“End Hate” Campaign Ramps Up For Zapata Murder Trial

Ernest Luning

A group of 50 progressive groups has launched a massive public information campaign across Colorado to inform readers about transgender murder victim Angie Zapata, whose accused killer goes on trial in Greeley next week.

A group of 50 progressive, civil rights and anti-violence groups
launched a massive Internet and print media public information campaign
Wednesday across Colorado to inform readers about transgender murder
victim Angie Zapata, whose accused killer goes on trial in Greeley next
week.

The top portion of a full-page newspaper
ad running in Colorado newspapers to bring attention to violence
against LGBT victims. (Graphic/ProgressNow Colorado)

The ads urge readers to “light a candle for Angie,” the 18-year-old
Greeley resident found beaten to death last summer in her apartment,
and to support passage of legislation that would add sexual orientation
to federal hate-crime law. The trial of Allen Andrade, 32, will be the
first time in the nation that hate-crime charges will be included in
the prosecution of a defendant accused of murdering a transgender
victim.

A full-page ad featuring members of Angie Zapata’s family ran in 22 Colorado newspapers the same day the coalition of nonprofits organized by ProgressNow Colorado and the the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) Community Center of Colorado unveiled a resource-rich Web site, AngieZapata.com, and began an Internet campaign that includes Google ads, Twitter feeds and Facebook and MySpace
pages. “The strong support of state organizations recognizing the
importance of this trial has been overwhelming,” GLBT Community Center
executive director Carlos Martinez said in a release announcing the
campaign.

Appreciate our work?

Vote now! And help Rewire earn a bigger grant from CREDO:

VOTE NOW

Andrade stands accused of beating Zapata to death with a fire
extinguisher and his fists in July after he learned she was a
transgender woman. His trial, scheduled to run eight days, begins April
14 in the courtroom of Weld County District Court Judge Marcelo Kopcow.
Andrade is being held without bond at the Weld County Jail.

When police arrested Andrade driving Zapata’s sister’s stolen car
two weeks after the teenager’s body was discovered, he told authorities
he had been on a date with Zapata and said that he “killed it” after
growing suspicious Angie was transgender. Last month, Kopcow threw out most of Andrade’s confession, ruling that police should have ended their interrogation of Andrade once he told a detective he wanted to stop talking.

Jurors in the Andrade trial also won’t hear evidence prosecutors had
hoped to introduce that Andrade belongs to a gang known for punishing —
even killing — members who have homosexual sex. Prosecutors had
intended to argue Andrade’s gang ties and fears of retribution gave him
a motive to kill Zapata, but the judge ruled the information would
prejudice the jury.

Potential jurors probably won’t see the “End Hate” newspaper ad
campaign, either, which ran just about everywhere in the state except
northern Colorado. “We did not want to be seen in any way trying to
influence the jury pool,” said GLBT Community Center spokeswoman
Heather Draper.

The coalition of nonprofits running the campaign hopes to bring
attention to violence against transgender victims, pointing to 21
murders of transgender and “gender non-conforming people” last year. Bias-motivated crimes against transgender and homosexual victims
are among the most common tracked by authorities, surpassed only by
crimes based on race and religion, according to a 2006 FBI report.

The coalition is calling for Congress to pass the Matthew Shepard Act,
which would add gender, sexual orientation and gender identity to
federal hate-crime law and allow federal authorities to step in when
local law enforcement either asks for help or refuses to take the lead
investigating and prosecuting bias-motivated crimes of violence. The
federal law passed both houses of Congress in 2007 with bipartisan
support, but then-President George W. Bush threatened to veto the bill
and congressional leaders dropped it. Last month, Democratic U.S. Rep.
John Conyers of Michigan, who is chairman of the Judiciary Committee
and Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk of Illinois introduced the bill
again and backers have high hopes for the legislation this year because President Obama has said he supports it.

In 2005, the Colorado Legislature added sexual orientation, including transgender status, to Colorado’s hate-crime law, broadening the statute from the Ethnic Intimidation Act to one covering bias-motivated crime.

Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck included hate-crime charges
among a raft of other felony counts filed against Andrade, including
first-degree murder, automobile theft and identity theft. In December, Buck added habitual criminal charges to the prosecution’s arsenal,
which could quadruple any sentence handed down by the jury based on
Andrade’s three prior felony convictions for contraband possession,
theft and lying to a pawnbroker. Buck said he filed the additional
count in case the jury convicts on a lesser-included charge, such as
second-degree murder, which carries a statutory sentence of eight to 24
years. A first-degree murder conviction carries a mandatory sentence of
life imprisonment or the death penalty in Colorado.

