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Hate Crimes on Wikipedia: Arthur Warren & Paul Broussard

This entry is part 2 of 53 in the series lgbt hate crimes project

One of the things I hadn’t taken into consideration upon launching the project to record anti-LGBT hate crimes on Wikipedia was that it would mean living with each of these stories as I research them and try to gather as many fact as possible. (Communicating them as dispassionately as possible was another challenge.) It means reading the details of the crimes over and over again, learning about the lives victims and perpetrators along the way, to the point where their lives collide, watching that collision over and over again, and then spending more time shifting through the wreckage.

That’s what it felt like as I put together the next two stories. Once again, it wasn’t until I finished both that I realized the connection between them. Arthur “J.R.” Warren and Paul Broussard were both killed on July 4th, ten years apart. Both were killed by multiple attackers; strangers in Broussard’s case, and acquaintances in Warren’s case. Both suffered brutal beatings — including being kicked with steel-toed boots — that ended their lives. Warren pleaded with his killers to take him home. Broussard raised one hand as lay bleeding on the sidewalk, as if pleading with his killers for help or mercy even as they rifled his pockets for souvenirs. Broussard’s killers drove away cheering and high-fiving each other as he lay dying. Warren’s killers were watching Independence Day fireworks with their families the same day that Warren’s body was found. Both deaths sparked protests and vigils.

In the debate over the current hate crimes bill, posted in full at Box Turtle Bulletin, maybe the opposition can answer some questions regarding stories like Warren’s and Broussard’s.

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The act takes it’s definition of “crime of violence” from title 18 section 924(c)(3) of the U.S. code.

(3) For purposes of this subsection the term “crime of violence” means an offense that is a felony and -

(A) has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another, or

(B) that by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the fense.

And it takes its definition of “hate crime” from the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.

In this section, `hate crime’ means a crime in which the defendant intentionally selects a victim, or in the case of a property crime, the property that is the object of the crime, because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation of any person.

These definitions clearly apply to Warren’s and Broussard’s murders. How do they apply to Sunday sermons? Do Sunday sermons involve “an element of the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force” against an LGBT person? I haven’t been to church in a while, so, I don’t know. Is that what’s commonly preached about in Sundays?

The bill allows federal agencies to assist investigations of crimes that fall under the above definitions at the request of state agencies.

(1) IN GENERAL- At the request of State, local, or Tribal law enforcement agency, the Attorney General may provide technical, forensic, prosecutorial, or any other form of assistance in the criminal investigation or prosecution of any crime that–

(A) constitutes a crime of violence;

(B) constitutes a felony under the State, local, or Tribal laws; and

(C) is motivated by prejudice based on the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of the victim, or is a violation of the State, local, or Tribal hate crime laws.

Should federal agencies not be able to assist in the investigation of crimes like Warren’s and Broussard’s murders?

The bill allows the Attorney General to grant financial resources to state and local agencies to assist in the investigation of these crimes.

(1) IN GENERAL- The Attorney General may award grants to State, local, and Indian law enforcement agencies for extraordinary expenses associated with the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes.

(2) OFFICE OF JUSTICE PROGRAMS- In implementing the grant program under this subsection, the Office of Justice Programs shall work closely with grantees to ensure that the concerns and needs of all affected parties, including community groups and schools, colleges, and universities, are addressed through the local infrastructure developed under the grants.

Should Texas or West Virginia — or any other state — not receive funds to cover expenses related to the investigation of these crimes? Should crimes like Warren’s and Broussard’s murder go un-investigated for lack of funding to cover the cost of investigations?

The bill amends the U.S. code to include sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity under the definition of hate crimes, and defines anyone who does the following as committing a hate crime.

…willfully causes bodily injury to any person or, through the use of fire, a firearm, or an explosive or incendiary device, attempts to cause bodily injury to any person, because of the actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability of any person

Again, I haven’t been to church in a while, but does anything that goes on during religious events, sermons, worship services etc., involve “willfully causing injury to any person, through use of a firearm, or an explosive or incendiary device” or “attempts to cause bodily injury to a person”? Or should the above just be exempt if its based on religion?

Warren’s story was not on Wikipedia. Broussard’s murder had an incomplete stub. I’ve included the full entries below the fold. People have been very helpful in referring me to other stories, and connecting me with people who can supply lists of victims whose stories did not get much attention. I’ll research stories I receive and enter as many of them as I can. I have two stories of trangender hate crime victims and one story of a lesbian couple up next.

