January 25, 2011 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Gay man charged with ‘hate crime’

Kevin Jaden Perry (Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. police Sunday night charged a gay man with a gay-related hate crime following an altercation with a panhandler on the sidewalk outside the 17th Street, N.W. gay bar JR’s.

The United States Attorney’s office dropped the hate crime designation the next day at an arraignment in D.C. Superior Court for Kevin “Jaden” Perry, 35, who says he’s a member of the local group called Radical Faeries.

But based on a police account of what happened, prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s office charged him with assault, possession of a prohibited weapon (a chain), and threats to do bodily harm to the panhandler. A judge released him on his own recognizance while he awaits a possible trial.

Perry and two friends who were with him dispute the allegations, saying the panhandler started the incident by calling Perry a faggot and raising his fists near Perry’s face when Perry refused the man’s request for money.

“I never assaulted the guy,” Perry told the Blade at the courthouse after his arraignment. “I called him out for calling me a faggot,” he said. “I was on 17th Street on a gay street and I just wasn’t going to take that.”

A police report filed in court, based on accounts by the panhandler and an unidentified witness, quotes Perry as calling the panhandler a “faggot” at the time Perry allegedly assaulted him.

“I will kill you. You’re a faggot,” the report quotes Perry as saying. “I’m a real faggot, bitch. You don’t want to fuck with a real faggot, bitch. I will fucking kill you.”

When asked about the police report, Perry said he never threatened to kill the panhandler and never physically assaulted him. He said he used the word faggot in the form of a question after the panhandler hurled that word at him.

“What I said was, ‘faggot? I’ll show you a faggot. I’ll whup your ass if you hit me,’” Perry told the Blade. “I never threatened to kill anybody.”

Perry continued, “Had he not thrown the first punch I would have walked away because honestly at that time I just wanted to go the McDonald’s and go … home.

“And he had to throw a punch and that’s when I lost it because I don’t take that shit,” he said. “I refuse to be victimized. You know, if you act like a victim you’re going to be treated like a victim.”

Roy Alexander, one of two friends who were with Perry at the time of the incident, backed up Perry’s version of what happened. He said that while Perry did call the panhandler names as the two “cussed at each other,” he never heard Perry threaten to harm the man.

“I was right there,” Alexander said. “The police talked to me. I told them what happened … The fact that I’m not even mentioned in the police report says something.”

“There’s been a lot of gay bashings in this city, and we seem to get attacked because we come across as weak,” Alexander said. “And now when someone stands up for himself he gets accused of a crime. This is just insane.”

D.C. police initially charged Perry with a bias-related assault with a dangerous weapon (a chain); felony threats; and simple assault after the panhandler and a witness told police Perry attempted to strike the panhandler with a chain he pulled from his pocket and punched the man in the back.

The report says Second District Police Officer La Vida Ellerbe, who is an affiliate member of the police’s Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit, was on the scene and played a role in listing the incident as a hate crime.

The police report says the panhandler and the witness reported that Perry swung his chain at the panhandler and missed hitting him. An attempt to hit someone is considered an assault even if the attempt fails under criminal assault laws.

According to the police report, the panhandler and the witness said the chain fell out of Perry’s hand and landed on the ground and the panhandler picked it up and started to run away. It says Perry chased after the man. It says the panhandler reported Perry punched him in the upper back with a closed fist. The witness reported seeing Perry “throw a punch” toward the panhandler’s back, the police report says.

Perry denies he swung the chain at the panhandler, saying he swung it in the air in a circular motion as a warning that he would use it to defend himself if the panhandler attacked him. Perry said the panhandler swung the chain in the same circular motion but leaned forward toward him when the panhandler picked up the chain after Perry dropped it.

Perry said that in the heat of the moment, after the panhandler raised his fists like a boxer, he may have lunged at the man with his fist “but I never actually made contact.”

When told of the police report’s contents, Alexander said he never saw Perry wield the chain as if to attempt to strike the panhandler. He said he did not hear Perry threaten to assault or kill the panhandler as stated in the report.

At the courthouse, Perry said he feared that the panhandler was about to hit him because he raised his fists and moved toward him as if he were going to assault him.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released by a judge, who agreed to a request by Assistant U.S. Attorney James Perez that Perry be prohibited from returning to the 1500 block of 17th Street., N.W., where JR.’s is located, until the case is resolved. Perry is scheduled to return to court for a hearing on Feb. 14.

William Miller, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office, said he couldn’t immediately determine why prosecutors didn’t classify the charges against Perry as a hate crime. He said that similar to all cases at the arraignment stage, prosecutors could file additional charges at a later date if new information surfaces to warrant such charges.

