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Hate Crime Activist Jumps To Death

ritcheson.jpg
Hate crime survivor David Ritcheson spent the last years of his life fighting hate crimes. The Houston-based activist lived to tell about a gruesome attack by some neo-Nazis. Joe.My.God elaborates on the 2006 crime:

[Then 16-year old]Ritcheson was beaten and sodomized with a patio umbrella by two men shouting “White power!” Ritcheson barely survived the attack and underwent over 20 surgeries over the last two years. One of the men who attacked him received life in prison, the other got 90 years.

The experience spurred Ritcheson to testify during The House’s hate crime debates…

The reality that hate is alive, strong, and thriving in the cities, towns, and cul-de-sacs of Suburbia, America was a surprise to me. America is the country I love and call home. However, the hate crime committed against me illustrates that we are still, in some aspects, a house divided. I know now that there are young people in this country who are suffering and confused, thirsting for guidance and in need of a moral compass. These are some of the many reasons I am here before you today asking that our government take the lead in deterring individuals like those who attacked me from committing unthinkable and violent crimes against others because of where they are from, the color of their skin, the God they worship, the person they love, or the way they look, talk or act. . . .

Unfortunately, Ritcheson could no longer act happy – the 18-year old jumped from a Carnival cruise to his death over the weekend.

An 18-year-old was observed by “a bunch of people” jumping over the railing of the upper deck of Carnival Cruise Lines’ Ecstasy around 7:35 a.m. Sunday, said Coast Guard spokesman Adam Eggers. The ship’s crew pulled the body from the water and he was pronounced dead at 9:10 a.m. The ship had departed Galveston on Saturday and was a “couple of hundred” miles out, Eggers said.

A written statement from the cruise line also said the 18-year-old appeared to jump from the ship.

Human Rights Campaign’s Joe Solmonese joined Ritcheson’s family in mourning:

Today we mourn the loss of David Ritcheson, whose young life was tragically altered by one of the most vicious hate crimes in recent memory.

By sharing his testimony before Congress, David’s courage helped the U.S. House of Representatives pass a hate crimes bill that will help fight these horrific acts of violence. Our condolences go out to his family and loved ones. We will work to pass a hate crimes bill in the Senate that will help honor David’s life.

Some activists are also floating the idea of naming The House’s bill after Ritcheson. The Senate Bill’s named after Matthew Shepard.

Others wonder whether Ritcheson ever completely recovered from the 2006 attack:

In an April interview, Ritcheson said he was still struggling with being identified as the victim of the pipe attack. A skinhead named David Tuck, 19, was sentenced to life in prison for his part in the attack. Keith Turner, 18, received a 90-year sentence.

“I shouldn’t care what people think,” David Ritcheson said earlier this year. “But it’s like everyone knows I’m ‘the kid.’ I don’t want to be a standout because of what happened.”

By:           Andrew Belonksy
On:           Jul 3, 2007
Tagged: , , , ,
  • 11 Comments
    • floridaken77
      floridaken77

      Very sad. My thoughts are with his family — who have already been through so much.

      Jul 3, 2007 at 10:58 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • nycstudman
      nycstudman

      News reports are saying he was victimized because he was Mexican-American. Were you implying that the mode of victimizing was ‘gay” because he was sodomized? I mean, the poor kid is just as dead regardless of the source of the hate, but I’m confused.

      Jul 3, 2007 at 11:02 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • cjc
      cjc

      I don’t think the kid was gay, or at least had never been attacked as such.

      Jul 3, 2007 at 11:14 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mr. B
      Mr. B

      Um, maybe the gays are all over this story because David Ritcheson was a hate crimes activist? What’s wrong with a gay blog taking a moment over a kid who worked his ass off to lobby for the kind of legislation that would really benefit the LGBT community?

      Who the hell cares if he was gay? He was still brutalized just for being. In his case, it was about color. But he chose to become an advocate for other people instead of just wallowing in self pity. Unfortunately, the struggle was too much for him and that’s really sad.

      Jul 3, 2007 at 11:53 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • nycstudman
      nycstudman

      Mr. B.: I wasn’t raggin Queerty for the story. I was just confused as to his orientation & whhy he was bashed. neither me nor cjc were criticizing Queerty covering this. Why do people have to get on their high horse so quick onthis blog?

      Jul 3, 2007 at 12:04 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jack Jett
      Jack Jett

      Hey guys

      I made need your help with this story down here in Texas.
      Dallas just went through a mayoral race where an very unexperienced out of towner beat a gay candidate that had been on the city council for years.
      All of our media in Dallas are right wing. Even our alternative paper THE DALLAS OBSERVER is run by a Pentecostal who teachers her readers that people can pray away gayness.

      So far not one Dallas publication has mentioned this hate crime and the resulting suicide.

      If you can, either go to http://www.dallasobserver.com

      or
      http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark/bible_girl_the_unfair_park_rel/

      and let them know that our state should be made aware.

      Jack Jett
      email me off line if you need more info
      jack@jackejett.com

      Jul 3, 2007 at 1:53 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mr. B
      Mr. B

      Nycstudman–wasn’t raggin you, either. If anything, I agree with what you said, which is pretty clear in my comment. Relax.

      Jul 3, 2007 at 2:04 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • nycstudman
      nycstudman

      Mr.B: OK. Anyway, the way some media are presenting it, it’s pretty confusing. The fact that ADL was defending him only adds layers to it.

      Jul 3, 2007 at 3:18 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • papi guero
      papi guero

      What a sad end for this young kid, no matter whether it was racially-based or orientation-based, or even both… I grew up in Houston and Dallas so I know what Texas macho fueled xenophobia/homophobia is like. The courage it must have taken for this little guy to testify (and unfortunately relive) this event to try to help someone else. A self-less person.

      Jul 3, 2007 at 4:04 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • codymurp
      codymurp

      Fucked up. I’m beginning to hate America – well I’m just disappointed I guess.

      Jul 3, 2007 at 5:39 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • WWH
      WWH

      Well, life and 90 years fro the perps before he killed hinself. Texas justice seems pretty AOK now, doesn’t it?

      Jul 3, 2007 at 10:09 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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