Here’s Arthur Warren’s story.

jumpcut movie:jrwarrenArthur “J.R.” Warren (1974 – July 3, 2001) was a 26-year-old African American gay man, who resided in Grant Town, West Virginia. On July 3, 2000 he was murdered by two teenage white males, in what is believed to have been a hate crime.

The Background

Known as “J.R.”, Warren — who lived with learning disabilities and a birth defect that caused him to be born with several fingers missing on one hand — was widely regarded in his community as a “soft spoken” young man. At 16, he came out to his mother and the minister at his church, and found acceptance and support with both. After his death, his mother — Brenda Warren — addressed a hate crimes rally in Washington, D.C. and lobbied for the inclusion of sexual orientation in West Virginia’s hate crimes law. [1]

With his parents, Warren was a regular churchgoer, and attended the Missionary Baptist assembly — which split from the Southern Baptists over support for slavery. He also attended meetings of a gay student group at nearby Fairmont State College.

The Meeting

Warren left his parents home around 11:30 p.m. on July 3, 2000, to watch the Fourth of July fireworks in Grant Town.[2] His mother said reminded him of his 12:30 p.m. curfew, and when he had not returned home by 2:30 am she assumed he was spending the night at a friend’s. [3]

Instead of attending the fireworks, Warren went to meet with 17-year-old David Parker, an acquaintance, at an empty house owned by Parker’s family. Parker was painting the house, along with his 17-year-old cousin Jared Wilson and Jared’s 15-year-old Jason Shoemaker. While there, the three drank beer, smoked marijuana, and huffed gasoline fumes, inhaling them in orderto get high.[4]

Parker reportedly asked Warren to bring cigarettes and Xanax, the latter of which Warren had been prescribed as an anti-anxiety medication. Warren reportedly brought both cigarettes and Xanax to the house, where the other three boys began to crush and snort the tablets. [5]

The Murder

An argument ensued at the house when Parker accused Warren of spreading a rumor that the two had a sexual relationship. Warren denied doing so. The Associated Press reported that “sources close to the story” said that Parker and Warren had a sexual relationship and that Warren had also had a sexual relationship with Wilson. Marion County Prosecutor G. Richard Brunner later said the allegations of sexual activity were hearsay. The AP stood by its story.[6] Parkers attorney would later claim that Parker had been sexually involved with Warren 30 times since he was 10 years old, and that Warren had given Parker drugs and alcohol before most of their encounters.[7]

At some point during the argument, Parker and Wilson began beating Warren and kicking him with steel-toed boots. Shoemaker witnessed the beating but did not participate. Court documents record that Parker later said Shoemaker egged him on to confront Warren.

Afterwards, the three boys put a bloodied Warren in Parker’s car. Parker drove and Shoemaker sat in the front seat while Jared sat in back with Warren. Warren was still conscious enough to repeatedly ask to be taken home.

Near the edge of town, Parker and Wilson removed Warren’s body from the car and placed it in the road while Shoemaker remained in the car. Parker then ran over Warren with his car a total of four times, to disguise the death as a hit-and-run. The three boys then returned to the house where the assault had taken place, cleaned up the blood and disposed of their bloodied clothes by burning them with gasoline. Parker then huffed the fumes from the gasoline.[8]

Warren’s body was discovered by a newspaper carrier at 5:30 a.m., by the side of W.VA Route 17, in Grant Town.

The Confession

Though threatened with death by Parker and Wilson if he revealed the murder, Shoemaker told his mother, Norma Shoemaker, about the murder. Norma Shoemaker called the police later that morning. Police had initially believed Warren was the victim of a hit-and-run accident, but switched to a homicide investigation upon receiving Norma Shoemaker’s call.

Parker and Wilson were arrested while attending an Independence Day celebration with their families. They were reported to have confessed to Warren’s murder. Because the suspects were minors, law enforcement officers were prohibited from discussing the content of their confessions.

Marion County Sheriff Ron Watkins said there was no evidence that Warren’s murder was a hate crime, but that law enforcement official had not ruled out the possibility. Sherrif Watkins later met with the president of the Fairmont State College Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual student group, of which Warren was a member even though he did not attend the college. The Human Rights Campaign joined students in advising law enforcement officials on the possibility that Warren’s murder was a hate crime. [9]

The Aftermath

Arthur Warren’s funeral was held on July 8, 2000, at his family’s church, and was attended by hundreds of mourners.

