In memory of Matthew Shepard

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Przywódca: ajantis1
Zasady dołączania: Grupa otwarta
Utworzona: 6 III 2010

Matthew Shepard (1976 - 1998)

Matthew Shepard (December 1, 1976 - October 12, 1998) was a 21-year-old student at the University of Wyoming who was tortured and murdered near Laramie, Wyoming in October 1998. He was attacked on the night of October 6–7, and died on October 12 from severe head injuries.

During the trial, witnesses stated that Shepard was targeted because he was gay. Shepard's murder brought national and international attention to the issue of hate crime legislation at the state and federal levels.

Shortly after midnight on October 7, 1998, Shepard met Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson in Laramie. McKinney and Henderson offered Shepard a ride in their car. After admitting he was gay, Shepard was robbed, pistol whipped, tortured, tied to a fence in a remote, rural area, and left to die. Still tied to the fence, Shepard was discovered 18 hours later by a cyclist, who initially mistook Shepard for a scarecrow. Later he reported that Shepard was beaten so brutally that his face was completely covered in blood, except where it had been partially washed clean by his tears. At the time of discovery, Shepard was still alive in a coma.

Shepard suffered fractures to the back of his head and in front of his right ear. He had severe brain stem damage, which affected his body's ability to regulate heart rate, body temperature and other vital functions. There were also about a dozen small lacerations around his head, face and neck. His injuries were deemed too severe for doctors to operate. Shepard never regained consciousness and remained on full life support. As he lay in intensive care, candlelight vigils were held by the people of Laramie.

The anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, led by Fred Phelps, picketed Shepard's funeral as well as the trial of his assailants, displaying signs with slogans such as "Matt Shepard rots in Hell", "AIDS Kills Fags Dead" and "God Hates Fags". As a counterprotest during Henderson's trial, Romaine Patterson, a friend of Shepard's, organized a group of individuals who assembled in a circle around the Phelps group wearing white robes and gigantic wings (resembling angels) that blocked the protesters. While the organization had no name in the initial demonstration, it has since been ascribed various titles, including "Angels of Peace" and "Angel Action".

Each of the murderers received two consecutive life sentences (McKinney additionally without the possibility of parole). However, they were not charged with a hate crime, as no Wyoming criminal statute provided for such a charge. In 2009 Congress of USA passed The Matthew Shepard Act. This measure expands the 1969 United States federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. President Barack Obama signed the measure into law on October 28, 2009.

Many musicians have written and recorded songs about the murder. Elton John and Bernie Taupin wrote the song American Triangle which appeared on the 2001 album Songs from the West Coast with Rufus Wainwright on backing vocals. The song is dedicated to the memory of Matthew Shepard as well as the song And Sadness Will Sear by Trivium, recorded on their 2006 album The Crusade.

Three narrative films and a documentary were made about Shepard: The Laramie Project, The Matthew Shepard Story, Anatomy of a Hate Crime, Laramie Inside Out, and Moral Obligations. The Laramie Project is also often performed as a play.

In the years following Shepard's death, his mother Judy has become a well-known advocate for LGBT rights, particularly issues relating to gay youth. She is a prime force behind the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which supports diversity and tolerance in youth organizations.

The source: wikipedia

Mrs. and Mr. Shepard, we are with you in your pain and sorrow.

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