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Ohio man charged for firebombing church hosting drag events

The FBI reported finding a Nazi flag, a White Lives Matter of Ohio T-shirt, and other hateful memorabilia in suspect’s home



Aimenn D. Penny (Center) was arrested for allegedly firebombing a church that hosted a drag brunch. (Photo Credit: FBI Cleveland Field Office)

CLEVELAND – A 20 year old Ohio man was arrested on Friday and charged with one count of malicious use of explosive materials and one count of possessing a destructive device. Aimenn D. Penny, of Alliance, is alleged in court documents with using Molotov cocktails against the Community Church of Chesterland (CCC), in Chesterland, Ohio, on March 25, in an attempt to burn the church to the ground.

“As alleged in the charging documents, the defendant used an explosive device to cause harm to a church he found objectionable,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “It is the solemn duty of the Department of Justice to safeguard the right of all Americans to free expression, and I commend the work of law enforcement in this matter.”

“Violence and destruction are never an acceptable way to express a disagreement with a particular viewpoint,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle M. Baeppler for the Northern District of Ohio. “While, as Americans, we enjoy the right to disagree, doing so peacefully is the only appropriate option. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio remains committed to protecting the rights of all citizens to express their viewpoints peacefully.”

Law & Crime reported that the FBI reported finding a Nazi flag, a White Lives Matter of Ohio T-shirt, and other hateful memorabilia in Penny’s home, along with a gas mask, multiple rolls of blue painter’s tape, and gas cans.

Penny is one of the men suspected of throwing Molotov cocktails at the Community Church of Chesterland, allegedly in response to the congregation’s plans to hold two drag-related events on Saturday, April 1.

The church’s representatives reported receiving hate mail before last week’s attack, which scorched its front door, damaged the exterior and broke a sign at the corner of the property. Surveying the grounds of the crime scene, Chester Township Police said they recovered broken glass pieces from bottles of Denaka Vodka and Corona beer.

Law & Crime also reported that well before the Molotov cocktail strike, authorities say, Penny showed up to another drag queen event on March 11, where members of White Lives Matter were carrying “swastika flags and shouting racial and homophobic slurs and ‘Heil Hitler.’”

If convicted, Penny faces a mandatory minimum of five years and up to 20 years in prison for the malicious use of explosive materials charge and up to 10 years in prison for the possession of a destructive device charge.

The FBI Cleveland Field Office is continuing to investigate the case:


Crime & Justice

NY woman indicted: Threatened Colorado LGBTQ+ businesses

Defendant made threatening comments in each of the calls, including threats to “shoot your bar up” & “you’re gonna be shot up like Club Q”



Jessica Anne Newham, known by her stage name Betty Who performed at Center Stage during Denver Pride at Denver's Civic Center Park, June 26, 2022. (Photo Credit: Denver Pride/Facebook)

DENVER – The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado announced that Sharon Robinson, age 40, of New York, has been arrested and charged in an indictment by a federal grand jury in Colorado’s capital city with making multiple threatening calls to LGBTQ businesses in Denver and Glendale.

According to allegations in the indictment, the defendant called at least four businesses catering to the LGBTQ community just a few weeks after the tragic shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs. 

The defendant made various threatening comments in each of the calls, including threats to “shoot your bar up” and “you’re gonna be shot up like Club Q.”  The threats also included anti-LGBTQ slurs.  Robinson is also accused of telling a Glendale business owner, “I’m going to go over there and shoot you all … You’re going to die,” the indictment states.

The Grand Jury made a special finding that the defendant intentionally selected her victims because of their actual and perceived sexual orientation.  The United States Sentencing Guidelines recommend higher sentences for such crimes.

CNN reported that Robinson made an initial appearance Wednesday in a New York federal court in Brooklyn and was released on a $50,000 bond, court documents show. As a condition of her release, she consented to a court order requiring her to appear in federal court in Colorado, where the charges are pending.

Amanda L. David, an attorney appointed to represent Robinson at her appearance in New York, told CNN Thursday she had no comment on the case.

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Denver Police Department, and the Glendale Police Department.  Assistant United States Attorney Bryan Fields is handling the prosecution.

