By Gabriela Resto-Montero
MANHATTAN — A delegation of City Council members, including speaker Christine Quinn, arrived in Puerto Rico Tuesday to urge the government there to speak out against the brutal murder of a gay Puerto Rican teen.
Quinn tweeted from the meeting held with the family of Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, who was brutally murdered in Novemeber.
"In Puerto Rico at the morning press conference urging the Gov to take action in the murder of Jorge Lopez," Quinn wrote.
Quinn was joined by city councilmembers Melissa Mark-Viverito, of East Harlem, Rosie Mendez of the Lower East Side, Danny Dromm, of Jackson Heights and Jimmy Van Bramer, of Sunnyside, as well as Chicago representatives.
The murder trial against Lopez Mercado's suspected killer could be the first of its kind in Puerto Rico to fall under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
The 19-year-old's alleged murderer, Juan Martinez Matos, 26, said he snapped into a psychotic frenzy when he realized the teen was not a woman after he picked him up not far from his home.
Lopez Mercado's body was found burned, decapitated and dismembered in November. Despite the brutality of the crime, Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuno has not made any public statements about the case.
"There is a certain level of accountability for our elected officials," Mark-Viverito said of Fortuno's silence.
"I'm outraged that he hasn't spoken on this matter," she said. "He should be leading by example and he in fact is fueling certain sentiments."