Arlington man sentenced to 14 months for hate crime arson at mosque

Henry Clay Glaspell

U.S. District Judge Terry R. Means this week sentenced Henry Clay Glaspell, 34, of Arlington, to 14 months in prison after Gaspell pleaded guilty to a hate crime charge in connection with an arson fire at the children’s playground at the Dar El-Eman Islamic Education Center in Arlington in July 2010, according to this report from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Means ordered Glaspell, who has been free on bond, to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on Nov. 21.

Glaspell also admitted that he had stolen and damaged some of the mosque’s property, that he had thrown used cat litter at the mosque’s front door and that he had shouted racial and ethnic slurs at people at the mosque on several occasions. Glaspell said his actions were motivated by hatred for people of Arabic or Middle Eastern descent.

Texas legislators passed the James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act, which allows enhanced penalties to be assessed to those convicted of hate crimes. But while hate crimes are frequently reported and labeled as such by law enforcement, prosecutors rarely take hate crimes charges to court for fear that it would be too hard to prove a perpetrator’s bias-based intent to a jury.

—  admin

NC GOP Congressional candidate Renee Ellmers rails about Ground Zero ‘Victory Mosque

I don’t know Renee Elmers, but whoever is advising her that running an ad about a ‘Victory Mosque’ at Ground Zero is a useful ad for people she intends to serve in the 2nd District is a dumbass. All we’re talking about here are jobs, health care — you know, reality-based needs of the people. We’re 500 miles away from Ground Zero for crying out loud.

Apologies in advance for wasting 30 seconds of your time, but the drama-filled ad is so craptacularly inflammatory — and says nothing about what Elmers brings to the table. How on earth is she supposed to unseat Dem. Bob Ethridge with this drivel? If I were Elmers, I’d want my money back on this one.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

FWPD chief hopes to start hate crimes unit

Halstead asks for community’s help in securing funds for special unit, pledges to increase diversity

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor

SEEKING INPUT | Fort Worth Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead listens to one of the more than 50 residents who attended a FWPD Diversity Forum this week. During the forum, Halstead announced plans to seek grants to fund a special unit to investigate hate crimes in the city. (Tammye Nash/DallasVoice)

Fort Worth Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead this week reaffirmed his commitment to maintaining a diverse police force staffed by officers who are aware of and sensitive to the special needs and issues of the city’s racially, ethnically and culturally diverse communities.

“We need people like the community to serve the community,” Halstead said during the community forum held Tuesday night, Aug. 31, at the Hazel Harvey Peace Center for Neighborhoods.

“There is strength in diversity, and if the police department doesn’t grow in diversity along with the city, you will see the gap,” Halstead said.

The chief also said he is pursuing grant money the department could use to establish a special unit, or at least an individual officer, dedicated specifically to investigating hate crimes in the city.

Halstead told the more than 50 people gathered for the Fort Worth Police Department Diversity Forum — organized by the department’s public relations department — that the department currently has no one trained to investigate hate crimes, which he said come with a special set of often intense and intensely-sensitive issues.

Hate crimes — such recent incidents of vandalism at a local mosque — “come with a nexus of issues that don’t occur in every crime,” Halstead said, adding that when officers who aren’t trained to recognize and deal with hate crimes can come across as rude and insensitive because “they are not understanding those special issues and the motivation behind such crimes.”

Halstead said that he has a “very narrow window of opportunity that is already closing” to acquire funding for a hate crimes unit, and he asked the community to “help us in moving forward with this.”

He asked that those in the community interested in helping the department by providing the information necessary to prove need for such a unit contact Lt. Paul Henderson, his chief of staff, at 817-392-4241.

Building diversity

Halstead said that he had recently returned from the three-day Consortium for Police Leadership and Equity conference, dedicated to building diversity and equity within police departments.

He said he had been invited to the conference “because of the progress we’re making” in Fort Worth toward those goals. But he acknowledged that the FWPD faces “significant challenges” in maintaining a diverse police force over the next five to 20 years. Some of those challenges, he said, arise out of the deep budget cuts forced on the city by the ongoing economic crisis.

