.  

Update III: HRC reacts - 

"Michael Brown's family and the American people deserve to have this case fully adjudicated in a public trial. Today's deeply disappointing decision by the grand jury denies them that opportunity. Until we as a nation make a meaningful commitment to ending police profiling--and to fully prosecuting individual cases of brutality--the kind of violence that ended Michael Brown's life will only continue. As advocates for equality, it's our job to show solidarity with a growing national movement to break this cycle of police violence."

"While we cannot begin to imagine the pain that the Brown family is facing at this moment, we send our thoughts, prayers and condolences to them during this heartbreaking and difficult time. We also stand in solidarity with the family's encouragement of peaceful protests and reflection following this decision."

Continue reading "Grand Jury: No Indictment of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the Shooting Death of Michael Brown" »


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