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NCAVP mourns the death of Blaze Bernstein in Orange County, California

NCAVP mourns the loss of Blaze Bernstein, who was stabbed to death in Orange County, California, in early January, 2018. According to media reports, 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein disappeared on January 2, 2018, after being picked up in a car by school classmate Samuel Lincoln Woodward, 20. Bernstein’s body was discovered on January 9 and Woodward was arrested on January 12 after police identified Bernstein’s blood on a possession in Woodward’s car. Woodward is reported to have thought Bernstein was making sexual advances toward him, and police are investigating the killing as an “act of rage.”

We mourn the loss of Blaze Bernstein and send love and care to his friends, family, and loved ones. Blaze was remembered by hundreds at a vigil in Irvine on January 15, 2018. “Those who spoke described Bernstein’s gift as a writer, his love of food and cooking, his humor and his never-ending ability to inspire others by simply helping them find the value within themselves,” wrote the Daily Breeze.

All too often, homophobia can lead to deadly violence. We condemn this act of hatred, and we discourage framing Bernstein’s murder as stemming from an “act of rage.” There is no such thing as gay panic or trans panic, and in fact, the “gay panic defense” is banned in two states, California and Illinois, and the American Bar Association suggests others follow suit. Knowledge of someone’s sexual or gender identity never justifies deadly violence. Rather, we must work to end homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia at all levels, to ensure that this deadly violence does not continue.

In memory of Blaze Bernstein.

We know it can be hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. Read the full list here.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

Larissa Pham

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