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Last weekend’s mass shooting at a beloved LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado was a nightmare. Late Saturday – the day before Transgender Remembrance Day – a 22-year-old entered Club Q and opened fire, killing five people and injuring more than a dozen others, according to police and witnesses . The suspect faces five counts of first-degree murder and five counts of bias-motivated felony causing bodily harm, according to court records.
The attack was not surprising. It came at a time of anti-LGBTQ animosity. In dozens of mostly Republican-controlled states, lawmakers have passed or introduced a record number of anti-LGBTQ bills this year. Additionally, this legislative assault has been accompanied by widespread political right-wing discourse demonizing LGBTQ people and physical harassment of the community by far-right paramilitary groups.
“We are going through a crisis,” Kelley Robinson, the new president of the Human Rights Campaign, told Jim Sciutto on CNN Newsroom. “We are witnessing a series of political attacks and violent rhetoric against our community. All of this fuels violence in real life. We’ve seen this play out at Club Q in devastating fashion. But the larger context is that we see threats against Drag Queen Story Hours. We are seeing attacks on trans youth. We see bomb threats in children’s hospitals.
But the tragedy that shattered Colorado Springs also fits into another pattern — a persistent American pattern of inflicting violence or intimidating members of vulnerable groups, including American Jews and Black Americans, where they go. gather.
After all, Club Q was not a standard hangout. In an interview with CNN, Tiana Nicole Dykes, a longtime resident of Colorado Springs, called the happy haven a “second home full of chosen family” where LGBTQ people could find an escape and an exit in a city that was theirs. regularly hostile – where revelers could celebrate life itself.
The Colorado Springs shooting is a recent illustration of how violence – or the threat of violence – can turn a place that was once a source of solace for a particular vulnerable group into a place of fear, even anguish. Here are three more:
Police arrested a man wanted for repeatedly throwing a brick at a New York gay bar, VERS, on Tuesday and charged him with criminal possession of a weapon, criminal mischief and reckless endangerment, according to the New York police.
Nobody was ever hurt. But the incidents have deeply destabilized LGBTQ people in the neighborhood.
“One disturbing thing about what’s happening at the VERS is that this guy isn’t trying to break in. He’s doing it during office hours,” bar owner David DeParolesa told The Daily Mail. New York Times. “There’s a worrying feeling that it won’t stop or it could get worse.”
In recent days, many have pointed to the link between anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and physical violence.
“Words are important. The words you use every day are so important. They can cause so much love or so much hate,” Club Q owner Nic Grzecka told Don Lemon on CNN This Morning. “You might think words are so small and insignificant, (but they can make) people do hateful things.”
New York City Council member Erik Bottcher expressed similar sentiments Sunday during a rally at the legendary Stonewall Inn.
“You can draw a straight line to these murders from the hateful rhetoric and lies that have been spread about Drag Queen Story Hour, about transgender and gender non-conforming people,” he said. “They know that these bars, these nightlife venues are sacred spaces for our communities. For decades and decades they have been the only places we know beyond doubt that we can go and be ourselves and be accepted.
Two men – Christopher Brown, 21, and Matthew Mahrer, 22 – were arraigned on multiple counts over the weekend, court documents show. They were arrested in connection with a threat against a synagogue in New York.
“As alleged, the two defendants possessed a firearm, a large capacity magazine, ammunition, an 8-inch-long military-style knife, a swastika arm patch, a ski mask and a body armor. bullets, among other things,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said. told CNN in a statement.
“A potential tragedy was averted when they were intercepted by police at Penn Station, as online postings indicated an intent to use these weapons at a Manhattan synagogue,” Bragg added.
The incident came the same month an 18-year-old New Jersey man was accused of making an online manifesto with threats to attack a synagogue, and weeks after the fourth anniversary of the shooting of the Synagogue Tree of Life – deadliest mugging of all time. on Jews in the United States. And in January, a man held four people hostage at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas; the standoff lasted 11 hours.
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, has warned of what he believes is growing hatred in the United States.
“There’s no question the hate is on the rise,” he told Erica Hill on CNN At This Hour, and added that anti-Semitism often goes hand in hand with anti-LGBTQ discrimination.
After the discovery of the most recent plan to attack a Jewish house of worship, New York Governor Kathy Hochul called for greater support “for communities that are potential targets of hate crimes.”
“Here in New York,” she said, “we will not tolerate violence or bigotry toward any community. We are united against hate – today and every day.
The 19-year-old man accused of killing 10 people and injuring more than a dozen others at a supermarket in a black neighborhood of Buffalo, New York, earlier this year is expected to plead guilty to the charges against the state, said a lawyer for the victims. week, although his court appearance has been postponed.
This development in the May 14 mass shooting case is a reminder that for many black people in the city’s Masten Park neighborhood, Tops Friendly Market, where the carnage unfolded, is much more than a grocery store.
“Tops Market was a place of community, a safe space for us to meet, talk, be together,” local business owner Phylicia Dove told my CNN colleague Alaa Elassar. “There is no one here who has not visited this Tops. It was ours. Even though it wasn’t the best, it was ours, and now our safe space has been infiltrated and taken away from us and it’s something we mourn.
Another resident, Martin Bryant, further explained the importance of Tops, which peacefully reopened over the summer.
“Tops has been a big boost for the community. In fact, we had a grocery store of our own. It wasn’t a convenience store like a 7-Eleven. It was a real grocery store. It made everyone happy,” he told Elassar. “Local leaders fought for this.”
Dove pointed to the fear that has gripped many black Americans in Buffalo and elsewhere in recent years, as vital community centers — such as historically black colleges and universities and the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina , where in 2015, nine black parishioners were shot. during Bible study – were scarred.
“Where can we exist and be black and safe?” she asked. “And if it’s not our grocery store or our church or any other place where we’ve been shot before, where do we go to exist freely?”