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5 years later: No answers how gay man was found critically injured

“I just want to make sure that this doesn’t happen again to anybody. And it has happened before,” he said. “I don’t know why”



Aaron Salazar (L) with his cousin Sonia Trujillo during a recent family gathering. (Photo courtesy of Sonia Trujillo/Facebook)

By Bob Conrad | RENO, Nev. – Aaron Salazar was found nearly dead five years ago. His body was adjacent to train tracks outside of Truckee, Calif. It appeared he had been beaten and tossed from an Amtrak train.

Nobody seems to know what exactly happened, and Amtrak remains mum about the case.

Salazar was discovered by a rail worker in May of 2018, and he was transported to Renown in Reno. His family at the time was desperate for answers.

Aaron Salazar prior to the incident in May 2018.
(Family photo)

They still are.

Nobody seems to know how he ended up seemingly tossed from the train between Reno and Truckee. He was traveling on Amtrak from Colorado to Portland, Oregon, where he was a student. 

A junior at Portland State University, Salazar said he had a promising future until the incident.

His near-death, first reported by This Is Reno, quickly drew national attention. His family believes he was assaulted and thrown from the train because he is gay.

The incident was similar to others. Robin Putnam’s body was found in Elko County, next to train tracks, after he had been missing for three years. Like Salazar, he was traveling in 2012 between California and Colorado. His case also remains unsolved.

Robin Putnam (Family photo)

“I don’t even remember being on a train,” Salazar told This Is Reno this month. Because of a traumatic brain injury from the incident, Salazar speaks slowly. His parents have to provide him around-the-clock assistance.

Salazar’s mother Angie said one doctor, after the incident, told her he looked as if he had been beaten.

“We were able to speak with one doctor, who came out and, you know, off the record said that he believed that … my son … had the crap beat out of him,” she said. “I feel he was attacked. And I’m thinking it was because he was gay. I mean, I don’t know for sure. It’s just my feeling. 

“I do feel he was beat up, he was attacked, and I do feel when they threw him out of the train he was already unconscious, just because of the positioning of the body,” she added. “Where it happened was a steep, steep bank.”

No answers from Amtrak

Amtrak officials in 2018 said Salazar may have tried to commit suicide. Salazar and his family vehemently dispute this. Prior to the train arriving in Sacramento from Reno, Salazar had made plans to meet somebody for lunch in Sacramento.

He also had a list of plans for the future, including attending graduate school.

Despite assurances in 2018 that results of the investigation would be provided, Amtrak has offered no new information on this case. A request for an update, investigation results and any other information sent to Amtrak officials last week remains unanswered.

Angie said we may never know what exactly happened to Salazar. Salazar’s location is kept secret for fear an attacker is still out there.

“I think Amtrak needs to do more to protect their customers,” Angie said. “We are very protective of him.”

She said she wanted to see increased security, including better security cameras on trains. 

“With today’s technology, there’s no reason why they can’t invest in safer technology to help,” she said.

Amtrak officials, at the time of the incident, said they “reached out” to 300 people as part of the investigation.

“The individuals who noted interactions with Mr. Salazar shared that he had expressed to them a number of life concerns and challenges,” Amtrak’s Christina Leeds said at the time. 

A subsequent press conference in Truckee with Amtrak’s Police Chief Neil Trugman implied Salazar tried to kill himself. 

“We are limited in sharing specific details…” he said, calling Amtrak’s response efficient. 

A window was open on one of the train cars, according to a witness, Trugman said. “A fall from a moving train would cause significant injury. There is no physical evidence or witness statements to a physical altercation on the train. There is nothing to suggest criminal intent in this investigation. 

When pressed, Trugman said Salazar “was very distraught. All indications right now, it appears it was an attempted suicide based on what we’re getting from witness statements, but other factors were involved also.”

Trugman would not divulge any additional information. He retired in 2020.

One passenger on the same train as Salazar at the time, speaking on the condition of anonymity, disputed Amtrak’s statements.

“I did not see any of that,” the passenger told This Is Reno. “No one was walking up and down that car like he was distraught, worried about anything – or acting strange.”

Future uncertain

Salazar said his dream of continuing his education remains unchanged. He wants to get back to school and continue his degree.

