Tag Archives: deaths

RIP Dustyn Archer (1991-2016)

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Dustyn Archer. Photo by Jessica Whitley.

I’m breaking a long silence I’ve had on this blog to report that a colleague of mine (and former student at Macon State College, now Middle Georgia State University) has died.

From The Telegraph:

Dustyn James Archer
Macon, GA- Dustyn James Archer, 25, of Macon, Georgia, died October 12, 2016. He was born May 12, 1991 in Galveston, TX and lived in Macon, Georgia for the majority of his life.
He graduated from Middle Georgia State University with an associates degree in music. He had a passion and natural talent for music; loved to travel, experience and spread the love and healing of music. He was an advocate for equality, and helped many organizations attempting to achieve a better way of life for all. He was very loved and survived by his parents Randy Archer and Tracy Bridgeman-Archer and his siblings Kristyn, Michael, and Dana Archer. A memorial will be held at The Cox Capital Theatre, one of Dustyn’s most loved venues, at 382 2nd St in the historical downtown Macon, GA; on October 20, 2016 at 3:30 pm. All of Dustyn’s friends and family are invited. The family asks in lieu of flowers, for donations to be made to New Town Macon to continue the efforts of building the music and preserving the history of Macon.

I was made aware of Dustyn’s death by a member of his family, but waited to confirm this news.

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Photo by James GF Stair. Dustyn Archer, left, is holding the Georgia Equality logo.

If you remember, Dustyn was in the news earlier this year when an anti-HB 757 rally was held in Macon with the support of the Middle Georgia State GSA and Georgia Equality. He helped lead the rally and spoke to local news media.

Dustyn also helped in the Macon local effort to promote Bernie Sanders’ run for the Democratic nomination. Google searches show that he led the “Middle GA Students for Bernie 2016,” hosting voter registration drives and phone banks.

Sadly, things went south for Dustyn after the primary season was over. He had apparently developed an addiction to heroin and had entered rehab in Arizona.

I am greatly disturbed by Dustyn’s passing. He had his life ahead of him, and was heartfelt about progressive politics in Middle Georgia. I met him several times in college, and remember that he was an avid fan of music. Maybe I don’t remember too much about him from my time there, but I am glad that he was an activist on progressive issues in Macon.

To reiterate, Dustyn Archer’s memorial service will be held at the Cox Capitol Theatre, 382 2nd St in Macon at 3:30pm on Thursday, October 20, 2016.

Please stop by and support the Archer family, who are reeling from this tragedy.

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DEVELOPING: Victims of #Orlando #PulseShooting

The list of the 49 victims of the #Orlando shooting continues to be updated with names, ages and even occupations. They worked in the widest variety of occupations, came from predominantly Latino and African descents, and were mostly LGBTQ.

It is because of that last aspect that their lives were taken on Pride Month.

This is the list from the City government of Orlando which is still being updated as of this writing. This list does not include the perpetrator.

  • Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old
  • Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
  • Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old
  • Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
  • Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
  • Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old
  • Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old
  • Kimberly Morris, 37 years old
  • Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
  • Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old
  • Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old
  • Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
  • Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old
  • Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old
  • Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old
  • Amanda Alvear, 25 years old
  • Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old
  • Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old
  • Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old
  • Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old
  • Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old
  • Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old
  • Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old
  • Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old
  • Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
  • Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old
  • Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old
  • Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
  • Cory James Connell, 21 years old
  • Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old
  • Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old
  • Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
  • Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old

PETITION OF THE DAY: White House: Have Fetty Wap Perform “Trap Queen” At Nancy Reagan’s Funeral · Change.org

Full text from Change.org petition by “David D.”:

She was married to the money and introduced America to the stove…

Nancy Reagan passed away on March 6th, 2016, leaving an unforgettable legacy as the First Lady of the United States. But beyond being the First Lady, Nancy Reagan holds the important legacy as being the most famous Trap Queen in American history.

While her husband, Ronald Reagan, was linking up with Papi to flood the streets with narcotics, Nancy was on TV telling kids to “Say No To Drugs.” Her infamous “anti-drug” phrase encouraged strict laws on drug possession that led to a school-to-prison pipeline we’re still dealing with now. Blacks and Latinos went to jail in droves for possessing drugs her husband gave them. It was an incredible sleight of hand that would make any wannabe Trap Queen hide in shame for her inability to be as diabolical as Nancy.

