LGBTQ+ groups across Spain arranged street demonstrations on Monday to call for justice for Samuel Luiz, a young nurse who was killed in a brutal attack in the early hours of Saturday morning in the northwestern city of A Coruña in Galicia. While investigators are still working to find the authors of the crime and establish the motive, one of Luiz’s friends has claimed on social media that there was a homophobic motive to the assault, which apparently began outside a nightclub over a misunderstanding involving the 24-year-old victim.
The María Pita square in A Coruña was filled with thousands of people on Monday evening, expressing their support for friends and families of Luiz, who was killed during Pride weekend. The female friends who were accompanying the victim during his final moments were also there. They made public addresses calling for the case to be resolved and requesting respect for the family of the young man, who opted not to come to the protests.
Hours previously, the victim’s father, Max Luiz, called for the murder of his son not to be used as a “flag” and recommended that attendees at the protest donate food to the Red Cross. “I know that would have made my son happy,” he said. The donations piled up outside the Palacio Municipal building, protected from the intermittent rain showers that accompanied the demonstration.
A representative from the Avante LGBT+ association began the speeches at the protest stating that while police investigations were ongoing, it was undeniable that “one of ours” has been killed, pointing out that a few days ago, a homosexual couple was attacked in A Coruña, as was a trans woman in Santiago a night after the crime involving Luiz. “Their love is worth more than your violence,” one of the placards at the demonstration read. The friends of the 24-year-old were wearing shirts with the slogan “#JusticeForSamuel.” That message has flooded social media since Saturday as a way to denounce the crime.
There were also protests on the streets of Asturias, Aragón, Castilla y León, Catalonia, Castilla-La Mancha, Valencia, La Rioja, Murcia, Andalusia, Extremadura and Madrid. In the Spanish capital, thousands of people took to the central Puerta del Sol square. The slogan of the protest was: “No more deaths due to hate, intolerance or discrimination.”
“We are here for Samuel, not just for him, but for everyone who has suffered or could suffer homophobic assaults,” shouted Diego Rubia, 21, holding a placard in the air. “They didn’t kill him, they’ve murdered him;” “Get fascists out of our neighborhoods;” “They killed Samuel for being a fag,” were some of the other slogans heard in the square on Monday night.
Riot police units from the National Police closed in on the demonstrators at the intersection of Alberto Aguilera and Princesa streets in the Argüelles area of Madrid, according to news agency Europa Press, in order to stop the demonstration from marching further. The agency reported that police charged against some of the demonstrators and that there were a number of skirmishes between protestors and officers. The police tried to clear the demonstrators from the public way.
The spokesperson for the left-wing Más Madrid party in the regional parliament, Mónica García, and the leader of sister group Más País, Íñigo Errejón, took to Twitter to criticize the “disproportionate” actions of the police in Argüelles. Both called for explanations.
Meanwhile, barely 48 hours have passed since the police began their investigation into the death of Luiz. So far, a number of witnesses and people involved in the incident have been questioned by investigators but there have so far been no arrests. Some of the witnesses voluntarily came to give statements, according to the central government delegation in Galicia. The delegate in the northwestern region, José Miñones, called for prudence while the investigation takes place and stated that the case is currently sealed in order to ensure any suspects are detained.
As for the motive of the crime, Miñones stated that a homophobic attack is one of the open hypothesis, but that “nothing is being ruled out in the first phase of the investigation.”
The tweet posted by Luiz’s friend claiming that the attack was due to his sexual orientation has sparked a wave of reaction on social media – not just from LGBTQ+ collectives, but also from politicians and parties who have expressed their rejection of the apparent homophobic connotations of the crime.
“I trust that the police investigation will soon find the authors of the killing of Samuel and establish the facts,” wrote Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez via his Twitter account. “We will not take a step backward in rights and liberties. Spain will not tolerate it. All of my support for his family and loved ones.”
The attack happened at 3am on Saturday, which was just the second night that nightlife venues had reopened in Galicia since coronavirus restrictions had been lifted. Luiz was with some friends outside the nightclub and was speaking on a videocall on his cellphone – prompting a group of people to apparently think he was recording them. One of the group is alleged to have verbally engaged with Luiz and then punched him, before the rest of the men became involved in the assault. Luiz later died in hospital from his injuries.
English version by Simon Hunter.