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Photos -- Candlelight vigil for hate crime victims
Photos by Antonia Padilla, QSanAntonio, November 23, 2009

Activists plan candlelight vigil for hate crime victims
QSanAntonio.com, November 21, 2009

San Antonio activists are planning a candlelight vigil on November 22 to protest hate crimes against GLBT people and to commemorate the lives of two gay teens that were murdered in recent days. The vigil, to be held in Crockett Park, is one of hundreds held in cities across the U.S. on that day.

The nationwide vigils are being organized to honor the lives of Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, 19, of Puerto Rico and Jason Mattison Jr., 15 of Baltimore, both murdered within a week of each other.

On November 13, 2009, 26-year-old Juan Martinez Matos picked up Lopez in Caguas, Puerto Rico, and drove him to the nearby town of Cidra. After discovering that Mercado, who was dressed as a female, was a man, Matos, became enraged. Not only did he kill Mercado, but also beheaded and dismembered his body and set the remains on fire.

Less than a week later, details of another brutal murder surfaced.

This time in Baltimore, where Mattison was found dead - raped, gagged with a pillowcase, stabbed repeatedly in the head and throat, and shoved into an upstairs closet in his aunt’s home. Mattison’s aunt says Dante Parrish, 35, who is charged with first-degree murder in the case, is a longtime family friend.

San Antonio has seen it’s share of hate crimes recently as well.

In the early morning hours of Sunday, August 31, James Lee Whitehead (a.k.a. Niki Hunter) had just left the Saint and was walking along Ogden street to his home at the Irvine Apartments. At the corner of East Park he encountered three armed assailants who knocked him to the ground and began beating him. A policeman responding to the attack accidentally killed Whitehead when he shot at one of the assailants.

Adina Stewart, 34, a lesbian, was severely beaten and robbed outside her apartment on the Northwest side during the early morning hours of November 8 while her partner watched helplessly as the assailant screamed out, "I’m gonna kill you."

On November 12, Enrique Santos, 22, was charged with murder after confessing to killing Jorge Sgetelmeg. Santos told police a fight broke out between them because Sgetelmeg made sexual advances.

Activist Dino Foxx who along with attorney Maria Salazar is planning the San Antonio vigil, says the event is in response to the sudden and widespread outrage to the murders of the two gay teens and for GLBT victims locally.

Foxx says that speakers slotted to appear at the vigil include major social and artistic leaders from the San Antonio GLBT activist community.

Anti-hate crime candlelight vigil to be held at 5 p.m. on November 22, 2009 at Crockett Park on North Main Street at Cypress in San Antonio. For more information contact Dino Fox at dinofoxx@gmail.com.