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.”