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Charles O. Howard (January 31, 1961 – July 7, 1984) was a resident of Bangor, Maine in 1984. As Howard and a male companion (Roy Ogden) were walking down the street, three underage juveniles began to harass Howard for being a homosexual. The youths chased the pair, yelling anti-homosexual epithets, until they caught Charlie Howard and threw him over the State Street Bridge into the Kenduskeag Stream, despite his pleas that he could not swim. He drowned, but his friend escaped and pulled a fire alarm. Charlie Howard's body was found by rescue workers several hours later.
This event galvanized the Bangor community in ways similar to the killing of Matthew Shepard, although the case never attained the same level of national notoriety. One of the juveniles later spoke to various groups in Maine about his involvement in the case and the damage that intolerance can do to people and their community. His story was later published, although he received no royalties from the book, Penitence: A True Story by Edward Armstrong.
The Bangor City Council and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) community have been working on a monument to be installed along the Kenduskeag Stream honoring the memory of Charlie Howard as the victim of a hate crime. On November 14, 2007, the Bangor City Council approved the monument, and the Charles O. Howard Memorial Foundation is raising money to install the monument. On July 7, 2004, a twentieth anniversary walk was held in memory of Charlie Howard.
The Maine Speakout Project maintains the Charlie Howard Memorial Library in Portland, Maine. The library is open to the public.
This incident inspired a similar scene in the beginning of Stephen King's novel It, where three homophobic teenagers throw an openly gay man, Adrian Mellon, over a bridge and into the Kenduskeag, where he is set upon and murdered by the monster Pennywise.
- Armstrong, Edward J. (1994). Penitence: A True Story. Bangor: Lucie Madden Associates. ISBN 0-9642473-0-5
- Preston, John. (1995). Winter's Light: Reflections of a Yankee Queer. Hanover NH: University Press of New England. ISBN 0-87451-674-9
- Carnes, Jim. (1996). Us and Them: A History of Intolerance in America. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-513125-8
- Gagnon, Dawn "Hate crime memorial plan debated" Bangor Daily News August 26, 2006 (accessed September 8, 2006)A Rose for Charlie.
- A Rose for Charlie: brief account of Howard's coming to Bangor and his death (accessed September 8, 2006)