March 21, 2012 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Hundreds march against anti-LGBT violence
gay news, gay politics dc, Muriel Bowser, Jim Graham, Jeffrey Richardson

Mayor's Office LGBT liaison Jeffrey Richardson, and council members Muriel Bowser and Jim Graham join D.C. residents in calling for an end to anti-LGBT violence. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

As many as 700 people turned out for a march through the streets of Washington, D.C., Tuesday night to take a stand against anti-LGBT violence following separate attacks against two gay men and a transgender woman during a two-day period earlier this month.

Friends of one of the two gay male victims, who organized the march, said they were astonished over the outpouring of support that emerged from the LGBT community and city officials, including D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier and four members of the City Council.

“It was a Facebook event and I expected maybe 15 to 50 people to show up,” said Patrick Pressman, one of the lead organizers. “And then from there it just exploded,” he said. “It got to where it was today, when it was estimated that about 700 people were going to attend.”

Pressman said he is a friend of a 29-year-old gay man who was robbed and badly beaten on March 12 by assailants who called him anti-gay names at Georgia Avenue and Irving Street, N.W.

The march started outside the International House of Pancakes restaurant at 14th and Irving streets, N.W., in Columbia Heights, where a 31-year-old gay man was shot about 6 a.m. Sunday, March 11, in what police say was an altercation with two men who called him anti-gay names.

Lanier, who spoke to the marchers as they gathered outside the IHOP restaurant, said she expects an arrest in the case soon, saying she is “very pleased” with the progress of the investigation.

“We have everybody working on this and I think everybody’s committed,” she said. “We kind of take it personally when people in our community are targeted.”

SEE DOZENS OF PICTURES FROM THE MARCH IN THE WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO GALLERY HERE.

Police said the victim of the IHOP shooting was fortunate to have received a non-life threatening gunshot wound. His cousin, who was with him at the time of the shooting, said the victim was expected to be released from the hospital this week after being treated for a punctured liver.

Gay D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), who participated in the march, said he was especially concerned that two of the incidents took place in his ward. He said the large showing of support for the march demonstrates that the community is outraged over anti-LGBT violence.

From the IHOP, the march traveled east on Irving Street to Georgia Avenue, the site where the 29-year-old gay man was attacked and beaten about 9:30 p.m. on March 12.

Police said the transgender woman was attacked and knocked unconscious about 11:45 that same night at the intersection of West Virginia Avenue and Mt. Olivet Road, N.E. People who know the victim said she reported later that she was not robbed and thought the attack was motivated by anti-transgender bias.

But police say, unlike the other two incidents, they have not listed the case as a hate crime because they don’t have sufficient evidence for such a classification. Assistant D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham told a meeting of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club Monday night that investigators were looking for witnesses who might have heard whether the attackers hurled anti-trans names at the victim.

Silent march, gay news, gay politics dc

Hundreds of marchers joined the hastily assembled march organized after a recent spate of anti-gay violence in the nation's capital. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Newsham said investigators believe the three incidents were unrelated, with the attacks carried out by different groups of perpetrators.

The march paused when it reached the site where the 29-year-old gay man was attacked at Georgia Avenue and Irving Street.

“I want to say that this walk should never have to happen again in our city,” said D.C. Council Chair Kwame Brown (D-At-Large). “We have to do more. We must do more,” he said. “And for those who know about this horrific situation that took place, I’m begging you to come forth. Give us information … to bring these folks to justice.”

Brown was referring to reports by police that many people were on the street in the vicinity of the attack at the time it occurred.

Council members Michael Brown (D-At-large) and Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) also participated in the march, saying they were in solidarity with the LGBT community in seeking ways to curtail hate violence against all city residents.

Also participating in the march was Jeffrey Richardson, director of Mayor Vincent Gray’s Office of LGBT Affairs, and Gustavo Velasquez, director of the D.C. Office of Human Rights. Richardson spoke at the gathering outside the IHOP restaurant.

Among those speaking at the Georgia Avenue and Irving Street site was A.J. Singletary, president of the D.C. group Gays and Lesbian Opposing Violence (GLOV). Singletary said he learned from the 29-year-old gay victim’s partner that the victim had been released from the hospital Tuesday, the day of the march.

“His jaw was shattered in two places,” said Singletary. “After two surgeries he now has permanent titanium plates holding his lower jaw together. In addition, his jaw is wired shut for the next four to six weeks.”

A.J. Singletary, Kwame Brown, Jim Graham, Michael Brown, gay news, gay politics dc

A.J. Singletary, Kwame Brown, Jim Graham, and Michael Brown at the rally. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The march continued south on Georgia Avenue to U Street, where it turned right and traveled to 14th Street. From there, with spectators looking on from the sidewalks, it traveled south on 14th to R Street, where it turned right and continued to its termination at 17th Street next to the gay bar Cobalt. Many of the marchers entered Cobalt, which hosted a fundraiser for the victim attacked at Georgia Avenue and Irving Street.

Gay Democratic activist Cartwright Moore, a member of the staff of D.C. Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, said many of the march participants were young LGBT people who don’t ordinarily attend meetings of local LGBT organizations.

“It’s been great that the community has come together on an issue like this,” said D.C. resident Chris Shank, who said he learned about the march through a Facebook invitation.

“I marched the entire way,” he said. “I’m really glad it was organized. I think the response has been enormous.”

Silent March, gay news, gay politics dc

The event was largely organized through social networks like Facebook and Twitter, and the overwhelming number of young people in the crowd reflected these new media organizing tactics. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. resident Phillip Pratt said he, too, learned of the event through Facebook. He said he became motivated to get involved after seeing that just a few days after organizers posted the event more than 500 people had committed to joining the march.