So, to commemorate her contribution to the Trap, we’d love to have Fetty Wap perform “Trap Queen” at Nancy’s funeral. To usher her to a better place…where she’s probably cooking pies with her baby.

via Petition · White House: Have Fetty Wap Perform “Trap Queen” At Nancy Reagan’s Funeral · Change.org.

This may or may not have inspired by the commentary of radio host Charlamagne tha God.

See also the criticisms of the Reagans’ reaction to the AIDS pandemic in the 1980s, including her now-infamous ignorance or rejection of the plight of a dying actor, Rock Hudson.

SCOTUS Justice Scalia DEAD; President Obama Placed in HISTORIC Position

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SCOTUS Justice Antonin Scalia (1936-2016)

First things first, condolences to Justice Antonin Scalia’s family. 

Justice Antonin Scalia, the U.S. Supreme Court justice best known for his hard conservatism, reliance upon strict interpretation, pugnacious dissents and bitter tirades against LGBT people, died in his sleep yesterday at a ranch near Marfa, Texas. He was 79.
His death in office, a rarity in the modern history of SCOTUS (and the most recent death-in-office since Justice William Rehnquist in 2005), leaves a crucial vacancy in the 9-seat court:
  • Conservative justices Roberts (Chief Justice), Alito and Thomas;
  • Liberal justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan;
  • Swing vote justice Kennedy.
The function of the judiciary does not abide a vacuum, so President Obama, like most normal presidents, has announced that he will appoint a candidate to replace Scalia soon. Meanwhile, no higher than the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, has gone to the press requesting that the President does NOT appoint a successor to Scalia during the election season, no doubt while the remaining six Republican candidates (Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Carson, Bush and Kasich) made fools of themselves and each other on stage at last night’s #GOPDebate.
But the death of a member of the now-former conservative majority on SCOTUS, and the likelihood that PBO will appoint a liberal candidate for the majority-Republican Senate’s consideration, ties directly into the already-existing anxiety of this election year for Democrats.
We can talk about voter apathy, but that doesn’t describe the widespread anxiety of this moment in U.S. history. It happens when one Democrat is running to succeed a termed-out consecutive two-term incumbent Democratic president. This last happened in 2000, and Gore both lost his own state (Tennessee) and lost the opportunity to change history.
 
We have not been in a similar situation in 16 years, and this will only be the third time this has happened in history: 1920 (Cox/Roosevelt running to succeed Wilson; lost to Coolidge), 2000 (Gore/Lieberman running to succeed Clinton; lost to Bush), and 2016 (?/? running to succeed Obama). The first two lost.
 
If a Democrat wins 2016, it will be the first time in Democratic party history that the nation elects a Democratic successor to a termed-out incumbent Democratic president. By comparison, Republicans have done the same successfully: 1876 (electing R. Hayes to succeed two-term Grant) and 1988 (electing GHW Bush to succeed two-term Reagan).
 
