Terrance Heath

The LGBT Hate Crimes Project

Filed By Terrance Heath | August 22, 2007 4:35 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, The Movement, The Movement
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After some consideration, and discussions, I've come to the decision that I will add no further articles on LGBT hate crime victims to Wikipedia. When I started the Hate Crimes on Wikipedia project, it was because I'd noticed that there were several anti-LGBT hate crimes I knew, and had written about, of that were not documented on Wikipedia for some reason. I thought that by adding them to Wikipedia, I could bring more exposure to a broader spectrum LGBT people who have been the targets of hate crimes.

I have learned, however, that the notability guidelines on Wikipedia, and some of the community members who enforce them, make it almost impossible to show to bring exposure to hate crimes that happened long ago and/or not received widespread coverage. And that means that it is difficult to being exposure to more diverse LGBT hate crime victims on Wikipedia, if their stories are not recent, having received widespread coverage, or otherwise launched major protests or new legislation. As subjective as those guidelines sound, they are reasons I was given as objections to some of the articles I posted.

So, rather than fight that battle, I've decided to launch a new site: the LGBT Hate Crimes Project. I wanted to keep it simple, so that the focus will be on the stories. It's a wiki that I spent much of yesterday and today setting up, and it's where the new stories I will research and write up will be housed. I'm also in the process of copying the articles I wrote for Wikipedia onto this new site. I'm also in the process of rounding up support, as it looks like it will be an ongoing project.

It started when I posted a short article on Erica Keel, after finishing the one on Nizah Morris, only to find it marked for speedy deletion. Then the Nireah Johnson article was featured on the front page of Wikipedia, and shortly thereafter tagged for notability issues. And then I posted an article on Roberto Duncanson.

Roberto Duncanson (1987 - May 12, 2007) was an African American gay man from Brooklyn, New York. On May 12, 2007, he was stabbed to death by Omar Willock, who claimed Duncanson had flirted with him.Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.com

Background

Duncanson, 20, worked at CVS in Chelsea, New York, for 18 months. According to his mother, he had plans to go to Miami to celebrate his 21st birthday, and was planning to go back to school to become an x-ray technician.1) On May 12, 2007, Duncanson and Omar Willock, 17, passed each other on St. Mark's Avenue in Crown Heights. Willock reportedly became enraged, yelled "What are you looking at, f---r?"2) and started shouting anti-gay slurs at Duncanson.3) Willock accused Williams of looking at him, in a way he interpreted as flirting. It's unclear how Willock knew Duncanson was gay.4) Duncanson walked away, and continued on his way to visit a cousin on Brooklyn Avenue. Willock allegedly followed Duncanson to his cousin's house, and waited for him to come out. When Duncanson emerged from the house, Willock continued following him.5)

The Murder

As Duncanson kept walking, Willock followed and continued to yell anti-gay epithets at Duncanson. Willock then started a fist fight with Duncanson.6) The fight ended when Willock took out a knife and stabbed Duncanson as he tried to walk away."Metro Briefing: New York: Brooklyn: Youth Accused of Bias Killing", The New York Times, June 15, 2007. Paramedics found Duncanson on the sidewalk."Teen cited 'gay panic' in Brooklyn slaying", The Advocate, June 16, 2007. Retrieved on August 18, 2007. He had been stabbed in the back four times.7)

The Aftermath

Duncanson was taken to Kings County Hospital, where he died an hour later. Willocks was arrested, and was indicted on June 14, 2007. Willock was charged with second degdegree murder as a hate crime.8)

It, too, came under fire for notability issues. And then I thought about the other articles I'm working on, about Ukea Davis and Stephanie Thomas, Edgar Garzon, Dwan Prince, and Satendar Singh, and I realized most of them would not pass the "notability" test, depending upon how stringently it was administered. And I got a little upset, because, well, the reason I started this project is because I think their lives and what happened to them is worth notice. Somewhere.

