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Stephen White, victim in Greensboro attack. Source: qnotes

Stephen White, victim in Greensboro attack. Source: qnotes

The man found in a Greensboro hotel beaten and with burns on over 50 percent of his body has died from his injuries.

Stephen Patrick White, 46, died Saturday from the burns and injuries he sustained Nov. 9, when police believe Garry Gupton, 26, attacked White in a hotel room, according to QNotes, a Charlotte-based LGBT news publication.

White, an Army veteran, had been in critical condition at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, with burns over 50 percent of his body. Parts of both of his arms had been amputated following the Nov. 9 attack, according to the Associated Press.

White and Gupton were seen leaving Chemistry Nightclub, a gay club in Greensboro, hours before police and firefighters were called out to a hotel where White was found Nov. 9 with serious burns over 50 percent of his body.

Garry Gupton, suspect in attack. Source: Qnotes

Garry Gupton, suspect in attack. Source: Qnotes

Gupton, who works for the city of Greensboro’s water department, was arrested by police at the scene, and is expected to face a murder charge following White’s death Saturday.

Greensboro police do not believe the attack was a hate crime. Several national outlets had erroneously reported last week that Gupton went to the club that night intending to find someone to harm.

Greensboro police have refuted that, and said they don’t know why Gupton attacked White.

“He (Gupton) never verbalized to us that he intended to kill somebody,” said Susan Danielsen, a Greensboro police spokeswoman told N.C. Policy Watch Thursday. “There’s absolutely no evidence to indicate that this is a hate crime.”

The AP also spoke with Alex Teal, White’s longtime partner, who said White was injured in 2005 when he was working as a security contractor in Iraq. White had been in the Army in the 1980s, and also worked for U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Federal Air Marshal Service.

News
Garry Gupton, suspect in attack. Source: Qnotes

Garry Gupton, suspect in attack. Source: Qnotes

UPDATE: Greensboro police say no evidence links to attack being a hate crime. (Scroll down for more information.)

A Greensboro man is in jail facing charges of seriously beating and burning a man he met earlier at a gay nightclub.

Garry Joseph Gupton, a 26-year-old Greensboro water resources employee, is facing a felony charge of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and inflicting serious injury, according to jail records and  this article by Matt Comer of Qnotes, a Charlotte-based LGBT news publication. Jail records show Gupton is being held at the jail in lieu of a $250,000 bond.

The 46-year-old victim Stephen Patrick White, who is also a military veteran, was beaten and burnt on over 50 percent of his body from the Nov. 9 attack at a downtown Greensboro hotel. A friend told QNotes that White has had his hand and part of his arm amputated as a result of injuries from the weekend assault.

An employee of the Battleground Inn in Greensboro called 911 around 4:30 a.m. after hearing a man screaming at the hotel at the same time a fire alarm went off, according to QNotes.

Stephen White, victim in Greensboro attack. Source: qnotes

Stephen White, victim in Greensboro attack. Source: qnotes

Police have not described the circumstances preceding the attack, and no charges have been filed indicating the attack may be considered a hate crime. A call to the Greensboro police department seeking additional information was not immediately returned Thursday morning.  (see update below.)

Equality North Carolina, a gay rights group, said in a news release that it is monitoring the investigation.

“We do not yet know the full details of this crime, but anytime a person is harmed, especially in such violent fashion, it is a tragedy regardless of circumstances,” Equality NC director Chris Sgro said in a written statement. “Equality NC is in communication with the Mayor and the City of Greensboro to determine exactly what happened and make sure that the crime is fully investigated.”

A fundraiser will be held this Saturday at the Chemistry Nightclub, 2901 Spring Garden St. in Greensboro, and all proceeds from the door, and tips from the bar and drag shows that night will be donated to help White. Online donations are also being accepted here.

UPDATE (12 p.m., Thursday): Greensboro police told N.C. Policy Watch late Thursday morning that they do not believe that the attack was a hate crime, where the victim was targeted because of his sexual orientation.

“He (Gupton) never verbalized to us that he intended to kill somebody,” said Susan Danielsen, a Greensboro police spokeswoman. “There’s absolutely no evidence to indicate that this is a hate crime.”

Some national outlets in the LGBT community, including the Advocate, have reported that the attack was premeditated, a conclusion that police believe is incorrect.