But he can’t walk and get by without assistance.

“You don’t realize how much stuff goes into having the ability to walk,” he said. “Education is something that matters to me.”

Angie said therapy is intensive and ongoing.

“Everything he does, he has to do repetition over and over and over to teach his brain how to do it,” she said. “His whole life has changed. But he’s doing amazingly well. He’s very positive.”

Salazar said he has one simple request for Amtrak – for this situation to never happen again.

“I just want to make sure that this doesn’t happen again to anybody. And it has happened before,” he said. “I don’t know why.”


Bob Conrad profile photograph.

Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. He is also a part time instructor at UNR.


The preceding article was previously published by This Is Reno and is republished with permission.


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Crime & Justice

Justice Dept. asks to dismiss charges against LGBTQ group CEO

The jury became deadlocked on reaching a verdict earlier this month in the joint trial for Lettman-Hicks and Gillum



Sharon Lettman-Hicks (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – U.S. Justice Department prosecutors filed a motion in court on May 15 asking a federal judge to dismiss all remaining political corruption related charges against Sharon Lettman-Hicks, the CEO and board chair of the D.C.-based LGBTQ group National Black Justice Coalition, and Andrew Gillum, the former Tallahassee mayor and unsuccessful Florida gubernatorial candidate.

A final decision on whether to dismiss the charges was expected to be made on Wednesday, May 17, by U.S. district Court Judge Allen Winsor. Legal observers expect him to approve the motion for dismissal.

The decision by prosecutors to call for dismissing the case was first reported by the Tallahassee Democrat on May 15. One day earlier, the newspaper broke the story that a jury that became deadlocked on reaching a verdict earlier this month in the joint trial for Lettman-Hicks and Gillum on 19 counts of wire fraud and one count of attempt and conspiracy to commit wire fraud voted 10 to 2 for acquittal on most of the charges.

That revelation came after the jury on May 4 found Gillum not guilty on a single charge of lying to the FBI during a longstanding FBI investigation into the corruption charges against Gillum and Lettman-Hicks that emerged in a grand jury indictment against the two on June 7, 2022.

On the same day it acquitted Gillum on the one count, the jury announced it was deadlocked on all remaining charges against Gillum and all charges against Lettman-Hicks, prompting the judge to declare a mistrial. Prosecutors at that time announced plans to bring Gillum and Lettman-Hicks up for retrial on the remaining charges.

The Tallassee Democrat reports that several jurors, including two who spoke to the newspaper, wrote in a public statement that the jury voted 10-2 for a not guilty verdict for Gillum on all remaining counts after voting unanimously to find him not guilty on the one count of lying to the FBI.

According to the newspaper, the statement released by the jurors said the jury voted 10-2 to find Lettman-Hicks not guilty on 10 counts against her and voted 9-3 to find her not guilty on the remaining counts. 

Prosecutors with the office of the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida did not give a reason for asking the judge to dismiss the remaining charges against Gillum and Lettman-Hicks.

But the Tallassee Democrat reports that legal experts believe, given the jury’s leaning against a conviction prosecutors would likely face strong barriers in obtaining a conviction in another trial.

The newspaper reports that the juror’s views were made even more clear when several of them “anonymously announced that the 12-person panel voted heavily in favor of acquittal but that two ‘biased’ jurors prevented a unanimous decision.”

Lettman-Hicks has called the charges against her “baseless” and politically motivated. At the time she was indicted, Lettman-Hicks was running as a Democratic candidate for a seat in the Florida House of Representatives. She withdrew her candidacy shortly after the indictment.

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Crime & Justice

Ohio Man charged in arson attempt over church hosting drag show

Aimenn D. Penny, 20, of Alliance, attempted to burn the church to the ground after learning the church was holding multiple drag show events



Interior of the Community Church of Chesterland, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Community Church of Chesterland UCC)

CLEVELAND – A federal indictment was returned charging an Ohio man with a violation of the Church Arson Prevention Act for using Molotov cocktails against the Community Church of Chesterland, in Chesterland, Ohio, in an attempt to burn the church to the ground.

