Richmond, KY -- Due to the increased problems in Southeastern Kentucky, the recent increase in hate crime activity, and the possibility that hate groups are increasing (including KKK Clans which Kentucky Equality Federation last engaged in 2008) their Southeastern Kentucky operations, Southeastern Kentucky is being declared a "Special Operating Region" within the greater Southern Kentucky Region.
Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer appointed the Southeastern Kentucky Special Operating Region with Mr. Will Taylor as the Southeastern Kentucky Regional Director. In addition, Mr. Joseph Vaughn was appointed Southeastern Kentucky Regional Organizer by Regional Director Will Taylor. The Southeastern Kentucky Special Region shall consist of Bell, Harlan, Knott, Knox, Leslie, Letcher, and Perry Counties.
Kentucky Equality Federation continues to communicate with officials from the U.S. Department of Justice, including Walter Atkinson, Senior Conciliation Specialist for Region IV with the Community Relations Service, Robin Dull, with the Civil Enforcement Section, and Bobbi Bernstein, Deputy Chief of the Criminal Section, Civil Rights Division.
The reasons Kentucky Equality Federation involved the U.S. Department of Justice was outlined in a previous press release.
In addition, Kentucky Equality Federation received a complaint that a gay male was beaten, raped, and reportedly left to die in the mountains of Southeastern Kentucky. This particular complaint, as well as the Harlan County assault with the lesbian couple and her children is still being investigated.
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is not unique in having hate groups; they operate around the nation and are tracked by the Anti-Defamation League, an international non-governmental organization based in the United States. Though Kentucky Equality Federation is not aligned with the Anti-Defamation League, the information they provide to the public about hate groups is valuable.
The primary focus of the Southeastern Kentucky Special Operating Region shall be to gain additional volunteers, raise community awareness of Kentucky Equality Federation's mission, intercede on behalf of hate-crime and discrimination victims in the region, and attempt to curb the hatred of LGBTI people and promote equality for all citizens regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, race, creed, veteran status, political affiliation, or any other defining characteristic.
Though the Southeastern Kentucky Special Operating Region shall remain part of the overall Southern Kentucky Region, both shall report directly to the Office of the President, the Board of Directors, and the Discrimination, Hate Crimes, and School Bullying Committee Chair.
"These difficult circumstances require new operational regions and directives," stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. "Kentucky Equality Federation shall stand united with all victims; we shall not walk, we shall run to protect any victim of hate crimes, school bullying, discrimination or any other defining characteristic as outlined in our new Mission Statement. The continued hate crimes in Southeastern Kentucky are unacceptable as are the threats against Kentucky Equality Federation volunteers; they will not be tolerated. Bitter, firsthand hate crime and discrimination reports have proved how critical our values of tolerance and acceptance are and the mission they represent."
Palmer continued: "When, in the darkest days of the American Revolutionary War, Thomas Paine wrote, 'These are the times that try men's [and women's] souls.' Nothing seems closer to the truth, centuries later, as the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex community remain under constant attack from Louisville, Covington, Lexington, Ashland, and Bowling Green to Harlan. Nevertheless, we shall remain vigilant. We do not seek the approval of hate groups or intolerant people, only the acceptance that we have the same right to the pursuit of happiness as they do and, though they may continue to test our resolve, in the end, we shall prevail."
Public Relations and Media Director Joshua Koch has also been appointed Vice President, Public Relations and Media to increase media attention on such issues.
"Kentucky Equality Federation will assume a proactive and aggressive posture on any reported crimes, discrimination events, retaliations, or other offenses against any person based on gender identity, sexual orientation, race, creed, veteran status, political affiliation, or any other defining characteristic," stated Kentucky Equality Federation Vice President of Public Relations and Media Joshua Koch. "Volunteers and equality allies are urged to cooperate with local, state, and federal law enforcement to protect our communities from hateful conduct against any citizen. We will not tolerate, nor will we turn a blind eye to, any violence or intimidation, and we will pursue any offenses against persons or property to the fullest extent of civil and criminal law."