As I write this, a hate crimes bill sits on the desk of George W. Bush; one that includes sexual orientation and gender identity in its definition of hate crimes. The bill awaits his signature or veto, with various groups urging him to apply one or the other. It is not the first time George W. Bush has dealt the issue of hate crimes. Just over 10 years ago, a hate crime against a gay male couple resulted in the murder of Fred
I don’t know how Gov. Bush responded then, but Mangione’s murder spurred Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee to urge hearings on hate crimes legislation, and to mention Mangione’s murder in her statement during a 1998 House Judiciary Committee hearing.
In the my hometown city of Houston in 1995, Fred Mangione, a homosexual, was stabbed to death, and his companion was assaulted. The two men, who were charged with Mangione’s murder, claimed to be members of the ”German Peace Corps”, which has been characterized in media reports as a neo-Nazi organization based in California. This crime did not meet the State of Texas’ threshold for trial as a capital offense, because the murder did not occur during the commission of a rape or robbery. Ironic, that someone can stab Mr. Mangione thirty times, steal his life away, rob the community of one of its members and rape our collective consciousness of its sense of security, and the penalty is not considered a capitol offense. In recent years, attacks upon gays and lesbians are increasing in number and in severity. During 1995, 2,212 attacks on lesbians and gay men were documented—an 8% increase of the previous year. We need the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and we need to ”become a more perfect union.”
Mangione’s murder took place just two years before James Byrd was dragged to death by white supremacists in Jasper, TX. It happened just give years after Paul Broussard was murdered in a gay bashing in Houston, and now one of his bashers — the one who struck the death blow — is up for parole again.
Jon Buice, then 17 and now 33, was the knife-man who inflicted the deadly wounds, and he received the longest sentence, 45 years. This will mark Buice’s third parole hearing after he was denied in 2003 and 2005.
Broussard’s reportedly was the first gay-bashing murder to generate national media attention and it precipitated Texas’ first hate-crimes law. The case also has evolved into a rather unusual saga, with the prominent gay-rights activist who helped bring the 10 killers to justice now fighting for Buice’s release.
And it happened almost 20 years after the murders of John Lloyd Griffin and Tommy Lee Trimble in Corpus Christi, TX. But if president Bush vetoes the hate crimes bill, not much will have changed since Judge Jack Hampton declared the lives of a couple of “queers” worthless and worth less than “ordinary citizens.
In late November, Hampton sentenced Richard Lee Bednarski to 30 years in prison for murdering two men–even though a lifetime sentence was the maximum. When asked by a Dallas reporter why Bednarski had not received a harsher verdict, Hampton replied that he had been lenient in part because the killer’s victims were gay.
“These two guys that got killed wouldn’t have been killed if they hadn’t been cruising the streets picking up teen-age boys,” Hampton told the Dallas Times Herald in December. “I don’t care much for queers cruising the streets picking up teen-age boys. I’ve got a teen-age boy.”
Hampton said he might have given the murderer a lengthier sentence if he had killed “a couple of housewives out shopping, not hurting anybody.”
With a simple “veto” stamp, Bush could say the same of the lives of Griffin & Trimble, Paul Broussard, Nick Moraida, Kenneth Cummings Jr., and Fred Mangione; all fellow Texas, and all gay men who died for no other reason than that their killers thought their lives worth less — and, in some cases, that they needed killing because they were gay.
Fred Mangione (1950 – January 4, 1996), a gay man, was murdered in Katy, Texas, on January 4, 1996, when they were attacked by two brothers who were members of a neo-Nazi group. Magione was stabbed 35 times with a deer gutting knife, and died. His partner, Kenneth Stern, was beaten, but survived the attack.