“The tragic circumstances of Angie’s death gives Coloradans an
opportunity to better understand Angie’s life and the lives of
transgender people,” the coalition contends. Toward that end,
ProgressNow Colorado produced a video featuring Zapata’s family
remembering Angie:

The ad ran in these newspapers at a cost of $36,000, according to
organizers: Pueblo Chieftain, Durango Herald, Grand Junction Sentinel,
Colorado Springs Gazette, Aurora Sentinel Daily and Weekender, Buckley
Guardian, Arvada Press, Lakewood Sentinel, Golden Transcript, Wheat
Ridge Transcript, Westminster Window, Northglenn/Thornton Sentinel,
Westsider, Thornton Frontier, Littleton Independent, Englewood Herald,
Highlands Ranch Herald, Lone Tree Voice, Centennial Citizen, Douglas
County News-Press, Castle Rock News-Press and the Parker Chronicle.

 

Analysis Violence

Native Advocates Reaffirm Demand for Investigation Into Police Killing of Navajo Woman

Kanya D’Almeida

Andrew Curley, a member of the Red Nation collective, which spearheaded the protests, told Rewire in a phone interview that Loreal Tsingine’s family is still in the dark as to whether, or how, the officer who shot her will be held accountable.

On March 27 a white male police officer shot and killed a 27-year-old Navajo woman, Loreal Tsingine, in Winslow, Arizona. Over a month later, the community is still demanding an investigation into the killing; they say it is symptomatic of an entrenched pattern of police violence against Native residents in towns that border the 27,000-square mile Navajo Nation, a territory that extends into Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah.

Tsingine, the mother of a 9-year-old girl, died on Easter Sunday after Officer Austin Shipley, responding to a complaint of shoplifting at a local convenience store, shot the woman five times when she allegedly brandished a pair of scissors. The office apparently perceived them as a “substantial threat” to his safety, according to a press statement issued by the Office of the President of the Navajo Nation.

Eyewitnesses to the killing claim the officer shot Tsingine while she was handcuffed on the ground, according to local news reports. Later, as she was twitching and gasping for air, the officer refused to perform CPR on her, and prevented concerned bystanders from doing the same, one eyewitness told the Arizona Republic. Shipley is currently on paid administrative leave.

The following Monday, Tsingine’s family gathered with Native advocates and Black Lives Matter activists for a vigil outside the Winslow Police Department. Their list of demands included an independent review of the murder and a thorough investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice into Arizona’s systematic racial profiling of Native residents.

Appreciate our work?

Vote now! And help Rewire earn a bigger grant from CREDO:

VOTE NOW

Andrew Curley, a member of the Red Nation collective, which spearheaded the protests, told Rewire in a phone interview that Tsingine’s family is still in the dark as to whether, or how, the officer who shot her will be held accountable. Family members recently gathered with the local community to reaffirm their demands, including a call for financial compensation, but state officials have yet to respond.

“Immediately after her death, the case was transferred out of Winslow to the Arizona Department of Public Safety (ADPS) in Phoenix, which means the community can no longer take their grievances directly to the Winslow police,” Curley told Rewire. “Erecting such geographic barriers to justice is a common tactic used by the police, part of their efforts to discredit the victims of police violence and create a bureaucratic maze in which time slows down and the community loses focus.”

“Over time things become more opaque,” he went on, “and this is how institutions like the police force protect their own members. For us as a community, it means we have no trust in the process, no guarantee that the department investigating itself will be free of bias.”

Eileen Luna-Firebaugh, an associate professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Arizona, agrees.

“Police officers are performing a public job, they are being paid with public funds and they have a responsibility to the public—they need to know that the light of public scrutiny is on them,” she said in a phone interview with Rewire. “I firmly believe that the investigation of an incident [like this one] should not be done by the sheriff’s department or any law enforcement agency but by a civilian agency that’s part of the city, that has access to all relevant police records, and that can compel testimony.”

“If an investigation is carried out by an impartial third party and not by the police department itself, then the community is more likely to believe its conclusions,” Luna-Firebaugh said.

Currently, advocates say, there is little to no trust between border town residents and law enforcement personnel, an unsurprising reality given the rate of racial profiling that reportedly occurs on the outskirts of the vast Navajo Nation, particularly in towns like Gallup and Albuquerque in New Mexico, Cortez in Colorado, and Flagstaff and Winslow in Arizona.

