About 100 people showed up at the DC Center Thursday night to discuss the violence against the LGBT community and to remember those who have been killed in violent hate attacks in recent years.
About 10 organizations representing members of the Latino community, along with the Transgender Coalition, Stein Club and GLOV introduced a letter they agreed to send to Mayor Adrian Fenty demanding that he reconstitute the Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit with a full compliment of members and a sergeant who will report directly to Chief Cathy Lanier.
Fenty said he would not tamper with the unit when he ran for mayor the first time but since then, many in the community believe that the GLLU has been rendered ineffective by the changes Lanier has made to it.
In the last two months there have been nine incidents of violence against the community ranging from robberies to a beating to a murder. The speakers all thanked the officers still working with the GLLU for their efforts but said that they don’t have the ability to
influence the MPD’s response to violence against the community in the same way the award-winning unit had at its height.
A speaker told of a police officer coming to his home in response to a 911 call and ending up calling him names instead of reporting the incident. He is still trying to get a response from the MPD on the incident. A woman told of calling 911 after she was followed home by a group of teenagers who called her names and threatened her and the police told her there was nothing they could do even after they identified the leader of the group. She asked, “Do I have to be killed before I can get any action?”
This broad coalition of LGBT organizations has committed to work together to get something done and to insist that the mayor respond to the needs of the community. I was surprised at the strong positive response I got when I suggested that in today’s climate we may need to take to the streets or stage a sit-in at the mayor’s office to get the attention this crisis deserves. Everyone agreed we cannot simply stand by while members of our community are being attacked and killed.
In an interview in the Blade today, Council Chair Vince Gray, who is running for mayor, committed to reinstating the full complement of the GLLU if elected mayor. He stated that contrary to the current mayor who said he will leave this up to the police chief, “I think that people expect people in the mayoral position, the Council chair position, to have positions on these issues and then work to see that they are implemented.”