He was also indicted on one count of using fire to commit a federal felony, one count of malicious use of explosive materials and one count of possessing a destructive device.

According to court documents, Aimenn D. Penny, 20, of Alliance, attempted to burn the church to the ground after learning the church was holding multiple drag show events the following weekend. Penny was initially arrested and charged with federal offenses on March 31.

If convicted, Penny faces a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison for the violation of the Church Arson Prevention Act. Penny also faces a mandatory minimum of five years and up to 20 years in prison for the malicious use of explosive materials charge and up to 10 years in prison for the possession of a destructive device charge. In addition, if convicted of using fire to commit a federal felony, Penny faces a 10-year mandatory prison sentence that will run consecutively with any other prison term imposed.

The FBI Cleveland Field Office is investigating the case.


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NYPD makes final arrest in NYC gay bar drugging’s & robberies

The string of drug-facilitated robberies of men who visited LGBTQ bars in Hell’s Kitchen had the LGBTQ+ community on edge for months



New York City Police Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell, (Centre) Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, (R) NYPD Chief of Detectives James W. Essig, (L) announce the final arrest in series of 17 gay bar robberies & drugging's at One Police Plaza on April 18, 2023. (Screenshot/YouTube)

NEW YORK – At a press conference on Tuesday, New York City Police Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, and NYPD Chief of Detectives James W. Essig, announced that NYPD detectives had arrested the remaining suspect in a series of drugging’s and bar robberies.

The string of drug-facilitated robberies of men who visited LGBTQ bars in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood had resulted in two deaths, and had the City’s LGBTQ+ community on edge for months.

Commissioner Sewell thanked NYPD detectives and department personnel along with the NYDA’s office for their assistance in investigation that ran 11 months from September 19, 2021 to August 28, 2022. Chief Essig recounted that his detectives worked on solving the string of 17 similar incidents noting that the victims were offered drugs or marijuana that had been laced, after which the suspects were able to gain access to the victim’s phones and then transfer monies from them into accounts under the control of the perpetrators.

Essig then noted that there were two overdose cases resulting in the deaths of 33-year-old Washington, D.C. resident and political consultant, John Umberger, who died on May 26, 2022 and Julio Ramirez, a 25-year-old social worker who died on April 21, 2022.

John Umberger (Facebook)

The New York City Medical Examiner ruled that both deaths were homicides on March 23, 2023 and caused by a “drug-facilitated theft.” Multiple drugs were found in both men’s systems, including fentanyl, lidocaine and cocaine.

Julio Ramirez, left with his parents and brother. (Family photo)

Robert Demaio, 34, was indicted on murder and robbery charges last month, surrendered to police at the NYPD’s 5th Precinct stationhouse in Chinatown two weeks ago. Another alleged robbery crew member, 30-year-old Jacob Barroso, turned himself in.

Today’s arrest announcement regarded Jayqwan Hamilton, 35, who was arrested on Monday and is charged with second-degree murder, first-degree robbery, grand larceny and identity theft.

The arrests of all three men, plus two more allegedly connected to the 17 cases, has given New York’s Hell’s Kitchen LGBTQ+ community some relief although bars and restaurant owners have told various media outlets in the City that their wait staffs and bar personnel remain vigilant.

Jacob Barroso (left), Jayqwan Hamilton (center) and Robert Demaio
(Photo credit: NYPD)

“This investigation took a long time, but I think the results speak for themselves, that everything was done to make sure we held those accountable who committed these crimes,” NYPD Commissioner Sewell told reporters.

“The defendants had no regard for whether victims ever recovered from being drugged,” Manhattan DA Bragg added. “Their motive, we allege, was simple — to make money. The defendants use these substances as weapons to incapacitate their victims, giving them an opportunity steal their phones and credit cards.”

The Chief of Detectives told reporters that once the victims were “incapacitated to the extent that their ability to perceive events became diminished,” according to an indictment, the five co-conspirators would then steal their victims’ cell phones and credit cards and use the physical cards and information stored on the victims’ phones to transfer money to themselves and make purchases. 

Regarding the resulting trail of evidence against the suspects, Essig noted; “Among the results returned were two videos depicting Hamilton and DeMayo in the victim’s apartment. In another, the victim is seen on the bed, apparently unconscious, in the same pose as he was later found deceased.”

