US Attorney Kenyen Brown Meets With Members Of Mobile LBGTQ Community In The Wake Of The Tragic Events In Orlando, Florida
U.S. Attorney Kenyen Brown of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama and his civil rights staff members, hosted a gathering of LGBTQ community leaders from a variety of groups in Mobile and Southern Alabama this week.
The meeting included, amongst other guests, Rev. Sara Sills of Cornerstone Metropolitan Community Church; Cari Searci, of Equality Alabama; Lane Galbraith, an LBGTQ rights advocate and activist, and; Kimberly McKeand and Lanita Kharal, the Executive Director of AIDS Alabama South and the Community Development Director for AIDS Alabama South respectively. The meeting was held in response to the tragic events that unfolded in Orlando, Florida less than two weeks ago where 49 fellow Americans were murdered and more than 50 others were wounded at the Pulse nightclub.
U.S. Attorney Brown said, "In the aftermath of the Orlando shooting, it is essential to reassure the people of Alabama of federal law enforcement’s commitment to protecting the civil rights of all persons." Included in this week’s discussion was information about the protections afforded by federal hate crime laws, especially the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, and where to report potential hate crimes.
"The U.S. Attorney’s office brings prosecutions and enforces civil rights laws to protect all residents of our region, including members of the LGBTQ community," Brown said. "We are working closely with leaders of LGBTQ organizations to ensure the security of individuals or groups who may be potential targets of hate crimes."
FBI Special Agent in Charge, Robert Lasky stated, "Hate crimes are a top investigative priority of the FBI’s Civil Rights Program because of the devastating effect they can have on entire communities. While the FBI in Southern Alabama is working daily with our law enforcement partners to protect against acts of terrorism, individuals who threaten or commit acts of violence motivated by animus towards others due to their lifestyle, religion, national origin, or gender will be investigated to the fullest extent of the law."
The meeting, this week, solidified all of the groups’ commitment to continue enhanced inclusionary community outreach efforts in the Mobile region.
"Diversity and inclusion will change our future going forward for the better. Equality affects everybody. We accomplish more as a city, state and nation when we choose to work together for the greater good of all," said LBGTQ rights advocate Lane Galbraith. Ms. Cari Searci of Equality Alabama stated "Now more than ever, it is important for the LGBTQ community to feel that we are equally supported and protected under the law. It is reassuring to know that the US Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Alabama is listening to our concerns and is committed to protecting the civil rights of all Alabamians."
"Our agency is very grateful to US Attorney Brown for inviting us and other local leaders and agencies to his office to personally discuss issues affecting our community. In the wake of the Orlando terrorist attack targeting the LGBTQ community, U.S. Attorney Brown and his office are committed to protecting the lives, civil rights, and liberties of all the citizens of Mobile and the Southern District of Alabama," said Kimberly McKeand of AIDS Alabama South. Lanita Kharal, the Executive Director of AIDS Alabama South added, "With the unthinkable and horrific murders of our fellow Americans in Orlando, AIDS Alabama South remembers the precious people who were taken, injured, and targeted by a mind fermented in hate and lacking any shred of humanity or compassion for life. Each of them were special and unique and will leave an unending void for their loved ones. We pray for peace, love and light for each person affected by this tragedy and for healing of our country."
Lastly, Rev. Sara Sills added, "The members and friends of Cornerstone MCC are deeply saddened by the hate crime that was perpetrated against the LGBTQ community in Orlando. We stand in solidarity with all who believe that the only thing that can overcome such hatred is love. We are a church built on love and we offer a place of refuge to all."