The woman who instigated a deadly Burlington beating was sentenced Tuesday. Myia Barber was charged, along with four others, in the murder of Amos Beede, a Transgender man, last year.
His family members battled back tears and detailed their great pain after the violent loss of their loved one. “Everyday I cry. I cry because they just tore my heart — they tore a piece of my heart away,” said Lisa Beede, Amos’ sister.
On the day one of five people was sentenced for their part in a deadly backwoods beating, the family of Amos Beede described their devastating loss. “No phone calls. No visiting. No family get-togethers,” said Ina McKinney, Amos’ sister.
The 38-year-old Beede was murdered in May of last year at a homeless camp in Burlington following a dispute over feces and urine throwing. Police said the transgender man from Milton suffered facial fractures, several broken bones, and head trauma. Prosecutors argued that Myia Barber instigated the attack, leading others to his tent before participating in the beating.
“It’s horrific. It’s heinous. It’s probably one of the worst attacks and homicides that I’ve ever seen,” said Vermont Superior Court Judge Nancy Waples, who accepted a guilty plea from Barber to a charge of involuntary manslaughter.
It was part of an agreement Barber struck with the state. “No number of years will ever bring Amos back,” said Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George.
Barber was sentenced to a minimum of a decade in state prison. She offered a courtroom apology. “I just want to say how truly sorry I am that I let any of this happen,” she said.
“There’s no apology for something like this,” McKinney said.
“I hope that everyday you will think about how you devastated a family — how you devastated the siblings of Amos Beede,” Judge Waples said.
Beede was one of seven siblings. His family continues to console each other outside courtrooms hearing after hearing, and there’s still three more murder suspects that haven’t yet been convicted. “It’s going to be a long haul, and we can only take one day at a time,” McKinney said.
Barber’s defense attorney said she suffers from depression and substance abuse, and is seeking treatment while incarcerated. The last of the depositions in those three separate cases are scheduled for early next year.
Paraguay has passed a Russian style ‘gay propaganda’ ban in schools.
The Ministry of Education has stopped public schools from using or spreading materials on ‘gender ideology’, in an effort to promote ‘traditional values’ and the ‘traditional family’.
Like Russia’s ban on promoting ‘non-traditional relationships’, the ban on ‘gender ideology’ is a thinly-veiled attack on women and LGBTI people.
Enrique Riera, the education minister, said the government has a responsibility of promoting a family of ‘father, mother and children’.
‘We naturally respect different options, but we’re not going to instill them in our public schools’, Riera said, according to ABC Color.
Riera has said he will also burn any books that spread ‘gender ideology’.
SOMOSGAY, a Paraguayan LGBTQ advocacy organization, condemned the ban, saying the term ‘gender ideology’ was ‘invented by conservative groups to keep justifying violence and discrimination against women and LGBTI people.’
‘What is really happening here is the suppression of education about equality and discrimination, which is an international obligation of the Paraguayan state,’ Erika Guevara Rosas, the Americas director at Amnesty International, said.
The Montevideo Consensus, adopted by Paraguay and other Latin American nations in 2013, requires countries to end discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
‘Excluding education on equality from the curriculum is tantamount to state promotion of violence and discrimination, with extremely grave consequence,’ Guevara Rosas said.
There is a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in Paraguay. There are also no anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBTI people.
Major natural disaster threats on the North Coast include earthquakes, floods, wildfires and landslides. All of which allow for less immediate advance planning than hurricanes, which is what makes it so important that residents take preparedness seriously, officials say.
Here’s what Sonoma County emergency coordinators recommend:
– Sign up for SoCoAlert at socoalert.com to learn about emergencies and evacuation orders as they happen directly from first responders.
– Have an emergency evacuation plan.
– Purchase a NOAA weather radio to get alerts about storms at the same time emergency responders do.
– Practice taking cover beneath sturdy furniture and holding on in case of an earthquake, and teach children how to do it.
– Prepare an emergency supply kit with at least five days worth of food, water and medical supplies. Don’t forget about emergency pet supplies.
– Consider signing up for Community Emergency Response Team training, which teaches enrollees how to respond in emergencies. For more information on signing up, contact your local fire department.
Zach Hamill is constantly thinking about natural disasters. As an emergency coordinator for Sonoma County, it’s his job. It also means that for the past few weeks, he’s been watching first response at disasters efforts closely.There has been no shortage of deadly case studies, including monster hurricanes that tore across Texas, Florida and the Caribbean and the pair of earthquakes that rocked Mexico this month, killing more than 300 people.
Hamill’s department looks at every major disaster as an opportunity to learn, and to improve the county’s own disaster plan.
“We can play Monday morning quarterback all we want, but one of the things I will be looking for in the coming months is what didn’t go so well, and what did go well, so we can learn from those best practices and adopt some of those things here in Sonoma County that are applicable,” he said.