“These are the initial charges,” he said.

The police report describes Perry’s chain as being between two and three feet long and of “medium gauge.”

In an interview at the courthouse following his arraignment, Perry said the chain was part of the leather-oriented clothes he wore on the night of the incident. He wore the same clothes upon his release at the courthouse: a black leather jacket and military camouflage pants.

Despite his appearance, Perry said he regularly performs in drag and had been involved, before moving to D.C. from San Francisco last year, in a group called the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The group consists of men dressed as nuns who perform satirical skits to poke fun at the Catholic Church’s position on homosexuality and gay rights.

He said he had planned to form a Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence group in D.C. but said his arrest this week, which he believes was unjustified, plus his inability to find a job in D.C., has prompted him to decide to move to Baltimore.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

18 Comments
  • While unfortunate an event, please do not diminish the reputation or the mission of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. We are not a collection of Men performing skits…. We are a worldwide organization of world citizens who are dedicated 21st century nuns. We are people of all faiths, color, sex and sexual orientation. Our goal and mission is to perform great work through education, ministry and charity for our communities worldwide and whole lot more. Perhaps the journalist should check out google, youtube or http://www.thesisters.org to further investigate the Sisters and all the work we do worldwide before defining us so offhandedly.

    • This is a classic case of irresponsible journalism. What happened to stating the correct facts on people you are talking about? The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is an organization of classy individuals, men and women, who want to do nothing more than help whoever whenever they can. Get your facts straight before you hit the done button next time.

    • I for one am not at all surprised that someone associated with the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence”, an organization dedicated to the idea that it’s ok to hate Roman Catholic nuns, would behave in the manner reported. In any event, this guy does not seem like the kind of guy you want to take home to meet your mother.

  • Looks like this Sister put his big fat pump in his mouth.

    Sounds like a hate crime to me…

    “I will kill you. You’re a faggot,” the report quotes Perry as saying. “I’m a real faggot, bitch. You don’t want to fuck with a real faggot, bitch. I will fucking kill you.”

    Don’t try and give it a pass folks, if he had said the same to Perry it would have been considered the same.

    Idiot!

  • So it’s OK for black hoodlum teenagers to attach white gay men in Logan and Dupont, but all of a sudden one white gay guy decides to stand up for himself and the white guy gets charged with a hate crime.

  • who is who and what is what?

    I know everyone’s trying to figure out which guy is the real manhandler, but… who is the panhandler? He doesn’t get a name? Is it normal not to list the name of one of the people, in an article like this?

    One more thought: It would be interesting if the Blade did a sidepiece on Radical Faeries, and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The way both groups are mentioned in the article seems like many readers in DC don’t know about these subgroups in LGBT culture.

  • I was walking by as the police were interviewing the panhandler. They kept Perry on the opposite side of the street. Perry was belligerent, shouting, and appeared to be unfocused and drunk.

  • I would hope that people, including the police who patrol for Dupont, would discourage “the panhandlers” in the area, who have NOT been prohibited from returning to the 1500 block of 17th Street where JR.’s is located… only the gay-guy has been banished from 17th street… only the radical faerie. Is this OK with everyone??????????? It’s not ok with me…..

  • What is with you folks… The man threatened to kill the panhandler, there were witnesses, and he called him a faggot.

    If it were reversed you would all be having big Nelly Fits right about now.

    Hate Crimes go both ways… what is the panhandler happens to be gay. His life was threatened because he is GAY – HATE CRIME…

    Pretty pink gloves or not!

  • Disregarding the fact that a fight on the street between a drunken idiot and a homeless man is about as newsworthy as the opening of a new 7-Eleven, there are many layers of stupid in this fools’ lasagna.

    I’m personally offended by the entitlement implied in calling 17th Street a “gay street”, as if this somehow means the homosexuals have the right of way, while the indigent is a mere trespasser.

    As a now-and-then member of the Radical Faeries, I’m also annoyed at the unspoken correlation (intended or not) in this article, as if they are roaming gang of street-hardened queers looking to take back the streets with fist and chain. Mentioning that he is a member of the group the way this reporter does implies that the Faeries are in some way implicated in the violence, and that is simple ridiculous. The Faeries do not condone violence (unless it’s the sexy kind), and this man’s actions were taken as an individual, not as a representative of that organization.

    It seems to me that this is a simple matter of two individuals too drunk and/or stupid to leave each other alone, but somehow the identity politics of being homeless or gay (or both) are getting dragged into the story to make it seem somehow more relevant and less demeaning. It’s embarrassing, and makes a mockery of all the real cases of serious social injustice to which the phrase “hate crime” truly applies.

