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GOProud head attacked in anti-gay assault

LaSalvia, attacked near Union Station, critical of hate crimes laws; GLLU pager unanswered

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'Why did we spend so much political capital for the federal hate crimes law …still does nothing to prevent hate crimes,’ said GOProud’s Jimmy LaSalvia. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The head of the conservative gay Republican group GOProud was attacked on a secluded street behind Union Station while riding home from work on his bicycle on July 15 by a male teenager who called him a “faggot.”

Jimmy LaSalvia, GOProud’s executive director, said the unidentified youth punched him in the chest about 8:30 p.m. as he rode past the youth and six or seven other male teenagers who were with the person that struck him on 2nd Street, N.E. just north of L Street.

“I was on my bike when I approached them,” LaSalvia told the Blade in an e-mail. “Just as I got up to them, the assailant lunged off the sidewalk toward me on the street and delivered a punch across my chest. The momentum of my bicycling driving me into his fist and arm caused a shocking pain like I’ve never felt before,” he said.

“Just as I began to realize what was happening, I heard it. The words are still ringing in my ears as I write this today – ‘F____ faggot!’ LaSalvia said in his e-mail. “It was clear to me in that moment that my sexual orientation had motivated this attack.”

LaSalvia said that after barely catching himself from falling to the ground, he reached into his backpack for his cell phone, with the thought of calling the police. That action prompted one of the teenagers accompanying the attacker to say, “Does he have a gun?” LaSalvia told the Blade.

The attacker and a few of the others with him “puffed up their chests and were clearly ready to continue the attack,” he said. But seconds later, the group fled the scene after he kept his hand inside his backpack, “allowing them to wonder if I was reaching for a gun.”

He said he then rode home and called the police non-emergency number. A receptionist taking the call instructed him to call 911, saying an officer would come to his house to take a report. But LaSalvia said he didn’t feel it necessary to take up police time for what was no longer an emergency. He said he chose instead to wait until morning to file a police report.

According to LaSalvia, on Saturday morning, July 16, he went to the headquarters office of the police Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit, which is located in the Sun Trust Bank building on Dupont Circle. Upon his arrival, no one answered the doorbell, said LaSalvia, even though he noticed people were inside the office. He said a sign on the door advised visitors to call the GLLU’s pager number, which he did, he said. However, as of Monday morning, no one from the GLLU returned his message.

Sgt. Carlos Mejia, the GLLU’s supervisor, told the Blade on Monday that the unit is phasing out the pager number, which he said is part of an “antiquated” system that sometimes malfunctions. Mejia said the GLLU and the police department have distributed literature and public notices advising citizens to contact the unit on its new 24-hour smart phone number of 202-506-0714.

LaSalia, in a phone interview, said he later reached the GLLU and that one of its members, Sgt. Joe Morquecho, interviewed him about the incident and made a report that lists the incident as a hate crime.

“He gave me the name of the detective handling the case and I was just contacted by a victims’ services representative,” LaSalvia said. “So the police department’s been very good to follow up with me and talk to me about this.”

LaSalvia informed friends about the attack in a message on his Facebook page.

Mejia said the GLLU office is not staffed 24 hours a day. One police source said civilian volunteers sometimes work in the office when the officers are out in the field. The volunteers are instructed not to answer the door since they are not trained to work directly with the public, the source said.

“I realize now that this is something that should be reported,” LaSalvia said.

LaSalvia described his attacker as a black male appearing about 17 or 18 years old, about 5 feet 11 inches tall, and weighing about 145 pounds. He said the attacker was wearing gym shorts and had his shirt off, exposing a slim but “muscular” build. LaSalvia said the attacker had a medium skin complexion and “very short hair – almost like a shaved head.”

GOProud describes itself on its website as an organization representing “gay conservatives and their allies…committed to a traditional conservative agenda that emphasizes limited government, individual liberty, free markets and a confident foreign policy.”

Although D.C. police have listed the assault against him as a hate crime, LaSalvia acknowledged that he and GOProud have emerged as critics of the federal and state hate crimes laws.

“We do not oppose hate crimes laws but I happen to think they’re a waste of time because they don’t do anything to prevent violent crimes from occurring and they have outlasted their usefulness,” he said.

According to LaSalvia, hate crimes laws would have been useful in the past, when state and federal law enforcement officials often did not prosecute crimes targeting gays and other minorities such as blacks. He said those days are all but gone, and authorities now routinely prosecute crimes against gays and other groups, even if they are not officially classified as hate crimes in states that don’t have hate crimes laws.

