On Thursday, June 18th, at 4pm, Join the Impact MA and the Anti-Violence Project will protest a shocking miscarriage of justice in the case of an admitted gaybasher who left two victims lying in the street with brain injuries. The protest will take place on the sidewalks outside the Boston Municipal Court in downtown Boston/North End, at the corner of New Chardon and Merrimac Streets, near Haymarket Station on the Orange Line.
On May 27, 2009, Framingham resident Fabio Brandao pled guilty to the brutal homophobic beating of three gay men and their female companion that occurred in Boston’s South End last August. Throughout the attack the victims were cursed as “fucking faggots.” Brandao was convicted on nine counts including criminal violations of civil rights and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. He did not cooperate with authorities to identify his three fellow assailants.
Brandao will serve no jail time despite having left two victims lying in the street with brain injuries. He received a suspended sentence from Judge Thomas Horgan of the Boston Municipal Court. He will undergo “anger management” counseling, as though that could cure his violent homophobia. The victims were traumatized all over again by the insensitivity Judge Horgan displayed to their suffering.
The Brandao sentence is symptomatic of a larger problem that still persists 40 years after Stonewall. Violence against LGBT people is treated less seriously by the authorities than violence against straights. In an eerie parallel from 1988, Boston resident Jim Brinning was brutally attacked as he left a gay bar on Huntington Avenue, with his assailants beating him up and taunting him as a “faggot.” He was beaten so badly that his face “looked like the inside of a watermelon,” as one newspaper columnist described it. Two perpetrators were caught, but, like Brandao, they got off in Boston Municipal Court.
The injustice in Jim Brinning’s case helped generate a change in the law, so that hate crimes resulting in bodily injury to victims are now eligible for fifteen year sentences to state prison. Hate crimes are marked for enhanced punishment, because, as the United State Supreme Court has explained, “bias-motivated crimes are more likely to provoke retaliatory crimes, inflict distinct emotional harms on their victims, and incite community unrest.” See Wisconsin v. Mitchell, 508 476, 488 (1993). Hate crimes are like terrorism, because they seek to intimidate a whole group of people as they go about their daily lives. Hate crimes must be punished, lest violent bigots sense open season to targeting group they hate.
The change in the law made no difference to Judge Horgan. He ignored the legislative intent for stiffened penalties for hate crimes, in a brazen act of judicial nullification. Instead of the legally prescribed punishment he administered a mere slap on the wrist for a henious crime of violence. Judge Horgan’s indulgence toward a brutal gaybasher leaves all LGBT people in Greater Boston less safe. This blatant failure of justice is intolerable.
Join our peaceful protest on Thursday, 18 June 2009, at 4 PM, on the sidewalks outside the Boston Municipal Court, at the corner of New Chardon and Merrimac Streets downtown (near Haymarket Station.) Come and add your voice to the outrage over Brandao being a free man, while his victims suffer from lasting trauma and scars. For more information, please contact Don Gorton at firstname.lastname@example.org.