Transgender activists have scheduled a rally in a Baltimore suburb tonight (Monday) to protest the April 18 beating of a transgender woman by two female attackers inside a McDonald’s restaurant.
A video of the beating of Chrissy Lee Polis, 22, has been seen by hundreds of thousands of people online after a McDonald’s employee shot the video with his cell phone and posted it to YouTube. It’s been removed by YouTube but can be viewed here.
The video shows two teenage women repeatedly punching and kicking Polis in the head and body as she curled up on the restaurant floor. It was posted on other sites before going viral and creating an uproar within the LGBT community across the country.
Hundreds of thousands of individual views of the video have been recorded by various websites, according to the Baltimore Sun, which has given extensive coverage of the incident.
Polis was treated and released from a hospital near the suburban Baltimore town of Rosedale, where the McDonald’s restaurant is located. Baltimore County police have charged a 14-year-old woman as a juvenile in the incident and said they expected to charge the other teen implicated in the attack, who is said to be 18.
The franchise owner of the McDonald’s where the incident occurred announced on Saturday that he has fired the employee who made the video.
The three-minute video shows another McDonald’s employee and an elderly female customer attempting to separate the attackers from Polis. It also shows other employees and customers standing by, with some laughing.
A police report says the incident began when the two female attackers became upset after seeing Polis enter the women’s bathroom at the McDonald’s. The employee who recorded the incident posted a message on his YouTube site saying Polis was a man dressed like a woman who entered the women’s bathroom.
“And When Told To Get Out Tha ladies Bathroom He Got Smart With Everybody So Tha Two Girls Beat Him Up [sic],” said the employee, according to the website The Smoking Gun, which made a copy of the message before the employee deleted it.
“This is precisely the kind of hatred and bigotry that transgender women and men deal with on a daily basis,” said Caroline Temmerand of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland in a statement announcing the rally.
“We as a society have failed if we cannot do more to protect all Marylanders from this kind of brutality,” she said.
The statement says the rally was scheduled to take place outside the McDonald’s at 6315 Kenwood Ave., Rosedale, Md., at 7 p.m. tonight.
The groups Trans-United and TransMaryland also were involved in organizing the rally.
“Our primary concern is for Ms. Polis’ well being,” said Jenna Fischetti of TransMaryland. “We will support her through this difficult time and we ask that the legal process be unhampered and thorough.”
The statewide LGBT group Equality Maryland issued a statement Friday condemning the incident.
“No person ever deserves to be a victim of violence regardless of their gender identity or presentation,” the statement says. “We encourage the state’s Attorney General to investigate this as a hate crime based on gender identity.”
The statement, released by the group’s board chair Charles Butler, says the group was encouraged that McDonald’s was working with local police to investigate the incident and called on McDonald’s to take appropriate disciplinary action against any other employee that acted inappropriately.
A police report says officers investigating the incident initially classified it as a second-degree assault.
A spokesperson for the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s office said the office was investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.
The franchise owner of the McDonald’s restaurant in the Baltimore suburb who fired the employee who made the video told the Sun he was considering disciplinary action, including possibly firing, of other employees who may have acted inappropriately in connection with the incident.
McDonald’s corporate headquarters posted a statement on its website condemning the attack against Polis, saying the company was “shocked” by the video. It called the incident “unacceptable, disturbing and troubling” and said the company was working with its franchise owner and Baltimore-area authorities to investigate the matter.
The attack against Polis took place one week after the Maryland Senate voted to recommit a transgender non-discrimination bill to committee, killing it for the year.
State Sen. Katherine Klausmeier, a Democrat who voted to send the transgender bill back to committee, represents the district in which the attack took place.
Montgomery County transgender activist Dana Beyer, who is also among the organizers of Monday’s rally, said organizers have invited Klausmeier to attend the rally.
“We haven’t heard back from her,” Beyer said on Sunday.
Beyer said she and other transgender activists are relieved that Polis, while roughed up badly, does not appear to have sustained serious physical injuries. Toward the end of the clip, she appears to be having a seizure. Beyer said she was hopeful that something positive would come from the incident in the wake of the extraordinary following it has generated online and in the media.
“Things like this always have the potential for being a real spur to action,” she said. “It often takes a tragedy to get people to recognize what’s at stake. Fortunately, she’s fine. If it turns out this galvanizes the community and gets some elected officials to actually listen to us seriously who weren’t willing to do so as recently as two weeks ago, then that’s a good thing.”