Archive for Thursday, October 15, 1998

FREEDOM COALITION PLANS VIGIL IN WAKE OF BEATING

October 15, 1998

Advertisement

The Freedom Coalition plans to hold a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. Friday in front of city hall to honor Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student who died Monday, five days after a brutal beating.

The vigil also will honor James Byrd Jr., a black man from Jasper, Tex., who died in June after being dragged behind a truck.

``We like to think of Lawrence as a tolerant place,'' said Mike Silverman, a member of the coordinating council of Freedom Coalition. ``I think if anything the fact that these crimes happened in Texas and Wyoming prove it can happen anywhere.''

Silverman said the idea for the candlelight vigil was brought up Tuesday, the day after Shepard died.

The Freedom Coalition is a nonprofit Lawrence organization with the goal of ensuring that all people in Lawrence are free from oppression and discrimination because of sexual orientation.

Though the group is sponsoring the event, Silverman said he wanted the event to be associated with the community rather than any one group.

Silverman said there will be an invocation followed by short speeches and an ``open mike.''

Lisa Braun, a member of Freedom Coalition and a KU student senator representing Queers and Allies, said city hall was chosen to add a political tinge to event.

``Not only are we trying to get support ...we're also wanting to bring a lot of awareness to the fact that the hate-crime law in Kansas does not include sexual orientation,'' Braun said.

-- Kendrick Blackwood's phone message number is 832-7221. His e-mail address is kblackwood@ljworld.com.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.