5 Dead in Colorado LGBTQ Club Shooting on Eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance

A gunman sporting physique armor and armed with an AR-15-style rifle attacked an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs late Saturday evening, killing 5 folks and injuring no less than 25. Two Membership Q patrons managed to disarm the shooter, a 22-year-old suspect with ties to an extremist household, earlier than he was taken into police custody. The assault got here on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, and police are investigating the assault as a possible hate crime. “This was an intentional act to push LGBTQ folks again into the shadows,” says Denver mayoral candidate Leslie Herod, who’s the primary LGBTQ+ African American to carry workplace within the Colorado Common Meeting and considers Colorado Springs her hometown. Herod describes a “clear connection” between hateful anti-gay rhetoric and violence towards the LGBTQ neighborhood.

It is a rush transcript. Copy is probably not in its remaining kind.

AMY GOODMAN: That is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The Conflict and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. We’re broadcasting from Cairo, Egypt, however going now to Colorado, the place a gunman sporting physique armor and armed with an AR-15-style rifle shot and killed 5 folks at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs simply earlier than midnight on Saturday. No less than 25 folks have been injured. [Police] are investigating the taking pictures at Membership Q as a possible hate crime. Three victims have been recognized: Kelly Loving, a trans lady visiting from Denver, and Membership Q employees Derrick Rump and Daniel Davis Aston, a trans man. The taking pictures occurred on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to recollect transgender, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming individuals who have been murdered on account of transphobia.

That is Joshua Thurman, a survivor of the Saturday evening bloodbath.

JOSHUA THURMAN: As I used to be dancing on the dance ground, I heard photographs fired. I believed it was the music, as a result of there have been no screams. There was no “Assist! Assist!” nothing like that. Then there have been extra photographs. After I realized what was happening, I ran to the dressing room instantly. There was a buyer that adopted me. And there was a drag performer, Delusional, who was within the dressing room. I made them lock the doorways, and we received down on the bottom and reduce off the lights instantly.

DAN BEEDIE: Joshua, what does this imply for the LGBTQ neighborhood right here in Colorado Springs, the taking pictures?

JOSHUA THURMAN: It’s onerous to say. It means a lot, as a result of that is our solely secure area right here within the Springs. And so, for this to get shot up, like, what are we going to do now? The place are we going to go? Yeah, we are able to rebuild and are available collectively and this, however what about these folks that misplaced their lives for no cause, just like the 18 — different 18 that have been injured? I may have been one in every of them. Like, it means loads, as a result of, once more, what we’re going to do now? How are we going to really feel secure in our metropolis?

DAN BEEDIE: This was your secure area?

JOSHUA THURMAN: Yeah, this was the one LGBTQIA+ area in the whole metropolis of Colorado Springs. It’s received awards within the Unbiased journal. I received my begin right here. Like, so lots of my mates, I met right here, and folks that I name family members. And now it’s shattered.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Joshua Thurman chatting with KRDO. Police in Colorado Springs have taken a 22-year-old suspect named Anderson Lee Aldrich into custody. Police say no less than one patron of the membership confronted the gunman to cease the taking pictures. The suspected gunman was arrested final 12 months on expenses of felony menacing and kidnapping after threatening his mom with a do-it-yourself bomb. The gunman is the grandson of California Republican Assemblyman Randy Voepel.

We go now to Denver, the place we’re joined by Colorado state Consultant Leslie Herod. She is the primary LGBTQ+ African American to carry workplace within the Colorado Common Meeting. She attended highschool in Colorado Springs. She’s now operating to be mayor of Denver. She tweeted Sunday, “Waking as much as information about one other mass taking pictures — this time in my hometown of Colorado Springs. Membership Q is a spot of refuge for thus many, together with myself. I’m each devastated and infuriated.” That’s the phrases of state Consultant Leslie Herod, who’s becoming a member of us now.

Thanks a lot. Our condolences to you, to the entire neighborhood in Colorado Springs and Colorado, the USA, truly, and around the globe. Are you able to speak about what you now perceive is the newest of what occurred, the results on the neighborhood in Colorado Springs, and what you need to occur now?

REP. LESLIE HEROD: Yeah. Effectively, first, thanks for having me this morning. And I’m unhappy that it’s beneath these circumstances.

I simply left the vigil in Colorado Springs yesterday. And what I do know is I do know Membership Q to be that place of refuge, to be that place of solace and connection for thus many individuals that really feel unconnected.

However what I need of us to know and perceive is that Colorado Springs is just not a spot of hate. It’s a spot of affection. And I noticed a lot love, an outpouring of assist, yesterday after I was down within the Springs with the survivors, you understand, with the victims. And folk needed to folks to know that. I used to be chatting with a younger man who misplaced his accomplice within the taking pictures. And, you understand, whereas he was utterly shaken and utterly devastated, he got here out for that embrace. He got here out for that assist. And he received it. And he received it. And I feel it’s necessary that we notice that.

