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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

From Uncle Pete

it was a cold night
and a young man
went out
searching for serenity
after much chaos
of life
of college
of friends

he met two guys
all smiles
and they have
a lot
in common
a hearty conversation
lots of laughter

he was pleased to have
made such good friends
so when they offer him
a ride home
he almost
had no resistance
to say
and off they go

to a place
where he unexpected the most
where he was robbed
where he was tortured
where he was left out
in the cold night
with tears
slowly running
down his
blood-smeared face

he went out
for some fun
he never thought
it's the end

::inspired from Uncle Pete's writing in the Forum::

On the night of October 6th, 1998, Matt, a 21 year old college student, stopped in a local bar for a beer. While enjoying his beer, a conversation started up with two other young patrons, Russ and Aaron. The three sat and talked for a while and it turned out that they had a lot in common. Shortly after midnight, Matt was offered a ride home and he left with Russ and Aaron. He never made it home.

Since he was the smallest of the three, he wasn’t surprised that he had to sit in the middle of the bench seat in the pickup truck. Unfortunately, that also meant that he couldn’t escape what was to come. The truck drove to the outskirts of town, to a secluded area. Matt was dragged from the truck and tied to a split rail fence. It wasn’t hard for the other two to overpower Matt. He was only 5’2” (157.5 cm) tall and weighed only 105 pounds (47.6 kg/7.5 Stone). Both Russ and Aaron were much taller than and almost twice as heavy as Matt. Once Matt was tied, still begging for mercy, he was brutally pistol whipped. When the beating was over, Russ and Aaron took $20.00 and Matt’s shoes. They also planned to burgle Matt’s home.

A bicyclist found Matt 18 hours later. At first he thought Matt was a scarecrow. Matt’s face was covered in blood, except for two tracks where his tears washed the blood away. Matt was in a coma and never regained consciousness. He was airlifted to Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado from Laramie, Wyoming. At seven minutes before One AM on October 12th, 1998, Matt died of his injuries.

Why did they do this? Because Matt Shepard was Gay. They had decided to go out that night and rob a Gay guy and they picked the smallest, most defenseless man they could find. They told him that they were Gay to build Matt’s trust. Then they beat him so badly and left him in near-freezing temperatures, without shoes. Both men were given life sentences with no chance of parole and they are serving their sentences now.

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was passed on October 22nd, 2009 and signed into law by President Barack Obama on October 28th, 2009.

Since Matt’s death, his parents started the Matthew Shepard Foundation to promote education and tolerance for all in the Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgendered community.

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