Monday, July 6, 2015

WE DO NOT FORGET-------------------------------------

July 6, 1999 - 21-year-old Pvt. Barry Winchell dies after being beaten with a baseball bat by 18-year-old Pvt. Calvin Glover, assisted by 26-year-old Specialist Justin Fisher, for being "a fucking faggot".

Winchell had been assigned in early 1999 to the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. After Winchell's girlfriend dumped him, his roommate, Justin Fisher, took him to The Connection, a drag and transgender club in Nashville. There, Winchell met pre-operative MTF performer Calpernia Addams (an ex-Navy medic), and the two began to date.

Fisher swiftly began accusing Winchell of being gay, and he and Winchell had several fist-fights. Fisher did his best to ensure that others on the base believed Winchell was gay, and Winchell was viciously harassed for months. (Winchell later told the wife of a fellow soldier that he was gay.) In violation of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, Sgt. Michael Kleifgen launched a probe into Winchell's sexuality. Kleifgen's superior, Sgt. 1st Class Roger Seacrest, began to ask questions about Winchell's sexuality, too, and went on public tirades against "faggots" in the military. NCOs and officers later said they didn't stop the harassment because "everybody was having fun".

On July 4, Winchell and Glover had a fistfight which Glover lost. Fisher harassed Glover about being beaten by "a fucking faggot" like Winchell. At 2:00 AM on July 5, Glover took Fisher's baseball bat and beat Winchell's head in while he slept. Blood poured from his skull, brains oozed from the left side of his head, and the walls and floor were covered with crimson blood. Fisher panicked, and pulled the fire alarm as Glover tried to dispose of evidence and washed the bat. Winchell died of massive head injuries on July 6 at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The U.S. Army immediately tried to cover up the crime. Winchell's parents, Wally and Patricia Kutteles, were told he'd been kicked in the head by a steel-toed boot, while local news reporters said Winchell had been in a fight.

Fisher was convicted of conspiracy and sentenced to 12-and-a-half years in prison in a plea-bargain agreement. He served seven years, and was released in October 2006. (The Kutteles called the sentence "shockingly lenient", but they were not part of the plea bargaining.)

Glover was convicted of murder and was sentenced to life in prison. Although he initially served his sentence at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, he has since been transferred to the Federal Correctional Institution at Texarkana, a low-security U.S. federal prison for male inmates located at Texarkana, Tex. He will be eligible for parole in October 2019.

Major General Robert T. Clark refused to take responsibility for the virulently anti-gay climate at Fort Campbell, which he commanded. Although his promotion was delayed briefly, he was promoted to Lieutenant General in November 2003. He retired in 2007. No officer or NCO in the 101st Airborne was prosecuted or even reprimanded for the numerous violations of DADT that occurred in the Winchell case.

The U.S. Army was accused of turning the "don't ask, don't tell" policy into a witch-hunt against suspected gay, bisexual, lesbian, or transgender members of the military. An investigation into the homophobic at Ft. Campbell by Lt. Gen. Michael W. Ackerman exonerated all NCOs and officers at the base. Army brass said that if anti-gay harassment occurs, servicemembers should report it. But the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an organization fighting to end DADT, said that such reports merely trigger investigations into a servicemember's sex life and more discharges for being homosexual.

A second investigation by Defense Secretary William S. Cohen found that that harassment of servicemen perceived to be gay was widespread throughout the military. The report included an action plan to end harassment of gays in the military. The plan was never implemented.

1 comment:

  1. God rest your soul Pvt. Winchell. I pray you rest in peace.