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Hate Violence Continues
Arizona student stabbed in the back, Brazilian gang-beaten to death
ONLINE:  THURSDAY FEBRUARY 10, 10:55 AM EST (GMT-5).

Edson Neris Da Silva Fatal beating victim Edson Neris Da Silva
A 20-year old University of Arizona student was stabbed in the back Sunday while standing outside a gay cafe and a 35-year-old Sao Paulo man was beaten to death on Saturday night by a gang of men and women in a popular city centre square.  The young Tucson man was reported as recovering at home the next day by The Arizona Daily Star.  The victim in Brazil died in hospital with a fractured skull shortly after the attack, Reuters reported.

Witnesses in Tucson described the armed attacker as having made statements in the cafe prior to the knifing about Jesus hating homosexuals.  He was heard to have shouted "Let this be a warning to the gay community" as he fled the scene.  The student appears to have been randomly targeted and reportedly had said nothing at all.  He is a representative of the Community in the university's student government.  The school's GLB Awareness Week began the day after the stabbing.

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Police arrested 37-year-old Gary Grayson a few blocks from the cafe 2 hours later.  He was charged with aggravated assault and was reportedly in jail Monday night apparently unable to obtain a bail bond.

"I think the intolerance is becoming more dramatic, but very few gay men would come forward and talk about it," 42-year-old witness Jim Luiz told the Daily Star.

I think the intolerance is becoming more dramatic, but very few gay men would come forward and talk about it.

42-year-old witness Jim Luiz
 
Tucson's anti-discrimination ordinance includes sexual orientation and Arizona's hate crimes statue provides for harsher sentences if crime victims are targeted because they are gay.

In Brazil, Sao Paulo district police chief Francisco Missassi told Reuters that the fatal beating had been at the hands of skinheads. "They are ultra-nationalists with an ideology of discrimination against homosexuals, blacks and Jews," he said.

The victim had been accompanied by a friend on his walk through the square.  That man was reported as having been injured to an unknown extent and having disappeared after the attack.

Eighteen of the 30 skinheads, including 2 women, were arrested in a bar not far from the attack.  Police were reported on Monday as continuing to search for the 12 still at large.

Sao Paulo is described as a symbol of Brazil's ethnic diversity with a well developed Community.


UPDATED:  MONDAY FEBRUARY 14, 11:13 AM EST (GMT-5).

Reports translated from Brazil's O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper have revealed additional details of the attack there.

The 12 minors were found and taken by police to a children's institute.  Witnesses at the bar provided an alibi for 5 of them.  The other 7 have been arraigned.

Witnesses in the square have identified 3 of the adults arrested.  All accused have denied taking part in the attack.  Witnesses further described loud anti-gay remarks being made by the skinheads prior to the beatings.  The attackers reportedly became alarmed and fled when the victim stopped responding to the blows.

The second man attacked has yet to be found by police, who stated they understand his likely fear but have determined he's the primary witness.  Police further described the attack as "an act of gratuitous violence, an act of racism, a brutal crime."

Reports say that the accused individuals could serve for 20 to 30 years.  District police chief Missassi was reportedly attempting to place the arrested skinheads in several different jails.  He explained:  "Due to their anti-black, anti-gay, anti-northerner and anti-drug-user ideology, they might be all killed if placed in the same district."

Peace Vigil Planned

The Diversity Association in Sao Paulo announced the day after the attack a memorial, homage act, and vigil against homophobia at the crime scene scheduled for Saturday February 12th.  The Association is a network of 15 groups based in Sao Paulo.  Busloads of additional participants were expected from Rio.


UPDATED:  TUESDAY FEBRUARY 15, 10:13 PM EST (GMT-5).

An estimated 5000 protesters took to the streets in Tucson Sunday to combat homophobic violence, marching past the coffee shop where the University of Arizona student was stabbed one week before, the Arizona Daily Star reported.

The student, who was present at the rally, spoke to the crowd at the university campus where it had gathered following the march.

"Fear will not victimize me, discrimination will not discourage me and hate will not stop me,'' the man told the crowd.  "I hope that people everywhere will add their voices to my own."

An English professor at the school issued a challenge to the District Attorney's Office to try the man charged with the stabbing for attempted murder instead of aggravated assault.

An open-mike session at the campus saw 15 people recount experiences of their own with homophobic violence.


UPDATED:  SATURDAY FEBRUARY 26, 1:37 AM EST (GMT-5).

The man arrested in the stabbing of the University of Arizona student has been charged with attempted murder.

It is important to not lose sight of the interconnection of hate and violence.

Dace Park of the Tucson Lesbian Avengers
 
Although activists are heralding the upgrade from the originally planned charge of aggravated assault as a victory, the District Attorney's office was quick to comment "We just don't frivolously charge people" and that formal charges often vary from those with which a suspect is originally charged, reported the University of Arizona Daily Wildcat.

"I think raising the charges sends a clear message that Tucson, as a community, will not tolerate violence as a form of communication or expression," Dace Park of the Tucson Lesbian Avengers told that student newspaper, and said that she is encouraged by the grand jury's recognition of the crime's seriousness.

"It is important to not lose sight of the interconnection of hate and violence," she continued.  "Incarcerating one individual does little to change the environment of hate that encouraged his act of violence."  Park added that continued action by Community members against hate is the only way to ensure the phenomenon is stifled.

Meanwhile, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has called for letters to the Brazilian government demanding increased vigilance by police services in that country in order to reduce the murder rate of gays which the Commission describes as one every second day on average.  A scheduled South American visit this month by European officials of the Commission will include attempted intervention in Brazil on the issue.

The vigil against homophobia in Sao Paulo on the 12th, in response to the latest horrific killing there, was preceded by police discovering the bodies of two transgendered people that morning who appeared to have both been stabbed in the heart.  No arrests have been reported.

The number of gay murders in Brazil in the last 20 years has been estimated to be 1600.