Wednesday, March 14, 2012

U.S. Department of Justice responds to Kentucky Equality Federation's request for help with four (4) arrests in a Harlan County Hate Crime

The FBI, along with the Kentucky State Police has arrested the people involved in the Kevin Pennington hate crime. Kentucky Equality Federation requested federal involvement in the Pennington case in September 2011 and met with Commonwealth and United States officials in November 2011 (related to the new federal legislation).

This is the first time individuals have been arrested in the Commonwealth of Kentucky under the new federal hate crimes law.

The other Harlan County hate crime, involving a lesbian couple, Misty Turner is scheduled for Harlan District Court today. (previous story)

Kentucky Equality Federation remains the advocate for the Pennington and Turner families. Neither the Pennington nor the Turner family will make any public statements.

Kentucky Equality Federation extends its gratitude to Deputy Chief Bobbi Bernstein with the U.S. Department of Justice, Walter Atkinson with the U.S. Department of Justice, and the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, Kerry Harvey.

"United States Attorney Kerry Harvey has shown enormous outreach and support of the federal hate crimes legislation," stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer.

Palmer continued: "In a civil society we must live together in peace and harmony. We cannot allow citizens to be targeted because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, Latino, or any other manner you can separate and label a person. We are all much more than the sum of the labels placed on us by hate groups and prejudice people. Kentucky Equality Federation will continue to fight and educate the public about hate crimes, school bullying, and use every political and social measure necessary to leave future generations with a legacy of freedom of expression, including their sexual orientation and gender identity.

My community wants exactly what every other citizen wants, equality under law and to love and protect our families. My community does not seek the approval of hate groups or intolerant people, only the acceptance that we have the same right to the pursuit of happiness.

By any measure, this case being federalized is a major victory for Kentucky's LGBTI community, but the price for this victory was too high, Kevin Pennington has been devastated by the these events, simply because of his sexual orientation. United States Attorney Kerry Harvey and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have just sent a message to everyone, hate crimes will not be tolerated, and we thank everyone involved for listening to our request for federal assistance."

Kentucky Equality Federation believes United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sums it up best:

"Let me mention one form of discrimination that has been ignored or even sanctioned by many States for far too long, discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This has prompted some governments to treat people as second-class citizens, or even criminals. The responsibilities of the United Nations and the obligations of States are clear. No-one, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. No-one should be prosecuted for their ideas or beliefs. No-one should be punished for exercising their right to freedom of expression. Confronting this discrimination is a challenge. But we must live up to the ideals of the Universal Declaration [of Human Rights]."

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