His parents, Brenda and Arthur Warren insisted that the coffin be open for viewing. “We want people to see what they did to my son,” said Brenda Warren. The Warrens later told CNN during an interview that they hoped the suspects would be tried as adults and the murder treated as a hate crime.

Two vigils were held in Warren’s honor on June 11, one by the West Virginia Lesbian and Gay Coalition at the West Virginia State Capitol and one in front of the Marion County courthouse by the Fairmont State College gay and lesbian student group.

The Marion County vigil was attended by more than 600 people, where local clergy spoke and were joined by member of the Warren family. A handful of protesters from the family of Fred Phelps, leader of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, also attended. Gay and lesbian students from West Virginia University carried white banners to block the view of the protesters. [10]

The Hearings

On July 19, 2001 David Parker pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and in July 2001 was sentenced to life in prison with mercy, which would make him eligible for parole in 15 years. In exchange for his plea, a second count of conspiracy to commit a felony was dismissed. Parker also agreed to testify against Wilson. [11]

On August 21, 2001 Jared Wilson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder — reduced from first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit a felony, — and received a 20-year prison sentence. [12]

Shoemaker, was charged as an accessory after the fact, and tried as a juvenile for helping dispose of evidence after the murder.

In June 2002, Brenda and Arthur warren filed a wrongful death lawsuit against his killers. Their family attorney, Paul Farrell, said that in defending themselves Parker and Wilson had portrayed Warren as a sexual predator and themselves as the victims, and that Mrs. Warren “didn’t feel like she had the chance to tell her side of the story.”[13]

And here’s Paul Broussard’s story.

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Paul Broussard (1964–1991), a 27 year-old Houston-area banker and Texas A&M alumnus, was beaten and stabbed to death in a gay-bashing outside a Houston nightclub on July 4, 1991 by ten teenaged boys. The youths had driven from the northern Houston suburb of The Woodlands to the heavily gay area of Montrose solely to “beat up some queers” in the words of one of the convicted teens.[1]

The Attack

Paul Broussard was walking across a parking lot just after 2:00 a.m.[2], on July 4, 1991 in Houston’s Montrose neighborhood with his friends Cary Anderson and Richard Delaunay when the trio was attacked 10 young men from the Woodlands area: Jaime Agguire, Javier Aguirre, Derrick Attard, Jon Buice, Paul Dillon, Raphael Gonzalez, Gayland Randall, Leandro Ramirez, Brian Spake, and Jeffrey Valentine.

All but three of the attackers were under 17, and the eldest of them — Brian Spake — was 22. All except Spake attended McCullough High School in Houston. The Woodland Ten, as they became known, had spent the two days prior to the attack binging on alcohol. Hours before the attack, they piled into two cars and cruised Montrose harassing men they presumed to be gay. They identified their targets by asking directions to Heaven, a popular area gay bar and threw rocks at men who answered with directions.[3]

Broussard and friends were just blocks away from home when the attackers asked them for directions to Heaven. Upon receiving them, the 10 attackers exited their vehicles attacked the three gay men with fists, steel-toed boots, nail-studded two-by-fours, and a knife wielded by Jon Buice. Anderson and Delaunay escaped down a busy street, while Broussard headed down a dead end street where he was surrounded by the 10 attackers.[4]

Delaunay said the ten young men were cheering and yelling as they attacked Broussard. Broussard suffered abrasions, puncture wounds, a broken rib, bruised testicles, and three stab woulds. As he lay on the ground, almost unconscious, two of his attackers rifled through his pockets and took a comb as a souvenir. The ten young men then drove off up I-45 towards the Woodlands, still cheering and yelling. [5]

Broussard was treated by EMS at the scene, and then airlifted to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where he died eight-and-a-half hours later. His mother, Nancy Rodriguez, flew into Houston from Atlanta, Georgia, and met with Houston police as well as with Anderson and Delaunay.

