Tens of thousands have signed a petition to rename the Spanish street where a young gay man was brutally beaten to death to ensure the world “never forgets” Samuel Luiz.
Luiz, a 24-year-old nursing assistant, died after a simple misunderstanding outside Andén, a nightclub in A Coruña, Galicia escalated into at least a dozen people pummelling him to death.
The young gay man’s death sent shockwaves through Spain that has long prided itself as liberal, enraging activists and politicians alike as questions mounted over how – and why – such an act of brutality took place.
Four young people aged between 20 and 25 have since been arrested in connection to the crime, the country’s national police force said.
Investigators have compared the frenzied battering to a “human pack” hunting Luiz down as he fled two blocks down Avenida Bos Aires until he collapsed on the street corner. His attackers continued to kick him as a crowd cheered them on, they said.
Now, a petition started by a life-long resident has drawn more than 42,000 signatures calling on city officials to rename Avenida Bos Aires in a powerful tribute to his life.
“To ensure respect and to honour the memory and legacy of the victim,” the petition states, “it is proposed that [A Coruña City Council] rename the avenue where the young man was brutally murdered (Avenida de Buenos Aires) in honour of Samuel Luiz.
“The city of A Coruña will never forget you, Samuel. We love you forever.”
Samuel Luiz’s name must never be forgotten, says man behind petition
Juanma, a 24-year-old student, has lived in A Coruña his entire life. It’s a sleepy town, he told PinkNews, full of open-minded folks that enjoy a relaxing life on the tip of the rocky Galician coastline.
Avenida Bos Aires itself is a street that snakes along the beach, well-known for its big-ticket hotels, sticky takeaways and dive bars.
He’s always felt safe living there – until he read about Luiz’s death.
“A Coruña is a peaceful city,” he said, “and Corunnians should not forget what this crime means for us.
“People have been really impacted by this tragedy and want to have Samuel’s name on an A Coruña’s city street since he will never walk through them again.
“I want to rename the street where Samuel died because I think it is a way to preserve his memory.”
What happened to Luiz was not just a “homophobic crime”, Juanma said. It was clear to him that Luiz’s attackers took “pleasure” in mercilessly hitting him “without reason”.
“It was not an equal fight,” he said, “it was violence for the sake of violence.”
For Juanma, seeing the street where Samuel once strolled along to see friends for coffee or grab groceries, only to take his final steps on, is a haunting reminder of the violence queer Spaniards continue to face.
Luiz’s death, he added, has become an almost uneasy flashpoint in the country’s LGBT+ rights movement that has not only touched off a wave of protests in countless major cities but has spurred more victims of anti-LGBT+ crime to speak out.
“Many people are reporting their homophobic experiences in life,” he said, “in order to show society that we have always suffered from this violence since we were kids.”