December 18, 2013 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Police list vandalism of Blade boxes as suspected hate crime
Washington Blade, Blade box, vandalism, vandals, hate crime, gay news, newspaper, boxes

‘There’s a loss of property. This is our product. It’s being destroyed,’ said Blade publisher Lynne Brown. (Washington Blade photo)

D.C. police last week opened an official investigation into newly discovered damage to at least four distribution boxes belonging to the Washington Blade and Metro Weekly, according to a police report filed on Dec. 11.

The publishers of both publications have said their respective distribution boxes have been subjected to an ongoing series of incidents over the past two years in which many of them have been soiled with human excrement and emptied of all of the papers in an apparent attempt to prevent readers from obtaining them.

The police report says that four boxes belonging to the Blade or Metro Weekly were found on Dec. 11 to be vandalized by someone who used spray paint to write the world “PIG” on the boxes. The report lists the incidents as an offense of defacing public or private property and classifies the offense as a suspected anti-gay hate crime.

According to the report, at least one of the vandalized boxes is located at 18th and T St., N.W.

However, Blade editor Kevin Naff said an officer with the department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit told him at least two other Blade boxes associated with this incident were found to be defaced – one at 16th and Q St., N.W. and the other at 17th and R St., N.W.

The report says Assistant D.C. Police Chief Diane Groomes and Capt. Edward Delgado were “notified and responded to the scene” of the damaged box at 18th and T, N.W., which is where the Lauriol Plaza Restaurant is located. Delgado heads a police division that oversees the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit.

Blade publisher Lynne Brown has said employees with a local distribution company that delivers the Blades takes the boxes that an as yet unidentified perpetrator soils on the inside with excrement to a warehouse where they are steam cleaned and returned to the street. In recent months, the perpetrator or perpetrators have targeted the same boxes again, forcing the distribution company to repeat the process of cleaning them.

In other cases, Brown has said someone has been breaking the Plexiglas window on the boxes and ripping off a clip that holds one of the papers against the window. The cost of repeatedly repairing the boxes is adding up, Brown said.

“We restock and clean as fast as we can,” she said. “But there’s a loss of property. This is our product. It’s being destroyed.”

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
  • LET THE PARANOIA BEGIN!

  • Why is MPD still dragging its feet on these ongoing anti-LGBT hate crimes intended to injure DC’s LGBT consumers and their LGBT businesses?

    Enough with the lip service and for-public-consumption PR photo-ops after each anti-LGBT hate crime. Mayor Gray and Chief Lanier should now be held accountable by LGBT voters for their persistent failures over many years to seriously enforce DC’s Hate Crimes Law (Bias Related Crimes Act).

    Everyone should be reminded that Chief Lanier began her tenure in 2007 by trying to dismantle MPD’s award-winning GLLU unit. Lanier was stopped cold by an outcry of LGBT residents and organizations opposing her assault on GLLU and LGBT public safety.

    But since them, Lanier and TWO mayors have done next-to-nothing to prove their effective support for, and MPD’s serious enforcement of DC’s Hate Crimes Law– especially as applicable to DC’s LGBT hate crimes victims.

    How many of DC’s anti-LGBT hate crimes have been closed by MPD– WITH AN ARREST– since Gray became mayor?

    Are 50% of hate crimes cases closed with an arrest? 40%? Is it even as high as 20%? We won’t know because Lanier and Gray hides that information from LGBT voters. What does that tell us about the truth?

    IMHO, this is just more of MPD leaders’ ongoing ‘payback’ to every LGBT resident and business of DC who dared to oppose Lanier’s attempts to kill and/or downgrade GLLU’s leadership.

    MPD’s foot-dragging and failure to bring the hate crimes perpetrators against the Blade and MW publishers, and their LGBT customers, is just another example of the periodic instances of anti-LGBT institutional bias we’ve seen exhibited by MPD since 2007.

    LGBT voters need to find new city leadership which honors public safety for DC’s LGBT residents and DC’s LGBT businesses.

  • Gay is not okay.

  • I read about this on DCRTV.com a local site run by a well-known local gay and facial hair fetishist. Check out the gallery at his other site, fuzface.com (one "z").

    What are the odds that it's only a matter of time until it comes out that this is just like that lying lesbian waitress who wrote her own hate note? A poop for publicity stunt if you will (I will!)

  • It’s not a hate crime unless you can show intent. For example, paper boxes “emptied of all of the papers in an apparent attempt to prevent readers from obtaining them” is a conclusion that may be unsupported by the facts. While many Blade boxes on Capitol Hill SE are routinely “emptied of all of the papers”, the facts suggest that this is because Blade circulation is not delivering the papers. In fact, yesterday the Blade box at Capitol South Metro station still had papers from Dec. 6 inside – nothing more recent. This is not an isolated incident, but more typical than not for Fall-Winter 2013 on the Hill. If there is a legal issue here, it looks like unjust enrichment by Blade circulation for taking the delivery money without actually delivering papers. Not a hate crime, unless hating to do your job qualifies. In 2014, we ask that Blade deliver papers to the Hill, in hopes that staffers can use the information contained therein to inform debates on ENDA and other issues of import to our community.

    Regarding the excrement problem, don’t be so quick to conflate the Blade and Metro Weekly problems. It’s very possible that MetroWeekly is getting a commensurate reaction from readers to their lousy editorials. Blade doesn’t have this problem, except perhaps for Mark Lee. The other Blade writers have something meaningful to contribute.

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