Human Rights Campaign Responds to Murder of Syracuse Man Police Investigating as Hate Crime

by HRC Staff

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender civil rights organization, issued a statement today on the murder of Moses "Teish" Cannon, 22, who was shot and killed Friday night for being openly gay, according to local authorities in Syracuse, New York. The alleged shooter, Dwight R. DeLee, 20, has been charged with second degree murder.

"The senseless killing of Moses "Teish" Cannon is a clear example of why we need to redouble our efforts on education and awareness to ending hate violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "We commend the Syracuse Police Department for its swift action and investigating this as a crime of hate. Hate crimes rend the fabric of our society and fragment communities because they target a group and not just the individual victim. The purpose of our government, first and foremost, is to protect all of our citizens - whether they are black, disabled, Christian or gay."

The Human Rights Campaign contacted Syracuse Police Chief Gary Miguel and confirmed weekend media reports. Miguel said the suspect had no prior knowledge of the victim before this incident. At the party, a conversation between the victim and the suspect led to the victim sharing his sexual orientation and the fact that he occasionally dresses as a female, Miguel stated. It was at this time the suspect retrieved a rifle and shot the victim, according to the police. The case is now in the hands of the district attorney's office.

There remains no federal hate crimes law protecting people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. In October, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released its annual report which showed the incidence of bias-motivated crimes based on sexual orientation increased by 6 percent in 2007. Hate crimes based on sexual orientation remain the third most common type of hate crimes, behind race and religion.

Federal legislation is crucial to ensuring local law enforcement is given the tools they need to combat hate violence in our communities. If signed into law, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act / Matthew Shepard Act would give the federal government expanded jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute violent crimes based on a person's race, color, religion or national origin as well as their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender, and disability. The Act also provides assistance to local law enforcement to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated violence. Existing federal hate crimes law covers only certain hate crimes that are based on a victim's race, color, religion and national origin.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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