Updated at the end of the post
Two Indianapolis residents were killed over the holidays. While details aren't definite, it would appear one or both individuals were specifically targeted. If the double slaying is a hate crime, nothing will be done about it. Indiana doesn't have a hate crimes law; instead we have a "hate crimes reporting" law, but there is no recourse if police departments don't report to the state. The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department stopped documenting hate crimes years ago.
Michael Hunt, 22, and Avery Elzy, 34, were found shot to death in "a bedroom." A dog in the room was also killed. While any murder is horrific, the IMPD's statements and news coverage of the homicide have been particularly heinous. Once again, Indianapolis is proving to the LGBT community that our city isn't sensitive to our concerns, lacks basic knowledge of our needs, and could absolutely care less.
In a video released by the local NBC affiliate, Lt. Kevin Kelley can be seen stating "the two individuals did live an alternative lifestyle" at a press conference yesterday. I attempted to contact Lt. Kelley three different times today to ask for clarification of his "alternative lifestyle" comment, without response from anyone at IMPD.
More after the jump.
Another aspect I'm uncomfortable with is several news media reports that the victims were both men. While NBC and ABC use gender neutral language, FOX, CBS and the Indianapolis Star identify them as "two men."
While I didn't know either victim and know nothing more than what has been reported, I'd bet my bottom dollar that Elzy is transgender. This leads me to one obvious question. If she is trans, has the media not only incorrectly identified her gender, but also released her picture under her male name? (As far as I've seen reported, IMPD referred to Hunt and Elzy as "individuals" without assigning gender.) Of course, both victims were obviously not considered consequential since mug shot photos were released to the media instead of the usual family-supplied photo.
Instead, as is often the case in Indianapolis, all remote mentions of the LGBT community is silently being swept under the rug. When two elderly gay men were murdered earlier this year, police didn't identify the victims' sexuality and refused to discuss whether the double slaying was a hate crime. The media rewrote their posted stories - the two progressed from roommates, to a gay couple, and finally into a caregiver relationship (the correct relationship). After a suspect was arrested in California, the IMPD announced the arrest but refused to release any details about the motive.
In this situation, while the crimes don't appear to be similar, there is one glaring similarity:
From the Indianapolis Star:
Police continued to withhold information about the cause of their deaths pending autopsy results.
Investigators also said they remain uncertain of the motive.
Metro police won't say how 34-year-old Avery Elzy or 22-year-old Mike Hunt were killed, nor will they say when they think the crime occurred.
"The manner of death and the cause of death at this time is under seal by the coroner's office," said Lt. Kevin Kelly.
Instead of reassuring the LGBT community - or warning of the possibility of further violence - IMPD has clammed up again. While I would normally understand the decision to wait for a Coroner's report, after the last incident I'm less inclined to be satisfied with non-answers from the IMPD and rampant speculation in the LGBT community. Instead, media reports have specifically said one or both were specifically targeted for attack.
Indianapolis LGBT residents live under fear of constant attack. We have no protections. Police statewide have been blatantly obvious about defying state regulation on anti-gay hate crimes.
Was it a hate crime? Was it robbery? No one knows - especially in the LGBT community. Instead, we live with the uncomfortable fear for our safety.
The recent double homicide doesn't reassure the LGBT community in the least. While IMPD has the decency to refrain from assigning gender, the "alternative lifestyle" phrase does nothing but raise a red flag to locals. We are days away from 2009 - not 1989.
With no motive released, a complete lack of understanding of LGBT issues, and a previous record of whitewashing LGBT concerns, is it any wonder some in our community are spinning their own nightmares?
Police have announced they are looking for a blue 2001 Mercury Sable with doors that open similar to a Lamborghini. The car has the phrase "Sexy and Independent" written on the back in distinctive writing. It also has twenty two inch custom rims and monitors in the head rests. The Indiana license plate number is KW1329.
UPDATE: Elzy has been identified in the comments section as Layia Lovely. Hunt was her boyfriend. Layia presented as female and was involved in sex work. Police have not confirmed this information or included it as a possible motive. I have changed the title of the post to reflect this new information.
UPDATE 2: This post has a follow-up post "The Media, the Legislature and the Police Are Guilty Too" written after this post started generating media attention.