Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Mug Shots of Three Arrested in Philadelphia Gay-Bashing Incident Released, All Three Are Grads of Archbishop Wood Catholic High

Here are the mugshots of the three young people arrested today on charges that they took an active role in the brutal beating of two gay men in Philadelphia on 11 September — Philip Williams, Kathryn Knott, and Kevin Harrigan. Victor Fiorillo of Philadelphia Magazine has posted them to Twiter. See also this Philadelphia Magazine article by Fiorillo and this article by David Badash at The New Civil Rights Movement website.

As Christine Killon reports, all three are former students of Archbishop Wood Catholic high school in Warminster, Pennsylvania, as was Fran McGlinn, who was fired from his role as a coach at the Catholic school after photos on Twitter and video footage of the crowd who beat the two gay men on 11 September were made public. In fact, numerous news reports have stated that most if not all of the group who accosted the two men were Archbishop Wood graduates, who had gathered for a party at a Philadelphia restaurant prior to the gay-bashing incident. 

Dan Stamm and Kelly Bayliss of NBC Philadelphia also confirm that Knott is an Archbishop Wood graduate. This Storify article by Scott Wooledge reporting on anti-gay remarks she has made on her Twitter feed has been making the rounds of news and social media sites today, with attention, as well, to comments she makes on Twitter (reported on by Victor Fiorillo) that appear to indicate that her father, a police chief, may have gotten special treatment for her in a 2012 road incident.

This profile page at the MaxPreps site shows that Kevin Harrigan played football for Archbishop Wood Catholic high school, and graduated from the school in 2007. Philip Williams is also a 2007 graduate of the school.

Given the connections of those who assaulted two gay men recently in Philadelphia to a Catholic high school in the area, I think it's fair for Thom Nickels to note at Huffington Post that it was "doubly shocking" to read, immediately after the news of the attack broke, that the attackers appeared, most of them, to be graduates of a Catholic high school.

As Nickels writes,

Think about it: what about the catechism lessons these Wood grads must have heard about loving your neighbor as yourself? What about the morality of physically attacking someone to such a degree that there's a risk of breaking the Sixth Commandment -- Thou Shalt Not Kill? The most important lesson any religion class should teach is the value and worth of every human person, whatever their status, orientation, unpopularity, or perceived "sinfulness." 

And why shouldn't questions like this be asked when news like this breaks, especially when the media and many Catholics, including not a few gay Catholics working for full inclusion of LGBT people in the Catholic church, keep reassuring us that things have gotten so much better for gay Catholics under the current pope? Somehow, the kinder and gentler and things-getting-better message seems not to have filtered down to the group of Catholic high school graduates who beat up two gay men in Philadelphia recently, or to the pastor of the parish in Lewistown, Montana, who recently informed two elderly gay men that they can't receive communion any longer, or to Archbishop John Nienstedt as he just shoved a music minister in Victoria, Minnesota, out of his job.

And those are only the most recent stories in a string of similar stories from the last few years in the U.S. Catholic church. As the media inform us that things are far better for gay Catholics under Pope Francis . . . .

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