Tag Archives: georgia

Victim of Anti-Gay Hate Crime Luke O’Donovan Sentenced to 10 Years for Self-Defense

Victim of Anti-Gay Hate Crime Luke O’Donovan Sentenced to 10 Years for Self-Defense

ATLANTA, GA — Luke O’Donovan, a survivor of a homophobic attack in Atlanta, GA, was sentenced on Tuesday, August 12th, 2014 to 10 years in prison on charges that he assaulted those who attacked him.

On December 31, 2012, O’Donovan was attacked, beaten and stabbed by at least five men shouting homophobic slurs at a New Year’s Eve party. O’Donovan defended himself with a pocketknife and left the scene, receiving treatment for stab wounds and injuries to his head and body at an Atlanta Medical Center. Hours later, police arrested O’Donovan as he was receiving treatment, charging him with five counts of felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. A superseding charge of attempted murder was handed down to O’Donovan at a later date.

On August 12, 2014, O’Donovan was sentenced to prison for 10 years through a negotiated plea deal.

In response, The Luke O’Donovan Support Committee issued the following statement:

“This is the epitome of a hate crime. Witnesses report seeing between 5 and 12 men attacking O’Donovan, stomping on his head and body, and stabbing him in the back while calling him a ‘faggot.’

“The facts of this case were clearly biased due to the group nature of the attack and the complicity of some onlookers. The demonization of O’Donovan’s actions is part of a growing trend: criminalizing those who successfully defend themselves from hate crimes.

“O’Donovan’s defense team was only able to negotiate the 10-year sentence after video footage surfaced of one of O’Donovan’s assailants participating in an attack of a transgender woman on July 3.

“These arduous court proceedings have illustrated that the court and the presiding judge are homophobic. During O’Donovan’s July 1 immunity hearing, Judge Markle allowed the prosecution to use bigoted language in open court, asking every witness if the term “faggot” was offensive or just a synonym for other “non-offensive” terms like “pussies,” “bitches,” or “nigger.” Before sentencing O’Donovan, Judge Markle stated that the 10- year sentence is much too lenient, and despite agreeing to the plea negotiated by the Defense and the Prosecution, Judge Markle added an arcane, punitive stipulation effectively “banishing” O’Donovan from the state of Georgia during the eight years of his probation.

“Homophobic and transphobic attacks in Atlanta are becoming more prevalent. For example, earlier this summer, a group of men accosted, beat, and stripped two transgender women nude on a MARTA train.

“O’Donovan’s case has received little media coverage in Atlanta or nationally. During the ‘victim impact statements’ yesterday, Cheryl Mainor, mother of one of O’Donovan’s attackers, admitted to using her professional connections to suppress media stories about the case.”

The Luke O’Donovan Support Committee is asking Judge Markle to remove the criminal banishment from Luke’s probationary conditions. Supporters are encouraged to contact Judge Markle directly and to send letters and books to Luke O’Donovan throughout his sentence. For more information, visit: http://letlukego.wordpress.com

Troy Davis: A Circle of Prayer

Motivational posters line the hallways en route to the visitation room.  Images of rock climbers, an eagle soaring over clouds, a collection of hands of all pigmentation on a basketball, each with an inspirational one-word message: LEADERSHIP, OPPORTUNITY, ACHIEVEMENT, FOCUS, TEAMWORK.

Opportunity? Achievement? The irony was almost outrageous. The hallway was in the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison and I was walking down it with the Davis family en route to visit death row inmate Troy Davis.

Though I had been corresponding with Troy for years via letters and phone, December 2009 was my first visit. I knew I would not have the opportunity to be sitting in the same room as Troy; contact visits had been taken away from death row inmates a few months earlier. Instead, I spoke to Troy through a black iron grate, alongside his mother, sisters and teen-aged nephew. At the end of every visit, the Davis family would form a prayer circle, holding hands, Troy leading a prayer thanking God for their blessings and praying for the strength to continue their quest for justice. Now that contact visits had been revoked, Troy could not hold hands with the rest of his family. Instead, he pressed his hands flat against the black iron grating. His family and I formed a semi-circle. Troy’s mother pressed her hand on the opposite side of the grate as Troy’s right palm, and his nephew did the same on the left. Everyone bowed their heads, closed their eyes and offered prayers. I couldn’t help but take a peek. Troy looked like a silhouette through the dense iron grill, his head bowed, his hands pressed against the grate, with his mother and nephew’s hands pressed just as firmly on the other side, finding a way, despite the steel and bars, to maintain their circle of prayer.

Georgia is preparing to kill Troy Davis at 7 p.m. tonight. He has refused his last meal, opting to fast and pray. If the state carries out his plans, he will be strapped to a gurney. Needles will be thrust into his arms, so that three different lethal injection drugs will flow through his veins. If there is no last-minute intervention, Troy will die.

Tonight’s expected execution of Troy Davis brings inconceivable pain and loss to his family and friends. But it should also bring deep self-probing to us as a country, forcing us to ask ourselves agonizing questions: How can our system of justice be comfortable executing a man despite such substantive doubts as to his guilt? How can our country possibly justify taking an unarmed, captive human being, and killing that human being? Who are we as a people if we, sanctioned by the state, intentionally and with premeditation wrack a family with grief?

I will be outside the prison as the hours and minutes tick towards 7:00pm, joining with hundreds of others, including Troy’s family, in prayerful protest. I will be thinking of the words that Troy asked my colleague, Wende Gozan-Brown of Amnesty International, to share when we visited him this morning:

“The struggle for justice doesn’t end with me. This struggle is for all the Troy Davis’s who came before me and all the ones who will come after me. I’m in good spirits and I’m prayerful and at peace. But I will not stop fighting until I’ve taken my last breath.”

As 7 pm approaches, I do not intend to picture Troy strapped onto a gurney. Instead, I will focus on the image which has been seared into my brain since December 2009:

Troy standing in silhouette, arms outstretched and palms pressed against the iron grating, his mother’s hand pressed against his on one side, his nephew’s on the other, the rest of the family holding hands in between, as he leads a circle of prayer, thanking God for the blessings they have received, and asking for the strength to continue the struggle for justice.

In Solidarity,
Jen Marlowe

The following letter was written by Jen Marlow, author, activist & friend of Troy Davis.
Video and original music provided by Nelly McKay.