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The Campaign to Reverse Sentence in Colorado Springs Hate Crime Escalates: “The Criminal Justice System was not Built for Queer Folks”

Posted: November 11, 2015 at 3:44 am by , in Early Morning News

“We know all too well that LGBTQ communities face severe and deadly violence. We also know that LGBTQ people who defend themselves from violence are often fighting for their lives, as Nate was on March 1, 2014.”

The violence survival group Survivors Organizing for Liberation gave these statements after the group received a call to their hotline made by the partner of Nathaniel Mancha, Carlton “Cruz” Mohn that same month.
On March 1, 2014, Nathaniel Mancha said that he defended himself against a homophobic hate crime.

The 24-year-old Nathaniel Mancha said he was driving his partner to work in Colorado Springs. According to Mancha and Mohn, to avoid being late, Nate cut off a driver to make a quick left turn. As Mancha and Mohn pulled into the Erindale shopping center parking lot, they noticed that the car that they had cut off, a green 2002 Dodge Caravan, followed them.  As Mohn got out of his car to go to work, the driver, Anthony Jafari, 30, allegedly yelled out a homophobic slur and drove away.

According to Mancha, after he dropped off Mohn, Jafari cornered Mancha and used his van to block the exit to the parking lot.

Mancha described to supporters how Jafari yelled slurs against Mancha’s sexual orientation, along with threats of violence. He said that Jafari then exited his vehicle and approached Mancha’s truck carrying a crowbar while continuing to yell and threaten Mancha.  Jafari allegedly hit Mancha’s truck with the crowbar, visibly damaging the vehicle.

Mancha said that he feared for his life because he was unarmed but also because he could see no individuals to approach for assistance. He did not have a cellphone to call for help. It is alleged that as Mancha fled the scene, he hit Jafari with his truck.  Jafari was hospitalized as a result.

In police reports, Jafari misidentified the vehicle make, model, color and license plate, but clearly identified only the rainbow sticker on the back of Mancha’s car.

Although Jafari admitted to having followed and approaching Mancha, Colorado Springs news sources portrayed him as the victim.  Although Mancha said he was unarmed and that he fled in self-defense, he was described as “armed and dangerous” in police reports.  Mention of the homophobic slurs was included in local reports from Jafari’s perspective but earlier media reports made no mention of Mancha’s version of events.

Mancha’s partner Mohn reported that when they saw what was described as biased reporting about what they felt was a crucial part of the altercation-the homophobic element-they felt betrayed by the media, police, and the Colorado Springs community. Mancha said he did not turn himself in because he feared that the police would arrest him without hearing his side of the story.

Mancha was arrested on attempted murder charges and was ordered to pay a $125,000 bond.

Metro organizations went into full gear, launching campaigns for court support and informational campaigns.

He was tried on September 2014 and found guilty of first degree felony assault and leaving the scene of the accident on October 6, 2014.  On December 12, 2014 he was sentenced to the maximum 32 year sentence.

Organizers with Survivors Organizing for Liberation responded to the sentence in a statement, “Our hearts are filled with outrage and sadness that yet another queer survivor who defended himself is facing this extremely unjust sentence. ”

Lynne Sprague, Director of Training and Advocacy at Survivors Organizing for Liberation talks about the Justice for Nate campaign to support Nathaniel Mancha in the following account given to a crowd of about 500 supporters:

 

Mancha’s partner Cruz Mohn speaks to KGNU regarding the work for an appeal:

 

 

(editor note:  Police and Jabari version of the incident were commonly quoted in initial media reports.  KGNU’s mission statement includes highlighting underrepresented voices.)

 

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Mancha’s partner, Carlton “Cruz” Mohn describes to an audience of about 500 people at a fundraiser for  SOL on Thursday, November 5, 2015 how he will continue efforts in the Justice4Nate campaign.

 

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