“We’re not sure what caused Mr. Gupton to act so violently,” Danielsen said. “This is not a crime motivated by hate.”

Danielsen said more charges may be filed in connection with the fire that was set in the hotel room.

Gupton is in custody in the Guilford County jail, and could not be reached for comment.

(Note: this post has changed from the original to reflect that Greensboro police do not believe White was robbed in the course of the attack, contrary to what was reported in QNotes and other publications.)

Commentary

Robert PittengerThe story of Congressman Robert Pittenger’s clearly genuine but remarkably disturbing comments in favor of the right of employers to fire people because of their sexual orientation just keeps getting weirder. Now, Pittenger is a denying the substance of the comments that he once “stood by” and that were recorded in full. Think Progress has the full story:

Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) is now claiming that he did not make comments supporting anti-LGBT employment discrimination, as reported by ThinkProgress earlier this month.

At a town hall event in Ballantyne, North Carolina, ThinkProgress asked Pittenger: “Do you think businesses should be able to fire someone because they are gay or lesbian?” He replied that businesses should have the “autonomy” to fire workers for being LGBT, and asked rhetorically: “Why should government be there to impose on the freedoms we enjoy?”

The Charlotte Observer picked up the story, and reported that when they called Pittenger to confirm the quotes, the congressman “stood by his comments.” Read More

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Petition delivery

Photo courtesy of Equality NC

Equality NC and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) delivered over 30,000 petitions to the Charlotte office of U.S. Representative Robert Pittenger (NC-09) Thursday morning.

The petition delivery was in response to Pittenger’s recent town hall remarks in which he told the audience that employers should have the right to fire or refuse to hire gay and transgender workers.

The Charlotte Republican stood by his remarks, saying that Americans are already well-protected by non-discrimination laws.

Here’s how the story was recently reported in the Pittenger’s hometown paper, the Charlotte Observer:

Pittenger stirred up the gay rights debate when he told liberal political blog ThinkProgress this month that governments shouldn’t “impose on the freedoms we enjoy.” Asked his opinion about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act pending in Congress, Pittenger compared adding more laws to protect gays in the workplace to smoking bans – which he said are fine for public places, but he questioned the government role when it comes to private spaces.

North Carolina is among 29 states that lacks statewide workplace protections for LGBT people.

“Congressman Pittenger’s inflammatory remarks represent an opportunity to make clear one simple fact: hardworking gay and transgender people of North Carolina are not “already protected” from workplace discrimination,” said Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC. “With these petitions, we bring with us sobering portraits of widespread discrimination faced by gay and transgender people in the workplace.  We not only demand that Pittenger, a former businessman himself, recant his comments, but also join with the majority of North Carolinians and North Carolina business leaders, to ask that he and other politicians act quickly and update state and federal policies to include workplace protections for our gay and transgender friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers.”

Learn more about  the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) here.

 

Uncategorized

Last week, I wrote about a bill that the General Assembly passed that would allow private, for-profit charter school management companies to keep their employees’ salaries secret, even though they are paid with public funds.

That bill, SB 793, or ‘Charter School Modifications,’ also ended up with no protections for LGBT students at charter schools, even though an earlier version of the legislation did have that language in there.

So where’s the bill now? It’s currently waiting on Gov. McCrory’s signature, who has until Friday to sign it.

Previously he said he’d veto any bill that shielded charter school employees’ salaries from the public eye, but last we’ve heard from Gov. McCrory, he was working with his legal counsel to review just how good (or bad) a job this legislation does at keeping charter schools as transparent as their traditional public school counterparts.

Recently, eastern North Carolina charter school operator and profiteer Baker Mitchell has pushed back hard against having to disclose the salaries of his charter school employees, repeatedly batting away requests from local media and the N.C. Office of Charter Schools.

He is also a frequent campaign contributor, having given $8,000 to Gov. McCrory’s campaign and $5,000 to Sen. Jerry Tillman, a principal sponsor of S793.

Mitchell, who also sits on the N.C. Charter School Advisory Board and has a heavy hand in steering state-level charter school policy, submitted his resignation for his board seat to Senator Phil Berger last week, citing time constraints associated with too many commitments.

Along with fellow Board member Paul Norcross, who also submitted his resignation with a much more colorful letter, Mitchell has been a target of recent ethics complaints (see here and here), though no violations of state ethics law have been confirmed.

Stay tuned as we track this legislation.