Sadly, there have been no arrests and no warrants have been sought after 19-year-old Marcellus Andrews was fatally beaten by a group of baseball bat-wielding thugs shouting gay slurs in Waterloo, Iowa on August 19. Detectives insist this was "not" a hate crime but the result of a "dispute."
Here's one reason: Some members of Marcellus Andrews' family now claim the teen was not gay. Family members are downplaying the homophobic slurs, disputing eyewitnesses and say they do not want this investigated as a hate crime, reports the WCF Courier.
Eight members of Marcellus Andrews' family, including his sister and mother, were among nearly 50 people who participated in a communitywide conversation at Jubilee United Methodist Church. Two aunts, an uncle and three cousins also were there. Other attendees included students, professors, civil rights activists and gay rights advocates.
The Waterloo Commission on Human Rights, in collaboration with several community organizations, hosted the event largely because of homophobic slurs allegedly used by assailants during the beating Aug. 19. Waterloo police acknowledge the remarks but said the assault was not a a hate crime, but rather was motivated by a dispute between two rival groups.
Andrews' family does not believe he was gay. His sister, Nichella Andrews, 22, supports the police in ruling out a hate crime. Witnesses' accounts of what allegedly happened have been blown out of proportion, she said. A cousin, Renicia Haywood, 18, noted that a person who displays perceived feminine actions is not necessarily gay. "They didn't come to beat him up because he was gay," Haywood said. "There's more to the story."
"Gay or not, perceived as gay still ends up being a hate crime under those conditions," said Jim Day, vice president of the Black Hawk County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. "Perception of gay and being gay still both qualify."
The brutal beating started after several youths taunted Andrews and called him "faggot." Police believe that a "club or baseball bat" was used in the brutal beatdown. Andrews had "severe head injuries" and was airlifted to University of Iowa Hospitals. He remained on life support for two days.
Marcellus Andrews was slated to start the interior design program at Hawkeye Community College on last week.
The teen was also popular and active in the drill team and youth ministry at his family's church—Union Missionary Baptist Church in Waterloo. That's probably a good explanation of the family's reaction and public comments.