Murder in Puerto Rico

A gay nineteen year-old in Puerto Rico was burned, decapitated, and dismembered on November 14th. Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado was reportedly a well-known member of the gay community on the island, and it certainly appears that his notoriety cost him his life.

Angel Rodriguez, the police investigator for the case was publicly quoted as saying, “people who lead this type of lifestyle need to be aware that this will happen.” This, of course, is the gay-bashing equivalent of, “Did you see how she was dressed? She was clearly asking to be raped.” Jackass.

Today a 28 year-old suspect was arrested, and two vehicles have been seized as evidence. Also encouraging, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation is monitoring the investigation, and has offered to assist as needed. A representative of the bureau was quoted as saying, “The FBI is monitoring this investigation with the police of Puerto Rico because there are federal statutes under the laws of civil rights violations covered by hate crimes.”

Of course, this is a terrible tragedy… But I’m relieved to see this incident getting the sort of international press (and governmental attention) that it deserves. It’s been ten years since Matthew Shepard’s murder — hopefully this example will be the spark that sets off a movement for equality in Puerto Rico.

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