Too often their stories disappear into news archives that people have to pay to read, and thus they're forgotten except for the friends and family who keep their memories alive. No books or plays are written about them. No laws are named after them. No, television or theatrical movies are made about them, and no one receives Oscars for portraying them. And that's because many of them are people whose lives were often deemed as unworthy of notice as their deaths.

So, in the last 24 hours, the LGBT Hate Crimes Project has been born, to remember their names and remember their stories. I'm not sure how it will develop from here. For the time being I'm going to continue researching and adding stories, and trying to round up support. I've added a contact form, and will probably also add comments to the individual articles. Beyond that, at some point I'll register people to help with the research and writing of the articles. But I also want to avoid the obvious potential for spam and other attacks. So, we'll take it slow from here.

More to come...


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I am really glad you will continue this effort elsewhere - when reading your opening paragraph I became concerned that you were stopping altogether. The full value and importance of what you're doing is something we as a community have yet to realize; but it is so immensely important - as you say - to remember these stories.

Leland Frances | August 22, 2007 6:18 PM

Good for you, Terrance!

Wikipedia is such an intellectual fraud that I dissolve into brief fantasies of major ass whipping every time I even see Jimmy Whales' name.

First there is the “notability” game that you mentioned. Of course, PRINTED encyclopedias must reasonably limit the topics they cover for reasons of the restraints of costs to produce and the limits of literal space that any three-dimensional mass can take. But Wikipedia has infinite cyber “space” and so there is no practical rational for any limitation of topic. A synonym for the adjective “encyclopedic” is “comprehensive,” thus any attempt to limit a topic is contradictory.

The easy explanation of what is actually driving the Wikipedia “police” is arrogance. And homophobia has been in the mix on more than one occasion, e.g., the fight over including in the listing about Anderson Cooper rumors that he is gay, and one of the originators of Wikipedia articles about the Scouting movement [which now comprises a huge sub-Wiki] wanting to keep out references to the fight against the ban on gay Scouts in the US. I guess something that resulted in a despicable United States Supreme Court ruling is not “notable.”

Second is the nonsense that immediately spawned [as in the name of the horror movie] the Wikipedia police—the most tireless and indestructible of all the breeds of Internet cockroaches: the naiveté behind the premise that “anyone can edit.” It should have been “anyone can contribute to,” but by use of the verb “edit” Whales was begging for conflict and herds of people who follow the concept, “give someone a hammer and they will find a nail to hit with it.”

As you probably know, voluntary “expert” “editors”—the all-powerful, much-envied “Wikipedians”—were eventually assembled to supposedly bring some fact checking and fairness to it all, but the firing this spring of the prolific “tenured professor” Wikipedian who turned out not to have more than a high school degree, along with Whales’ poopooing the harm he did while praising his basic goodness, revealed not just the arrogance and intellectual shortcomings of its founder but possibly his sexual leanings, too.

Finally, there is the self-contradictory rule that hopefully has been at least modified if not eliminated entirely. How can a knowledge resource that exists solely on the Internet refuse to allow references to source material elsewhere on the Internet? “I AM WHALES! WHO ARE YOU? WHOOO ARE YOU????!!!!”

Thanks again for not letting their ignorance and indifference discourage you from continuing this important project. And, one trusts you are already aware of the “Gay American Heroes” project:

http://www.gayamericanheroes.com/


I generally second the comments offered by Leland Frances. If the LGBT hate crime articles are being challenged for "notability" I will bet that many of those who present such challenges are homophobes themselves --- maybe RR-evangelicals, maybe not --- who do not want LGBT hate crimes profusely documented and thereby underscore the appropriateness and need for extending hate crime protections to LGBT people.

Academic objectivity and "NPOV" ... "Neutral Point Of View"? ... I tend to respond, "My ass!" ... and, on my best behavior, they certainly have failed to convince me!

Nice job Terrance, If you need any help,
I am available.

Denise Travers | August 23, 2007 11:03 PM

Thank you for your dedication. Your efforts are admirable. I wish you the best of luck on your new venture.