“Some departments have had to sell off whole work divisions to make their budgets. We have had to be very creative to meet the 5 percent cuts the city has asked us to make,” Halstead said. “We are already grossly under-staffed. But we have cut $9 million from our budget without one layoff.”

To do that, the chief said, the police department has “retooled parts of our organization to maximize efficiency in our highest priority services,” but he added that the department has to plan today to meet the needs of future.

“What will our city look like in 20 years? We have to think about that now in our recruitment. We don’t have enough diversity in the department now, and that need will just continue to grow as the city grows,” he said. “We need to see a higher mix of persons to serve our rapidly growing city. You all know people in your communities who would make excellent police officers. We need you to encourage them to pursue this as a career.”

Recruitment officers speaking at the forum said that a group of about 1,450 applicants were that same night taking the civil service exam to join the department, and they “appear to be a very diverse group.”

LINES OF COMMUNICATION | Officer Sara Straten, the Fort Worth Police Department’s LGBT liaison, talks to Fairness Fort Worth President Thomas Anable after Tuesday’s FWPD Diversity Forum. Chief Jeffrey Halstead created Straten’s liaison position following the June 2009 raid on the Rainbow Lounge, the same incident that prompted the creation of Fairness Fort Worth. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

That group of applicants represented “about 50 percent” of those who had been identified as eligible to apply, according to Sgt. Klein, who said the applicants had been recruited from forums that include LGBT job fairs, military job fairs, church activities, community forums, crime fairs and college and university campuses.

She said that the department has no openings beyond this current class of officer trainees, but that “we feel it is important for the academy staff to stay in contact” with possible future cadets. To that end, academy staff members will continue to attend job fairs and community events, including the upcoming Tarrant County Gay Pride Week parade, block party and picnic, set for early October.

Klein said that possible recruits are not asked about their sexual orientation, so she had no idea how many of those take the civil service exam for the next academy class were LGBT.

However, Sgt. Garcia, another academy staff member, said that FWPD recruiters “interest was great” at a recent LGBT job fair FWPD recruiters attended. “We got a great reception there.And based on the number of e-mails I got afterward, I believe we got a great response” in terms of LGBT people who applied.

The department’s LGBT liaison, Officer Sara Straten, later said she, too, had received a large number of e-mails and phone calls from people in the LGBT community interested in applying for the police force.

Halstead said he believes the response from the LGBT community has come in response to the department’s outreach to the community in the wake of the Rainbow Lounge raid in June 2009.

“Where else have you seen such a catastrophic event happen, and then seen such good things happen?” Halstead said. “We do have challenges ahead of us, but this department is more open and caring than ever before.”

He continued, “The biggest challenge for any officer is fulfilling the expectations of the job and of the community. Sometimes an officer’s actions can be perceived as rude, but anyone who takes the oath has a personal calling to protect.”

Halstead described an incident that happened to him as a young man living in Miami when an officer there stopped him without cause and assaulted him “just because I had long hair and dark skin and was driving a fancy car,” which the officer saw as a sure sign he was a drug dealer.

That incident, he said, instilled in him the drive to create a police force where such things wouldn’t happen.

“I have zero tolerance for anyone being disrespected” by an officer on his police force, he said. “If you do that, you have violated your oath. Now the challenge for me is to build a police force that provides holistic service, 24-7. An officer can provide great service, even after an arrest has been made.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Making hay out of hate

Journalists, politicians generate fear for personal gain over plans for mosque near site of 9/11 attack

I recently saw a video clip that sent chills down my spine of a supposedly “grassroots” rally outside a closed Burlington Coat Factory in New York City where protesters were chanting against building a mosque on the site. They were chanting words this publication wouldn’t print.

The hatred was so great that, at one point, a carpenter working on the new building that will replace the World Trade Center passed through the crowd and was verbally and physically attacked. Apparently the hate-filled crowd thought he was a Muslim. He was simply a black man with a skullcap. The level of vitriol was hard to watch: So much anger — and at what?

