News & Opinion
Whether queer or an ally -- homophobic violence spares none.
A California community mourns as a local shop owner and fashion design veteran was murdered in front of her own store. Laura Carleton, 66, was the owner of Mag.Pi clothing shop. Her assailant 27-year-old Travis Ikeguchi -- who was later shot dead by police -- initially confronted her about a pride flag that hung outside her store.
According to the San Bernardino Sheriff's Office, the suspect made "several disparaging remarks about a rainbow flag that stood outside the store."
Carleton leaves behind her husband as well as nine children. Police arrived on scene around 5 p.m. where Carleton was pronounced dead.
Laura Carleton first opened Mag.Pi in Studio City in 2013, followed by a second location in Cedar Glen. Her daughters shared that vandalism was frequent and the flag has been torn down several times in the past. Despite this, Laura was fearless and persistent, rehanging a bigger one each time.
"We find peace in knowing she passed quickly in a place she cherished, doing what she loved while fiercely defending something she believed, Ari Carleton shared via Instagram. "Make no mistake, this was a hate crime." Laura was married with nine children and an ally to the LGBT community.
Fashion designer Kenneth Cole took to Twitter to recognize Carleton as well as his support for gun reform. Laura also worked for Kenneth Cole in its seed stages, ultimately becoming an executive in her 15-year tenure.
Statistics show that LGBT persons are more likely to be victims of a hate crime. According to the Williams Institute at UCLA's School of Law, by nine times more. While Carleton was a straight ally, symbolism allowed her to be perceived by her murderer the same as any other queer individual.
The San Berandino Sheriff's Department has not officially declared Carleton's murder as a hate crime, but aforementioned, her daughter disagrees.
Some organizations and research groups have drawn correlations between LGBT hate crimes, their occurrence, and influence from lawmakers. The ADL (Anti-Defamation League) and national LGBTQ+ organization GLAAD have released a primitive report, tracking acts of harassment, vandalism and assault motivated by anti-LGBTQ+ hate. The report identifies more than 350 incidents that directly coincide with an increase in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and legislation.
“This first-of-its-kind report provides a sobering snapshot of the deluge of hatred the LGBTQ+ community faces every single day, sparked in large part by organized extremist activity,” said ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt. “
We hope these stark findings serve as a wakeup call to lawmakers, civil society leaders, and community leaders to stand up to this onslaught of hate and support our LGBTQ+ community." The Co-published report categorized elected officials as part of this "extremist" group.
The Lake Arrowhead LGBT+ community group is planning to hold a vigil for Carleton once tropical storm Hilary passes.