Those lessons will be disseminated through emergency responder networks and personal contacts, he said, but they’re also addressed at an annual conference of the California Emergency Services Association, where emergency coordinators across the state come together to learn new tools to better serve the public when disasters hit.
At last year’s conference, he said, the 2015 Valley fire, which ravaged more than 76,000 acres of Lake County, destroyed almost 2,000 structures and killed four people, was a major topic.
This year’s focus will be the response to the Oroville Dam failure and resulting evacuation of nearly 188,000 people in Butte County.
Next year, Hamill said, Hurricane Harvey will probably feature significantly in the program.
“So Houston got something like 40 inches of rain in 48 hours, that’s pretty unprecedented for out here, but there are some things that we can take and learn from that, like how they conducted their evacuations and their emergency notifications and their care and shelter of their populace.”
Most of the steps Sonoma County has taken to prepare for natural disasters are available for the public to explore online at sonomacounty.ca.gov/FES/Emergency-Management, including interactive maps that emergency coordinators and first responders use to show emergency shelters, assistance centers, medical care locations, dump sites and other services as they become necessary and available during disasters.
One of the newest services the county offers is SoCoAlert, an emergency message system that allows first-response teams to send cellphone users notifications ranging from evacuations orders to advisories on drinking water contamination. To sign up, go to socoalert.com.
The site also offers tips on preparing home survival kits and best practices for communicating during a disaster, when phone lines can be jammed and cellphone towers knocked out — something emergency coordinators learned after Hurricane Katrina hit.
“You may not be able to call, but a text message will go through,” Hamill said.
It’s also good to have an out-of-state contact who can act as a coordinator when local phone lines are jammed.
“The local phone exchange may be impacted, but someone in Washington or Florida may not be impacted,” Hamill said. “So if everyone calls Uncle Joe in Reno, Nevada, then Uncle Joe is the one who coordinates that (everyone) is safe, everyone’s checked in.”
For his feature film debut Nick Corporon chose to co-write and direct a road movie with a difference. True having a lonely middle-aged gay man pay for the services of a young hustler to accompany him is hardly new, but the journey they undertake together makes this intriguing resourceful wee drama a very suspenseful edgy thriller.
When Jonathan (Tuc Watkins) picks a nameless rent boy off the streets of San Francisco, he senses that they may have some sort of connection and he hires him for the next few days to travel with him to the Grand Canyon. He offers to pay him well on the condition that he roleplays with him, follows every single instruction, and never asks any personal questions in return.
With Jonathan insisting in providing him with some very particular dated clothes to wear, and recording the whole journey on a vintage Polaroid camera, it actually doesn’t take too long for ‘Brandon’ (Devon Graye) to start to piece some of the parts of the puzzle together He realizes that his benefactor is simply trying to relive a past relationship/romance, but it just takes him a little bit longer to work out why. There is always this overwhelming feeling that once the mystery that will be uncovered, it will include some crime and/or death which adds a whole frisson to the piece.
Beyond the sexual chemistry which is present from their very first meeting, the two men very soon develop feelings beyond the roles that they are playing, despite the fact that Jonathan seems to do his best to resist the younger man’s charm. Both men are baring the scars of their own past hurts which are revealed in some of the temper tantrums they both have when things are are not panning out as perfect as Jonathan has planned.
As the journey draws to its end, in more ways than one, Corpororn lets the sentimentality overwhelm the mystery aspect which makes for the one disappointment in what is an otherwise a refreshing wee gem of a movie. Much of the credit should rightly go to his two talented and rather stunning lead actors Watkins and Graye who give such impressively compelling performances as the two lost lonely souls who keep fighting the urge to clink to each other.
Kudos though to Corporon for this imaginative approach of one man trying to deal with an inevitable loss of his May/December relationship that was obviously doomed from the start, but one that he simply cannot move on from. Until that is, he learns how to finally enjoy the present.
“Retake” will be shown Saturday November 5 at 9:15 p.m. at Third Street Cinema in Santa Rosa as part of Outwatch – Wine Country’s LGBTQI Film Festival. For more information and tickets, go to www.outwatchfilmfest.com.
Petaluma’s Mystic Theater has scheduled a September show by reggae artist Sizzla whose lyrics insight violence against the LGBTQI Community and who makes anti-gay statements during performances. He first emerged onto the Jamaican dancehall scene in the late ‘90s, and quickly became notorious for incorporating hateful lyrics into his songs.
The North Bay LGBTQI Community is in the process of alerting the local media to bring attention to the concert and Sizzla’s reputation. Many are emailing and calling the Mystic to express their concern and urge owners and management to cancel the Sizzla show. Members or the group have noted that they will organize a rally, if the concert is not canceled.
