For those who do not know, 18 year old Angie Zapata was murdered in a transphobic hate crime in Colorado this past summer. Her suspected murderer, Allen Andrade, went on trial today in the first case in the nation to apply hate crimes legislation to the murder of a transgendered person.
Andrade has admitted to hitting her in the head twice with a fire extinguisher before beating her with it when she continued to struggle to get back up. Despite the severity of his crime, Andrade told police “he thought he had killed it” refusing to refer to Zapata as a human being.
Despite confessing to the crime, part of Andrade’s confession will be inadmissable in court because police continued to ask questions after Andrade asked to remain silent. Fortunately, this violation of his rights, will not preclude his admission to his girlfriend over the phone in police custody that he did it, he statement above, or his statement that “gay things need to die.” Both his homophobia and transphobia are therefore documented for the trial but one can only hope that police will learn to follow procedure so that people won’t keep getting off on technicalities.
The case horrified most of us on the West Coast and was particularly upsetting to people like myself who actively questioned why national attention was not as quick or as large for Angie’s death, nor for Gwen Araujo, as it had been for high profile white members of the queer community. No songs were written, no oscar nominated films, and no overnight high profile press conferences with celebrities decrying “shame.” (A Lifetime Movie was made about Gwen Araujo). And while some will say that is divisive, the failure to even mention the assassination style death of Duanna Johnson in the midst of all the queer activism around the country related to prop 8 proved to be more of the same.
A campaign to draw attention to Angie’s death and to hate crimes against the transgendered community has launched the “Light a Candle for Angie” campaign. You can read updates on the case and sign up for the campaign (which includes facebook, twitter, and myspace sites) here.