Waymon Hudson

A Horrible Anniversary: Lawrence King Killed One Year Ago

Filed By Waymon Hudson | February 12, 2009 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Living
Tags: Brandon McInerney, gender identity, hate crimes against LGBT people, Larry King, Lawrence King, murder

Today is a day of sadness and reflection for me. One year ago, 15 year-old Lawrence "Larry" King was shot in front of his classmates while sitting in school.

4lawrenceking_story.jpgFor many younger LGBTQ people, this was a murder that defined their generation. While no more or less tragic than any of the other hate crimes that have happened, Lawrence's young age, his defiance of gender roles, and the shocking execution style and reasoning of the murder itself hit many like me to the core. Like Matthew Shepherd or Gwen Araujo before him, Lawrence was a person that we could see ourselves in- a mirror of many of our own experiences growing up LGBT in the USA.

The spotty coverage of the story at first prompted many of us to ask "Where's the outrage." It seemed that this school shooting was being ignored or swept under the rug due to Larry's sexuality and gender expression. Little did we know when the coverage did come, it would be like another bashing.

Lawrence_King2-317x414.pngSome, like Ellen DeGeneres, spoke from the heart about the murder of a young person simply for being who he was. Much of the coverage, however, began to turn nasty.

Newsweek's horrible cover story put King on trial and blamed him for the bringing the shooting on himself. As Alex Blaze put it:

Larry is portrayed as having stalked, sexually harassed, and bullied Brandon into a corner where his only possible response was pulling that trigger.

A1005x300.jpgEven The Advocate asked the loaded question "who is to blame for Lawrence King's death", prompting outcry from the community for overly provocative and demeaning reporting. The message from all corners seemed to be "stop asking for it" and that "Lawrence King deserved to die."

It was a scary message to our young people- if you live openly, you should be killed.

Even though the trial of King's murder, 14-year-old Brandon McInerney, moves forward, justice will never come. A new generation of LGBTQ people have seen firsthand not only the violence and hate against our community, but the lack of compassion and understanding towards us and our dead.

I try and find something, some semblance of meaning, in the murder of Lawrence King. I find nothing but pain, sadness, and fear.

I hope that something may come out of this, a movement to focus on giving our youth support or educating others about accepting others' differences. I hope, but I am also realistic.

Hate makes no sense. Violence only causes pain. And we are all left wondering about the life of someone who refused to conform or break- a life that could have been.


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I cry for Larry again today! Hir murder hit me very hard. I use gender free pronouns purposely, as we don't completely know how sie might have identified.

Waymon, Thanks for a great article.

Larry King and the dozens of others killed in the election period are victims of the right centrists campaign by to whip up homophobic hysteria around same sex marriage.

Without question the denial of rights is the same as denying that we're fully human and that we deserve the same rights as others.

The codefendants in this case should include Pelosi and Reid who dropped the hate crimes bill to pander to bigots, cults like the mormons, Warren's southern baptists and the roman catholic cult and McCain and Obama who deliberately helped defeat us in California. McCain honestly said he was bigot. Obama, dishonestly, given his previous record or support said that not only was he now a bigot but that the sky pixie was too', i.e. "god’s in the mix".

I emphatically disagree that there is no meaning here.

It’ll become meaningful if we organize a series of mass marches in DC and across the country to demand passage of the hate crimes act, the version of ENDA before it was raped by Barney and the Republicans and the repeal of the Democrat/Republican bipartisan right centrist laws DOMA and DADT.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | February 13, 2009 3:36 AM

I doubt that a 13 year old wannabe skinhead and bully could be influenced by a political motive. This is just visceral hatred spawned from ignorance.

Were I to have a son who confirmed Gay tendencies I would counsel him strongly about the need to be as careful in associations as we would want him to be careful sexually. Children are among the cruelest beasts that roam through hormones and conformity with their "group" with no regard for others. In my school I befriended less fortunate people some with physical handicaps in wheelchairs the others would not speak to. One did not have to worry about guns in schools then, but there were plenty of stupid heartless bullies nonetheless.

