Buffalo —In a very moving rally and procession over 300 gay, lesbian, bi and trans (glbt) people and their friends took a stand determined to take back the night.
The January 15 event was a response to three recent anti-gay violence attacks in Buffalo metro area. The evening was light by candlelight as the hundreds gathered moved through Buffalo's historically gay neighborhood. Allentown is the home to many glbt residents, businesses and most of the area's gay bars.
Many observers were clearly moved as the participants began to move their candlelight procession down Allen Street towards Main Street. This marked the first time in recent memory that there has been any public demonstration of gay civil rights in Allentown.
Organizers hope to bring attention and support to the targets of anti-gay violence. Stonewall Democrats of WNY & Outspoken for Equality, a local grassroots activist group organized the event.
The rally comes two weeks following the New Years Eve attacks in Buffalo and Cheektowaga and after a 32 year old gay man was found murdered in his downtown Buffalo apartment.
The evening began in Day's Park at the west end of Allen Street. Multiple speakers were lead by Kitty Lambert, the President of Outspoken for Equality a local grassroots glbt organization.
New York State Assemblymember Sam Hoyt and New York State Senator Antoine Thompson lead a large group of elected officials participating in the event. Hoyt, a long time gay civil rights advocate in the New York State Legislature has been a sponsor of several hate crime laws and bills.
Hoyt offered the crowd "Despite the few high profile cases we have seen in recent weeks, it is an unfortunate fact that hate crimes routinely go unreported. Whether it is because the victims fear stigmatization or for other reasons is hard to say. But it is my hope that the sincere efforts of the local police and the District Attorney will provide some measure of comfort that their assailants will be brought to justice and encourage others to come forward in the future."
Most notable among the contingent was Ellicott District Councilmember Curtis Haynes, Jr. who had been appointed to fill a vacancy on the Buffalo Common Council just the day before. Haynes told the assembled:
"I don't know if there has been an actual increase in hate crimes or if there is finally an increased willingness to report them, condemn them and prosecute them for what they are -violations of basic human rights."
The New years Eve attack outside of the Main Street glbt bar Roxy's left Lyndsay Harmon, 29 with with a severe cut to her right eyelid and eyeball. Buffalo police, as of Friday had not declared it as a hate crime and are continuing their investigation. Police sources have told Outcome that the FBI is working with the Buffalo police to investigate the attack. Police continue to seek anyone who may have seen something that night and come forward and provide information that will lead to the capture of Harmon's attackers.
Earlier that day two women were arrested outside the Walden Galleria Mall in Buffalo suburb, Cheektowaga, N.Y. for harrassing and physically attacking a young man that they perceived to be gay. The Cheektowaga police have charged the two women under the New York State hate crime laws.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010 Buffalo Police found the body of Christopher Rudow in his downtown Buffalo Apartment. The cause of death has been determined to be a homicide. Rudow was openly gay. Police continue to investigate and have not yet determined if this was an anti-gay bias crime.
Several hundred glbt people and supporters were joined by community business and religious leaders. Besides Hoyt, Thompson and Haynes, Buffalo Councilmembers David Rivera, Michael LoCurto and Demone Smith participated along with Erie County Legislator Timothy Kennedy.