By Kate Redburn
Matthew Wettlaufer, The Murder of Allen Schindler, 2007
Eric Stanley and Nat Smith, eds
Joey Mogul, Andrea Ritchie, and Kay Witlock
In March 2002, 17-year-old April Mora was brutally attacked near her Denver home. As the authors of Queer (In)Justice explain, two white men jumped the queer woman of color and “used a razor blade to carve the word dyke on her left forearm and R.I.P into the flesh on her stomach.” Mora managed to contact her girlfriend and in turn the police.
Did they search for the attackers? Did they send the bleeding girl to the hospital? No. First they asked whether Mora and her girlfriend had been fighting and if they were on drugs. When she answered no, the police insisted “that she take a polygraph to prove she was telling the truth” and “focused their investigation on a ‘self-infliction of injury,’” despite hospital reports to the contrary. The so-called investigation included ransacking Mora’s home.
In 2006, seven young black lesbians from New Jersey were walking through the West Village when a male street vendor started harassing them, shouting homophobic epithets and chasing them down the street. He became violent, and the women defended themselves, attempting to de-escalate the situation. Although a surveillance video showed the man physically assaulting the women, four of the seven women were convicted of crimes in the incident, with sentences ranging from three-and-a-half to 11 years.
How, in the age of anti–hate crime legislation, were these perversions of justice possible? How is it that victims of hatecrimes received punishment instead of assistance?