The truth is not nearly as sensational as the people at Fox News would have you believe. Cordoba Center, the building that is proposed, is not just an Islamic Cultural Center, it will also contain interfaith spaces for Christian and Jewish worship and meditation. Of course you have not heard that story in the news, because it is easier and more sensational to call it the Ground Zero Mosque and show pictures of scary guys in turbans for ratings.

The fundamentalists and right wing have grabbed onto this issue like a chew toy and are shaking it for all the fear and hatred it is worth.

That is what bothers me the most. Fear and hatred are two tools that have been used to galvanize people against us for centuries, and I suspect we are uniquely attuned to recognize them.

It is easy to see where all this is coming from as well. It is a great deal the fault of the right-wing media, like Fox News with their demagogues Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly. But it also has become a cause célèbre for politicians seeking a little extra boost. It would be easy to look at these videos and events and see a “clash of cultures” building. But that is not the reality of the situation.

What we are seeing is a carefully orchestrated fear mongering narrative guided by some pretty cynical folks. Just think back a few years ago when candidates were using the fear of homosexuals to rile up their base.

Fake research groups like the Family Research Council published papers claiming that “35 percent of pedophiles are homosexuals and a child molester is 17 times more likely to be homosexual than heterosexual.” Both these figures are intentional misinterpretations of the actual studies done by real researchers.

The point is, both these “issues” are really no more than jingoistic talking points that rally people into a frenzy. These kinds of false controversies only feed on the underlying real issues of racism, homophobia and xenophobia and blur the picture.

That leaves the question of why? Why would anyone want to stir up this kind of anger? Again, I look to the cynical folks causing it.

For fundamentalist preachers and organizations it is an “easy sell.” Every tent revivalist knows you can get a much fuller collection basket when the congregation is riled up.

The same holds true for the organizations like American Family Association. Fear fills their coffers. For politicians, the answer is obvious. As Sarah Palin says, “mama grizzlies,” once angered, are hard to stop. A populace who is scared will vote for whoever offered them “security.”

Just look to the previous administration and how they successfully manipulated a manufactured war to win re-election. For the “news” organizations like Fox, fear sells. Why spend money on real reporting when you can create events?

As a sidenote, it is further proof of the cynical nature of right-wing media that Al-Walid bin Talal, a Saudi financier, owns a big chunk of Fox News and is also funding the “Ground Zero Mosque” through his charitable contributions. You’ll never hear in the fear narrative being pushed by Fox.

We LGBT Americans know just how powerful fear and hatred can be. We need to look past the sound bites and bumper stickers and see the real issues behind this whole ruckus. It’s about the right to be different. That is a founding principal of our country: Freedom to build a place of worship, a community center, an AIDS clinic or whatever should not be hindered by baseless fears. If we fall prey to the media spotlight beating the drums to “stop the mosque,” we should not be surprised the next time that spotlight falls on us.

It isn’t easy to see past the glare of this craziness. Like the lyrics to the song from the musical Chicago say, “… how can they see with sequins in their eyes … Razzle dazzle ‘em. And they’ll never catch wise!”

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 27, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas

Relic Pat Boone commentary: ‘The mosque at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue’

Remarkably preserved crooner Pat Boone has a commentary up at WND that boggles the mind, “The mosque at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.” You have to read this crap to believe it — it’s TEH CRAZEE from beginning to end. Now I understand just how unbalanced these “Obama is a Muslim” are despite actual facts they have to disbelieve. The aging crooner:

While the controversy still rises and rages on, around the proposed “Cordoba House” mosque and Muslim cultural center right on the edge of Ground Zero, where the World Trade Center stood till Sept. 11, 2001 – there is a world-famous building, dedicated by its current residents to similar purposes, in the middle of Washington, D.C.

We call it the White House.

…He was elected president, as we know, having promised: “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America!”

Almost immediately upon assuming the presidency, he began to make statements claiming America was no longer a Christian nation and that America might be considered a Muslim nation.

…For two years, the president has scarcely noted the National Day of Prayer nor participated in it at all. You’d think a Christian president would be motivated otherwise. Muslims and homosexual activists have been invitees at the White House more than any Christian or Jewish representatives have; odd for a Christian, isn’t it?