However proper now we’re speaking about what occurred that evening. We all know that there have been two patrons, no less than, that subdued the gunman. In the event that they hadn’t have jumped in and risked their lives to save lots of others, the tragedy would have been extra widespread. We all know that extra of us would have died in the event that they didn’t take fast motion. They’re heroes. They’re angels. And we have to raise them up.

However I’m reminded that these are of us who’re shamed only for who they’re, who they love and the way they current. They’re shamed by elected officers. They’re shamed by neighborhood leaders. And only in the near past right here in Colorado, we had a really massive nonprofit group inform individuals who work there to cover who they’re, to not act on their homosexual urges, in the event that they needed to remain working in that location. That’s the stuff that we’re up towards each single day. That’s the stuff and the rhetoric that LGBTQ+ individuals are up towards each single day, and it’s received to cease.

AMY GOODMAN: You understand, this information that if that is the one who did it, he’s the grandson of the California legislator, Voepel, who described the January sixth riot because the Lexington and Harmony occasion. In the event you can speak extra about what this neighborhood of violence can be about and the way it should be confronted, as you describe folks gathering round these which can be struggling proper now?

REP. LESLIE HEROD: Yeah. It’s clear why this individual did this — proper?— why he went into an LGBTQ membership and sprayed bullets, you understand, mass destruction on folks. It’s due to the hate — proper? — that we hear within the rhetoric each single day. And realizing that he’s related to an extremist household is one thing that I feel all of us should be aware of. However make no mistake: Anybody who activates their Twitter feed or their social media feed each single day can see this hate. The truth is, simply yesterday, I used to be focused by a company on-line merely for supporting trans youth — merely for supporting transgender youth and their households. And I refuse to cease. The hate is not going to make us return into the shadows. The hate is not going to make us be ashamed for supporting these in our communities that want love and assist.

However make no mistake: There’s a transparent path and a transparent connection between the hateful rhetoric that we hear from folks and what we see right this moment. I imply, after we raise up of us like Kyle Rittenhouse — proper? — and throughout the nation individuals are praising him for murdering protesters — murdering protesters — you understand, it’s no shock that we now have extra of us that need to go down in historical past for harming and killing folks which were dehumanized merely for who they love or what we arise for. And it’s incorrect. It’s received to cease. I don’t care should you’re Democrat, Republican or impartial. All of us have to face up collectively and say this rhetoric has to cease. This utilizing folks as political fodder in our video games has to cease, as a result of it’s killing folks.

AMY GOODMAN: So, the Colorado governor, Jared Polis, the primary brazenly homosexual man to be governor, elected after which reelected, addressed the memorial service yesterday. He additionally — Colorado is the eleventh state to dam using the controversial protection technique known as the “homosexual panic” protection. As a Colorado state legislator, Leslie Herod, are you able to speak concerning the battle for LGBTQ rights and what’s subsequent on the agenda for Colorado?

REP. LESLIE HEROD: Completely. Throughout the pandemic, I used to be a co-sponsor of the invoice that ended the homosexual panic protection, which means, you understand, “Oh, I killed them or I harmed them or I beat them as a result of I discovered that they have been homosexual, and I went right into a panic.” That was a authorized protection on the books right here Colorado, and it’s a authorized protection on the books in lots of states throughout this nation. And it’s incorrect. It’s incorrect, as a result of simply because somebody is homosexual or transgender doesn’t imply that they need to be focused for hate, after which let off the hook, you understand?

And so, this battle for LGBTQ equality has been a long-fought one in Colorado. We began with Modification 2 because the hate state, often called the hate state as a result of we stated it was authorized to discriminate towards LGBTQ folks. Since then, we now have made an entire turnaround — proper? — the place we handed laws affirming marriage, the place we handed advantages for LGBTQ {couples}, households and in adoption, and now we now have a homosexual governor. You understand, we’re main the best way. LGBTQ individuals are main the best way right here in Colorado.

However that’s not with out backlash, proper? That’s not with out of us coming constantly and bringing laws that’s dangerous to LGBT communities, saying it’s OK to discriminate, saying it’s OK to hurt folks, you understand, saying that it’s OK particularly to focus on and bully LGBTQ youth, and to say that if their households are supporting them and are gender affirming, you understand, that they need to be in jail. We see most of these payments in Colorado on a regular basis. We see them throughout the nation. And, the truth is, there was a rise.

