There are new developments in the investigation into the death of Navy Seaman August Provost III, the black gay sailor from Houston brutally murdered at Camp Pendleton near San Diego. Sources close to the investigation report the Secretary of the Navy has dispatched an investigative team to Pendleton. Also, extremely disturbing and graphic details have emerged of the so-called "random" act of violence.
The official request for an investigation of the August Provost murder was made by San Diego's Democratic Congresswoman Susan Davis, the Chair of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel. The source says Secretary of the Navy Raymond Mabus "has sent 20 investigators to Camp Pendleton."
The 29-year-old sailor was found brutally murdered in a guard shack at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton on June 30. Provost was shot three times and the structure was burned. Although the Navy has denied specific reports made to Rod 2.0 in a recent article at TIME.com, and claimed Seaman Provost was not tortured, relatives say they were told Provost's "hands and feet were tied, he was gagged, shot three times and his body had been set on fire."
Rose Roy, Provost's aunt who lives outside Houston, said "Provost spoke with her about being harassed and ostracized at Camp Pendleton because he was gay and black." The Navy maintains there is "no evidence" to suggest that this was a hate crime and insists it was "random act" of violence.
Rep. Bob Filner (D) of suburban Chula Vista, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, says his panel will investigate, too, and asked the Defense Department and Marine Corps to determine whether the killing was a hate crime. Filner added: "There's some disturbing elements to this. He was harassed in the days leading up to this."
One "person of interest" remains in custody. Two others are being sought. No formal charges are filed yet.
Roy says it was about a year ago when her nephew told her and his superiors he was being harassed because he was black and gay. San Diego City Commissioner Stampp Corbin, who also is black and gay, has been closely following the investigation and says Provost's lack of recourse is a direct result of the military's failed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Commissioner Corbin tells Rod 2.0: "August Provost, and others like him, are often harassed because of the perception they are gay or lesbian, not because of homosexual conduct. If August reported the harassment, would that have been "telling" and therefore lead to a discharge? That is the quandary gay and lesbian military personnel face in these situations."
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee, who represents Houston, says she will demand a congressional inquiry into the death of Navy Seaman August Provost III. Provost will be buried tomorrow at Veterans Memorial Cemetery. A candlelight vigil will also take place on Friday at 7:30 pm outside Camp Pendelton.