May 15, 2012 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
LGBT groups evacuate buildings in bomb threat
NGLTF, bomb threat, Metro DC Police, gay news, Washington Blade

Employees of several LGBT organizations sharing a Massachusetts Ave. building with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force were evacuated Tuesday afternoon as police inspected the building for bombs. (Washington Blade photo by Phil Reese)

Employees working for at least 11 national LGBT organizations in Washington evacuated the two buildings in which they are housed late Tuesday morning after D.C. police informed them of a possible bomb threat.

HRC, bomb threat, gay news, Washington Blade

HRC employees were allowed back into their offices after police declared the building safe this afternoon. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Michael Cole-Schwartz, spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, said special police personnel with bomb sniffing dogs walked through the HRC building before informing HRC the building was safe a little over an hour later.

Cole-Schwartz said D.C. police told HRC that they received an alert about the possible bomb threat from Los Angeles police.

“Early this morning about 8 O’clock [11 a.m. east coast time] our LAPD 911 Dispatch Center received a call from a caller who stated he was going to blow up the LGBT building in Washington, D.C.,” L.A. police said in a statement released late Tuesday.

“LAPD immediately made notification to law enforcement officials in Washington, D.C. to advise them of the possible threat,” the statement says. “We also immediately launched an investigation here into the threat since it appeared to have been generated by a local pay phone.”

HRC is located in its own office building at 1640 Rhode Island Ave., N.W.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and eight other LGBT groups, including the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Stonewall Democrats, were similarly advised by D.C. police to evacuate the office building in which they rent office space at 1325 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., according to Mara Keisling, executive director of NCTE.

“We were given the all clear signal a short time later,” Keisling said. “It was a matter of being extra cautious.”

Other LGBT groups located in that building include the National Black Justice Coalition, Immigration Equality, Out for Work, and the National Coalition for LGBT Health.

At the request of D.C. police, employees with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce also evacuated their offices at 729 15th St., N.W.

Laura Berry, a spokesperson for the NGLCC, said police told her organization they received information of a possible threat against a national LGBT group and they were checking various buildings of LGBT groups in response to the threat.

Cole-Schwartz said D.C. police told HRC they were alerted to a possible threat against a “national gay rights organization” from the Los Angeles Police Department. He said D.C. police did not provide further details on how L.A. police were alerted to the possible threat.

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, another prominent national LGBT group in Washington, was not contacted by police to evacuate its offices, which are located on 15th Street, N.W., said Victory Fund spokesperson Denis Dison.

Dison said the Victory Fund learned of the evacuation by the other groups through an email alert and contacted D.C. police to determine whether it should be concerned over a possible threat. He said police didn’t believe the Victory Fund was being targeted.

A D.C. police source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said as a measure of extra precaution, D.C. police officials arranged for a brief evacuation of the police Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit headquarters at Dupont Circle. The GLLU offices, which are part of the SunTrust Bank building, were searched and quickly found to be safe, the source said.

The evacuation of the HRC building, located at 17th Street and Rhode Island Avenue, resulted in backed up traffic after police temporarily closed part of 17th Street and Rhode Island Avenue.

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

6 Comments
  • Domestic terrorism can be an anti-LGBT hate crime, too. Let’s hope authorities bring the perp(s) to swift justice.

    Deterrence is one of the objectives of prosecuting hate crimes. It can not be a good thing if the nation’s capital is perceived as “soft” on prosecuting anti-LGBT hate crimes.

    If USAO-DC does not have sufficient resources (time, staff and money) to adequately prosecute anti-LGBT hate crimes in DC, then we should lobby USDOJ and the White House to get those resources to USAO-DC.

  • CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON

    THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN “GAY” RADICALS PUSH AN UNWANTED AGENDA “DOWN THE THROAT” OF THE DISAPPROVING PUBLIC. IT IS NO COINCIDENCE THIS BOMB SCARE CAME AFTER THE PRESIDENT’S ACCEPTANCE OF “GAY” MARRIAGE. PEOPLE ARE ANGRY – THAT IS UNDERSTANDABLE. UNTIL THE “GAY-RIGHTS” ISSUE IS RESOLVED [AT LEAST], EVENTS LIKE THIS MAY CONTINUE IN THE FUTURE.
    CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON

    • You mean you are a sympathizer of the terrorists, this makes you a terrorist too.

    • Well now, this is an excellent example of blaming the victim. Isn’t it funny, Christopher Allen Horton, that you in no way blame the violent extremists who are behind this, or try and distance yourself from them. Is it possible that you support violence against LGBT people?

    • So, it’s the fault of the victims of discrimination, not the fault of the criminal who made the phone call? Get real.

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