Newt In A Tea Cup











{June 27, 2007}   “Sudden Heat”?!

Apparently “a sudden heat” is the explanation for the following. Bookshop from livejournal says it best so I’ll just copy it. It’s long but it’s also very, very important to read:

_______

Bloomington, Indiana, is a hotbed of liberalism surrounded by rural struggles and conservative values in the Southeastern region of Indiana, two hours north of Louisville. If you are a gay man or woman, it is a Midwestern Mecca: Bloomington is one of the most gay-friendly cities, statistically, culturally, and economically, in the entire country. A city full of progressives, it prides itself on its pursuit of equality.

In Bloomington in 1999, a man named Won-Joon Yoon was ruthlessly gunned down outside the Korean United Methodist Church by a white supremacist in a horrific shooting spree that began in Chicago and ended with a total of 2 men dead and 9 others wounded, all from minority groups.

After that, black and white signs reading “Bloomington United in Diversity” on one side and “No hate! Not in our yards, Not in Our Town, Anywhere!” on the other went up all over the city like flags of mourning.

Yoon’s death spurred a subsequent push by Bloomington and minority groups across the state to enact hate crime legislation in the state of Indiana –

– legislation which has never been passed.

Opponents of Indiana’s proposed hate crime legislation wrote, “This bill represents an attempt to give special protection to homosexuals and cross dressers by stating that a crime against them is to be treated with more severity than a crime against a senior citizen, a child or a pregnant mom..”

As of 2007, Indiana remains one of only five states in the country with no laws whatsoever against hate crimes.

________

________

90 minutes southeast of Bloomington there is a town called Crothersville, almost literally a four-way stop with its own Stop-In Liquor store. Crothersville, as tiny as it is, made the national news two years ago after a ten-year-old girl was kidnapped, sexually assualted, and murdered. Everyone in Crothersville will tell you that everyone in Crothersville knows everyone else.

On the afternoon of April 12, 2007, a man named Aaron Hall (nicknamed “Shorty” because of his slight build and miniscule stature – he barely topped 5’4″ and weighed around 100 pounds) met some fellow Crothersville natives, coming back from their Stop-In at the liquor store. 19-year-old Garrett Gray,18-year-old Coleman King, and 21-year-old Jamie Hendricks picked Hall up and went back to Gray’s house, where they proceeded to drink and hang out.

From every indication from sparse news reports and word of mouth, it began as a verbal insult, maybe to Gray’s dead mother, maybe to King’s heterosexuality, maybe to nothing at all.

The ‘why’ will probably never be fully known to us. Whatever the details, Hall said the wrong thing. And sparked in Gray and King what the official Initial Hearing report termed a “sudden heat.”

A “sudden heat” which would last throughout the next 24 hours.

Note: The following descriptions are graphic and disturbing, and may not be appropriate for sensitive readers.

# As King held Hall down while Gray punched him and struck him around his eyes repeatedly

# As King and Gray ruthlessly beat Hall, with fists and with the heels of their boots, hitting him over and over and over again, over 75 times with a boot alone.

# As the two of them took turns jumping on his battered body

# As they pulled his limp body down a wooden staircase, dragging him by the feet so that his head “bounced down all of the steps,” in their own words

# As they propped up Hall between them, held out a camera phone, took a picture of the two of them with their arms around Hall’s broken body, and proudly texted a photo of Hall’s bloody and swollen face to their friend, James Hodge, where he worked, in order to show off their handiwork

# As Jamie Hendricks called Hodge back around 6:45 pm and declared, “They’re beating the hell out of that guy,” while Hodge listened to Hall’s screams and the sound of King and Gray literally pummeling him to death

# Which they did for “several hours,” spattering Hall’s blood throughout the kitchen, on the outside deck, the railing, the stairs, and in the living room.

# As they piled his body into the back of Gray’s pickup truck (spilling more blood) and continued to beat him while Hendricks drove them to the murder scene, a tiny field row off a deserted backwoods state road

# As Gray, still beating Hall, asked him if he wanted to die tonight. Hall, barely able to talk at that point, still managed to reply: no.

# As Gray and King, ignoring Hall’s request to live, dumped him in the ditch beside the lane and proceeded to beat him still further.

# As they left him there lying in the ditch, by this time completely naked, only to return with a shotgun later at Gray’s insistence that “they had to kill him or they would go to jail.”

# As Gray shot into the darkness – but by this time, Hall, still alive, had crawled out of the ditch despite his naked body, despite his bruises, his broken nose and his shattered ribs. Hall had crawled into the field, where they left him there a second time.

# As Hendricks and Hodges returned the next day, April 13th, to the spectacle roadside attraction (and because Hodge wanted to steal Hall’s coat) to find Hall dead in the field.

