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The LGBT Hate Crimes Project: Steven Parrish

When Larry King was murdered, just over a year ago, his death drew nearly as much media attention as Mathew Sheppard’s. But two more murders happened within a month of King’s murder, and while they both got a fair amount of attention in local media and in the blogosphere, they didn’t register much beyond that. That may be due to the some of the same reasons Larry’s case got some surprising responses.

One of them, which I wrote about earlier, was the murder of Simmie Williams, which happened the same month that King was shot and less than a week after King’s dead. Of course, the circumstances were different.

Williams was 18, and thus less likely to be considered a child, and thus at least a somewhat sympathetic figure. Gender identity was a factor in Williams’ case, as in Kings, but there was also the suggestion that Williams was engaged in sex work. But if that was the case, it’s likely to have been the same kind of “survival sex work” that ends up being one of very few options for some transgender women, placing them in the kind of danger that cost Bella Evangelista, Emonie Spaulding, Duanna Johnson, Ebony Whitaker, and too many others their lives. Still, aside from local press, a few vigils and some blog posts, Williams’ death didn’t get nearly as much attention as King’s.

The second case is one I wanted to write about at the time, because it was close to home, but never did. Many other bloggers did, however, spread the word about Steven Parrish being killed by fellow gang members because he was gay.

Two members of a Baltimore-area gang have been charged with killing a fellow gang member they believed was gay.

Steven Hollis, 18, of Randallstown, and Juan Flythe, 17, of West Baltimore were charged Aug. 14 with first-degree murder following the May death of Steven Parrish, 18, of Randallstown. Authorities said Hollis and Flythe are members of the Bloods gang.

According to charging documents, Hollis and Flythe found text messages on Parrish’s cell phone that led them to believe that Parrish was gay. The documents say that the defendants were concerned that a gay member would make the gang seem weak.

An autopsy reportedly showed that Parrish died as a result of blunt-force and stabbing injuries. He also suffered a stab wound to the chest and 50 superficial cuts.

My guess is that a gay gang member, even though murdered by his fellow gang members, does not a sympathetic victim make. But a young man is dead, and a family shattered nonetheless.

Still, I was able to find one television news report about parrish’s murder

Beyond that, there’s not much new information on the case. Court records suggest that Steven T. Hollis and Juan L. Flythe aren’t due back in court before July of this year, for what they are accused of doing to Steven Parrish.

Steven Parrish (1990 – March 3, 2008), a young gay man and member of the Bloods gang1), was stabbed and stomped to death by fellow gang members Steven T. Hollis, 18, and Juan L. Flythe, 17, who discovered text messages and pictures on Parrish’s cell phone they believed indicated he was gay.

The Background

Parrish, 18, lived with his parents in Woodmore, MD. He attended Randallstown High Shool, and was four days away from graduation when he was killed.2)

The Murder

A neighbor said Parrish left his parents’ home with another young man, and walked towards the woods near his parents home.3) Witnesses saw Parrish leaving his home with two other men around 4:00 p.m.4), and entering the woods with another man at 4:50 p.m.5) About a minute later, witnesses heard someone yelling “Stop! Why are you doing this to me? I didn’t do anything!”6)

After taking Parrish into the woods, the gang members stabbed and kicked him before stomping on his neck. A red bandana was placed on Parrish’s face and his pants were removed.7)

The Motive

The day before the murder, fellow gang members held a meeting at Parrish’s home. That was when they discovered text messages and a photograph on Parrish’s phone suggesting that he was gay.8) Police said gang members discovered that Parrish had sent suggestive text messages to another male, along with a picture of his genitals.9)

Angered by the message and pictures, the gang members believed the gang would appear weak if word got out they had a gay member.10) Police said Flythe told gang members that he confronted Parrish and that Parrish did not deny the message and picture were “gay” in nature.11) No time or date were set for his murder, but police said gang members decided Parrish “had to go.”

The Aftermath

Court documents said that Hollis and Flythe sent text messages at 5:00 p.m., around the time Parsh was killed. Parrish’s body was found at 6:30 someone walking through the woods. Police offered a $2,000 reward for information, and considered the matter a typical gang murder.12) 13)

Hollis and Flythe, both Blood gang members, were arrested and charged with first degree murder on August 15, 2008.14)

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