After some consideration, and discussions, I’ve come to the decision that I will add no further articles on LGBT hate crime victims to Wikipedia.
I have learned, however, that the notability guidelines on Wikipedia, and some of the community members who enforce them, make it almost impossible to show to bring exposure to hate crimes that happened long ago and/or not received widespread coverage. And that means that it is difficult to being exposure to more diverse LGBT hate crime victims on Wikipedia, if their stories are not recent, having received widespread coverage, or otherwise launched major protests or new legislation. As subjective as those guidelines sound, they are reasons I was given as objections to some of the articles I posted.
So, rather than fight that battle, I’ve decided to launch a new site: the LGBT Hate Crimes Project. I wanted to keep it simple, so that the focus will be on the stories. It’s a wiki that I spent much of yesterday and today setting up, and it’s where the new stories I will research and write up will be housed. I’m also in the process of copying the articles I wrote for Wikipedia onto this new site. I’m also in the process of rounding up support, as it looks like it will be an ongoing project.
It started when I posted a short article on Erica Keel, after finishing the one on Nizah Morris, only to find it marked for speedy deletion. Then the Nireah Johnson article was featured on the front page of Wikipedia, and shortly thereafter tagged for notability issues. And then I posted an article on Roberto Duncanson.
Duncanson, 20, worked at CVS in Chelsea, New York, for 18 months. According to his mother, he had plans to go to Miami to celebrate his 21st birthday, and was planning to go back to school to become an x-ray technician.1) On May 12, 2007, Duncanson and Omar Willock, 17, passed each other on St. Mark’s Avenue in Crown Heights. Willock reportedly became enraged, yelled “What are you looking at, f—-r?”2) and started shouting anti-gay slurs at Duncanson.3) Willock accused Williams of looking at him, in a way he interpreted as flirting. It’s unclear how Willock knew Duncanson was gay.4) Duncanson walked away, and continued on his way to visit a cousin on Brooklyn Avenue. Willock allegedly followed Duncanson to his cousin’s house, and waited for him to come out. When Duncanson emerged from the house, Willock continued following him.5)
As Duncanson kept walking, Willock followed and continued to yell anti-gay epithets at Duncanson. Willock then started a fist fight with Duncanson.6) The fight ended when Willock took out a knife and stabbed Duncanson as he tried to walk away.”Metro Briefing: New York: Brooklyn: Youth Accused of Bias Killing”, The New York Times, June 15, 2007. Paramedics found Duncanson on the sidewalk.”Teen cited ‘gay panic’ in Brooklyn slaying”, The Advocate, June 16, 2007. Retrieved on August 18, 2007. He had been stabbed in the back four times.7)
Duncanson was taken to Kings County Hospital, where he died an hour later. Willocks was arrested, and was indicted on June 14, 2007. Willock was charged with second degdegree murder as a hate crime.8)
It, too, came under fire for notability issues. And then I thought about the other articles I’m working on, about Ukea Davis and Stephanie Thomas, Edgar Garzon, Dwan Prince, and Satendar Singh, and I realized most of them would not pass the “notability” test, depending upon how stringently it was administered. And I got a little upset, because, well, the reason I started this project is because I think their lives and what happened to them is worth notice. Somewhere.
Too often their stories disappear into news archives that people have to pay to read, and thus they’re forgotten except for the friends and family who keep their memories alive. No books or plays are written about them. No laws are named after them. No, television or theatrical movies are made about them, and no one receives Oscars for portraying them. And that’s because many of them are people whose lives were often deemed as unworthy of notice as their deaths.
So, in the last 24 hours, the LGBT Hate Crimes Project has been born, to remember their names and remember their stories. I’m not sure how it will develop from here. For the time being I’m going to continue researching and adding stories, and trying to round up support. I’ve added a contact form, and will probably also add comments to the individual articles. Beyond that, at some point I’ll register people to help with the research and writing of the articles. But I also want to avoid the obvious potential for spam and other attacks. So, we’ll take it slow from here.
More to come…