NYC and Chicago lawmakers, activists meet with murdered gay Puerto Rican teenager’s family
A delegation of elected officials and activists from New York and Chicago met a murdered gay teenager’s family during a trip to Puerto Rico on Tuesday.
New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Illinois state Sen. Iris Martínez [D-Chicago,] who heads the Democratic National Committee’s Hispanic Caucus and Illinois state Rep. María "Toni" Berríos [D-Chicago] were among those who met with Jorge Steven López Mercado’s parents and younger brother Gabriel in a San Juan restaurant. Pedro Julio Serrano of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Guillermo Chacon of the Latino Commission on AIDS, Jorge Cestou of the Chicago-based Association of Latino Men of Action and New York activist Karlo Colon also traveled with the delegation.
"There wasn’t a dry eye in the restaurant when she (Mercado) spoke," Quinn told EDGE earlier today.
New York City Councilmembers Melissa Mark-Viverito, Danny Dromm, Jimmy Van Bramer and Rosie Mendez also traveled to Puerto Rico. Quinn told Mercado people in New York and elsewhere continue to support her and her family.
"I wanted her to know her speaking out - in particular about how she loved her son - was so appreciated by the community," Quinn said.
Members of the Association of Latino Men for Action gave Myriam Mercado and Jorge López more than $2,100 they raised at a New York fundraiser last week so they could cover some of their murdered son’s funeral costs. Chicago-based ALMA board member Jorge Cestou conceded to EDGE he and others felt mixed emotions during their meeting with the Lópezes because they did not want to force them to relive the murder. Cestou, who is also a co-chair of the national LGBT Latino organization Unid@s, added, however, it was important for him and fellow ALMA members to show their solidarity with the family.
"It was definitely extremely powerful," he said.
In addition to their meeting with the family, the delegation also met with Puerto Rican lawmakers and local religious, civil and activists. Hectór Ferrer, the minority speaker of the Puerto Rican House of Representatives, Ada Conde of the Foundation for Human Rights and Episcopal Bishop David Alvarez were among those who took part. And at a press conference earlier in the day at the Puerto Rico Bar Association, Quinn once again criticized Gov. Luis Fortuño for his continued silence around López’s murder and LGBT hate crimes on the island.