In 2008 the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Arizona analyzed hundreds of thousands of records pertaining to highway stops, searches, and arrests and concluded that Native Americans who were stopped by ADPS officers were over three times more likely than white drivers to be subsequently detained or searched.

The ACLU’s report stated that these disproportionate search rates were “not justified by higher contraband seizure rates.”

More recently, the Flagstaff Police Department’s annual report for 2014 found that Native Americans comprised 45 percent of all arrests made that year, despite accounting for just over 11 percent of the town’s roughly 52,000 residents, 80 percent of whom are white.

For Curley, who has been stopped multiple times on the highway for such minor violations as a cracked windshield or the use of a GPS, racial profiling is only the first step in a much more insidious process—the murder of Native residents by law enforcement personnel.

Data from the Center on Criminal and Juvenile Justice suggests that Native Americans, who comprise 0.8 percent of the country’s population but account for 1.9 percent of police killings, are more likely to be killed by police officers than any other racial or ethnic group, including Black people.

“Think about how we get to that scenario: We get there through stops and arrests,” Curley said. “That is when the state is more likely to use its authority, its violence, against Black and brown and Native bodies. Once we’re arrested, we’re more likely than white people to have a violent encounter with the police—this is when their perceived fear of us, their paranoia, comes to the fore. This is when they see a pair of scissors and claim their lives are in danger.”

For Melanie Yazzie, a founding member of the Red Nation who is currently working toward a PhD in American Studies at the University of New Mexico, paranoia among law enforcement is a natural byproduct of unfinished settler colonialism.

“The mandate of white settlements in border spaces has always been to contain and manage the threat of Native existence,” she told Rewire in a phone interview. “White populations in these spaces largely embrace patriotic values of American nationalism and exceptionalism, which are absolutely essential to maintaining U.S. capitalism and imperialism.”

“But these towns lie adjacent to a huge Native nation—we call the Navajo Nation the Sleeping Giant—and are home to large populations of Native people who, by definition, were supposed to have been eliminated, exterminated, long ago with the creation of the nation state we call the United States of America.”

“The fact that we are literally everywhere,” Yazzie went on, “that we continue to exist, to have political authority, explains why certain technologies of state control and violence are so extreme in these spaces.”

She said for Officer Shipley—who, according to local media reports, already had a documented history of using force against civilians—to “execute a 100-pound Native woman” in the middle of the day at point-blank range is “disgusting but entirely consistent” with patterns of violence against Native residents in border towns.

As statistics have shown, this violence is not limited to state actors but extends in a continuum that includes vigilante violence and hate crimes, Yazzie added. She pointed to the twin murders in Albuquerque in 2014 of Allison Gorman and Kee Thompson, two homeless Navajo men who were beaten to death in their sleep, as a particularly stark reminder of the threat Native people face, from multiple fronts, on a daily basis.

While Tsingine’s death has rightly stoked fear and outrage within the community, it has also reignited a fervent quest for justice. As Jorge Rivas reported for Fusion last month, Tsingine’s murder prompted Albert Hale, a member of the Arizona State Legislature’s Native American Caucus, to pen a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, urging the Department of Justice to “address the community’s longstanding and deep-seated concerns about systemic misconduct toward Native Americans” and initiate an investigation of the Winslow Police Department.

For advocates like Yazzie, there is a long and messy road ahead.

“The question we often ask ourselves as members of the Red Nation is, ‘What does justice look like, really?’” she explained to Rewire. On the one hand, advocates are wary of seeking answers in a system of mass incarceration but on the other, they are aware that families of the victims—many of them further marginalized by poverty—often do not feel safe while perpetrators walk the streets.

“The climate of fear in Winslow right now is incredibly high—people have said that if Shipley is not found guilty, if he is not locked up for murder, they are just going to move away rather than live in constant fear of being his next victim,” Yazzie said.

She said her collective is working closely with Tsingine’s family, as well as with members of Black Lives Matter, to find new frameworks of self-determination and justice.

“In some ways this is a conversation that is just beginning, at least in places like Winslow,” she said. “We had over 300 people at our first vigil, people who were speaking powerfully, who didn’t want to be silent anymore, and that to me was really important. We are demanding justice, we are thinking deeply about what it means, and we are moving forward,” she said.

Roundups Politics

Ted Cruz Is No Moderate: Meet Some of His Most Extreme Allies

Ally Boguhn

The presidential candidate has lined up supporters who have suggested that marriage equality may usher in a second civil war and compared Planned Parenthood workers to perpetrators of clinic violence.