# As they all proceeded to wrap Hall’s body in blue tarpaulin and hide it in Garrett Gray’s garage, where it was found after James Hodge, perhaps realizing that turning stooge was his only way to avoid being listed as an assistant, reported the crime and the suspects to the police, who turned themselves in.

All in all, the “sudden heat” lasted just under ten days.

Shorty Hall’s body was discovered on April 22, 2007, six days shy of his birthday.

He would have been 36.

On April 24th, 2007, twelve days after his death and two days after his naked, mutilated body was found wrapped in tarp in the Gray’s garage, Gray, Hendricks, and King were formally charged. Hendricks was charged as an accomplice and allowed to post bail. Hodge was not charged at all.

No word on whether he got to keep Aaron Hall’s coat.

The official cause of Aaron C. Hall’s death remains unknown.

Garrett Gray’s father is the Deputy Coroner of Crothersville. He has not made a statement about how he managed to miss the bloodstains all over his house in the ten days leading up to his son’s arrest.

Shorty’s obituary in the Jackson County Banner is heartbreakingly simple: He was a roofer. He loved mushroom hunting. He left behind a family who loved him, who left multiple tributes for him on myspace. His own myspace page states, “I’d like to meet the one I’ve always been looking 4..”

What he met was a brutal, horrific death.

Hall’s death is made, astonishingly, even more horrific, because of two factors:

1) Apart from sparse articles in four local papers – The Jackson County Banner (bi-weekly), the Crothersville Times (weekly), the Seymour Tribune (daily), and the Bloomington Alternative (bi-weekly), no Indiana press at all has covered this case. Despite the brutality and the length of time during which the killing occurred, and despite the many unanswered questions about why the murder happened and how ten days managed to pass before the body was found, despite the disturbing similarities to the brutal, internationally publicized deaths of Brandon Teena and Matthew Shephard, there has been no press.

Which is why, a full two months later, you and I are only just now hearing about the murder of Aaron Hall.

2) During the ten-day lapse between the murder and the discovery of the body, the three suspects had plenty of time to come up with their only defense against their blatant and shocking brutality.

Their defense?

Hall was gay.

Nevermind that on the streets of Crothersville, where I went tonight, everyone understands that Hall wasn’t gay, a statement echoed by his family. The defendants’ motivation for beating a man to death for hours and hours, then driving him out into a pasture and beathing him some more, is “gay panic”. He came on to them, so they killed him.

Why hasn’t there been any press? The blogosphere seems to think that apparently, the lack of convincing support to justify Hall’s sexuality means that this cannot be construed as a hate crime. And I guess it’s not as snappy that way, or something.

So. Just another backwoods run-of-the-mill six-hour-long beating-a-man-to-death, then. Right.

________

At one point the Bloomington Alternative, who finally picked up this story in June and brought it to the attention of the blog world, and thus to me, calls Crothersville “stereotypically backwards, economically miserable and socially stunted.”

But the Crothersville residents I talked to tonight (only one of whom would go on the record) have a very wry understanding of the much larger context at work here. “It doesn’t matter whether he’s gay,” one teenager, a friend of King’s, told me in the Back Lot, a hangout for teens in nearby Scottsburg. “Nobody deserves to have that happen to them.” He spat on the pavement, then added, “Except child molesters.”

Hate crimes in Indiana are not recognized by the law for what they are.

But there is no escaping the devastating implications of Aaron Hall’s death for gay men and women across the country.

Either Aaron Hall was brutally beaten to death because he was gay, or else his murderers are attempting to exhort a sick sympathy from homophobic jury members by portraying beating a man to death as a natural response to homosexuality. Keep in mind that the “gay panic defense” has worked before. Keep in mind that with everyone I spoke to in Crothersville tonight commented on their complete lack of knowledge, the way that the case had been totally hushed up. One woman thanked me for giving her updates she hadn’t heard. “I wonder what reason they’ll actually give for what happened,” she mused.

What reason, indeed.

___________

___________

The first I heard of Aaron Hall’s death was on Sunday night, from a friend. I needed a full day’s worth of research just to figure out what had happened, so few and far between were the news reports.

The Indianapolis Star won’t print this story. The Herald-Times won’t print this story. The Associated Press won’t print this story.

What did Matthew Shepard, what did Brandon Teena die for, what did Won-Joon Yoon die for, if a hate crime of this magnitude can be so completely suppressed that the general public knows nothing about it for two months?

What did Aaron Hall die for? And what will his murderers learn from their trial?

Will they learn that Indiana is a state where you can get away with murder, as long as you murder the right person in the right extenuating circumstances?

Will they hear the outrage that no one seems to feel? Will they take away the knowledge that even if they can tear the heart out of Crothersville without so much as a ripple of protest, they cannot and they will not silence the gay community, or make gay men and women into unwitting partners in their hideous murder?

Tell everyone you know about Aaron Hall. Tell everyone. Tell them that he was beaten over 75 times and left to die in a field like Matthew Shephard and the press has done nothing. Email your local paper and ask them why they aren’t reporting the Aaron Hall story. Talk to everyone you know.