Hamilton, who was arraigned Tuesday, is due back in court June 8.

Watch as Commissioner Sewell, Mayor Adams, & DA Bragg provide a case update:

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Crime & Justice

California man sentenced for threatening anti-LGBTQ+ violence

Defendant’s threats caused Merriam-Webster Dictionary company to close its offices in Springfield, Mass. and New York




BOSTON – A California man was sentenced yesterday in federal court in Springfield, Mass. for making threats to commit anti-LGBTQ violence against Springfield-based dictionary company Merriam-Webster, Inc. and others.  

Jeremy David Hanson, 34, of Rossmoor, Calif., was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Mark G. Mastroianni to one year and one day in prison and three years of supervised release. In September 2022, Hanson pleaded guilty to one count of interstate communication of threatening communications to commit violence against the employees of Merriam-Webster, and to another count charging the same offense, initially filed in the Eastern District of Texas, targeting the President of the University of North Texas. 

As part of his plea agreement, Hanson also admitted to sending threatening communications to various corporations, politicians, and others, including the Walt Disney Co., the Governor of California, the Mayor of New York City, a New York rabbi and professors at Loyola Marymount University. Many of these threatening communications specified the race, gender, gender identity and/or sexual orientation of various persons. Hanson persisted in his communications in spite of repeated interactions with law enforcement officers.

“Hate has no place in Massachusetts. Every person has a right to live their life authentically and without fear. I hope today’s sentence will demonstrate to members of the LGBTQ+ community that this office will hold those who engage in threatening, hateful acts accountable. Mr. Hanson made numerous, anonymous hate-fueled threats of violence to intimidate and instill fear. Hateful and bigoted acts, even if only spoken like those committed by Mr. Hanson, terrorize communities and are destructive to our society,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “Hate motivated acts of any kind will never be tolerated in our Commonwealth and perpetrators – including those who think they can hide behind a keyboard need to know we will find you and prosecute you. Members of the public are strongly encouraged to call the 1-83-END-H8-NOW (1-833-634-8669) line if they have information about concerning or troubling incidents of hate, potential hate crimes or threats.”

“Despite repeated interactions with law enforcement directing Jeremy Hanson to stop his hateful tirades threatening violence, he continued to make them. In doing so, his bias against the LGBTQ+ community instilled real fear and safety concerns, causing Merriam-Webster to close its offices in Springfield and New York City for almost five days,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division. “Today’s sentence cannot undo the damage Hanson did, but it can provide some comfort in knowing that threats to life are not protected free speech but criminal acts, and the FBI and our partners will vigorously pursue those who commit them. If you are a victim or witness to similar conduct, we’d ask you to report it to us by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI or submitting a tip online at”

U. S. Courthouse Springfield, Massachusetts (Photo Credit: GSA/US Courts)

Between Oct. 2 and Oct. 8, 2021, Springfield-based Merriam-Webster, Inc. received various threatening messages and comments demonstrating bias against specific gender identities submitted through its website’s “Contact Us” page and in the comments section on its webpages that corresponded to the word entries for “Girl” and “Woman.” Authorities later identified the user as Hanson. 

Specifically, on Oct. 2, 2021, Hanson used the handle “@anonYmous” to post the following comment on the dictionary’s website definition of “female.” “It is absolutely sickening that Merriam-Webster now tells blatant lies and promotes anti-science propaganda. There is no such thing as ‘gender identity.’ The imbecile who wrote this entry should be hunted down and shot.”  That same day, Hanson also sent threatening messages via the website’s “Contact Us” page.

On Oct. 8, 2021, Hanson posted another threatening comment on the dictionary’s website and a threatening message via the “Contact Us” page that read: “I am going to shoot up and bomb your offices for lying and creating fake definitions in order to pander to the tranny mafia. Boys aren’t girls, and girls aren’t boys. The only good Marxist is a dead Marxist. I will assassinate your top editor. You sickening, vile tranny freaks.” As a result of the threats, Merriam-Webster temporarily closed its offices in Springfield, Mass. and New York City.