Now enter yesterday’s death of SCOTUS justice Antonin Scalia in an election year, followed up by President Obama’s vow to nominate a candidate in the face of a majority-Republican Senate. The death of a SCOTUS justice in an election year has only happened a few times in history, more so in the 19th century: R. Trimble (1828), H. Baldwin (1844), R. Taney (1864), J. McKinley (1852), P.V. Daniel (1860), J.P. Bradley (1892), M. Waite (1888) and J.R. Lamar (1916). 
This is shaping up to be a historic year which may not follow prior trends. This is shaping up to be a referendum on Obama’s legacy as a president, and on the Democratic Party as a coalition of politicians. And President Obama is uniquely positioned to buck history.
Scalia’s absence will reverberate around the legal landscape for some time to come. For LGBT people of the modern age, he was the top and longest-serving spokesbigot from a bygone era.
However, he should be most memorable for his prediction in his angry dissent for Lawrence v. Texas (2003) that the landmark case, striking down so-called “sodomy laws” across the United States which penalized consensual non-vaginal sexual relations, would likely lead to the question of marriage equality:
“If moral disapprobation of homosexual conduct is no legitimate state interest for purposes of proscribing that conduct, and if, as the Court coos (casting aside all pretense of neutrality), when sexuality finds overt expression in intimate conduct with another person, the conduct can be but one element in a personal bond that is more enduring, what justification could there possibly be for denying the benefits of marriage to homosexual couples exercising ‘the liberty protected by the Constitution.’ Surely not the encouragement of procreation, since the sterile and the elderly are allowed to marry.”
This dissent, ironically, proved true the next year when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court made Massachusetts the first state to have marriage equality (Goodrich v. Department of Public Health), and cited Lawrence as judicial precedent.
Ironically, Scalia’s dissent was later cited by U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia in – wait for it – the Western District of TEXAS (2014) to strike down the state’s constitutional ban on marriage equality for same-sex couples.
In a way, Scalia, as a hard-conservative justice in the highest court in the land, acted as a bit of a performance artist. His dissents helped undermine existing laws against the equality of sexual orientations, not just in Lawrence but also in his just-as-angry dissent to United States v. Windsor (2013), which struck down Section 3 of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Maybe, despite his tirades against us LGBTQs, we should be thankful for being brazenly honest.
Now President Obama, a president unqualified and unprecedented in his support of LGBT integration and equality in American, has the opportunity to upset the long-running conservative majority on the court and indirectly set innumerable judicial precedents for decades to come. This not only has implications for LGBT equality, but also for women’s health and reproductive rights, healthcare rights, education, firearms, drugs, redistricting, natural resources, climate change, and so many other issues which will go up to SCOTUS in the coming years. Either Democrat who is running to succeed Obama, Clinton or Sanders, is also hoping to have that opportunity in their first term. And any Republican running to dismantle Obama’s legacy will have the wish to return SCOTUS to a conservative majority.
Short lists are already being floated in the beltway news media, the leader of which is Judge Sri Srinivasan of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. He was confirmed unanimously to the Circuit Court in 2013 by the Senate.

Alan Rickman Dead at 69

I was really disappointed with this news. The Guardian reports:

Alan Rickman, one of the best-loved and most warmly admired British actors of the past 30 years, has died in London aged 69. His death was confirmed on Thursday by his family. Rickman had been suffering from cancer.

A star whose arch features and languid diction were recognisable across the generations, Rickman found a fresh legion of fans with his role as Professor Snape in the Harry Potter films. But the actor had been a big-screen staple since first shooting to global acclaim in 1988, when he starred as Hans Gruber, Bruce Willis’s sardonic, dastardly adversary in Die Hard – a part he was offered two days after arriving in Los Angeles, aged 41.

His sensational breakthrough came in 1986 as Valmont, the mordant seducer in Christopher Hampton’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses. He was nominated for a Tony for the part; Lindsay Duncan memorably said of her co-star’s sonorous performance that audiences would leave the theatre wanting to have sex “and preferably with Alan Rickman”.

More Reactions to Julian Bond’s Death

fbulian Bond05From President Obama:

From the ACLU:

The board of directors and the staff of the American Civil Liberties Union mourn the passing of Julian Bond, a civil rights leader and true hero.

As the chairperson of the NAACP, he was a monumental leader of the civil rights movement for decades. He was also an esteemed leader of the ACLU and served on the ACLU National Advisory Council where, in addition to his work on racial justice, he also pushed the needle forward on many other significant civil rights issues, including voting rights, free speech, women’s rights, and more. The ACLU represented him in 1966 when he was elected to the Georgia state legislature but was blocked from serving because he publicly supported Vietnam draft resisters. The court ruled in Bond v. Floyd that criticizing U.S. foreign policy does not violate a legislator’s oath to uphold the Constitution.
Our deepest sympathies go out to his family and to all who loved him. While we’ll no longer be graced by the physical presence of Julian Bond, his legacy is marked in the history books and forever etched in our hearts.

From Chair Dubose Porter of the Democratic Party of Georgia, with whom Bond served as a state legislator for 20 years:

“We have lost a powerful and beautiful voice for the rights of us all. Julian Bond lived his life to make the world a better place, and we are a better people because of his love and leadership.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Bond family.”

From the National Black Justice Coalition:

“The NBJC family is deeply saddened by the passing of Julian Bond, who will be remembered as one of the fiercest fighters for justice and equality that the world has ever seen. Coming of age as an influential leader in the Civil Rights Movement, his early and vocal support for LGBT rights has been a source of hope and inspiration to so many—especially to those within the Black LGBT community,” said Sharon Lettman-Hicks, NBJC Executive Director & CEO. “I am a better activist and champion of civil rights because I was blessed to have known Julian Bond and saw him as my role model in being a frontline social justice warrior for racial justice and LGBT equality. The world has lost a hero, but we have gained a true example of how one life can make the world a more welcoming and inclusive place for all people. We must never forget what he stood for and build upon his legacy as we continue the fight for justice.”