In his quest to secure conservative votes, Sen. Ted Cruz (R) has embraced extremists across the country, many of whom have well-documented histories of anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ, and racist rhetoric. As more moderate Republicans flock to Cruz in a push to block Donald Trump from winning their party’s nomination, Cruz’s support of these extremists sheds light on his future policy making, should he be elected president.

Though hardly an exhaustive list of the radicals with whom Cruz has aligned, here are some of the most reactionary characters in his playbook.

Troy Newman

Cruz and activist Troy Newman, head of the radical anti-choice group Operation Rescue, have spent months on the campaign trail praising each other’s extreme stances on abortion.

Operation Rescue moved to Wichita, Kansas, in 2002 to continue its campaign to intimidate abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, whom it had nicknamed “Tiller the Killer.” Before Newman came on as president, the group had previously targeted Tiller as part of its 1991 “Summer of Mercy,” when it led protesters to physically block and verbally intimidate those entering abortion clinics in Wichita, holding signs that, among other things, read “Tiller’s Slaughter House.”

Although Newman issued a statement on behalf of Operation Rescue condemning Scott Roeder when he murdered Tiller in 2009, a 2010 Ms. investigation reported that, according to Roeder, Newman had once told him that “it wouldn’t upset” him if an abortion provider was killed. (Newman denied meeting Roeder.) Roeder also had the phone number of Operation Rescue’s Cheryl Sullenger on a note on the dashboard of his car when he murdered Tiller. Sullenger, the senior vice president of the group, had been sentenced to prison time in 1988 for attempting to bomb an abortion clinic.

Newman co-founded anti-choice front group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) in 2013, whose widely discredited videos alleged that Planned Parenthood was illegally profiting from fetal tissue donations. Multiple ensuing investigations at both the state and federal level produced no evidence of wrongdoing, and one of the group’s other founders, David Daleiden, was later indicted in connection to the videos. Newman later separated from the group.

Despite the extremism of Newman’s groups, Cruz lauded the anti-choice activist upon receiving his endorsement in November, saying in a statement, “We need leaders like Troy Newman in this country who will stand up for those who do not have a voice.”

Cruz announced in late January that Newman would co-chair his coalition of anti-choice advisers, “Pro-Lifers for Cruz,” listing Newman’s book co-authored with Sullenger, Their Blood Cries Out, among his accomplishments. As Right Wing Watch noted, however, the text argues women who have abortions should be treated like murderers, and that abortion doctors should be executed. The book, now out of print, read: “[T]he United States government has abrogated its responsibility to properly deal with the blood-guilty. This responsibility rightly involves executing convicted murderers, including abortionists, for their crimes in order to expunge bloodguilt [sic] from the land and people,” according to Mother Jones.

Tony Perkins

Troy Newman isn’t the only radical in “Pro-Lifers for Cruz”—the group’s chair, Tony Perkins, is an anti-LGBTQ activist with a history of aiding extremist anti-choice groups.

Since 2003, Perkins has led the Family Research Council (FRC), classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as a “hate group” for its anti-LGBTQ record.

Appreciate our work?

Vote now! And help Rewire earn a bigger grant from CREDO:

VOTE NOW

Recounting Perkins’ biography, the SPLC noted that although he claimed to have left a police force position over a disagreement about containing an anti-choice protest, “the reality is quite different.” The SPLC pointed to a report from the Nation finding that Perkins “failed to report an illegal conspiracy by anti-abortion activists” Operation Rescue during the group’s 1992 “Summer of Purpose,” while he worked dual roles as a reserve police officer in Baton Rouge and reporting for a conservative television station:

According to Victor Sachse, a classical record shop owner in the city who volunteered as a patient escort for the clinic, Perkins’ reporting was so consistently slanted and inflammatory that the clinic demanded his removal from its grounds.

In order to control an increasingly tense situation, the police chief had a chain-link fence erected to separate anti-abortion activists from pro-choice protesters, and he called in sheriff’s deputies and prison guards as extra forces. Perkins publicly criticized the department and the chief. Then, after learning about plans for violent tactics by anti-abortion activists to break through police lines and send waves of protesters onto the clinic’s grounds, he failed to inform his superiors on the force. As a result of his actions, Perkins was suspended from duty in 1992, and he subsequently quit the reserve force.

Perkins also has ties to white supremacist groups and is well known as a vocal opponent of LGBTQ equality, having suggested, among other things, that there is “a correlation between homosexuality and pedophilia,” and that lawmakers who supported the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy had “the blood of innocent soldiers on their hands.”

