Puerto Rican authorities agree to investigate gay teenager’s murder as hate crime

by Michael K. Lavers

National News Editor

Wednesday November 25, 2009

Puerto Rican authorities have agreed to investigate Jorge Steven Lpez Mercado's murder as a hate crime after they met with local representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Nuevo Dia reported William Ramrez, executive director of the ACLU and of the University of Puerto Rico's Legal Clinic, pointed out to Puerto Rico Department of Justice Secretary Antonio Sagarda the Commonwealth has a history of "not investigating hate crimes cases" like the one he said to which Juan A. Martnez Matos reportedly has confessed.

"The ACLU has tried to get the government to accept its responsibility to investigate cases... that are hate crimes, particularly that of young Jorge Steven Lpez Mercado," Ramrez said in a statement. "We should not be satisfied with the possibility the federal government will do what our government is not interested in doing; which is to protect every citizen."

Activists on Puerto Rico and around the country have repeatedly called upon local authorities to charge Matos under Puerto Rico's hate crimes law, which includes sexual orientation. They have also blasted investigator ngel Rodrguez Coln's assertion Lpez somehow contributed to his own death. The Federal Bureau of Investigation in San Juan has not ruled out the possibility of additional federal charges in the case.

This article originally appeared in Boy in Bushwick.

Based in Washington, D.C., Michael K. Lavers has appeared in the New York Times, BBC, WNYC, Huffington Post, Village Voice, Advocate and other mainstream and LGBT media outlets. He is an unapologetic political junkie who thoroughly enjoys living inside the Beltway.