A Vigil will be held in Philadelphia on Friday evening, November 20th to remember 19-year-old Jorge Lopez Mercado. Lopez, a Puerto Rican native was found partially burned, decapitated and with arms and legs dismembered, on the side of the road near his home town Caguas, Puerto Rico on Saturday, November 14th.
The Vigil will be held at the Church of St. Luke and The Epiphany, 330 South 13th Street in Philadelphia from 6:30 to 7 p.m.
Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender organizations, activists and allies are invited. The Vigil will include the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus, Gloria Casarez, LGBT Liaison to Mayor Nutter, Cynthia Vasquez, youth activist at the Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative (GALAEI), and Malcolm Lazin, Executive Director of Equality Forum.
There were 29 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) hate crime murders in the United States in 2008.
“We must stop the homophobic slaughter,” stated Malcolm Lazin, Executive Director of Equality Forum. “Since Matthew Shepard’s murder in 1998, there have been over 16,000 gay hate crimes, and on average, about 1,450 GLBT hate crimes per year.”
Police have identified a suspect in the murder of Jorge Lopez Mercado. According to Puerto Rican activists, gay hate crimes in Puerto Rico are not prosecuted.
“We call on US Attorney General Holder to investigate and prosecute in federal court this horrific crime,” stated Lazin. “The decapitation and dismemberment of Jorge Lopez Mercado reminds America that we need to eliminate homophobia in our schools, communities and culture.”
There will also be a Vigil in New York City on Sunday, November 22nd. “It is our hope that communities around the nation will hold Vigils to remember Jorge and that his memory will be a call to conscience,” said Lazin.
Equality Forum is a national and international GLBT civil rights organization with an educational focus. Equality Forum coordinates GLBT History Month, produces documentary films, undertakes high impact initiatives and presents annually the largest national and international GLBT civil rights forum. www.equalityforum.com