Hate crimes against gays increase 11% with Puerto Rico having one of the worst hate crimes in U.S. history this month

Nov 24th, 2009 | By | Category: Around the Commonwealth, Lead Story

Data released by the FBI shows that hate crimes in the United States has reached a seven-year high, yet another increase from 2005′s report (previous story).

The report covers hate related crimes through 2008 and the FBI reports the highest increase of hate related crimes have been directed at Jews, gay men and lesbians.

64 hate crimes related to sexual orientation or gender identity happened here in Kentucky according to the 2008 report.  However, the report isn’t completely accurate since the number of agencies that report hate crimes to the FBI account for only 3,821,826 people of the Commonwealth’s 4,269,245 citizens, leaving possible crimes committed against the remaining 447,419 citizens unreported.

Each state determines what they will or will not report to the FBI.  In Alabama, only 163 agencies — representing about two-thirds of the population participate.

51.3 percent of the hate crimes reported were motivated by racial bias, 19.5 percent by religious bias, 16.7 percent by sexual orientation bias, and 11.5 percent by ethnicity/national origin bias.  Only 1 percent involved a bias against a disability.

One of the most horrific hate crimes in U.S. history occurred in Puerto Rico this month

puerto_ricoEarlier this month, the body of 19-year-old Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado was found decapitated, dismembered, and partially burned by the side of the road near the Puerto Rican town of Cayey.

The police investigator assigned to the case suggested that he deserved what he got because of the “type of lifestyle” he was leading.  The Equality Forum was the first U.S. non-profit to bring the incident to national headlines.  Equality Forum, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and others are calling for the investigation to be federalized.  Since the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, and not a U.S. state, federal agencies have complete jurisdiction.

Jorge Steven López Mercado’s friends and family laid him to rest on November 22, 2009 in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico.

El Nuevo Dia further reported (as listed on Boy in Bushwick):

López’s aunt and his ex-boyfriend, Luis Rivera, opened the urn that contained the murdered teen’s ashes and placed a necklace and a white rose inside it at the end of the funeral Mass. The newspaper further reported López’s parents hugged their son’s friends and cried.

“We definitely hope people and society wake up and demand justice,” López’s friend José Alicea told el Nuevo Dia (as translated from Spanish into English.)

López’s friends carried balloons and white roses as they walked to the cemetery. Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” played during the procession.

Martinez Matos, 26, was arrested for the murder of 19-year-old Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado on November 16, 2009 at his home in the Mogote de Cayey neighborhood according to the Guayama police district.  In addition to murder, Martinez Matos was charged with three weapons violations and one count of hiding evidence.

“It’s at a very preliminary stage,” Lymarie Llovet, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital, said Tuesday. “There’s the potential for a federal investigation.”   Harry Rodriguez of the FBI added, “The FBI is monitoring this investigation with the police of Puerto Rico.”

According to Telemundo and other local reports, Martinez Matos confessed to authorities that he picked Lopez Mercado up from the street, thinking that he was a woman.

When he realized that Lopez Mercado was a man, Martinez Matos said he regressed to an incident when he was sexually assaulted during a prison term, Telemundo and local reports said.

That’s when a conflict started between the two, authorities said, leading to the teen’s death.

Unlike Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, who are officially called “Commonwealth,” the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is not sovereign.  The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is actually an unincorporated territory of the United States [like Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Midway Island, Northern Mariana Islands, and American Somoa]. Like U.S. states however, the people of Puerto Rico are both citizens of Puerto Rico and the United States.

Territories are supervised by the U.S. Department of the Interior, no one from the department has made any comments.

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  1. [...] Hate crimes against gays increase 11% with Puerto Rico having one of the worst hate crimes in U.S. history. 64 hate crimes occur in Kentucky in 2008. (previous story) [...]

  2. [...] FBI statistics also show that hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation have increased, Segura said – from 14 percent of all reported hate crimes in 2005 to 17.7 percent in 2008.  (previous story) [...]

  3. [...] In 2009, the body of 19-year-old Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado was found decapitated, dismembered, and partially burned by the side of the road near the Puerto Rican town of Cayey. As of 2009, this was called the most horrific hate crime in United States history. (previous story) [...]

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