The mob called 24-year-old nursing assistant Samuel Luiz “maricón” — a faggot — as they beat him to death outside of a nightclub in the northeastern Spanish city of A Coruña, as it is known in the Galician dialect, in the early hours of Saturday, July 3.
Almost a week later, Spain, a country widely recognized for being an accepting place for LGBT people, remains saddened and shocked — although those emotions have been widely overtaken by anger.
Luiz’s killing took place on the first weekend that nightspots were reopened after over a year of closures due to the pandemic in the largest city in the Galicia province, on the remote northeast coast of Spain.
Luiz was excited to finally go out with his friends, some of whom worked with him at a nursing home.
Luiz, came from a devout evangelical Christian Spanish-Brazilian family. His father was a deacon in a local congregation. Luiz played the flute at the church, taught other young people at church and participated in church services until his death. He was an only child, and the family reported being devastated at the loss. The father expressed to media outlets that he was uncomfortable at his son’s memory being used to promote political ideologies and requested that those who wanted to show their support for Luiz to please donate to the Spanish Red Cross, where his son was a volunteer. The father says that he was not aware of his son’s sexual orientation, although Luiz’s friends state that he did not hide his sexual orientation from anyone. Luiz was buried in a private family ceremony on Sunday.
The police have been interviewing several witnesses and by Tuesday had arrested four suspects, one woman and three men, all from the area. They are also reviewing video evidence taken by onlookers, and traffic cameras.
The fatal incident was spurred, apparently, by a tragic misunderstanding. Luiz and a female friend left the club to make a video call to another friend. A group of mostly young men nearby thought the woman was filming them, and one man threatened Luiz to “stop filming or else I will kill you, faggot.” He twice knocked Luiz to the ground. Still conscious, Samuel asked his friend to recover his cell phone, but moments later the man returned with up to 11 others. The group began kicking and beating Samuel, some calling him “faggot” while doing so.
A Senegalese immigrant who tried to shield Samuel from the beating, could not protect him, and he was pronounced dead around 40 minutes later at a local hospital.
When word got out about the brutal murder, LGBT rights organizations called for protests at plazas throughout the country. Luiz’s friends who were with him that tragic night spoke briefly at a rainy gathering in A Coruña and thousands gathered at the iconic Puerta del Sol in Madrid.
That protest in Madrid turned ugly as police charged on participants and beat some with batons, after some spontaneously began moving along a main street presumably towards the presidential palace at Moncloa.
The left-leaning political party Más Madrid condemned the actions of the police and called for an explanation for the use of force. For his part, the Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez, called the killing of Luiz “a savage and depraved act,” according to the El País newspaper.
The question of whether those responsible for Samuel’s death will be charged with hate crimes remains up in the air at this stage, according to the National Police. This has further angered the LGBT community in Spain and their allies.
There are plans for further protests this weekend throughout Spain.