Mangione and Stern worked across the street from each other, when they met in their native New Jersey in the late 1970s. Though Stern was married and Magione had just broken up with a girlfriend, their friendship blossomed into romance, and then an intimate relationship. In the mid 1980s, the couple moved to Katy Texas, found jobs in the restaurant industry, and eventually made room in their home for both of their ailing mothers.1)
On the night of January 4, 1996, Mangione and Stern went to Dolly’s Place, a bar in Katy. Daniel Bean, 19, and his half-brother Ronald Henry Gauthier, 21, were having drinks at the bar when Mangione and Stern arrived. In the bar, Mangione started selling Avon products to some of the patrons2) , and a drunken man yelled out that someone should “whip those fags.”3)
According to witnesses, Bean and Gauthier approached the man who had shouted, and then seemed to befriend Mangione and Stern.4) At some point, Mangione and Sterne said they were going to drive to a nearby convenience store to buy cigarettes. Bean and Gautheir asked if they could come along.5)
When the four men returned, Stern left the van they were riding in and returned to the bar. Witnesses said minutes later Gauthier returned to the bar and began beating Stern as he sat on the bar stool.6) Soon after, Bean walked in and threw a long, bloody deer gutting knife on the bar.7)
After a scuffle, bar patrons pulled the men off of Stern, and the attackers fled. Stern and other patrons ran outside and discovered Mangione lying in a pool of blood in the van, stabbed 35 times with the knife Bean had thrown on the bar before attacking Stern.8)
Minutes after the attack, Police found Bean and Guathier running through the parking lot. Bean’s clothing was bloody, and when the office asked what they’d been doing, they told him they’d just “fucked up a fag.”9)
Later, the brothers told police that they’d attacked Mangione because he or Stern had made sexual advances.10) Gauthier later told police that Maginone had attacked them with with a knife, and they had to protect themselves. Later, under cross examination, he admitted that was a lie he made up in order to protect his brother.
Police learned that the brothers, who were from from Montana and were visiting the Houston area, belonged to a neo-Nazi California group called the German Peace Corps.11) Five witnesses at Dolly’s Place.12) told police that the brothers had told patrons at the bar that they were going to “mess with fags.”13)
Following Mangione’s murder, community members held a prayer vigil in the Dolly’s Place parking lot.14) On January 8, supporters and community members went the arraignment of Bean and Gauthier, to make sure their bonds were not reduced. Fliers were distributed at Mangione’s funeral on the previous day, urging the community to call the judge, politicians, and even President Clinton in an effort to keep Beana and Gauthier in jail.
Bond for each brother was initially set at $200,000, but the judge ordered both men held without bond.
In response to Mangione’s murder, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force wrote to then Texas governor George W. Bush, the President Pro Tem of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House asking them to “adopt a strong and effective hate crimes bill in honor of those who have died a the hands of hate in Texas, including Fred Mangione.”15)
The attack on Mangione and Stern, and Magione’s muder prompted U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D – Houston) to announce that she would ask the House Judiciary Committee to hold hearings on hate crimes across the nation.16) On July 22, 1998, Rep. Jackson Lee mentioned Mangione’s murder in her statement during the House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 1997.17)
In the my hometown city of Houston in 1995, Fred Mangione, a homosexual, was stabbed to death, and his companion was assaulted. The two men, who were charged with Mangione’s murder, claimed to be members of the German Peace Corps, which has been characterized in media reports as a neo-Nazi organization based in California. This crime did not meet the State of Texas’ threshold for trial as a capital offense, because the murder did not occur during the commission of a rape or robbery. Ironic, that someone can stab Mr. Mangione thirty times, steal his life away, rob the community of one of its members and rape our collective consciousness of its sense of security, and the penalty is not considered a capitol offense. In recent years, attacks upon gays and lesbians are increasing in number and in severity. During 1995, 2,212 attacks on lesbians and gay men were documented—an 8% increase of the previous year. We need the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and we need to “become a more perfect union.”
Bean was given a life sentence for stabbing Mangione to death. Gauthier was given 10 years probation for his part in the crime after a jury found him guilty of murder, after 10 hours of deliberation.18) Jurors told The Houston Chronicle that the the prosecution did not prove that Gauthier was involved in the stabbing itself, though the prosecution claimed that Gauthier held Mangione down while Bean stabbed him. Bean’s clothing was covered with blood when the brothers were stopped by police, but Gauthier only had blood on his jeans. 19) During sentencing, the jury’s choices ranged from probation to life in prison for Gauthier.20)
The jury sentenced Gauthier to 10 years probation, with the following conditions:21)
* have no contact with Bean;
* stay in jail until he could be enrolled in the Harris County boot camp;
* complete 1,000 hours of community service;
* write a letter of apology to Stern and the citizens of Harris County;
* pass a high school equivalency test;
* attend community college;
* stay more than 150 feet from Stern;
* stay away from hate groups;
* stay away from gun and knives.
Stern expressed dismay at the sentence, adding that he was frightened because Gauthier lived with his mother in the subdivision right next to Stern’s. The Houston Gay Political Caucus also denounced the sentence as unjust.22)