Friday, October 13, 2006

Michael Sandy Dies, Rally on Monday

It has been an extremely busy week so far, and I'm now back home in New Jersey, attending Cave Canem's 10th Anniversary Celebration conference and reunion, so I haven't had a free moment since I've returned (no thank to Continental Airlines, either), but I did want to post a message I received from Keith Boykin concerning the recent death of Michael Sandy in New York City for readers of J's Theater who might drop by here first:

Dear colleagues:

I am writing to you today because I need your help. As some of you already know, Michael Sandy, the 29-year-old black gay man who was brutally attacked by a group of white men last Sunday, has died today.

In response to his death, several Black LGBT organizations have come together to hold a rally and press conference on Monday at 5 p.m. at New York City Hall. I ask you to please join me in spreading the word about the Monday rally. It's very hard to get the word out over the Internet on a weekend, so any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks very much.

Michael Sandy Dies; Monday Rally Planned At NY City Hall

BREAKING NEWS -- Michael Sandy, the 29-year-old black gay man who was attacked in a gay bashing incident last Sunday, has died. Sandy reportedly died around noon today after the family decided to remove the life support respirator that had kept him alive. Police are reportedly considering whether to elevate the charges against the suspects as a result of Sandy's death.

Black LGBT organizers and activists vowed to hold a rally on Monday to demand an end to hate violence in the city and to hold city leaders accountable. The rally is scheduled to take place at 5 p.m. on Monday at New York City Hall. The rally is being sponsored by People of Color In Crisis, the New York State Black Gay Network, Gay Men of African Descent, the New York City Anti-Violence Project and the National Black Justice Coalition.

My heart goes out to Michael Sandy's family. This didn't have to happen. But sadly, we live in a world where hate violence is still too common. Now it's time to do something about it.

How many more black gays and lesbians have to be beaten, killed or attack in New York before we rise up and do something about it? After Kevin Aviance, Rashawn Brazell, Dwan Prince and Sakia Gunn, we have a responsibility to speak out on their behalf.

It's time for black political leaders and civil rights leaders and the larger black community to be involved. If Michael Sandy were not gay, this case would have outraged most of Black New York. But because he is gay, almost no one seems to be talking about it.

It's also time for the city to be engaged in stopping these hate crimes. We need the police to be proactive in protecting us. That's why the move by one local politician to close down the park at sunset is understandable but misguided. That effort is fueled by the same homophobia that denigrates gay men as sexual predators.

And it's time for the mayor and the city officials to deal with the structural problems that encourage homophobia, racism and hate violence in our communities. It's not enough for the mayor to show up and give a speech at a press conference. It's time to show some real leadership.

And finally, it's way past time for the black LGBT community to be engaged. Our friends and lovers, brothers and sisters, neighbors and colleagues are dying in the streets. What are we going to do about it? What will we do to keep each other safe from harm? What will we do to change the climate of homophobia in our families, our homes, our churches, and our work places? It's time for black gays and lesbians to stand up and be counted

Keith Boykin

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