The Human Cost of Rape and Hate Crime

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This story from the AP:

More than a year after a horrific bias attack nearly killed him, David Ritcheson masked his pain with a smile, concealing his anguish from the people closest to him, an attorney for his family said Tuesday.

Ritcheson, a Mexican-American who was beaten unconscious and sodomized with a plastic pole by a man shouting ”White Power!” in April 2006, leaped to his death in the Gulf of Mexico from an upper deck of a Carnival Cruise ship on Sunday, witnesses said.

Attorney Carlos Leon said Ritcheson had never threatened or talked of suicide and left no note.

”It seemed to everyone that David was climbing back to normalcy in his life,” Leon said at a news conference. ”What we’ve learned from this is he just internalized his pain.” * * *

Diary of an Anxious Black Woman has commentary here.  

photosEarlier this year, Ritcheson (pictured at right) testified  before the House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Crime Terrorism and Homeland Security  in favor of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act:

My name is David Ritcheson, and I appear before you as a survivor of one of the most despicable and shocking acts of hate violence this country has ever seen in decades. Nearly one year ago on April 22, 2006, I was viciously attacked by two individuals because of my heritage as a Mexican-American.   After a crawfish festival, I returned to a friend’s house where I was going to spend the night. Shortly after arriving at this home, a minor disagreement turned into a pretext for what I believe was a premeditated hate crime. This was a moment that would change my life forever.

After I was sucker punched and knocked out, I was dragged into the back yard for an attack that would last for over an hour. Two individuals, one an admitted racist skinhead, attempted to carve a swastika on my chest. After they stripped me naked, they burned me with a cigarette, and I was kicked by the skinhead’s steel-toed army boots.Witnesses recall the two attackers calling me a wetback and a spic as they continued to beat me as I lay unconscious. Once the attack came to an end, I was dragged to the rear of the back yard and left for dead. Reportedly, I lay unconscious in the back yard of the private residence for the next eight to nine hours.

Fortunately, God spared me the memory of what happened that night.

Weeks later, I woke up in the hospital with so many emotions – fear, uncertainty, humiliation.

America is the country I love, and it is our home. However, the hate crime committed against me illustrates that we are still, in some aspects, a house divided. These are some of the many reasons I am here before you today asking that our government take the lead in stopping individuals like those who attacked me from committing crimes against others because of where they are from, the color of their skin, the God they worship, the person they love or the way they look, talk or act.

I spent three months in the hospital and had over 30 surgeries. Most of these operations were essential to saving my life, and others were necessary just to make my body able to perform what would be normal functions.

Ritcheson’s full testimony is here.   He concluded his remarks to Congress with this statement: “I can assure you, from this day forward I will do whatever I can to help make our great county, the United States of America, a hate-free place to live.”  

May it be one day.  

-Bridget  Crawford

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