Stop Hate 2000 Newsletter February 16, 2007

The safety of sex-trade workers is a serious concern in many large cities. The murder of sex-trade workers does not usually arouse a public outcry like the murder of teenagers or middle-class men or women. Two Canadian cities are investigating multiple deaths of sex-trade workers. Robert Pickton, a Vancouver - area pig farmer, has been charged with the murders of six women. In early December, Robert Pickton pleaded not guilty to the charges. A series of articles about Robert Pickton can be found on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation web site. According to the Crown, Pickton told the police that he killed 49 women and wanted to kill “an even 50.”

A long article about the eastside downtown Vancouver community, the missing sex- trade workers, and Robert Pickton can be found on the Crime Library web site. The article provides a lot of background information not found in some of the more recent news reports.

A Canadian Broadcasting Corporation article says he faces a total of 26 counts of first-degree murder. This trial is for six murders. We do not know if Robert Pickton is guilty of these crimes. He has not been convicted of any of the murders. The CBC article indicates more than 60 women have gone missing from the eastern downtown area of Vancouver since the late 1970s.

There is a tendency for the police to not investigate crimes against minority groups quite as thoroughly as for members of majority groups. This might have been the case in the murders of the Vancouver sex trade workers. The CBC article indicates the women who went missing were mainly prostitutes and drug addicts, “which limited the chances of a public outcry at their disappearances, as well as an early police response.” Relatives and activities are reported to have been asking for action since the early 1990s, but a joint Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Vancouver Police investigation did not start until 2001. By February of 2002, the police investigations started to focus on Robert Pickton's farm.

When people are assaulted or murdered because of who they are, not because of anything they have done, we are looking at a hate crime. We are seeing young girls murdered in school, because they are girls. A gunman enters a college and chooses to kill only female students. This is a hate crime. A case can be made that the assault or murder of sex trade workers, is a hate crime targeting women.

Violence against women is a serious problem. According to the National Organization for Women web site, women are ten times more likely to be victimized by a person they know well. The National Organization for Women reports that divorced or single, low-income, young women, and black women are more likely to victims of assault or rape. The National Organization for Women web site has articles about violence against women.

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Unfortunately, problems with sex trade workers being murdered is not limited to Vancouver. There is a related problem in Edmonton, Canada. Project KARE was established to assist the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Edmonton City Police in their investigation of murders of at least five sex trade workers in the Edmonton area. The mandate of Project KARE extends beyond apprehending the people responsible for the murders of sex tade workers. The mandate also includes developing and implementing strategies to minimize the risk of murders of high risk people, and to create some “best practices” for other projects across Canada. The Project KARE web site has photographs of missing women in the Edmonton area. The efforts of the police departments involved with Project KARE are appreciated.

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The You Tube network has some very interesting videos. At times, the videos catch public attention and address serious issues. A You Tube video that has had over 100,000 viewers is about autism. In the video, a person with autism can be seen interacting with the environment. The behaviors may seem very unusual, until a person hears the explanation and understands the autistic person's behavior is interacting with the environment. People who do not understand autism might make fun of an autistic person who is interacting with the world around.

The video indirectly addresses issues that extend far beyond autism. The human tendency is to make fun of all kinds of people we do not understand, to be afraid of people who do not act or think just like we think and act. When we understand people and their behavior, values, and attitudes, we are better able to accept, and appreciate people. We appreciate the efforts of those who worked to develop the autism video on You Tube. Their efforts may help many people understand and accept not just people with autism but all people.

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There are some tensions between the gay and the Christian communities. That makes the presence of an article on a gay web site about a priest noteworthy. Abbe Pierre, a priest in France, was given a national tribute when he died at age 94. President Jacques Chirac declared a day of national homage for the priest. Much of his life, Abbe Pierre helped fight for the poor and oppressed. He is known to have supported the poor and gay people. During World War II, he helped Jewish people escape into Switzerland. Abbe Pierre's life is an example of what people can do to build bridges. A priest, a man not expected to assist gay or Jewish people, built bridges to assist people in the gay community, the Jewish community, and the poor community. An article about Abbe Pierre can be found on the PlanetOut/Advocate web site.

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A few of the news stories we have been following appear below:

  • A Seventh-day Adventist Church in Serbia was vandalized. To the credit of the Serbian president, he spoke out against what happened to the church. According to a news release on the Adventist Review web site, “many Adventist church buildings and institutions . . . have come under police observance and protection.” The article indicates in April of 2003, an Adventist pastor was “severely beaten” and and eleven churches were vandalized.

  • A PlanetOut/Advocate article brings news of the first gay civil union in Mexico.

  • As the rights and needs of queer people receive more public attention, the needs of aging queer people are starting to be taken seriously. Queer people need safe retirement communities, and safe nursing homes. A PlanetOut/Advocate article has a story about some of the concerns of gay seniors. In some cases, gay senior citizens feel they must return to living in the closet when they are in a care center. An article about the Stonewall seniors condo development can also be read on the PlanetOut/Advocate site.

  • A Daily Pilot news article says the Jewish student union association is investigating anti-Semitism allegations at the University of California – Irvine. Evidently, the investigation was sparked by protests by Islamic students when Daniel Pipes, a pro-Israel historian, was on campus.

  • In Edmonton, Canada there is a news story that some Aboriginal street people were picked up by the police, kept confined in a hot van for hours, transported to a neighborhood a considerable distance from where they were found, and were dropped off. There are calls for an independent criminal investigation of the case. Lewis Cardinal, in a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation article, is quoted as asking the important question, “Has homelessness become such a crime that human rights are no longer applicable?"

  • According to a PlanetOut/Advocate news story, Ted Haggard, a mega-church pastor who had to resign from ministry after a male prostitute claimed he had been seeing Haggard for a three years, has been pronounced to be “completely heterosexual” by another pastor.

  • The Haaretz web site has news about the fourth conference of the Global Forum Against Anti-Semitism. A short article about the conference can be read the Hareetz web site.

  • John Amaerchi became the first former NBA player to say he was gay. After Amaerchi came out, Tim Hardaway, a retired NBA star, is quoted as having said, “I hate gay people,” on a radio interview. NBA Commissioner David Stern indicated Hardaway's comments were inappropriate. Later, Hardaway apologized for his comments regarding gay people. An article, providing lengthier quotes, can be found on the PlanetOut/Advocate web site.

  • The Jerusalem Post has an article about a meeting of German and Israeli youth in Jerusalem to discuss historic and contemporary anti-Semitism.

Anybody with news about hate crimes or discrimination is welcome to email us.

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