Frank Gaffney

Cruz’s list of national security advisers, meanwhile, includes Frank Gaffney Jr. Even in the face of criticism, Cruz has defended his pick, telling CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that “Frank Gaffney is a serious thinker who has been focused on fighting jihadists, fighting jihadism across the globe.”

Gaffney, a former Reagan administration official, is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy (CSP). In this year’s Intelligence Report, which documents extremist groups, the SPLC categorized CSP as an anti-Muslim hate group.

The CSP’s primary focus in recent years “has been on demonizing Islam and Muslims under the guise of national security” by promoting conspiracy theories, according to SPLC. The Center for American Progress’ 2011 report, The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America, featured Gaffney as a key player in promoting anti-Muslim rhetoric in the United States, writing that he often “makes unsubstantiated claims about ‘stealth jihad,’ the ‘imposition of Sharia law,’ and the proliferation of ‘radical mosques.'”

Gordon Klingenschmitt

Cruz announced in early April that his Colorado Leadership Team included state Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt (R-Colorado Springs), asserting he was “honored” to have the support of the politician and 24 other conservatives from the the state.

The previous week, Klingenschmitt had made headlines for claiming transgender people are “confused about their own identity” during an appearance on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show.

Klingenschmitt had been previously stripped of his position on the Colorado House of Representatives’ House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee in early 2015 after claiming on his television program that a violent attack on a pregnant woman in the state was the result of “the curse of God upon America for our sin of not protecting innocent children in the womb.”

“Part of that curse for our rebellion against God as a nation is that our pregnant women are ripped open,” claimed Klingenschmitt at the time before going on to pray for an “end to the holocaust which is abortion in America.”

In the wake of the deadly shootings at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood in November 2015, Klingenschmitt claimed that “Planned Parenthood executives” have the “same demonic spirit of murder” as the alleged killer, Robert Lewis Dear Jr.

Earlier in 2015, the Colorado state representative said that Planned Parenthood executives have “demons inside of them, you can see the blood dripping from their fangs. These people are just evil.” That June, he criticized Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) for signing a measure forcing those seeking abortions to receive medically unnecessary forced ultrasounds, claiming that the law didn’t go far in enough because it didn’t ban abortion entirely
.
James Dobson

Focus on the Family (FoF) founder and chairman James Dobson played a starring role in a February ad released by the Cruz campaign, which praised the candidate for defending “the sanctity of human life and traditional marriage.” That same month, he rolled out a robocall for a super PAC supporting the candidate after giving Cruz his endorsement last year.

Dobson’s FoF has spent millions promoting its anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ extremism, even dropping an estimated $2.5 million in 2010 to fund an anti-choice Super Bowl ad featuring conservative football player Tim Tebow. Dobson also founded the aforementioned Family Research Council, now headed by Tony Perkins.

Dobson’s own personal rhetoric is just as extreme as the causes his organization pushes. As extensively documented by Right Wing Watch,

Dobson has:

Other Notable Extremists Working With Cruz

Conservative radio host Steve Deace, a member of the Cruz campaign’s Iowa leadership team, is “virulently anti-LGBT, having repeatedly attacked supporters of LGBT equality as being part of a ‘Rainbow Jihad,'” according to media watchdog organization Media Matters for America.

In October Cruz announced he was “thrilled” to receive the endorsement of Sandy Rios, a conservative radio host and official at the American Family Association-yet another organization classified by the SPLC as a hate group. Rios gained notoriety during the 2015 Amtrak crash in Philadelphia after claiming the conductor’s sexuality may have played a role in the accident.

Cruz and several other Republican presidential candidates spoke alongside far-right, anti-LGBTQ pastor and Christian radio host Kevin Swanson in November at the National Religious Liberties Conference. Swanson is featured in GLAAD’s Commentator Accountability Project, which highlights figures who “represent extreme animus towards the entire LGBT community.”

A&E’s Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson has been a fierce Cruz supporter, and in February the presidential candidate pitched the idea of making him an ambassador to the United Nations should he be elected. Just weeks earlier, Robertson had called same-sex marriage “evil” during a Cruz rally. This statement came as little surprise given the reality television star’s previous comments condemning homosexuality and linking it to bestiality.

Cruz was also “thrilled” in March to win an endorsement from “Ohio’s top conservative leaders”—a list that included activist Linda Harvey, who once wrote that LGBTQ youth may be possessed by “demonic spirits.”

credo_rewire_vote_3

Vote for Rewire and Help Us Earn Money

Rewire is in the running for a CREDO Mobile grant. More votes for Rewire means more CREDO grant money to support our work. Please take a few seconds to help us out!

VOTE!

Thank you for supporting our work!