The Mystic has not returned written and phone requests for a comment.
Sizzla’s concert that was scheduled for September 23 at 1015 Folsom in San Francisco was recently cancelled after Shane Downing of www.hoodline.com questioned 1015’s owner Ira Sandler about the upcoming show. According to Downing, Sandler was: deeply apologetic about the booking. He explained that in late July, when the show was booked, he had just suffered a heart attack and a double bypass. “I’m a very hands-on owner, and I always vet artists who are potentially controversial,” he told Downing via email. The booking “slipped through the cracks” while he was taking care of his health.
The concert has been moved to Oakland and the new venue will honor tickets purchased for the San Francisco concert.
Two additional Sizzla concerts are scheduled for California in Santa Cruz and Inglewood. The month-long Sizzla 876 US Tour just kicked off on the east coast, winding its way west, including dates in Portland and Seattle, and ends with two stops in Texas.
In June the Sizzla concert that was scheduled as part of Belgium’s Reggae Geel Festival was cancelled after produces learned of a video shot in January at a Kingston, Jamaica concert in which Sizzla makes anti-gay statements. Reggae Geel has a policy that prohibits such comments made by artists and feel tolerance is of the highest importance.
During a 2013 performance at the annual Sting festival in Kingston, Jamaica, Sizzla spent more than a minute of his set attacking LGBT people, according to Buzzfeed.
“The rhyme that got Sizzla in hot water … began as a response to his critics,” Buzzfeed reported, “and ended with him screaming ‘battyman’ — Jamaican slang equivalent to ‘faggot’ — while jumping up and down.” Sizzla was banned from performing at the festival the following year.
On Tuesday, August 3 Eureka’s Times-Standard‘s website was dominated by a large picture of Sizzla under the headline, “Sizzla Confirmed for Reggae on the River.” The story, if you click through, joyously notes, “Grammy-nominated Sizzla Kalonji — one of reggae’s biggest stars — is finally returning to a U.S. stage after eight years of travel delays.”In reality, there were no travel delays. Back in 2008 Sizzla (born Miguel Orlando Collins) had his travel visa revoked following protests over the violently anti-gay lyrics in some of his songs. The controversy has followed him around the globe. In the past decade protests have led to concert cancelations in Canada and across Europe, and in 2004 the British government considered banning him from entering the U.K. (The point became moot after his scheduled tour there was canceled.)
During a 2002 Chicago performance, Sizzla openly bragged that he “kills queers,” and he urged the audience to kill “sodomites and queers” who “bring AIDS and disease upon people.”
The issue of so-called “murder music” isn’t merely an abstract matter of free speech. Human Rights Watch notes that in Jamaica LGBT people are regularly “taunted, threatened, fired from their jobs, thrown out of their homes or worse: beaten, stoned, raped or killed.”
A 2014 report from the group documented 56 cases of violence where victims said they were targeted for their real or perceived sexual identity. And the Southern Poverty Law Center notes that, according to Jamaica’s only LGBT rights group, 98 gay men and lesbians were attacked in that country during a single six-month period in 2007.
That very same year Sizzla was one of four controversial “murder music” performers to sign the Reggae Compassionate Act, in which the signatories promised to “respect and uphold the rights of all individuals to live without fear of hatred and violence due to their religion, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity or gender.”
But Sizzla just went right on espousing anti-gay sentiments. In 2010, for example, he effectively recanted his Compassionate Act promise with a song called “Nah Apologize,” the hook of which goes:
As the Times-Standard notes, this will be Sizzla’s first performance in the United States since his visa was revoked. (It was evidently reinstated earlier this year.) The local community is no stranger to the Murder Music controversy. In 2009 and 2010 concerts by fellow hate-mongers Buju Banton, Bounty Killer and Capleton were canceled following threats of protest.
The tensions eventually led to a community forum attended by local venue owners, concert promoters, LGBT groups and elected officials. The goal was to develop a local “no murder music” agreement, but a planned second meeting — and the agreement — never happened.
We heard about Sizzla from Todd Larsen of Queer Humboldt, who launched an awareness campaign in 2009, about Sizzla’s anti-LGBTQ statements when he saw that he had been booked for shows in Humboldt County, at Petaluma’s Mystic Theatre, and at 1015 Folsom.
“We’ve worked in the past to educate our community on the handful of murder music singers,” wrote Larsen. “Sizzla just snuck into the Reggae on the River [festival] up here [in Humboldt County], and we’ve engaged the sponsor to build in steps to avoid having murder music singers perform again.”
We urge members of the LGBTQI Community to protest the Sizzla concert at the Mystic Theatre by emailing the business at [email protected] or by calling them at 707-765-2121.