- A violent attack at Club Q, an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs, occurred in the early hours of Sunday morning when a gunman opened fire, shooting 22 and killing five.
- The attack joins a long list of violent assaults on the LGBTQ+ community, particularly at bars and nightclubs.
- Nearly 1 in 5 hate crimes is motivated by anti-LGBTQ+ bias.
Shortly after midnight Saturday, a gunman entered Club Q, an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and opened fire, shooting 22 people and leaving at least five dead. The shooter has been identified by police as Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, who was arrested shortly after they arrived.
Though a motive has not been officially declared by authorities, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers told NBC’s TODAY that, “it has all the trappings of a hate crime.” The attack coincided with “Trans Day of Remembrance”, an annual day for remembering lives lost to anti-trans violence. Two of the five victims killed at Club Q were trans.
As the community turns to mourning and stories emerge of the club patrons who charged the gunman in hopes of stopping further bloodshed, the event evokes countless past targeted attacks on the LGBTQ+ community.
The Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest LGBTQ+ civil rights organization reports that nearly 1 out of every 5 hate crimes is now motivated by an anti-LGBTQ+ bias. Here is a brief look at the history of violence against folks in the community over the years.
Colorado Springs shooting live updates:Suspect faces 5 counts of murder, hate crimes
‘We all feel shock and grief’:Colorado Springs community mourns Club Q shooting victims
Pulse nightclub shooting
In June 2016, a gunman entered Pulse nightclub in Orlando – a venue known to serve the LGBTQ+ community – and unleashed an attack that killed 49 people, making it the second-most deadly mass shooting in American history.
The shooting, which took place during Pride Month, remains a potent symbol of the threat to life faced by many members of the LGBTQ+ community as the fight for acceptance and equality continues.
See portraits of the survivors and first responders who were there that day, and read stories of the loved ones who continue to mourn their family members and partners who didn’t make it out.
UpStairs Lounge fire
In June 1973 an arsonist attacked the UpStairs Lounge, a popular LGBTQ establishment in the French Quarter of New Orleans. A total of 32 people were killed, and at least 15 were injured.
Though no arrest was every made in the incident and no official motive determined, it was assumed by many to be a targeted attack, and as much of LGBTQ+ nightlife was underground at that time, it also prompted a crackdown on nearby bars.
Harvey Milk assassination
On Nov. 27, 1978, Harvey Milk, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and a prominent gay figure at the time, was assassinated by political opponent Dan White. White also shot and killed San Francisco Mayor George Moscone.
Milk was one of the first openly gay elected officials in the United States and became an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ+ liberation. His killing and the subsequent sentencing of seven years, eight months, doled out to White perpetuated the hate and prejudice against the community.
‘West Street Massacre’
That was The New York City News headline in late November 1980 announcing an attack in Greenwich Village less than 10 days prior.
Just before 11 p.m. on Nov. 19, 1980, Ronald K. Crumpley, a former transit police officer, began an armed rampage in the New York City neighborhood, gunning down two outside a deli before opening fire on a crowd gathered in front of Sneakers, a gay bar.
The attack, which Crumpley admitted was a targeted assault on the gay community, ultimately left two dead and injured six more.
Otherside Lounge bombing
In February 1997, the Otherside Lounge, an LGBTQ+ bar in Atlanta, was bombed in a terrorist attacked that injured patrons and eventually put the venue out of business.
Mathew Shepard murder
In early October 1998, Mathew Shepard, a gay teen in Laramie, Wyoming, was brutally attacked and tied to a fence. Found hours after the attack, Shepard died just day later from injuries he had sustained.
Shepard was a student at the University of Wyoming. He met attackers Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney at a gay bar. They later drew him to a nearby parking lot where they robbed and beat him before bringing him to a remote location, inflicting further injuries and leaving him to weather freezing temperatures.
The story gained national attention, sparking outrage and eventually leading to the passage of the Mathew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act more than 10 years later.
Shepard’s attackers were ultimately spared the death penalty in part due to testimony from his parents. “I would like nothing better than to see you die, Mr. McKinney,” Shepard’s father said. However, this is the time to begin the healing process. To show mercy to someone who refused to show any mercy.”
Backstreet Cafe shooting
In September 2000, a man opened fire at the Backstreet Cafe, a gay bar in Roanoke, Virginia. The attack killed one and injured six others.
Assailant Ronald Gay had gone to another bar and asked where the nearest gay bar was, police later said. Witnesses reported he made clear he wanted to attack the bar on the basis of its patrons’ sexuality.
Attack on Cece McDonald
In June 2011, Cece Mcdonald, a young Black trans woman, was violently attacked by a group of white people in Minneapolis who shouted racist and transphobic slurs at her. In response, McDonald used a pair of scissors she had with her to stab and kill one of the men in the group.
She later pleaded self-defense but was sentenced to over three years in prison for second-degree manslaughter, to be served in a men’s prison. Since her release, McDonald has become an activist focused on LGBTQ+ liberation and the dismantling of the so-called prison industrial complex.
Violence against trans & gender non-conforming community continues
The Human Rights Campaign reports they have officially recorded at least 300 violent deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people since they began tracking numbers in 2013– 32 of which occurred in 2022 alone.
The victims of this violence, HRC reports, are overwhelmingly Black, under the age of 35 and killed by a firearm. In 2021, 57 trans and gender non-conforming people were violently killed, making it the deadliest year on record.
Story Credit: usatoday.com