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Float Carried Figure Mocking Gays

October 13, 1998

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) _ Colorado State University is investigating how a scarecrow that mocked homosexuals appeared on a homecoming parade float while a severely beaten gay man lay dying in a nearby hospital.

The scarecrow appeared on a float sponsored by Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and Alpha Chi Omega sorority in Saturday’s parade.

Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student, died Monday in Poudre Valley Hospital from injuries he suffered last week when he was lured from a Laramie, Wyo., campus hangout, beaten and lashed to a fence. The bicyclists who found him at first mistook him for a scarecrow.

Nicholas Haws, homecoming chairman for Pi Kappa Alpha, said the scarecrow was supposed to be in the uniform of Tulsa University’s Golden Hurricane, Colorado State’s opponents in Saturday’s football game.

He said someone vandalized the float Friday night, pinning a sign saying ``I am Gay″ and an anti-gay epithet on the figure. He said the scarecrow was removed but someone placed it back on the float before Saturday’s parade.

Nathan Stanley, president of the Fort Collins chapter of the fraternity, said the appearance of the scarecrow was inadvertent.

``The fraternity does not promote any kind of stuff like that,″ he said.

The sorority did not immediately comment.

University President Albert C. Yates said appropriate disciplinary action will be taken once an investigation is complete.

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