Protests & Arrests

Houston newspapers did not initially report Broussard’s murder as a hate crime. As a result, gay activists like Ray Hill organized large public protests, some of which took place in front of the mayor’s house, with Nancy Rodruiguez and Queer Nation participating. The resulting media attention led to one of the assailant’s girlfriends calling the police. All ten were soon arrested.[6]

Derrick Attard went to New York after the attack, and was arrested there. Jon Buice is reported to have turned himself in after being encouraged to do so by his father.[7]

Sentencing

All ten of Broussard’s assailants were eventually convicted. Activist Ray Hill, who had organized the protests after Broussard’s murder, lobbied the prosecutor and District attorney for”meaningful sentences” for the Woodlands Ten.[8]

Derrick Attard received probation for agreeing to identify the other nine. Four more also received probation, and Nancy Rodriguez — aided by the Houston Crime Victim’s Office — worked with the D.A. to set the terms. The court also ordered them to pay for Anderson’s hospital bill and Broussard’s funeral. Derrick Attard and Gayland Randall violated the terms of their probations and were sent to prison.

Jon Buice confessed to inflicted the stab wound that the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office said caused Broussard’s death, and received a 45-year sentence. Paul Dillon received a 20-year sentence for attempted murder and aggravated attempted murder.

The three remaining assailants received sentences of 15-years-and-one-day, for their admitted participation in the beatings. Their sentences criticized by Queer Nation and Nancy Rodriguez as being too light.

Probation & Release

Paul Dillon was the first of the attackers to be released, in March 2000, after serving just six years. He owed his freedom to a mandatory release law that was repealed in 1996.[9]

Derrick Attard, Raphael Gonzalez, Gayland Randall, Brian Spake, and Jeffrey Valentine also received probation and were released.

Brothers Jaime and Javier Aguirre were set to be released in January 2007, after Jaime was denied parole in 2003, and were expected to face deportation to Mexico upon release.

Leandro Ramirez was set to be released on parole in March 2007.

Jon Buice, who received longest sentence and is the last of the Woodlands Ten remaining in prison, is scheduled for a parole hearing in October 2007, after having been denied parole in October 2003 and October 2005. [10]

Nancy Rodriguez currently lives near Macon, Georgia. She has attended more than 20 parole hearings in her efforts to keep her son’s assailants in prison.

Jon Buice

In April 1999, Buice wrote an open letter to the gay community apologizing and seeking to make amends for his role in Paul Broussard’s murder, which was addressed to the radio station KPFT and printed in the Houston Voice.[11] Buice says he was moved to write the letter after hearing about the murder of Matthew Sheppard.[12]

In a subsequent interview with a researcher, Buice said that he was not homophobic and had close friends and relatives who were gay. Buice also said that the attack had less to do with Broussard’s sexual orientation than with thrill-seeking, male-bonding, peer pressure, and the influence of drugs and alcohol. Almost all of the Woodlands Ten were intoxicated that night. Some, including Jon Buice, had also used marijuana and taken LSD.[13] Buice claimed to have “blacked out” on the night of the attack, and only remembers riding home with Broussard’s blood on his clothes.[14]

The ten were also bolstered by a sense that they could get away with it. Harassing gays in Montrose had become a “sport” to them, and they claimed that others at McCullough had known what they were doing. Classmates, friends and teachers had all heard them bragging about belonging to a “gay-bashing gang.” They had even taken to wearing black bandannas to school to signify membership in their “gang.” All without consequences from school officials. They also inferred that gay me were likely to carry more money and unlikely to report attacks for fear of being outed; and that police would be unlikely to pursue them.[15]

According to prison officials, Buice has a spotless prison record. He has earned associate’s degrees in business and accounting and a bachelor’s degree in psychology.[16]

Buice is scheduled for his next parole hearing in October 2007. His appeal is supported by gay activist and radio host Ray Hill.

Hill, who is also an ex-convict and host of “The Prison Show” on KPFT, has corresponded with several of the Woodlands Ten, support Buice’s parole, and has said he hopes Buice will take over as host of the Prison Show upon his release.[17]

There are, of course, more stories to be added.

Series NavigationHate Crimes: A Wikipedia ProjectHate Crimes on Wikipedia: Nizah Morris

3 Comments

  1. I am so glad you’re doing this. Thank you, it is so needed. Though I know this project may be hard on the spirit, I’m sure you’ll have a few grateful saints guiding your path along the way.

    Thanks

  2. I was friends with Jon Buice in high school. And it is true he did have gay friends. My brother was one of them. We became friends when he first moved to The Woodlands, but after a while we went our seperate ways. Some what because of the people he hung out with. I have to believe what he says about being blacked out. Drugs were very abundant in McCullough, you could anything you wanted whenever you wanted. I do hope he has done well in prison. I also hope he gets a second chance. I think he deserves it. Maybe some day I will be able to talk to him and know things are well with him.

  3. Thanks for undertaking this courageous project.

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