And so it begins. Despite reporting anti-gay harassment for at least one year before his death, and ultimately being tortured and killed in a horrific manner, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service says the brutal killing of U.S. Navy Seaman August Provost III at Camp Pendleton was "a random act unrelated to the his sexuality."
"There is no evidence or information that suggests this is a hate crime," Capt. Matt Brown, director of public affairs for Navy Region Southwest, tells the UPI. "The military also couldn't confirm that Seaman August Provost was harassed in the days before he was killed, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported."
The family is outraged and says otherwise. Provost's sister says family members advised Provost—who had a boyfriend and was open about his sexuality on Facebook and MySpace—to "tell his supervisor" about the repeated homophobic harassment. And more confirmation plus chilling details in the Houston Chronicle: "Rose Roy of Beaumont said her nephew had complained a year before about being harassed for being gay. The Houston native was found dead Tuesday at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego. Roy said the family was told that Provost was shot three times, had his hands and feet bound, his mouth gagged, and body burned."
Meanwhile, the political fallout begins. Democratic Rep. Bob Filner of suburban San Diego wants the Defense Department and Marine Corps to investigate whether the killing of the sailor was a hate crime. The powerful Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman will also hold hearings because he was at Pendleton "for over 5 hours the day of the murder and no one in the Navy thought it was important enough" to tell him, says San Diego Commissioner Stampp Corbin in a scathing op-ed. Corbin, who also is black and gay, slams anti-gay Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray, whose district includes Camp Pendleton, as "missing in action."
Corbin writes at SDNN: "Bilbray has not been a friend to the LGBT community and I have to wonder if his silence has to do with Provost being a gay sailor. I cannot imagine Bilbray ignoring the murder on the base for any other reason. The murder has taken place within Bilbray’s district, he is an avid supporter of the military, but he has said nothing, absolutely nothing about the Provost incident. Bilbray is also a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. So Bilbray is a murder at Camp Pendleton unimportant because you don’t like the victim? Are you embarrassed that your support of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell creates a situation where gays and lesbians in the military, like Provost, may be hesitant to tell superiors of harassment because that would be 'telling?'"
NCIS has released the one person held and another "person of interest" is reportedly in custody. When will Naval Investigators charge someone with this brutal homicide? And how much longer will the military continue to pretend torture, shootings and firebombings are routine and "random acts" on United States military installations?