In an historic and perhaps unprecedented show of solidarity, the nation's leading black civil rights organizations join with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) to demand a congressional investigation into the death of Navy Seaman August Provost III, the black gay sailor found brutally murdered at Camp Pendleton
The 29-year-old sailor from Houston—who was represented by Jackson Lee in Congress—was found brutally murdered on June 30 in a guard shack on base. Provost was shot three times, apparently gagged and bound, and his body burned. The seaman told his family he was harassed and ostracized at Pendleton for at least a year because he was gay and black. The Navy maintains there is "no evidence" to suggest this was a hate crime and insists it was "random act" of violence. Jackson-Lee—who has a 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign—made the initial calls on Tuesday. Now the congresswoman, other members and organizations are demanding a full investigation by the Department of Defense and the Secretary of the Navy
The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), the national black LGBT advocacy organization, coordinated with the Black Leadership Forum, an alliance of over thirty national black civil rights and social service organizations, to denounce the incident. The member organizations include the NAACP—which has recently came out against California's Proposition 8—the Congressional Black Caucus, National Urban League, 100 Black Men, and other leading groups. In denouncing the Provost murder and the slow response by Pentagon brass, the groups said they "are joining forces to stand for equality and against discrimination and hatred toward ALL African-Americans."
The statement reads in part: "We are deeply troubled by the continuing pattern of incidents across the country—hate crimes, police misconduct, and racial intimidation—that are all-too-often tolerated and ignored by law enforcement officials and courts. Moreover, despite significant progress in the treatment of LGBT people, the targeting of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals remain a persistent and widespread problem in the US." The entire statement can be read here.
The joint statement and call to action comes on the same day sources tell Rod 2.0 the Secretary of the Navy has dispatched 20 investigators to Pendleton. One "person of interest" remains in custody at nearby Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. Two others are being sought. No formal charges are filed yet, and, there are unconfirmed reports the military is investigating a white supremacist angle.