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Monday, August 18, 2014

Bryan Higgins: Memorial Held for Gay Man Slain in Duboce Park

Posted By on Mon, Aug 18, 2014 at 3:04 PM

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It was overcast this morning when a small group of mourners gathered in front of St. Francis Lutheran Church in the Castro to pray for Bryan Higgins, whose body was found in front of the church on the morning of Aug. 10. There was a sadness in the air, but also a determination to heal.

The openly gay Higgins, who was known as Feather within the Radical Faeries, died three days after his body was found. He was 31.

This morning's 15-minute service was led by Father Paul Gawlowski of St. Paul's of the Shipwreck, a Bayview-based congregation. The memorial was arranged by the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

"Anytime anyone has been killed on our streets we go and bless the ground and pray for the victim. We invite others to pray with us," Father Paul told SF Weekly as the service was about to begin. "We pray for their family and friends, and we pray for peace in our communities. We also pray the St. Francis Prayer for Peace, as St. Francis is the Patron Saint of our city." 

Father Paul Gawlowski led the Memorial service for Bryan Higgins
  • Father Paul Gawlowski led the Memorial service for Bryan Higgins
He opened Higgins' service by sprinkling Holy Water on the ground where Higgins' body was found, and followed that with the Lord's Prayer.

Attendees stepped forward, to say their peace about the tragedy that has hit the Castro community hard. "We have to stress the importance of healing," said Carolina Parrales. "And the importance of every person in the city. We have to be more active in making the streets safer."

Meanwhile, Paulette Brown held up a sign reading "Stand Up For Justice." The bereaved mother said she lost a son to violence and now hosts The Healing Circle, a support group for victims of violence and for the survivors of those murdered.

"As a mom I want to give solace to Feather's parents," Brown said. "I feel for the parents. I want to give them hugs. The pain might get easier, but the grief lasts a lifetime. Let's start the healing and stop the violence."

Police say Higgins may have been the victim of a robbery, as he had no wallet or identification on him when he was brought to San Francisco General Hospital. Neither a gun nor a knife was used during the crime, police said. 

SFPD, who are now reviewing surveillance footage of the assault, are seeking any witnesses who might have seen Higgins Saturday night or who were in the area of Duboce and Church Streets at around 7:30 a.m. on Aug. 10. 

Police say the suspect they're looking for a is a white man in his 20s or 30s who was wearing a grey hoodie at the time of the incident. If you have any information, please contact the SFPD at (415) 575-4444

"It's shocking to me because I was feeding the street people inside the church when this happened," said Max Christian Schultz, who attended this morning's memorial. "This reminds me to be humble — there's got to be good coming out of this. I guess we have to trust God on this one."

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