STATEMENT BY JESUS RIOS, PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY OF WYOMING STUDENT BODY

Oct. 12, 1998 -- The following statement was made by Jesus Rios, Associated Students of the University of Wyoming (ASUW) president, at an Oct. 11 candlelight vigil in Laramie for Matthew Shepard.

"Many of us here are angry... We're angry about the ruthless and senseless actions that have taken place in our own backyard... We're angry about the hatred that has and continues to plague our children, our children who then grow to become hateful people... We're angry because the life of Matthew Shepard was taken for granted by hate-filled people... And perhaps we're angry because deep, deep down a part of us is filled with fear.

"There is nothing wrong with being angry. There is nothing wrong with being outraged! It is a human emotion that at some point in time affects us all.

"But let me tell you that how we manage and apply that anger is something we need to be extremely cautious of doing. If we are not careful to be constructive with our anger, to make good of something so bad, than we allow those who are hateful people to win. Friends remember that anger is only one letter away from spelling danger, and we must be cautious. The individuals who committed this horrific act felt anger in their hearts. They were angry about that which they did not understand. Their fears brought them hate and their hate brought them anger, and the danger of those fears, the product of that element, crumbled the security of this community.

"Don't be afraid... Don't be hateful. Don't allow what has been done to close your heart. Be sensitive to the need for a resolution and mindful of the need for progression.

"Part of the need for progression is being able to forgive. The most difficult thing to do is to forgive the individuals who did this to Matthew. It is easier to allow ourselves to despise them, than it is forgive them.

"The story of the young boy who hammered a nail into his fathers desk at home applies to our situation. When the father came home and saw what the boy had done, the boy asked for forgiveness. And the father said, Son I forgive you, but when I remove the nail, the hole will still be there.

"And that is what will happen here, if we find it in ourselves to be forgiving. What has happened to Matthew will leave a wound in us all, which can not heal if you do not reach with in yourselves and love.

"My thoughts and prayers remain with Matthew and his family. I pray for peace and comfort in their lives, and offer the assistance and support of the Associated Students of the University of Wyoming and of my own, to be utilized by them in any way they see fit. God Bless us all!"

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