This Sunday in Oakland, Bay Area queers and allies will gather near Lake Merritt for a candlelight vigil and open mic to mourn Jorge Steven López-Mercado and Jason Mattison Jr., queer and gender non-conforming teenagers who were brutally murdered last week. While mourning, the gatherers will also "brainstorm ways to keep their community safer from violence," say vigil organizers.
Lopez-Mercado, 19, was mutilated and murdered last weekend in Puerto Rico by Juan Martinez-Matos. Martinez-Matos has said he dismembered and set fire to Lopez-Mercado after discovering that Lopez-Mercado had male-assigned genitalia and was "wearing women's clothing"--a remark many fear is setting up a "trans panic" defense.
Jason Mattison Jr., 15, was raped and murdered during the same week in Baltimore, Maryland.
Details about the vigil and others across the country after the jump.
Bay Area queers and allies will come together on Sunday to mourn López-Mercado and Mattison, and also to call for a "kind of justice that doesn't rely on increased policing or punishment," say organizers, noting that "the prison system has not made life safer for victims of violence ... violence against queer youth of color is only exacerbated by increased police enforcement, which disproportionally targets and locks up low-income people, people of color, sex workers, and gender non-conforming people."
Artist, activist, and vigil organizer Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha says, "Hate crimes legislation and more police patrols would not make our communities safer. It would not have prevented the murders, and no punishment will bring these two men back. Systemic homophobia and transphobia killed López-Mercado and Mattison, who like other queer or gender non-comforming youth of color faced barriers like street harassment and discrimination in every facet of life. What could've actually saved the two young men are things like free or affordable public transportation, an end to housing and employment discrimination against people of color, queer and trans folks, and the decriminalization of sex work."
Details on the Bay Area vigil:
TIME: Sunday, November 22, 3:30pm
LOCATION: Mac Arthur and Grand Ave. at Lake Merritt
Vigils mourning López-Mercado and Mattison will also take place this Sunday in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Amherst, MA, Tara Haute, Abilene, TX, Atlanta, and Durham.