- A violent attack on Club Q, an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs, occurred in the early hours of Sunday morning when a gunman opened fire, shooting 22 and killing five.
- The attack joins a long list of violent attacks against the LGBTQ+ community, particularly in bars and nightclubs.
- Nearly 1 in 5 hate crimes are motivated by anti-LGBTQ+ bias.
Shortly after midnight on Saturday, a gunman entered Club Q, an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and opened fire, shooting 22 people and leaving at least five dead. The shooter has been identified by police as Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, who was arrested shortly after arriving.
While a motive has not been officially declared by authorities, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers told NBC TODAY that “it has all the hallmarks of a hate crime.” The attack coincided with “Trans Day of Remembrance”, an annual day to commemorate lives lost to violence against transgender people. Two of the five victims killed in Club Q were trans.
As the community mourns and stories emerge of the clubbers suing the gunman in hopes of stopping further bloodshed, the event is evoking numerous past targeted attacks against the LGBTQ+ community.
The Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, reports that nearly 1 in 5 hate crimes are now motivated by an anti-LGBTQ+ bias. Here’s a brief look at the history of violence against people in the community over the years.
Colorado Springs shooting live updates:Suspect faces 5 counts of murder, hate crime
‘We all feel shock and sadness’:The Colorado Springs community mourns the victims of the Club Q shooting
Pulse nightclub shooting
In June 2016, a gunman entered Orlando’s Pulse nightclub — a venue known to serve the LGBTQ+ community — and unleashed an attack that killed 49 people, making it the second deadliest mass shooting in the United States. became American history.
The shooting, which occurred during Pride Month, remains a powerful symbol of the threat to life faced by many members of the LGBTQ+ community as the struggle for acceptance and equality continues.
See portraits of the survivors and first responders who were there that day, and read stories of loved ones who continue to grieve for their family members and partners who didn’t make it.
UpStairs Lounge fire
In June 1973, an arsonist attacked the UpStairs Lounge, a popular LGBTQ establishment in New Orleans’ French Quarter. A total of 32 people were killed and at least 15 injured.
While not everyone was arrested in the incident and no official motive was established, it was believed by many to be a targeted attack, and since much of the LGBTQ+ nightlife was underground at the time, it also sparked a crackdown against nearby bars.
Harvey Milk murder
On November 27, 1978, Harvey Milk, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and a prominent gay figure at the time, was assassinated by political opponent Dan White. White also shot dead San Francisco Mayor George Moscone.
Milk was one of the first openly gay elected officials in the United States and became an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ+ liberation. His murder and subsequent seven-year, eight-month sentence meted out to White perpetuated hatred and prejudice against the community.
‘West Street massacre’
That was the headline of The New York City News in late November 1980 announcing an attack in Greenwich Village less than 10 days earlier.
On November 19, 1980, just before 11 p.m., Ronald K. Crumpley, a former police officer, began an armed assault in the New York City borough, shooting two outside a sandwich shop before opening fire on a crowd gathered in front of Sneakers collected. , a gay bar.
The attack, which Crumpley admitted was a targeted attack on the gay community, ended up costing two people dead and six injured.
Otherside Lounge bombing
In February 1997, the Otherside Lounge, an LGBTQ+ bar in Atlanta, was bombed in a terrorist attack that injured patrons and eventually bankrupted the venue.
The bombing was later attributed to Eric Robert Rudolph, who committed two more attacks that year and was sentenced to life in prison in 2005.
Mathew Shepard Murder
In early October 1998, Mathew Shepard, a gay teenager in Laramie, Wyoming, was brutally assaulted and tied to a fence. Found hours after the attack, Shepard died just a day later from injuries sustained.
Shepard attended the University of Wyoming. He met attackers Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney at a gay bar. They later pulled him into a nearby parking lot where they robbed and beat him before taking him to a remote location, inflicting further injuries and leaving him to suffer freezing temperatures.
The story garnered national attention, sparking outrage, and ultimately led to the endorsement of the Mathew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act.
Shepard’s attackers were ultimately spared the death penalty, thanks in part to testimony from his parents. “I would love nothing more than to see you die, Mr. McKinney,” said Shepard’s father. However, now is the time to begin the healing process. Showing mercy to someone who refused to show any mercy.’
Backstreet Cafe shooting
In September 2000, a man opened fire at the Backstreet Cafe, a gay bar in Roanoke, Virginia. The attack killed one and injured six others.
Attacker Ronald Gay had gone to another bar and asked where the nearest gay bar was, police later said. Witnesses reported that he made it clear that he wanted to attack the bar based on the sexuality of the patrons.
Attack on Cece McDonald
In June 2011, Cece Mcdonald, a young black trans woman, was violently attacked by a group of white people in Minneapolis who shouted racist and transphobic slurs at her. In response, McDonald used a pair of scissors she was carrying to stab and kill one of the men in the group.
She later pleaded self-defense, but was sentenced to more than three years in prison for second-degree manslaughter, to be served in a men’s prison. Since her release, McDonald has become an activist focused on LGBTQ+ liberation and the dismantling of the so-called industrial prison complex.
Violence against trans and gender nonconforming community continues
The Human Rights Campaign reports that they have officially recorded at least 300 violent deaths of transgender and non-conforming people since they began tracking numbers in 2013 — 32 of them in 2022 alone.
The victims of this violence, HRC reports, are predominantly black, under the age of 35 and killed by a firearm. In 2021, 57 trans and gender nonconforming people were violently murdered, making it the deadliest year on record.