In addition, on March 3, 2022, Hanson sent a threatening email to the President of the University of North Texas. The title of the email read: “You ought to be shot in the head and have your offices set on fire for supporting child genital mutilation and transgenderism.” The body of the email read: “YOU LEFTIST FREAKS are the intolerant ones. Trannies are disgusting PERVERTS. Every single tranny freak should be gassed, along with their supporters. I will personally go to your university and start executing tyrannical leftist students and faculty who oppress conservatives. The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.”

In August 2022, U.S. Attorney Rollins announced the creation of the “End Hate Now” hotline – 1-83-END-H8-NOW (1-833-634-8669) – for reporting hate-based incidents or potential criminal activity. Massachusetts residents and visitors are encouraged to call the hotline to report concerning or troubling incidents of hate, potential hate crimes, or concerns regarding individuals believed to be espousing the hate-filled views or actions we learn of far too often in the wake of mass shootings and/or acts of hate-based violent extremism. Callers are encouraged to leave their contact information but may remain anonymous. At this time, the hotline is available in English, Spanish, Cantonese and French.

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Crime & Justice

Hell’s Kitchen stabbing accompanied with homophobic slurs

New York City Council Member Erik Bottcher, who is openly gay and whose district includes Hell’s Kitchen, said he is “enraged” by the attack



NYPD Cruiser (LA Blade photo by Andrey Strekoza)

NEW YORK – A 44-year-old New York resident was accosted by a group of around seven youths shouting homophobic slurs and physically assaulted him late Wednesday night outside of Grace Wine and Liquor at West 44rd Street and 10th Avenue in Manhattan’s gayborhood of Hell’s Kitchen.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the New York Police Department (NYPD) confirmed that the victim was stabbed in the leg and transported to Mount Sinai West Hospital suffering from non-life-threatening injuries.

“At this time we do not have a description of the individuals that attacked the victim. They were said to be approximately seven “young” males but approximate ages are unknown,” the NYPD said.

Grace Wine and Liquor (Screenshot/YouTube)

New York City Council Member Erik Bottcher, who is openly gay and whose district includes Hell’s Kitchen, said he is “enraged” by the attack.

“I’m enraged by reports of an anti-LGBTQ attack in Hell’s Kitchen. I am in communication with the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force and will share more information as it becomes available. Hate crimes are among the more pernicious forms of crime because they are intended to strike fear into entire communities,” Bottcher said.

Openly gay state Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, whose district covers Hell’s Kitchen, reacted:

“If confirmed, this will be yet another example of the type of vicious and hateful attacks on LGBTQ people that are on the rise across our country. It’s even more chilling when they happen in the midst of our own LGBTQ community, but we must stand strong against this hatred and outrageous attempts at intimidation,” Hoylman-Sigal said.

“The surge in anti-LGBTQ violence should be surprising to no one as it’s occurred alongside the dramatic increase in inflammatory rhetoric and hate speech directed at the LGBTQ community by right-wing officials and media personalities. Just this week, for example, Kid Rock appeared on social media wearing a MAGA hat to open fire on cases of beer with an AR-15 rifle, apparently in response to the beer manufacturer’s commercial partnership with the popular media influencer, Dylan Mulvaney, who is transgender. The video has garnered over 20 million views,” Hoylman-Sigal continued. “My heart goes out to the victim and his family. I commend the NYPD Hate Crimes Unit for their swift action in investigating this incident.”

A spokesperson for the NYPD confirmed in a phone call with the Blade that the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force is investigating the crime as a hate crime.

The NYPD ask if anyone with information about this incident can call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). You can also submit a tip via their website or via DM on Twitter at @NYPDTips.

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Crime & Justice

Justice Dept. charges man for making threats against HRC

Suspect left a threatening voicemail that referred to the massacre at the Covenant School in Nashville Tennessee



Adam Michael Nettina (Photo courtesy of the Justice Department)

BALTIMORE – A Maryland man has been charged with making threats against the Human Rights Campaign.

The Justice Department in a press release notes Adam Michael Nettina, 34, of West Friendship, Md., on March 28 left a threatening voicemail that referred to the massacre at the Covenant School in Nashville that took place the day before. 