His evidence (not sourced, btw) that there is something evil afoot:

“Barack Hussein Obama was born to an 18-year-old Caucasian woman and a Kenyan father. Virtually all his early influences, including his biological father and his Indonesian stepfather, his mother and grandparents – were socialists, atheists, and/or Muslims.”

“He went to two schools in Indonesia as a young, impressionable boy. One was Catholic, the other Muslim. In both, he was identified as a Muslim, and in the latter he was of course indoctrinated in the Muslim faith.”

He said publicly he “still love(s) the sound of the Muslim evening call to prayer,” and could still recite the appropriate prayers.

One of his close friends took him on a prolonged visit to Pakistan during those years, and the question remains about Obama’s passport. If it was American, he would not have been allowed in Pakistan – so what was it?

This kind of lunacy is why the White House had no business even addressing the stupid poll addressing the ignorant Americans whose views match Pat Boone’s. It does not matter whether the President is Christian, Muslim, Jewish, atheist or anything else. They miss that point, but they are not in a reality-based universe to begin with.

And these claims of Obama creating a “Muslim America” because the President has spoken about Islam in a positive manner in the past are beyond absurd, given the influence of evangelicals in the political process in this country. What about the pressure of the religious right (Falwell, Dobson, Rick Warren, et. al.) that throughout the years has forced politicians to grovel and make bold claims of faith in campaigns when religion has no business in government.

Below the fold, some reactions to the column that were on my Facebook page. Hilarious.

Chuck Miller Sweet Jesus! He manages to be noteworthy even in the midst of the extremist babbling I have grown accustomed to hearing on a daily basis. This is something special. (But someone needs to check and make sure he didn't just plagiarize a Little Richard op-ed piece...)

3 hours ago ? Like ?  1 person ?

Redjade InHungary a**hole.

2 hours ago ? Like ?

Sue Katz I can't even bring myself to repost and inflict this garbage on others.

2 hours ago ? Like ?

Chaim Yosef BenEquality Always looking for attention. I take this as serious as his bath tub commercials.

2 hours ago ? Like ?

Alex Luck Not surprised at all!!

2 hours ago ? Like ?

Ted Mcguire I didnt know he was still alive....

2 hours ago ? Like ?  1 person ?

Maria Beardslee-Lakatos I don't think the imbecile IS still alive ~ he appears to have been embalmed in the pic. As to the senseless jibber-jabber, I will chalk it off to post-mortem senility ~

about an hour ago ? Like ?  1 person ?

Alvin McEwen and I ask the question probably for the 100th time. Had Pat Boone made good with the black artists who songs he stole?

about an hour ago ? Like ?  1 person ?

Renee Beauclair Twersky It's like Franklin Graham opened the floodgates.

about an hour ago ? Like ?

Katrina Rose Hey Pat! How about seeing if any of the occupants of that alleged mosque need any of that fake pimple cream you were hawking back in the 1970s even while knowing that it didn't work?

51 minutes ago ? Like ?

Tammy Lenz-Domike Maybe it's time to remind everyone of this (not safe for work, home, your monitor or much of anything else...)

Pat Boone's Dick In A Box? / Queerty

41 minutes ago ? Like ?

Alvin McEwen the words "pat boone" and "dick" used in the same sentence wouldn't be safe in a nuclear containment unit.

29 minutes ago ? Like ?

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

9/11 Widower Ted Olson Supports ‘Ground Zero Mosque’


After an extended discussion of the Prop 8 ruling, Andrea Mitchell asks attorneyTed Olson, whose wife Barbara was killed in 9/11, how he feels about the Park51 controversy.

Olson agrees with Obama that it should not be blocked:

"We don't want to turn an act of hate against us by extremists into an act of intolerance for people of religious faith."


In related news, Howard Dean is saying just the opposite, calling it an "affront to people who lost their lives."

Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

Keith Olbermann: There is no ‘Ground Zero Mosque; Eleveld on Obama’s other mixed messaging problem

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

And from, a good summary of Keith’s remarks (no transcript yet). A snippet:

Olbermann described the Right’s campaign as, “Yet in a country dedicated to freedom, forces have gathered to blow out of all proportion the construction of a minor community center to transform it into a training ground for terrorists, and an insult to the victims of 9/11, and a tribute to the Medieval Muslim subjugation of the West. There is in fact no Ground Zero Mosque. It isn’t a mosque. A mosque technically is a Muslim holy place where only worship can be conducted. What is planned for 45 Park Place New York City is a community center. It’s supposed to include a basketball court and a culinary school. It is to be thirteen stories tall, and the top two stories will be a Muslim prayer space. What a cauldron to terrorism that will be, terrorist chefs and terrorist point guards.”

Olbermann pointed out that since 9/11 Muslims have been at greater risk of being victims of US terrorism than non-Muslims. After he debunked Newt Gingrich’s fear mongering over the name Cordoba House, which he called a figment of Gingrich’s imagination, and the MSNBC host pointed out that the community center will be open to all New Yorkers.

He also knocked down the falsehood that the community center is located on Ground Zero, “This place Park 51 is not even at Ground Zero, not even right across the street. Even the description of it being two blocks away is generous. It is two blocks away from the northeast corner of the World Trade Center site, from the planned location of the 9/11 Memorial, it is more like four or five blocks even.” Olbermann showed that there is no view of the World Trade Center visible from the community center.


On a related note, Kerry Eleveld’s latest column in The Advocate points out that “Obama’s mixed messaging on the mosque proposed near Ground Zero leads one to wonder why the White House is so unwilling to touch other hot-button issues.”

Like “The Homosexual Agenda“?

Well, he sure likes taking our money, huh? Just doesn’t like to step on that third rail (other than to send David Axelrod out to bleat out incoherent messaging about equality and marriage).

Obama’s position – that he defends the right to build without supporting the project – mirrors national polling numbers. While one poll found that about 64% of voters believe proponents should be able to build, another poll found that 68% oppose the plan itself.

The situation brings several questions to the fore.

First, what exactly is the administration’s communications team doing? They either miscalculated the national mood or they misjudged how the president’s words would be received on Friday. But they unquestionably should have seen flashes of the firestorm to come from Sarah Palin and her cronies eons before they sent the president out to carry the torch for democracy.

Or is it possible that the president and his advisers understood exactly where this was headed but just couldn’t take the heat once they stepped into the pit? No matter what the answer, the White House squandered the president’s most precious commodity: his word – his compact of trust with the American people.

And here’s another stumper. The same CNN poll showing that more than 2/3 of Americans opposed the project was also the very first poll in history to find that a majority of Americans (52% to 46%) believe gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry.

Now marriage polls do see-saw even as they continue to trend toward equality and a Public Policy Poll late last week found that 57% of voters still think same-sex marriage should be illegal. But the fact remains that both of those polls show less opposition to marriage equality than to the Mosque project, and I can’t help but puzzle at the White House’s willingness to broach one subject while they continue to run away from the other as if it’s too hot touch.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

NY GOP Candidate For Gov: Vote For Me And I’ll Stop The Ground Zero Mosque

RELATED: The New York Times reports today that the GOP has launched anti-mosque campaigns around the country in an attempt to capitalize on the fervor about the Ground Zero mosque.

In Murfreesboro, Tenn., Republican candidates have denounced plans for a large Muslim center proposed near a subdivision, and hundreds of protesters have turned out for a march and a county meeting. In late June, in Temecula, Calif., members of a local Tea Party group took dogs and picket signs to Friday prayers at a mosque that is seeking to build a new worship center on a vacant lot nearby. In Sheboygan, Wis., a few Christian ministers led a noisy fight against a Muslim group that sought permission to open a mosque in a former health food store bought by a Muslim doctor. At one time, neighbors who did not want mosques in their backyards said their concerns were over traffic, parking and noise — the same reasons they might object to a church or a synagogue. But now the gloves are off. In all of the recent conflicts, opponents have said their problem is Islam itself.

Joe. My. God.

—  John Wright