TUCSON (Observer Update) - On Saturday, June 6, while the world marked the 65th Anniversary of D-Day and the Invasion of Normandy during World War II, Tucsonans gathered in Sunset Park to remember a young man, Richard Heakin, brutally murdered at a nightclub for who he was.
Heakin was wrapping up a vacation and went with friends to the former Stonewall Tavern on North First Avenue just south of East Fort Lowell Road. As the group was leaving, Heakin was attacked in the parking lot by four young men, looking for some “fags to hassle.”
These four received only probation for what was termed a hate crime, Tucson pressed for change and introduced anti-discrimination laws, coming about in 1977, resulting in new organizations (this publication) and pride events celebrating the LGBT community ever since.
In 2002, a campaign by community activists was launched to have a memorial plaque created and placed to honor and remember Heakin, which was subsequently place in Sunset Park in front of Tucson’s City Hall.
The plaque reads, “This memorial is placed in gratitude to Richard and all those who have sacrificed in the struggle to make Tucson a place where all persons can enjoy the freedom to be themselves, regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression. We hereby commemorate a tragedy that has transformed us and our history into a triumph of community spirit.”
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