Few people have heard about the brutal murder of 22-year-old Dionte Green in Kansas City, despite the massive amounts of media coverage coming out of Missouri since the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown.
On Halloween night, the young Black gay man had reportedly been waiting in his car to meet with someone before heading to a party. But Greene never made it. He was found dead in his vehicle with the engine still running, having been shot in the face.
Greene had allegedly been waiting for another man, someone whom he had met online and seemed to be struggling with his own sexuality.
Family and friends claim that this is the man who killed Greene, but officers on the case have yet to make an arrest or find any known suspects.
"Being that he wasn’t a street person, and didn’t have enemies, I lean towards it having to be someone who was on the down-low or someone so against gay people that they would do this," the victim's mother, Coshelle Greene, said.
For one, many in Greene’s family and community worry that his case will be cast aside as a Black-on-Black crime because the shooting occurred in a low-income, high-crime, predominantly Black neighborhood. And, as Stafford wrote, they should be worried.
Although victims like Greene living at the intersection of multiple sexual and gender identities face higher risks of suffering or perpetuating hate-motivated violence, the criminal justice system has a higher tendency of failing these individuals.
"In the minds of Greene’s family and friends, there is no doubt that he was murdered because he was gay — probably, they say, by the man he decided to meet,” wrote Stafford. "But in the eyes of the law — or at least law enforcement — that man’s alleged sexual interest in Greene means this killing and others like it cannot be considered hate crimes.”
According to a Kansas City police spokesperson, hate crimes tend to be imagined as an encounter between strangers, individuals who lack a relationship. Stafford argued that because of such perceptions, it is very likely that a significant number of hate crimes are being handled inappropriately or simply ignored.
"Hate crimes are crucially important to our broken criminal justice system,” he wrote. "They differentiate from unbiased motivated crimes, and not just by reminding us, officially, that we do not live in some sort of post-racist or post-gay utopia. When the cops investigate and lawyers prosecute something as a hate crime, it teaches us quite the opposite: that we cannot afford to ignore systems like racism and homophobia — that we will not, officially.”
The homicide investigation of Greene's death is still active.
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