Hate Crime Victim Commits Suicide

David Ritcheson, the Texas youth who at 16 was the victim of a brutal hate crime at the hands of neo-Nazi skinheads, leading to his becoming a passionate and articulate advocate for hate crimes laws, jumped to his death from a cruise ship on Sunday. He was 18. At a party in 2005, Ritcheson was beaten and sodomized with a patio umbrella by two men shouting “White power!” Ritcheson barely survived the attack and underwent over 20 surgeries over the last two years. One of the men who attacked him received life in prison, the other got 90 years.

In April, Ritcheson testified before Congress on behalf of the federal hate crimes bill. HRC’s Joe Solmonese: “Today we mourn the loss of David Ritcheson, whose young life was tragically altered by one of the most vicious hate crimes in recent memory. By sharing his testimony before Congress, David’s courage helped the U.S. House of Representatives pass a hate crimes bill that will help fight these horrific acts of violence. Our condolences go out to his family and loved ones. We will work to pass a hate crimes bill in the Senate that will help honor David’s life.”

A movement is already underway to rename the House version of the bill “David’s Law.” The Senate version, the Matthew Sheppard Act, has not yet been voted on.