November 9, 2000

Sillhouettes Offer Reminders of Hate Crime Victims

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Cardboard silhouettes of people killed in hate-related crimes lined Ho Plaza yesterday, as part of an effort by the Multicultural Living and Learning Unit (McLLU) to stress the serious problems these crimes present in the United States.

The cardboard models each had a description of how the victims were brutally murdered.

“I think its a problem because I am constantly being made aware of events where people are treated explicitly with bias or hostility around their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Gwendolyn Dean, the coordinator of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Resource Center.

“The biggest problem is that people who take issue with allowing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to enjoy the same benefits and rights as everyone else, are unable to keep those feelings to themselves,” Dean said.

To raise awareness that these hate crimes happen to ordinary people, exhibit hosts distributed quarter cards with pictures of the victims.

One card read, “Ronald Gay had been teased all his life because of his last name. On September 22, 2000, he boasted that he was going to ‘waste some faggots.’ That night, he entered a gay bar in Roanoke, Virginia and opened fire, killing Danny Overstreet and injuring 6 others.”

“We got most of our information on these specific hate crimes on the Internet,” said Sarah Doherty ’03, coordinator of the exhibit and a member of McLLU. “It happens everyday. There were bias-related incidents on campus, and it was a shocker to most people. The way to try and stop this is to raise awareness on what has been going on this year.”

Earlier this week President Hunter R. Rawlings III and Susan H. Murphy ’73, vice president for student and academic services, issued statements on the bias-related acts on the Cornell campus, in which the administration outlined the actions that the University will take to address the concerns of students. In the reports, the administration said they would look into increasing programs and classes that promote diversity, along with examining campus security.

“I am glad to see that the president has spoken up and is trying to prevent these bias-related crimes from continuing,” Doherty said.

The exhibit caught the attention of many students passing through central campus.

“I think it is horrible. You don’t think about this stuff as still going on. You read about it in history books, but you think that is in the past,” Jared Talbot ’04 said.

“I am shocked. Disgusted is a better word. I don’t think it is anyone’s part to judge someone else. Nobody should play the part of God here and decide who is normal and who is different,” Camilla Velasquez ’03 said.

Archived article by Seth Harris