Hate Crimes: Matthew Shepard

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Wyoming, October 7th 1998. Aaron Kriefels is cycling in a remote rural area when he sees what at first he believes to be a scarecrow tied to a fence. He looks closer and sees not a scarecrow, but a young man badly beaten and close to death. The victims name was Matthew Shepard. On Dec. 1st 1976, Matthew Shepard was born in Casper, Wyoming. He attended elementary school in the states, but after his first year in high school his family moved to Saudi Arabia. He then attended the American School in Switzerland where he was elected as a peer mediator. His friends and peers felt comfortable talking to him and he was someone you came to when you needed advice. He was described by his father as "an optimistic and accepting young man who had a special gift of relating to almost everyone. He was the type of person who was very approachable and always looked to new challenges. Matthew had a great passion for equality and always stood up for the acceptance of people's differences."[1] In February 1995, during a high school trip to Morocco, Matthew was beaten, robbed, and raped, causing him to withdraw from school. According to his mother, from then on he was prone to experiencing panic attacks and depression. Although this time in his life was extremely difficult, Shepard still graduated in May then attended Catawba College in North Carolina and Casper College in Wyoming, before settling in Denver. Shepard became a first-year political science major at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, and was chosen as the student representative for the Wyoming Environmental Council. Shortly after midnight, on October 7th, 1998 Shepard met two men (Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson) at the Fireside Lounge. He was offered a ride home, but shortly after leaving they robbed, pistol-whipped and tortured him, tying him to a fence leaving him to die. Matthew was left in the freezing cold suffering from his injuries before slipping into a coma. In total, it took 18 hours before he was...
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