New York, NY, November 18, 2009 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today condemned the brutal killing of a gay teenager in Puerto Rico. According to reports, the victim was beaten, mutilated, burned and left on the side of a road.
The mutilated body of Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado was found on November 13. The suspect, Juan A. Martinez Matos, was arrested earlier this week and charged with murder, weapons violations, and concealing evidence of the crime.
ADL issued the following statement:
We are shocked and saddened by the horrific killing of Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado.
The circumstances and the severe brutality of the attack are indicative that the victim may have been targeted because of his sexual orientation. We strongly urge local authorities to investigate this as a hate crime, and urge that they access federal resources provided under the newly enacted Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
We are dismayed by reports that an officer investigating Mercado's death initially suggested that the teen deserved the assault because of his openly gay lifestyle. Hate and bigotry have no place in our communities, particularly among those that serve to protect us. We encourage others to speak out against any efforts to 'blame the victim' in this case.