“I think it was very important to come out and march for this, to march with them and show our support,” he said.

Vic Suter said she wanted to take a stand against violence targeting her own community.

“Whether there be a thousand people marching down the street or five, it says that people are not going to tolerate such behavior and that we need to bring about tolerance and we need to teach the community that people are people regardless of who they love,” she said.

Asked if he thought the event would have an impact on the community, Singletary said he was hopeful that it would.

“We have a group of many hundreds walking down the middle of the street down major thoroughfares in D.C. where a lot of hate crimes have occurred,” he said while marching. “You’re talking about U Street, you’re talking about 14th Street. The street we’re on now is R. There have been a lot of attacks on this street itself. So the response by the community has been big and rightfully so.”

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

5 Comments
  • Thank you, Patrick Pressman and to GLOV and A.J. Singletary– and to all the organizers and participants in Tuesday’s protest against hate crimes in DC. LGBT communities and residents throughout DC, Maryland and Virginia owe each of you a debt of gratitude. You have stood up, borne witness and demanded more effective action from our leaders.

    Of course, our thoughts and prayers for their speedy recovery remain with the victims of these three horrific hate crimes. We also continue to mourn the loss and/or shattered lives of LGBT hate violence victims in DC who have yet to receive justice.

    Thanks to Council Chair Kwame Brown, our city’s At Large Councilmemebr Michael Brown and to Ward 4 Councilmeber Muriel Bowser for showing their own personal, as well as the Council’s proactive solidarity with our communities’ outrage over these ongoing hate crimes. Chairman Brown’s commitment to strengthen the hate crimes law should be particularly appreciated.

    Criminal acts of *Stalking* (smaller acts of repeated harassment) and *Threats* should have been added by now to DC’s hate crimes law “designated acts” list. Such acts are common among those who wish to express their hate for LGBT people, and are too often stepping stones to more violent acts.

    I reserve a special note of gratitude for the presence and vocal support of Councilmember Jim Graham of Ward 1– as if anyone needs be reminded– for his tireless personal commitment to LGBTs in DC and throughout the region.

    For all his adult life in DC, Jim Graham has always been there for LGBT residents and stakeholders, inspiring and bringing hope– not just for Ward 1, not just for DC, but for all LGBT residents across the region. Jim Graham is one of our community’s heroes every day of his life. And he has set a tough standard of commitment and public service for others to emulate.

    Thanks to Jeffrey Richardson and Gustavo Velasquez for their presence, and their work on behalf of LGBT and Human Rights issues for Mayor Gray.

    Thanks, as well, should go to MPD Police Chief Cathy Lanier for her presence and words of solidarity with all opposing anti-LGBT violence.

    Our LGBT communities must continue efforts to make MPD better. MPD needs to be far more transparent, to the fullest extent possible, as to their investigative efforts– for each and every anti-LGBT attack. That ongoing community process will likely, and necessarily, involve criticism of both MPD’s and the Chief’s performance. That’s the way things work in our free country. No law enforcement body can be exempt from that process.

    However, the personal appearance and involvement of our city’s Top Cop, like no other, puts a face on the commitment and resolve against anti-LGBT violence– on behalf of all of our city’s hard-working police and criminal justice pros. Thank you, Chief Lanier.

  • CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON

    FIRST, I WILL SAY “KUDOS” TO MARCH ORGANIZERS AND BEST WISHES TO THE VICTIMS AND THEIR FAMILIES. I SINCERELY MEAN THAT. HOWEVER, FROM MY STANDPOINT, THERE SEEMS TO BE ANOTHER VICTIM – MR. ANTWAN HOLCOMB. I LIVE IN MEMPHIS. I AM READING A NEWSPAPER FROM “DC.” I CAN ONLY GO BY WHAT I READ. SINCE “DC” LAW ENFORCEMENT SAID NO FINGERPRINTS, NOR, DNA BELONGING TO MR. HOLCOMB WAS FOUND AT THE SCENE, I HAVE A “DUTY” – AS A NEGRO MALE – TO GIVE MR. HOLCOMB THE BENEFIT-OF-THE-DOUBT. PERIOD. [I know what it is like to be arrested and jailed (I am a nudist). People in "DC" seem to want to "throw Mr. Holcomb to the dogs." That's cold-blooded!]. BASED ON INFORMATION RELEASED TO THE PUBLIC, EVERY NEGRO MALE IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA SHOULD SUPPORT MR. HOLCOMB’S CAUSE IN SPIRIT.
    THANKS FOR YOUR TIME.
    CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON

  • We should never forget Mathew Shepard and the many who have suffered, been beaten, bullied, put out of homes, raped, and yes KILLED. Hate is NOT an option!! You can be killed in other countries for being gay and/or put in jail. This is AMERICA! This hate and evil should not go unnoticed. YES, we do have laws. But we need to be loud and teach and let others know how hate is used in churches and families. If we can change the minds and maybe the hearts of churches and fmilies that being gay is not a reason to condemnation, then we be a petter people. If a church post, “ALL ARE WELCOME” then do so. Welcome ALL!. If not, tell it that so-and-so is NOT welcome! God never truned anyone away who cryed out for love. But churches and family do. Let’s work together to end this! I am doing my part as a 59yo black, gay, and HIV+ (30 year serviver). I am glade to see outreach in the black community. Still, there is a very long way to go. We can’t do it alone. We need more togetherness and communication and yes…EDUCATION.

  • Chief Lanier has her nerve showing her face at his march. She does so little to apprehend the suspects of hate crimes against the LGBT community you’d think she’d stay at home and read some homophobic propaganda or something. Skanky old broad!

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