Then you simply don't understand the relationship of right centrist politics to the growth and influence of the hard right skinhead phenomena. The first emboldens the second.

Skinheads are extremely political and extremely anti-GLBT and they get their cues from the politicians and cult leaders who promote hatred. That’s true of the catholic and orthodox skinheads of Europe and of the christer skinheads in the US.

Skinheads aren't as well organized in the US but they will be as the slide towards depression, the ongoing war and the sharpening of the political divide continue to shake US society to its very roots. We’ll soon see the growth of skinheads and their recruitment as strikebreakers and attack dogs for the right. That’s as inevitable as the rise of the rise of the SA and SS in Germany.

The interpenetration of the skinheads and the military is something that bears watching. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2006/10/01/ING42LCIGK1.DTL and http://www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/article.jsp?aid=971 The military is recruiting and they’re joining for a chance to “kill me some brown”, which is exactly what King's murderer Brandon McInerney did.

In February, the Baltimore Sun wrote that there was "a significant increase in the number of recruits with what the Army terms 'serious criminal misconduct' in their background" -- a category that included "aggravated assault, robbery, vehicular manslaughter, receiving stolen property and making terrorist threats." From 2004 to 2005, the number of those recruits rose by more than 54 percent…

The Southern Poverty Law Center maintains a site called HateWatch that monitors rightwing wing terrorist groups. Link here http://www.splcenter.org/blog/?s=skinhead for their coverage of the linkage of skinhead terrorism and politics. It’s chilling and puts the lie to your suggestion that the skinheads aren’t political. There are dozens of stories in their files.

The only question is how we neutralize them as a threat.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | February 13, 2009 9:30 PM

Interpenetration means to penetrate thoroughly and to penetrate reciprocally. I do not believe that this is the case with our military. I am sure vets who participated could weigh in better than you or I.

A thirteen year old is also not of military age and also biologically incapable of making a fully thought out decision. This is a horrible personal loss for the King family. The family of the killer was, quite likely, like many other families, disassociated from the thoughts and incapable of understanding the aggression of their child. It is a lose lose situation all around.

There are no winners in this and no useful purpose in creating broad conspiracies around it. It is to be held as an example of how to learn from tragic mistakes and a wake up call (again) to school administrators that aggressive behaviors are not a normal part of growing up.

" I do not believe that this is the case with our military. I am sure vets who participated could weigh in better than you or I. I'll ask some antiwar vets and let you know what they think. And you ask you prowar friends. And we can compare notes.

The military is recruiting skinheads and people with a criminal past because recruitment skidded to a halt long ago. That's common knowledge. The skinheads are joining and finding friends in the officer corps. Google the situation at the USAF Academy in the Springs. Read the SF chronicle. Read the SPLC article. That's interpenetration whether you believe it or not.

Admittedly that may become less of a factor as the recession slides towards the Clinton Depression because the economy is shedding roughly 21,000 jobs a day! A pool of non-criminal recruitment is opening except of course for economic looters like managers and business owners.

Saying that religious and political anti-GLBT sentiments are responsible for anti-GLBT crime is perfectly reasonable. It’s not a conspiracy theory, broad or otherwise. It's simply the truth. The problem is not the fault of uninformed high school principals but of bigoted cult leaders and politicians. These murders are taking place in many venues and many are linked by the age of the GLBT victims.

"A thirteen year old is also not of military age and also biologically incapable of making a fully thought out decision.” The question of military age is correct but apropos of what... ? Unlike yourself I don’t know anything about decision making in 13 year olds or it’s biological limitations. I do know that’s the contention of McInerny’s homophobic defense lawyer and that the DA and their expert witnesses (and the appellate courts) say otherwise. Which is apropos of what... ?

