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News and reports

July 23, 2004 | Pages 14 and 15

Stop attacks on immigrants
Gay marriage now
National Governors Association

Stop gay bashing
By Doug Kennedy and Kate Johnson

SEATTLE--About 250 people gathered in the heart of downtown Seattle July 11 to fight back against a vicious hate crime. Late on the Saturday night of Seattle's Pride weekend, three right-wing bigots jumped Micah Painter, a gay man, as he was walking home from the Timberline, a popular gay dance club.

One man slashed Micah with a broken bottle and opened up several large gashes in his back. "The whole time, they were yelling things like 'Die, faggot, die,'" Painter explained to Seattle Gay News.

After a passing police cruiser failed to stop, Painter dragged himself back to the Timberline where friends called paramedics. At a local hospital, he was treated for cuts and bruises all over his body as well as three stab wounds, one of which caused internal bleeding.

Incredibly, another wounded man was wheeled up next to Micah--whom he believes to be his main attacker. But when Micah's partner tried to call the police, the officer kept cutting him off and saying that Micah himself had to provide the information.

By the time the cops finally showed up at the hospital--45 minutes later--the man was gone. To literally add insult to injury, the Seattle police and the local press dragged their feet before calling the attack a hate crime, a Class B felony that carries stronger penalties for the attackers.

Local groups called an emergency fundraiser and protest to offset Micah's hospital bills and send a message to right-wingers that we're ready to fight to defend ourselves.

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Stop attacks on immigrants
By Tamar Szmuilowicz

NEW YORK--Representatives from different community groups and local government officials gathered for a press conference July 15 to denounce the recent hate crime committed against Rajinder Singh Khalsa, a Sikh resident who was brutally attacked while walking in his neighborhood in Queens.

Singh Khalsa, known for his dedication to community service and volunteer efforts, was physically attacked by unknown perpetrators, who made remarks about his turban and made references to the September 11, 2001, attacks.

"We must denounce all forms of hate and bias," Partha Banerjee, one of the organizers for New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE), said. "This is not just about Sikhs, it is about all groups of people."

NICE organized more than 30 community groups to call on police and the district attorney's office to be more actively responsive against hate crimes. Several speakers pointed out, however, that the police are part of the problem since they carry out increased racial profiling, detentions and deportations of immigrants.

Monami Maulik from Desis Rising Up and Moving made this clear: "Hate crimes don't just happen in a vacuum. They are happening in a climate of anti-immigrant legislation." The press conference was followed by a July 17 community meeting organized by NICE that focused on trying to build the coalition against bias and hate.

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Gay marriage now
By Leah Golshani

WASHINGTON--More than 100 people turned out for a rally against the Federal Marriage Amendment July 14 after the measure had died that day in the Senate. The message from the rally, which featured local leaders of the GLBT movement and a national figure, Chrissy Gephardt, the daughter of former presidential candidate Dick Gephardt, was clear: "The Democrats did the right thing and brought us a victory in the Senate, so get out and vote for more Democrats."

John Kerry's name was mentioned only once, but the message was to vote for someone who has a chance to beat George W. Bush in November. One spectator, Jeff of Bethesda, Md., held a "Vote Nader" sign and told Socialist Worker, "Kerry is the next Bush. He is supposedly better because he is a Democrat, but he is not speaking out against the war and he does not want to give gays the right to marry."

We need to continue our fight for gay marriage--not just by fighting to prevent our rights from being taken away in the proposed amendment, but for demanding equal rights for all.

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National Governors Association
By Jorge Torres

SEATTLE--Fifteen hundred people converged around the Westin Hotel July 17 in protest of the National Governors Association. The group is one of the most influential lobbying organizations in the nation, according to Fortune magazine. It includes governors from the 50 states as well as U.S. territories and is responsible for the creation of a "Center for Best Practices" in education, health, social services, "workforce development" and homeland security.

This mostly "governors-only" meeting included Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson and Contract on America architect Newt Gingrich. But it didn't take place without some angry people voicing their frustration.

A midday student march from Seattle Central Community College to Westlake Center was met with as many as 15 police motorcycles, about 10 bicycles, four squad cars and two riot vans, which brought back memories of the police riot at the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting. Once at Westlake, a crowd made up predominantly of AFSCME members led a march sponsored by the Put People First coalition, which includes members of Jobs with Justice.

The rally, which also included Congressman Dennis Kucinich, called for an end to corporate greed, affordable health care for all and support for immigrant families. In the end, the solution presented by the speakers was to get out and vote Bush out of office. But it will take more than voting for a Democrat to beat back the National Governors Association.

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