  • The Circle Keepers of the DC Radical Faeries would like to express our concern over the incident that occurred outside of JR.’s involving one of our newest members. While none of us knows exactly what happened in the heat of that moment, we are concerned over how this incident may be misconstrued to represent the DC Radical Faeries.

    We would like to make it known that violence in any form is contrary to Radical Faerie beliefs and practices. We strive to resolve conflicts through building understanding and heartfelt empathy between people. Violent acts, especially hate crimes, often stem from an illusion that another class of people are fundamentally different from the aggressor. When violence is responded to with violence it only serves to strengthen that illusion. It is our belief that by sharing ourselves, who we are and where we come from, we can reach through to the human being on the other side of the conflict.

    Hate crimes are a systemic problem in the District. The lives of Principal Brian Betts, Wanda Alston, and countless transgender men and women were irreplaceable. Their loss has left a lasting impact on our community. We must strive to find solutions to these crimes that address the root of the problem, not just the individual incidents.

    With love from heartspace,
    The Circle Keepers of the DC Radical Faeries

  • DC gays are so pathetically racist. Perry was completely in the wrong here, but all the racist queens can see is color. Your bitter ways will result in self-destruction. Gay and racist. What a concept! I thank God I am not afflicted with the spirit of hate.

  • Terry… what!? There’s no mention of color at all in the article, certainly not with respect to the panhandler. In fact, going off the article, the only basis for there to have been a “hate crime” is Perry calling the panhandler a “faggot” — in other words, Perry, a self-described “faggot”, is being alleged of hating… faggots? (Being homeless or a beggar is not a protected class under DC law and there is no mention of the panhandler’s race or skin color.) For the sake of argument, even if he was a belligerent drunk with a boulder-sized chip on his shoulder, there are enough legitimate race-problems in DC (particularly between the gay community and communities of color) that we don’t need to be generating them where they don’t exist.

  • I think there’s a couple areas here that aren’t being explored but that ARE actually worthy of the Blade’s time to investigate and report on. First and most obvious is the presence of panhandlers harassing bar patrons on 17th Street and the rest of Dupont. I’ve had homeless people ask for money right when I park my car in Dupont and threaten to key the car if I don’t give it to them so often I don’t even drive there anymore. I park downtown and get a cab, or just avoid it altogether.

    Second, and here’s the really telling part of the article – one of the commenters states that they saw the aftermath of the incident and that Perry appeared drunk from *across the street*. I wasn’t there, and I have no idea at all if this is the case (and don’t really care). I have, however, been on 17th Street enough times and seen enough guys completely shitfaced to know that we have a problem as a community with this issue. When someone is drunk, it is illegal to continue to serve them alcohol. I’ve been at JRs and Cobalt and D.I.K. and other places on that strip and I’ve seen the bartenders just pour “one more” for someone who had clearly had three too many already. Once, when I confronted one of the bartenders who had just done that, he said, and I quote, “what’s the problem? when they’re that drunk they tip better anyway – that guy couldn’t tell the difference between a twenty and a five!” as he pocketed his $16 tip. Many, if not most, of the bartenders at gay bars are gay. When are we going to realize we are doing a disservice to our own community when we over-serve? Between DUIs, drunken brawls, and the occasional fatality, we are only hurting ourselves. I know bars say that if they don’t keep serving, the customer will stop coming back. But here’s the truth: if someone has a specific occasion where they have reason to over-indulge (birthday, breakup, etc), chances are they will feel so awful the next morning that they’ll forget to be angry with the bar that cut them off. If they make this a habit, though, *they have a problem with alcohol*, and they need *help*, not another round. I’ve repeatedly seen straight bars around the city kick out people who were clearly done for the night. The doormen hail them a cab, put them in it, and send them home. I’ve *never* seen a gay bar do that. And I’ve seen dozens of cases where they certainly should have.

    I don’t know if Mr. Perry was drunk or not. He may have been stone-cold sober for all I know or care. But if he was, he wouldn’t be the first time where a law-abiding bartender and bouncer at JRs should have known he’d had to many and sent him home, but instead did nothing about it…

  • wow the commenters on here are fucking soft. Another shitbag idiot runs his mouth and insults a gay person, only this time there are some immediate consequences for chirping. Homophobes: SHUT. THE. FUCK. UP. or deal with what happens. I would expect a slapping for calling a black man a nigger as well. PS: another reason why the hate speech laws are dumb.

  • Trashy behavior.

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