From climate activist group 350.org:

Julian Bond was a social justice giant, someone who fought for dignity and justice throughout his entire life, in so many different ways — from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, to the halls of government, and beyond.

He also saw the connections between climate change and many other injustices. He was arrested at the White House protesting Keystone XL in February 2013, in addition to many other contributions to the environmental justice movement.

From former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell:

Julian Bond was a legendary stalwart of the Civil Rights movement. His dedication and service made America a better place for all Americans, black and white. I knew Julian as a leader and as a friend. He will be missed. I extend my deepest condolences to his family.

And a very pro-LGBT factoid from California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom:

3. He boycotted the funeral services of Coretta Scott King because they were held in an anti-gay church which were in direct opposition to Mrs. King’s strong support for LGBT rights.

Julian Bond, Civil Rights Advocate, Dead at 75

This is sad news. From the SPLC in Birmingham:

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of legendary civil rights activist Julian Bond, SPLC’s first president. He was 75 years old and died last evening, August 15, in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

From his days as the co-founder and communications director of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s to his chairmanship of the NAACP in the 21st century, Julian was a visionary and tireless champion for civil and human rights. He served as the SPLC’s president from our founding in 1971 to 1979, and later as a member of its board of directors.

With Julian’s passing, the country has lost one of its most passionate and eloquent voices for the cause of justice. He advocated not just for African Americans, but for every group, indeed every person subject to oppression and discrimination, because he recognized the common humanity in us all.

Julian is survived by his wife, Pamela Horowitz, a former SPLC staff attorney, and his five children.

Not only has the country lost a hero today, we’ve lost a great friend.

From the NAACP’s press release:

From HRC president Chad Griffin:

“Very few throughout human history have embodied the ideals of honor, dignity, courage and friendship like Dr. Julian Bond. Quite simply, this nation and this world are far better because of his life and commitment to equality for all people. Future generations will look back on the life and legacy of Julian Bond and see a warrior of good who helped conquer hate in the name of love. I will greatly miss my friend and my hero, Dr. Julian Bond.”

I will have a statement from the Democratic Party of Georgia when they release a press release.

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Bobbi Kristina Brown, Only Child of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, Dies at 22

Bobbi Kristina Brown, the daughter of late music legend Whitney Houston and R&B singer Bobby Brown, died on July 26, surrounded by her family, at Peachtree Christian Hospice in Duluth, Georgia. She was 22.

“She is finally at peace in the arms of God,” the Houston family said in statement to ET. “We want to again thank everyone for their tremendous amount of love and support during these last few months.”

On Jan. 31, Bobbi Kristina was found unresponsive in her bathtub, and was then taken to North Fulton Hospital in Roswell, Georgia, where she was put on a ventilator to assist her breathing. She was later placed in a medically induced coma at Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital.

via EXCLUSIVE: Bobbi Kristina Brown Dies at 22.

RIP, Irving Martinez

My friend, Irving Martinez, died yesterday at age 51 in Macon.

He was very passionate about politics, and last time I saw him, he was very talkative about perceived corruption in Macon city politics. I first met him at a downtown bar after a Bibb County Democratic Party conference at Macon City Hall. Openly identifying as bisexual, he claimed to have been a participant in the landmark Stonewall riots in New York City in 1969. We talked about the work that I did with PFLAG Macon, and about the political status of LGBT people in Macon and Middle Georgia. We friended each other on Facebook that night.

The last time we met, or even spoke, was during my 16 April 2013 guest spot on The Morning Roast, a live-streaming Internet show hosted by Irving, Derrick Barrett and Anthony B. Harris. On a 2 April episode, they had hosted then-incumbent State Senator Miriam Paris.

I’ll never forget what he kept saying to me during my guest spot: “Look at the camera!”

Unfortunately, the video of the episode is blocked on YouTube for music copyright reasons. Last I read, he pursued his political dream and gained 6 percent in the Democratic party primary, forcing Paris and former State Representative David Lucas into a runoff which Lucas won. Perhaps his message got through to that district.

The last time he posted to his Facebook account was on 6 February. Nothing in his post indicated what would happen this past Sunday morning, 16 February 2013.

Solidarity for his friends and family. I hope that The Morning Roast will press on in his stead.