The press release notes the shooter who killed six people inside the school “was publicly identified as being transgender.” The Justice Department alleges that Nettina in his message made numerous threats.

“You guys going to shoot up our schools now? Is that how it’s going to be? You just gonna to kill little kids. You’re just going to slaughter fucking little kids,” said Nettina, according to the indictment. “Let me tell you something, we’re waiting, we’re waiting. And if you want a war, we’ll have a war. And we’ll fucking slaughter you back. We’ll cut your throats. We’ll put a bullet in your head. We’re not going to give a fuck. You started this bullshit. You’re going to kill us? We’re going to kill you ten times more in full.” 

Nettina appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Matthew J. Maddox in U.S. District Court in Baltimore on Monday. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted on the charge of interstate communications with a treat to injure.

“The LGBTQ+ community is under attack in statehouses across the country and on social media platforms,” an HRC spokesperson told the Washington Blade on Tuesday in a statement. “This violent, hateful rhetoric leads to stigma, and stigma leads to physical violence. As we see radical politicians sow hate and fear with anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, we have seen the physical threats to our community multiply — from armed men at Pride parades, to threats of violence against local drag shows at libraries, to bomb threats at children’s hospitals, to the continued rise in fatal violence against members of our community, especially Black transgender women. 

“Late last month, HRC received two threatening voicemails,” added the spokesperson. “These threats were referred to law enforcement, who have since confirmed that they have made an arrest. We are grateful to law enforcement for acting so quickly to keep our community safe, and we condemn any and all violent words or deeds. We will continue our work to call out those who spread violence, fear, and disinformation.”

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Crime & Justice

Trump pleads not guilty to 34 felony charges

Manhattan grand jury indicted former president for 2016 hush payments



Former Donald Trump heads into a New York City Courtroom as he is arraigned on 34 counts of falsifying business records (Screenshot/NBC News)

NEW YORK — Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first degree.

The arraignment took place in a lower Manhattan courtroom five days after a grand jury indicted Trump on the charges that stem from hush money payments he made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election.

Trump surrendered to authorities shortly after 1 p.m. ET. U.S. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and George Santos (R-N.Y.) joined the former president’s supporters who rallied in his defense outside the courtroom earlier on Tuesday.

“The People of the State of New York allege that Donald J. Trump repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal crimes that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in a statement. “Manhattan is home to the country’s most significant business market. We cannot allow New York businesses to manipulate their records to cover up criminal conduct. As the Statement of Facts describes, the trail of money and lies exposes a pattern that, the People allege, violates one of New York’s basic and fundamental business laws. As this office has done time and time again, we today uphold our solemn responsibility to ensure that everyone stands equal before the law.” 

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Crime & Justice

U.S. Marshals arrest fugitive in murder of Philadelphia trans activist

Jackson, a Black activist and advocate in Philadelphia’s trans community, was found deceased December 14, 2022



Mar’Quis “MJ” Jackson (Family photo)

PHILADELPHIA – District Attorney Larry Krasner announced Monday that U.S. Marshals had arrested the fugitive suspect in the murder of 33-year-old Mar’Quis “MJ” Jackson last December in North Philadelphia.

The District Attorney’s office said that Charles Mitchell, 40, was arrested over the weekend by a U.S. Marshals fugitive task force in suburban Las Vegas in Henderson, Nevada.

Jackson, a Black activist and advocate in Philadelphia’s trans community, was found deceased December 14, 2022, when police responded to the 1800 block of Brunner Street where officers found his body facedown in the backyard of a home.

Jackson, according to the medical examiner’s office, had suffered blunt force trauma to his head along with scrapes, cuts and bruises to his hands and legs. The medical examiner ruled his death a homicide.

Philadelphia police detectives later identified Mitchell as a suspect in Jackson’s death. Mitchell has been charged with murder, abuse of corpse and tampering with evidence.

During a press conference in March, the District Attorney’s Office asked the public for help in finding Jackson’s killer and also raised awareness on violence towards other members of the city’s LGBTQ+ community, NBC News affiliate WCAU 10 reported.

The Human Rights Campaign blog noted that Jackson’s death was at least the 37th violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2022

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