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MSNBC Highlights the Queer Origins Of #BlackLivesMatter - VIDEO

Blacklivesmatter

#BlackLivesMatter has become the emblematic symbol of the current world-wide movement agitating for wider recognition of violence perpetrated against minorities here in the U.S. The hashtag began in response to the 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, who was murdered by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch enthusiast with a track record of overreaction.

Much of the story surrounding Martin’s death focused on the ways in which the local police department was slow to issue an arrest warrant for Zimmerman and how the court proceedings seemingly gave Zimmerman an excessive benefit of the doubt in hearing why he felt compelled to shoot Martin.

The degree to which value seemed to be denied black lives played directly into the creation of #BlackLivesMatter, and the hashtag has gone on to become the rallying cry behind a wide range of protests since then. Though we’ve come to understand #BlackLivesMatter in the contexts of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and the Chapel Hill shootings, its meaning and impact have since spread to bringing awareness of the systemic violence that trans woman (particularly those of color) deal with on a daily basis. The story of the hashtag’s roots in the black queer community have been woefully underreported up until now.

Cullors“You can’t choose what your most salient identity is according to the white gays,” Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter says in an MSNBC mini-documentary. “My salient identity is queer. My salient identity is woman and it is black. I experience them all at the same time as I move about the world.”

She continues:

“It started to become clear as the hashtag and the movement started to grow that a historical narrative was playing out. The historic narrative of black people has been that [of] fighting for black, cis-, hetero-, Christian  men [to be] at the forefront of the conversation.

I think there was a sort of thing for black folks where it was like: ‘being black is already hard enough. Why do--it’s too much to try to be black and gay [or] black and trans [or] black, trans, and poor. That’s like too much. So let’s focus on this one issue that’s calle ‘blackness’ as if blackness [encompasses] all of everything. As if blackness is only one thing. And then once we get that down, then we can focus on the other things. But that’s actually a very harmful narrative.”

Watch the full mini-documentary delving into the origin of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag AFTER THE JUMP...

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Media Mogul David Geffen's 21-Year-old College Football Player Ex-Boyfriend Admits to Stalking Charge

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Jamie Ralph Kuntz, a former North Dakota college football player, has been given probation for stalking his Hollywood mogul ex-boyfriend David Geffen, the Associated Press reports.

Kuntz pleaded no contest to charges of felony stalking and violating a restraining order to stay away from Geffen’s California homes.

According to defense lawyer David Wohl, although Kuntz - who had been in a short-term relationship with Geffen - would have won had the case gone to trial, he did not want to spend any more time in jail having served three months because he could not afford $150,000 bail.

Wohl added that the outcome is “celebrity justice in reverse” because “the victim is a celebrity, and judges are afraid of something happening to them."

Kuntz has been ordered to attend psychiatric counseling twice a week for 12 months as a condition of his two-year probation term.

In 2012, Kuntz was kicked off his college football team for being gay.


Florida Ex-Deputy Accused of Sexually Assaulting Male Undocumented Immigrants Sentenced to Five Years

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Jonathan Bleiweiss, a former Broward County, Florida sheriff's deputy, has been sentenced to five years in prison for allegedly sexually assaulting a number of undocumented male immigrants. Bleiweiss is thought to have used his authority as a police officer to coerce twenty different men into various sexual acts under threat of arrest and deportation.

Bleiweiss, who was well recognized and celebrated within the community, was originally arrested in 2009, though the rumors of his abuse first surfaced back in 2008. As word spread of the officer’s excessively aggressive pat-downs, pictures of his face began circulating through the immigrant community along with warnings to stay away from him.

Not long after Bleiweiss was suspended from the Sheriff’s office and he was subsequently arrested. According to the Sun-Sentinel in the weeks following Bleiweiss’s initial arrest, some 70 charges were eventually leveled against him from a number of different men. Bringing a case against Bleiweiss proved to be difficult given the specific circumstances under which many of the men claimed to have been harassed.

A number of lawsuits against Bleiweiss were settled, while others were dismissed. The bulk of the cases that would have resulted in significant jail time for Bleiweiss fell apart, however, due to witnesses being deported or too afraid to come forward and testify for fear of deportation.


Straight Cop Tells Dallas Pension Board To 'Grow The Nuts God Gave A Gnat,' Recognize Gay Marriage: VIDEO

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The other day we reported that a Dallas pension board voted to recognize same-sex marriages for the purpose of providing equal pension benefits to gay employees. However, that decision applies only to civilian employees, and on Thursday the city's Police and Fire Pension Board voted to delay a decision on whether to recognize same-sex marriages. 

Thursday's meeting reportedly grew heated at times, with one police officer telling the pension board to "grow the nuts that God gave a gnat and do it." 

WFAA-TV reports: 

Screen shot 2015-02-13 at 10.19The hours of squabbling and litany of failed attempts to spur the board to action stirred the police and fire personnel in the audience to speak out. Ernest Sherman (right) with Dallas police rose and shouted at the trustees.