And remember him. Remember him, and speak out against hate.

No hate.

Not in our towns.

Not anywhere.

ETA:
Links:
The Wikipedia Article on Aaron C. Hall lists this as “a current event.”
If you’re on Facebook, please consider joining Justice for Aaron Hall. Help spread the word.
Digg this post; or Digg the Dailykos mention that brought widespread attention to this issue.
As of June 20, this has been metafiltered.
sinaddict receives a response from her local ABC affiliate: ” ‘A story like this would be covered by the local Indiana TV station. You can google and find out who that is. KOMO is a local station, so we cover news in and around the Seattle/Everett/Tacoma area.’ Funny how they’ll still spend ten minutes reporting on bombings in Iraq, the pregnant woman who went missing, the boy in Utah who was mauled by a bear, and any number of other national stories.”
6/22 – article in The Washington Blade on the murder.

YouTube video on Aaron Hall’s killing. Hate Crime and “Gay Panic” Defense by GypsyWatch

Questions:

Why are you, the OP, talking about hate crime legislation when this wasn’t a hate crime?
two reasons.

A) the defendants are using a defense which involves assuming that somehow the murder was *more justifiable* if the victim was gay. At the very least, hate crime legislation would make it impossible for them to use this as a permissable defense. The fact that there is no hate crime law on the Indiana books means that there is nothing keeping Garrett Gray and Coleman King from saying “he hit on me so I killed him” at their trials, regardless of whether or not it’s true.

B) criminal law is based on intent. Under a hate crime law, “I killed them because they were gay/straight/white/black/female/other minority” would incur a more severe punishment than another type of intent.

Maybe this killing wasn’t a hate crime – we just don’t know – but arguably a hate crime law would act as a deterrant, not only for real acts of rage and hate (crimes of passion directed at minorities, as it were) – but for anyone who might even think, before the fact, “I could get away with it if I said you hit on me, cause everyone around here’d be on my side.”

See also textualdeviance‘s eloquent comment on the subject.

Why do you care?

Because like so many other people who live in Indiana, I hadn’t heard a *thing* about it, and when I did, I was horrified and outraged that I hadn’t.

Can I link to this post? Yes. Absolutely. You might also consider linking to the original Bloomington Alternative article.

Thank you for your comments.

One last thing: How can I help?
Write your newspapers. Write your representatives.(Here are some tips on how to write an effective letter on both fronts.) Watch the HRC video on the Matthew Shepard Act and then go to the HRC to show your support for the passage of this landmark hate crimes bill.

# As of 6/23/07 I will be posting any new information I have about this case on my journal under the tag aaron hall. please feel free to use LJ tag tracking to follow updates. tanah‘s journal is also an excellent space to watch. She is blogging about this issue for the Bloomington Alternative.

Unfortunately the “What you can do” section is very american-centrist. Yes, this is tied to the place wherein the events took place, but the roots which lead to this- those spread across the world.

Original source. Pretty Verbatim except for a few pictures.

Advertisements


{June 27, 2007}   Back To Normal Soon

I just had my last exam this afternoon, and whilst I’m pretty sure I’ve done badly (a terrifying prospectus as my university entrance goal is one A in english and two Bs), I’m glad it’s over; how could I not be? It was a rather odd question since the source we were analysing was written by a Lady in 1710 but the (lack of) grammatical structure and especially the lexis and orthography placed it straight in the 1400s during the beginning of the GVS and whilst standardisation was slow, it wasn’t that damn slow… It’s like she got an education from 3 centuries before her time… So I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it, and I think I missed the point on the “globalisation of english” question. But enough about that, at least until I get the results.

My biggest fear is not fulfilling my potential and I was talking to my favourite Big Issue SellerTM yesterday… He’s actually very clever, did English at university but didn’t like Shakespeare’s purple prose, preferred modern classics (like me) and is good at design. Somewhere along the line something went wrong (I haven’t asked what) and he became homeless. It sounds crazy but I can see myself in him; I’m going to be taking a risk and if it doesn’t work, it really won’t work.

That said I’ll be able to post normally again. I want to change a few things; I get the feeling that my writing reflects that I’m still learning so much. I think that there are so many real-life things affecting women, that you can read in the papers all the time and I think I need to draw more attention to that, instead of so much abstract thinking.

It’s odd but I’m so anxious to do activism in the non-internet world but I don’t know where to start or what to do or if there is anything I can do. Right now I’m not sure that’s the position I’m in (an yes, that is a sign of my privilege) but that is a long-term goal position I want to grow into.

So that’s the general update over.



{June 1, 2007}   Lazy Blogging Cause I Can

and hey! I’m 18 today so whatever I say goes! 😀 😀

Yayz for being one year older and allowed to buy alcohol!



et cetera