And so, of us who assume that we’re simply going to age our manner out of homophobia and transphobia, they’re incorrect. That is being bred into our youngest folks. That is being echoed within the highest halls of energy in our nation, saying that we should always discriminate, saying that folk ought to be dehumanized, dehumanized merely for who they’re. That’s what’s breeding this hate.

And I’ve received to let you know, I’m nonetheless infuriated. You understand, I awoke yesterday infuriated. I’m nonetheless infuriated right this moment. And I do know Colorado has far more work to do. And it begins by defending our transgender neighborhood, as a result of they’re those which can be beneath assault a lot, a lot proper now. And folks excuse it each single day.

AMY GOODMAN: The congressman from Colorado Springs, Republican Doug Lamborn, as soon as pushed to defund PBS for airing an episode of the cartoon Arthur that featured a same-sex marriage.

REP. LESLIE HEROD: Yeah, I imply, precisely. And it’s attention-grabbing to see these, like, you understand, posts of assist, these statements of assist and prayers for folk, when actually a few of these folks have been spewing the hate that made this a actuality — proper? — spewing the hate that made of us assume it was OK to focus on an LGBTQ nightclub, you understand?

And fairly frankly, of us are forgetting about Pulse. People are forgetting about Matthew Shepard. And we are able to’t let that cease. And in reality — the truth is, in our colleges, they need to not train about Matthew Shepard and his homicide. They need to not train about what occurred at Pulse, you understand? They usually need to put folks within the shadows, make of us conceal, you understand, and ignore what has actually occurred to LGBTQ folks throughout the nation. We’re being focused. We’re being attacked. And all we need to do is reside our lives as freely and as brazenly as everybody else, you understand?

I’m proud to function an LGBTQ elected official. However I’ve received to let you know, when we aren’t on the desk, the rhetoric, the hate, it rises to the highest. And we now have a transgender legislator within the Colorado Common Meeting, the primary time ever. And the hate that she will get each single day by our colleagues and our members, you understand, it’s infuriating.

And may you think about, then, what our youngest individuals are going via? I assist a gaggle known as Dragutante, and these are younger people who find themselves celebrating who they’re. They’re performing in drag. They’re lovely. They’re wonderful, you understand? And proper now they’re being attacked. They’re being attacked, and their dad and mom are being attacked, merely for dwelling their lives, you understand? It’s incorrect, and I don’t need to hear from elected officers —

AMY GOODMAN: I need to speak extra —

REP. LESLIE HEROD: Go forward.

AMY GOODMAN: I need to speak extra about drag queen occasions which have confronted on-line hate and protest, together with one deliberate at Denver Botanic Backyard in June throughout Satisfaction Month that was canceled resulting from hateful feedback and emails. Do you imagine the hateful backlash may need contributed to the violence and depravity, what occurred on Saturday evening in Colorado Springs?

REP. LESLIE HEROD: In fact. In fact they’re associated. Once more, there’s a straight line between these forms of actions, these forms of threats, literal threats, towards people who find themselves simply going for story time or a drag queen celebration, you understand, and a Transgender Day of Remembrance, proper? In fact these are all associated.

And since they go unanswered, as a result of we don’t see any kind of follow-up or prosecution, as a result of we’re not holding folks accountable — proper? — then it simply continues. Every single day there’s a hate crime in Colorado and throughout this nation that both is unreported or underreported, you understand, as a result of of us know — as a result of of us know and have skilled the truth that their assault has been pushed to the aspect.

We’re nonetheless not even calling this a hate crime, what occurred in Colorado Springs. And I don’t know why we now have to attend earlier than we name it that. This was an act of hate. This was an act of terror. This was an intentional act to push LGBTQ folks again into the shadows, to make them really feel unsafe in one of many few locations the place we truly do really feel secure and love and supported. It’s incorrect.

And so, as I listened to the intro earlier than this program, I sympathize with the patron who talked about how — you understand, how can we really feel secure once more on this place? It’s going to be onerous. However I encourage us all to return out. I encourage us all to be ourselves, to be out and to be happy with who we’re and to say we’re not going away simply due to this hate. However we want allies. We want our champions to step up and say one thing, too. We can not let this go unanswered.

AMY GOODMAN: And let’s not overlook that if the truth is this individual is identical one who threatened his mom with a bomb, so usually these mass shootings are linked to violence towards girls that occurred earlier than. Leslie Herod, I need to thanks a lot for being with us. She is operating for mayor of Denver. She is at present a Colorado state consultant for the eighth District, the primary LGBTQ+ African American to carry workplace within the Colorado Common Meeting, attended highschool in Colorado Springs, calls it her hometown. We thanks a lot for being there.

Subsequent up, we’re going to the World Cup, which is starting within the nation of Qatar. We’ll converse to Human Rights Watch about Qatar’s labor and human rights document. Stick with us.