A mass campaign to enact tough hate crimes laws is what we need and if the Democrats won’t move on it then we have to force them to. That’s how can honor the memory of Leticia/Lawrence King and the dozens of other victims of the campaign induced wave of violence. They deserve nothing less.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | February 14, 2009 5:25 AM

Odd you skip "interpenetration" in your generalizations. Your red baiting tactic of suggesting I am pro war is absurd on it's face. It was yourself who involved a negative diatribe on the military no one else. This is about a tragic loss of a child's life in a senseless manner. You have strayed way off point yet again. I am proud of veterans. I live with one. Why don't you have all your antiwar veteran associates give us their "apropos of what" arguments as to how your bashing military vets has anything to do with Larry King or his murderer.

It's worth noting that today prosecutors just released additional information about the case showing that the claim King was sexually harassing his accused killer, simply wasn't true. At most, King had begun talking back to his tormentors after months of harassment.

Whereas King's accused killer turns out to have been a neo-Nazi/skinhead wanna-be with a huge homophobic streak, who was watching training videos about "Shooting in a Realistic Environments," and who repeatedly threatened to get a gun and kill King.

But hey, King was asking for it...

Tammie Huber | February 13, 2009 2:19 AM

Thank you Waymon, hopefully someday we will not have to write and read about this senseless hate and violence. I keep asking myself why do these people hate and fear us, it just does not make sense. To me it also seems that they condone the violence against us.

And I don't care how much people believe we might be "asking for it"... there is No excuse what-so-ever for violence and murder.

I really can't believe it's only been a year. The media coverage since then has been terrible.

"You've got to be carefully taught..."

Ventura County Star - February 24, 2008

Suspected school shooter's childhood marred by violence: But friends can't believe Brandon McInerney did it

... Brandon's mother sat, eyes closed with her head down and hands locked at her forehead. His father, separated from the mother by one of Brandon's brothers, stared straight ahead.

As Brandon entered the prisoner holding area, all eyes turned to the lean boy who stood straight and wore a white T-shirt and dark blue pants. Brandon, as tall as his lawyer, focused on the judge's words, saying only "yes, sir," when asked a question.

Prosecutors charged Brandon with first-degree murder and a hate crime but have declined to elaborate on the latter and have not released details about a motive. Brandon, who has not yet entered a plea, has invoked his right to not speak with investigators, police said.

The gun, left behind in the computer lab after the shooting, came from Brandon's home, but who owned it and how it got to the school have not been disclosed.

After the brief hearing, Brandon's family stormed out of the courtroom, away from the cameras, as Brandon was taken back to Juvenile Hall, where he is being held in lieu of $770,000 bail.

Conni Lawrence, who saw Brandon grow up, said the entire story is one long, sad mess.

"This whole situation is extremely upsetting and sad," she said of Larry's death. "This poor kid didn't have a chance, but it's not like Brandon had a chance, either."


beachcomberT | February 13, 2009 8:57 AM

Thanks for posting the link to the newspaper story, which shows there were many shades of gray in this awful tragedy. Both Larry and Brandon were failed by their parents, friends, teachers and principals who apparently did too little or nothing to intervene. Now that one boy is dead and another will probably rot in prison or a mental hospital, I hope the school system and its students are channeling grief into corrective action.

This is one anniversary I'd never want to mark.

we all miss u larry u was a really good friend
i really srry that this happened 2 u
plp r jus haters they need 2 bck off & get a life cuz gay bi lez r all plp as well we all the sme
i wish u was still here u was a very swweet & luvin guy i really miss the tmes we hung out u made me smile u a very bright kid.

we all miss & care bout u

we all miss u larry u was a really good friend
i really srry that this happened 2 u
plp r jus haters they need 2 bck off & get a life cuz gay bi lez r all plp as well we all the sme
i wish u was still here u was a very swweet & luvin guy i really miss the tmes we hung out u made me smile u a very bright kid.

we all miss & care bout u