I was in court yesterday, and got to face my attacker for the first time. As a matter of fact it was the first time I saw my attacker. Fabio Brandao and his friends had beaten me so severely that I was unconscious in the middle of the street by the time they got into there car and pulled away.
I knew I was hit hard, but because of the injuries I sustained I did not remember the violent attack. Yesterday, a witness to the crime who pulled her car over so that I wouldn’t be run over described the attack to me. It was like nothing she had ever seen they were kicking you in the head, and jumping on your skull, she said to me. That is when it really hit me I was very fortunate to be alive.
I sat in the courtroom yesterday with my wonderful boyfriend holding my hand and my friends by my side. We watched as Brandao admitted his guilt. At first a weight was lifted, I felt relieved, not only did I survive this attack but I was moving on with my life. My parents always told me not to be a victim, and while I had been attacked I was not going to sit back and let it ruin my life.
As the proceedings continued the weight began to return. I was trying to wrap my head around the fact that this man had tried to take my life and liberties away simply because of who I am. He admitted his guilt on all nine charges, he admitted to civil rights violations, and he is not going to jail.
This crime was fueled by hatred, a hatred for a group of people. This crime is bigger than just me. I had never met or seen the attackers before, they chose me and my friends because they saw us walking down the street an assumed we were gay. That kind of hate is reprehensible, and the fact that the court did not see it this way is disturbing.
Sure this was the first time that Brandao had been caught attacking a group of people, and I emphasize caught. This was the first time he was charged with such a crime, which doesn’t make it any less disgusting. However, because it was the first time he was caught the court was lenient. What message does that send? It tell people that its acceptable to hate a group of people, and then attack members of that group on the street, as long as you only get caught doing it once. This sentence is a slap on the wrist for Brandao.
The other three attackers are still at large, Brandao refused to give them up. Now the other three are free to attack another group of gay men and women one night when they are walking home. If the victims are lucky enough to survive and brave enough to come forward then maybe one of those men will get a slap on the wrist like Brandao because it will be their first time caught.
I believe that the punishment should fit the crime. I believe that Brandao and all three of his friends should serve time in jail because they brutally attacked four people based on their sexual orientation. They attacked four people so violently that two of them were put in ambulance and taken to the hospital. One more kick to the head and they may have died. They next people attacked may not be as lucky as we were. This sort of attack should not happen in this day an age. Hate should not be tolerated, but with the ruling from the Court yesterday, I now realize that Massachusetts does tolerate hatred, they do allow violence to occur on their streets. The message that this sentence is sending is that it is acceptable to hate, as long as it’s your first time hating, and that it is acceptable to attack people, just make sure you only do it once, otherwise you may go to jail the second time.
Massachusetts should be ashamed of themselves for sending this message, and the victims of these crimes should be appalled that it is occurring. Changes need to be made to the system, and they need to be made quickly.