"I have no dog in this hunt," Sherman yelled. "But, by God, you're a [expletive] police officer. So is she. So is she. They have the same right as you! Period!"

"You will vote today as a board, up or down," Sherman continued, pointing at board members. "Grow the [expletive] that God gave a knat and do it!"

The board didn't heed Sherman's advice. Instead, members essentially opted to put off the matter until the U.S. Supreme Court decides the issue of same-sex marriage. The Dallas Morning News reports: 

KingstonInterim administrator Don Rohan said it “appears to be imminent” that same-sex marriage will be legalized by the Supreme Court and recommended that the board should just wait on the decision. The majority of board members agreed.

“It has long been the consensus of the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System board of directors that the same-sex spouses of our members should be eligible for survivor benefits. That has never been a question,” Board Chairman George Tomasovic said in a written statement. “The only concern the board has on this issue is the legality of providing those benefits since Texas law does not recognize same-sex marriages. Fortunately, the legal landscape on this issue appears to be changing.” ... 

The meeting got heated. Council member Philip Kingston (right) asked Rohan to “pipe down” at one point, causing Rohan to snap back at him. The two had several other heated exchanges. Rohan later asked rhetorically if he was a child, and Griggs answered “yes,” prompting some profanity from Rohan in the midst of cross-talk.

More from WFAA-TV on the squabbling:  

Trustee Dan Wojcik appealed for calm.

"We are talking about a matter of a few months here," he said. "I do not see any hurry to go ahead and vote on this at this time."

Kingston, who was visibly angry throughout the meeting, lashed out during the discussion. "We keep saying 'wait,'" he said. "I think they're tired of waiting." ... 

Trustee Samuel Fryer from Dallas Fire-Rescue, who voted against extending benefits in favor of waiting until the High Court makes a decision, seemed to apologize for his position.

"I know what it's like to not be able to go to the same restaurant as you guys go to," said Fryer, who is black. "I lived that [...] More power to you once these legalities are over."

"It's discrimination," said Bronda Davis, a Dallas police officer who spoke from the audience after witnessing the heated discussion. "It's cut and dried. We deserve the same benefits that all our men and women in blue and the fire department have. It's just equal."

Watch WFAA-TV's report, including Sherman's outburst, AFTER THE JUMP ...

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Riot Leaves One Dead After Students Try to Lynch Gay Classmates at School in Ghana

Ghana police and students

St. Paul’s Senior High School in Danu, Ghana had a riot on their hands last week when students in the all-boys school reportedly tried to lynch two of their own on accusations of sodomy. Allegedly two boys were caught in the act, so the rest of the student body tried to deliver what they called 'instant justice.' Teachers generally are opposed to their students trying to murder each other, even in the world's most homophobic country, so two teachers intervened to try and stop the lynching.

The results were disastrous. The students rioted, stormed the teacher's bungalow, smashed car windscreens, destroyed school property, barricaded the roads in the school compound and burned truck tires. When the police were called in, the students began throwing rocks at the police, who in turn fired warning shots to try to disperse the mob. Unfortunately, one of the warning shots turned lethal as it struck student Adio Rakhib in the head and the boy was allegedly allowed to bleed out on the ground until classmates transported him via bicycle first to a clinic and later a hospital. The boy did not survive.

Rakhib's uncle, Yushau Turawah, is blaming the police for their "unprofessional" use of live ammo, and the school for allowing the situation to degenerate to violence.


Trans Activists Storm LGBTQ Conference in Denver, Demand An End to Police Profiling of Queer Youth of Color

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At the National LGBTQ Task Force's Creating Change conference in Denver last night, a group of nearly 100 trans people and allies rushed the stage to bring attention to the death of Jessie Hernandez, a queer Latina who was fatally shot by Denver police during a confrontation over a stolen vehicle last Monday.

The protesters, led by Bamby Salcedo, chanted "Jessie Presente!" as they stormed the stage with handmade signs, The Advocate reports:

Not only did Salcedo demand better accountability on the part of police and the criminal justice system, she also called for LGBTQ organizations to include transgender people on their boards and staffs as decision makers.

"If you serve us, you need to include us," Salcedo said to a crowd cheering and raising their fists in solidarity.

HancockAnother demonstrator said Denver police have the second highest rate of law enforcement killings. According to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, Denver County has the second highest rate of law enforcement killings. 

After the activists vacated the stage, [Task Force deputy executive direcotr Russell] Roybal thanked them for the demonstration and then announced that Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (pictured right) would not address the crowd as planned.

Later, Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi, and Alicia Garza, the three co-creators of #blacklivesmatter, chose to forgo a planned speech at the conference and instead use the time to read off the names of at least a dozen trans women who were killed this year in the U.S.

Activists later took to Twitter to voice their frustrations with Mayor Hancock, the Denver Police Department, and the wider issue of police profiling queer youth of color.


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