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Atlanta, Georgia -- A one hour Candlelight Vigil will be held on Saturday, March 22, at 7:00 p.m., on The Square in downtown Marietta to honor the memory of murder victim, Ahmed Dabarran, a Fulton County assistant district attorney, and to protest Cobb County's failed murder prosecution.
On February 28, 2003, a Cobb County jury acquitted Roderiqus Reshad Reed of the May 2001 brutal murder and robbery of Dabarran despite Reed's own admission at trial that he repeatedly struck Dabarran on the head with a pot in Dabarran's home, and then left with the victim's car and cell phone.
Reed's attorney's used the "gay panic" defense alleging that Reed killed Dabarran to protect himself from Dabarran's sexual advances. However, a medical examiner testified that Dabarran was struck over a dozen times on the head while he slept. A juror explained that the jurors reached their decision because they felt the state had not "dotted their I's and crossed their T's," according to a news report in the Marietta Daily Journal.
In a March 5th press release Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, Dabarran's boss, stated, "Needless to say, my Office was horrified by this verdict. Because Ahmed was such a kind and wonderful person, it is extremely difficult to accept that the man who brutally murdered him has walked free."
The acquittal led Howard to announce that his office is planning a national symposium for prosecutors on how to effectively combat the use of the "gay panic" defense. "Gay crime victims must receive equal treatment as crime victims," Howard said. "It is our hope that this symposium will honor Ahmed as the man that we knew him to be and reinforce this important principle of social justice."
Controversy is not new to Cobb County over its treatment of gays. In 1993 the Cobb County Commission passed a resolution stating that the "gay lifestyle" was incompatible with community standards.
The following year Cobb County lost the rights to host the 1996 Olympic volleyball games after the successful protests of Olympics Out of Cobb, a group which was angry about the anti-gay resolution. The Olympics controversy drew unwanted national and international attention to Cobb County.
The Candlelight Vigil is being organized by an ad hoc committee of Atlanta and Cobb citizens outraged over the acquittal of Reed according to committee spokesperson Steve Koval.
The committee members are Don George, the immediate past president of the ACLU of Georgia; Steve Koval, an attorney and immediate past president of the Atlanta Executive Network; Michael Manely, a Cobb County attorney; Chris Parsons, a community activist; Cherry Spencer-Stark, past co-chair of Cobb Citizens Coalition; Allen Thornell, Executive Director of Georgia Equality; and Craig Washington, Executive Director of the Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Center.
Candlelight Vigil organizers are constructing a website, www.CobbCandlelightVigil.com, to publicize the event and provide information about the murder trial.Statement from District Attorney Paul L. Howard, Jr.
"Needless to say, my Office was horrified by this verdict. We can only hope that the passage of time will lessen the pain we now feel and the pain that I know Ahmed's family is experiencing. Because Ahmed was such a kind and wonderful person, it is extremely difficult to accept that the man who brutally murdered him has walked free.
"As a continuing tribute to Ahmed, the Fulton County District Attorney's Office has determined to convene a national training symposium for prosecutors and law enforcement officials focusing upon understanding and defeating what is commonly known as the 'gay panic defense.' Senior Assistant District Attorney Holly Hughes-a close friend to Ahmed and the head of this Office's Hate Crimes Unit-will coordinate this event.
"Gay crime victims must receive equal treatment as crime victims. It is our hope that this symposium will honor Ahmed as the man that we knew him to be and reinforce this important principle of social justice."
thats quite a imagination, you've got there.I remember mine clear as day. Went to a Somali restaurant. All seemed good and normal, until this one guy with yellow teeth was talking to me in what sounded like an extinct language.
After I refused to hand him my food, he began to sniff glue menacingly. I then looked around, seeing yellow teeth everywhere: I was in pirate territory. After I threatened to call immigration, they ran off to hijack a coastguard ship. That situation shaped many of the views I hold today.