July 24, 2012 at 7:41 am EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Gay couple attacked in possible hate crime

A D.C. gay man is recovering from surgery for a broken cheekbone and fractured jaw following an incident early Sunday morning, July 22, in which three unidentified male suspects attacked him and his partner near the intersection of 3rd and U streets, N.E.

Michael Roike told the Blade the suspects approached him and his partner, yoga instructor Michael Hall Jr., 29, after the two got out of one of the popular upscale cars for hire known as Uber Sedan and began walking to their apartment located about two blocks away.

Roike said one of three attackers punched Hall in the face, knocking him to the ground. He said one or more of the others started punching him, but his injuries were not serious. He said an ambulance took Hall to Howard University Hospital, where he later underwent surgery during which doctors inserted a metal plate to repair a seriously broken facial bone.

“We are investigating an aggravated assault that may have been motivated by hate bias,” said D.C. police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump. Crump told the Blade the department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit was notified of the incident.

“Sunday, July 22, at approximately midnight, two complainants were in the 1900 block of 3rd Street, N.E., when three suspects appeared from an unknown direction and began to yell homophobic slurs at them,” Crump said in an email.

“The three suspects then approached the complainants and assaulted them,” she said. “Suspects fled in an unknown direction…Lookout is for three black males wearing dark clothing.”

Roike said the driver was unfamiliar with the area, which is considered part of the city’s Eckington neighborhood, and turned onto a wrong street. Rather than direct the driver to their apartment building the two men decided to get out and walk the remaining two blocks, Roike said.

He said that while the attackers knocked Hall to the ground he fought back while the others attacked him before he began to scream as loud as he could for help. A woman from a nearby house ran out with a male friend and began shouting at the attackers, prompting them to run away, Roike said.

“She was like our guardian angel,” he said. “If that lady hadn’t come running out I don’t know what would have happened. When she came out the kids dispersed. They got his phone but they didn’t get anything else,” he said, referring to Hall’s cell phone.

Police are seeking information from possible witnesses. Crump said anyone with information that could help in the investigation should call police at 202-727-9099. She said anonymous information may be submitted to the department’s Text Tip Line by text messaging 50411.

The attack against Roike and Hall came about four months after another 29-year-old gay man suffered a broken jaw and other serious injuries from an attack by at least four assailants who shouted anti-gay names at him at Georgia Avenue and Irving Street, N.W., in Columbia Heights.

Similar to Roike and Hall, the victim, who has requested that his name be withheld, was arriving home in a cab on March 12 and decided to get out about two blocks from his home. The assailants, who remain at large, attacked him minutes after he left the cab and began walking home.

The attack in March against the 29-year-old gay man took place within a few days of a shooting of a man at the nearby Columbia Heights International House of Pancakes restaurant, which police listed as an anti-gay hate crime, and the beating of a transgender woman in Northeast D.C. The three incidents prompted friends of the 29-year-old and LGBT activists to organize a protest march in Columbia Heights against anti-LGBT violence that drew more than 700 people.

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

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