November 15, 2012 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Anti-gay hate crime in Columbia Heights
Silent March for Victims of GLBT Violence, Columbia Heights, hate crimes, gay news, Washington Blade

Members of the community protest anti-gay hate crimes in Columbia Heights on Mar. 20, 2012. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

D.C. police have listed an Oct. 27 beating of a 23-year-old gay Latino man outside his apartment in Columbia Heights as a hate crime based on the victim’s sexual orientation and ethnicity.

The victim, who asked not to be identified, told the Blade four or five males appearing in their 20s shouted anti-gay and anti-Latino slurs at him before one of the men assaulted him and knocked him unconscious.

The incident occurred about 3 a.m. a short time after the victim noticed the men were following him as he was walking from a bus stop near 16th and Lamont Sts., N.W. to his residence on the 1400 block of Meridian Pl., N.W.

“It happened right outside my building,” he said.

He said he suffered broken teeth, a facial wound, and a concussion.

David Perez, president of the D.C.-based Latino LGBT History Project and a friend of the victim, told the Blade in an email message that he contacted the police Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit after learning that an initial police report didn’t list the attack as a hate crime.

Perez said the attackers called the victim a “fag” and a “spic” at the time of the incident.

The victim told the Blade he was concerned that officers taking the report at the scene of the beating didn’t ask for many details. However, he acknowledges that he isn’t certain whether he told the officers responding to his call for help that the attackers called him anti-gay and anti-Latino names.

“I was in pain and badly shaken up,” he said. He said he called for an ambulance to take him to the hospital after he talked to the officers.

He said that although the attackers took a messenger bag from him they made no attempt to rob him of his wallet and cell phone, which he was holding at the time of the attack. He said he learned later that the attackers discarded the bag in someone’s yard about a block from where the attack occurred and didn’t remove any items inside the bag, leading him to believe robbery wasn’t the motive for the attack.

Perez said in his email that GLLU Officer Joseph Morquecho, who interviewed the victim a few days after the attack, amended the police report by listing the incident as a bias crime.

Police, meanwhile, are looking for witnesses that may have seen the incident or who may know the identity of one or more of the men who participated in the attack. The victim described the attackers as black males appearing in their early to middle 20s. He said just one of the young men physically assaulted him and he would recognize that person if he were to see him again.

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

4 Comments
  • I think this story got somewhat ignored due to the good news– for most of us, anyway– of election week.

    Whatever the case, we’re hearing a broken record when it comes to too many to hate crimes reported by MPD initial responders (non-GLLU/SLD, i.e.).

    It is a measure of MPD’s ongoing failure that third party acquaintances or relatives of victims are having to come the rescue of violent hate crimes victims who didn’t have the presence of mind– as is usually the case after one is beaten senseless– to demand better police work from their first MPD responders.

    Not intending any slight to David Perez or GLLU’s veteran and very excellent Officer Joe Morquecho, but it appears MPD initial responders should have called GLLU/ LLU to the scene right away.

    Once again, IMO, we see *institutional bias* being reflected in MPD’s negligent initial (911/OUC) response to this hate crime victim. These MPD initial responders apparently failed to ask this seriously injured victim the most elementary questions to determine a motive…

    “Did your attackers use offensive language? And if so, what specifically?”

    “Why did they do it? Do you think it was a hate crime?”

    Those very basic questions likely would have elicited the victim’s memory of the unmistakable homophobic and ethnic hate slurs directed at the victim during this hate crime assault.

    It matters not, in their often injured and dazed conditions, that hate crimes victims did not initially “volunteer” such information to responding MPD officers. It is MPD’s duty to do the most elementary police detection work for the FIRST report.

    That’s why MPD’s Bias Checkoff requirement exists on their 251 incident report form, for pete sakes!

    Then, as soon as the 911 responding officers had any indication at all that this had a suspected bias motive(s), MPD’s excellent SLD/ GLLU/ LLU team –SPECIALIALIZED MPD officers, with broad experience and trained specifically to promptly respond to such incidents– should have been alerted by the initial MPD responders to respond to the scene as well.

    MPD responding officers, their PSA lieutenants and their district commanders appear to be routinely ignoring DC’s hate crimes law (Bias-Related Crimes Act). Chief Lanier is the ultimate responsible MPD official, however. Lanier’s credibility on this issue continues to crumble as we again see these MPD district and PSA command failures.

    As a side note…
    It would be helpful, just as relevant civic information to know, if crime reporters also report in which specific MPD District number (there are 7 in DC) and PSA (Patrol Service Area) number such failed initial MPD responses occurred. That way District MPD commanders and their PSA lieutenants can be held accountable, too, by the local LGBT residents and businesses they are suppose to be serving and protecting.

    As an FYI… each MPD district usually holds monthly CAC (Citizens’ Advisory Council) meetings where these police failures can be raised by local residents and stakeholders. Also, specific command officer contact information can be found at MPD’s website under each of the 7 “District Rosters” and CAC meeting information can often be found on each respective MPD District community listserv.

    We should take note again… this problem is not new. GLOV and other LGBT public safety activists have REPEATEDLY complained of Chief Lanier’s foot-dragging in PROMPTLY implementing force-wide training of every MPD officer in dealing with LGBT and other minority victims of hate crimes.

    Last summer, CM David Catania wisely suggested mandatory ‘webinar’ officer hate crimes training– hopefully, with a pass/fail quiz to assure everyone ‘gets’ it– be included with the web-based training MPD officers are already required to take. This would accomplish the task pretty quickly.

    This is another incident which highlights MPD’s lack of credibility on this long-standing MPD rank-and-file training failure.

    I’ll say it again… do NOT blame the rank-and-file MPD officers or SLD/GLLU/LLU. This is, without question, a MPD command level(s) and leadership failure. Why doesn’t Chief Lanier stop dragging her feet and just fix it?

    Do we need yet another Council Judiciary Committee hearing– only to hear the same denials and excuses from MPD’s chiefs as we’ve heard in the past?

  • we do not want another "Tony Hunter" inident. we need to get these violent perpetrators off the streets. send the message. NOW.

  • we do not need another “Tony Hunter” incident. there have been enough funerals. we need to get these thiugs off the street . NOW. send out the message.

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