The Obama administration and a coalition of Democratic and Republican members of Congress that voted to pass the Matthew Shepard Hate Crime Prevention Act in 2009 said the law could act as a deterrent to hate crimes by drawing attention to such crimes and building strong opposition to hate violence in society.

Activists supporting the federal hate crimes law also noted that it includes protections for transgender people. Activists said the transgender community, along with gays and lesbians, could now rely on the federal government to prosecute anti-LGBT hate crimes if a state or local law enforcement agency declines to prosecute such crimes against them.

LaSalvia said he is aware that D.C.’s hate crimes law, as well as similar laws in other states, allow judges to hand down a stricter sentence to criminals convicted of committing a hate crime.

“My argument is I’m fine with that but it didn’t do anything to deter him from doing it,” he said of the youth who attacked him. “And that’s my whole point about why did we spend so much political capital for [the federal hate crimes law] when, OK, it’s retribution, but it still does nothing to prevent hate crimes.”

 

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27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. Keith Jarrell

    July 18, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    The lack of response from the GLLU officers inside of the facility is shameful at best. They should all be disciplined for not caring enough to unlock the door and render assistance. This is what much of the community has been arguing about for the past 5 years, to keep this unit in place and have it serve the gay community in and around Dupont Circle, Well, truth be now that this unit should be broken up and the officers sent to various police districts to serve. There is simply no excuse for the officers not opening up the door and welcoming a member of the community in to render assistance to him.

    • Adam L

      July 19, 2011 at 9:11 am

      Perhaps you should keep reading the story where it says that the office is not open 24-hours and that those inside are volunteers, not police officers.

    • brian

      July 20, 2011 at 2:18 am

      Really, Keith? What is this? More scripting from MPD’s chiefs to continue their assault on GLLU’s central office?

      Maybe you ought to review the story. LaSalvia reported seeing “people” inside, not officers” as you asserted. And what do you know of GLLU or GLLU’s Dupont office? Or police work, for that matter?

      The LGBTQ community doesn’t need political wannabees shilling PR for Chief Lanier. We need Chief Lanier to support GLLU’s central office so that victims of hate crimes, stalking and bullying have a safe haven to report crimes without being dissed by their local, less-experienced MPD officers and/or observed by their local attackers.

      BTW, Keith, just how many MPD awards banquets have you been invited to, now?

  2. Deacon Maccubbin

    July 18, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Well, duh…if you’re assaulted, that’s a 911 call and an immediate police response situation. That’s true whether it’s a hate crime or not, whether it’s in DC or elsewhere, whether it’s day or night. If he LaSalvia has reacted at the time, the odds are good that the attacker could have been identified and arrested. I can’t understand why LaSalvia didn’t immediately call the police. Waiting 3 days before making a police report is simply irresponsible.

    • laurelboy2

      July 18, 2011 at 5:22 pm

      Idiot. Had he revealed only a phone in his backpack the assailant and his buds could have killed LaSalvia when they realized he didn’t have the suspected gun. If you’re the Deacon who used to own Lambda Rising, I’m now glad I never purchased anything from you.

      Committed member of the GOP and proud of it.

      • BobN

        July 19, 2011 at 4:33 pm

        By “react” he meant call 911, nothing to do with showing his cell phone or anything.

        The point is that you report crimes WHEN THEY HAPPEN. Your “emergency” might be “over”, but the same kids could be attacking another person in the same area.

  3. Christian

    July 18, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    It sickens me to hear gay (left-wing) activists cheer when this happens to someone they disagree with on political issues.

    • Hollywood, CA

      July 22, 2011 at 3:23 pm

      THIS WAS TOTALLY MADE UP… my question is, why? Why make this up, and what is it going to get you? How would a black teen know you were gay just riding your bike, then hit you for no reason, then you reach in your bag… was this your normal route home? Did no one come to your aid? Why are you making this all up? Sorry, it all smells FISHY

  4. Hdtex

    July 18, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    This famewhore will do anything to keep his name in the news….Where’s the proof? Where’s the IMMEDIATE police report? Lies lies lies….

  5. Gregg In Seattle

    July 18, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    It is very sad when homophobic assaults like this happen. Even so, I expect the teens grew up in conservative, very Republican households. No doubt, that is why Mr. LaSalvia kept his silence until it was too late to apprehend his assailants and have them brought to public justice: it would have exposed him as a quisling.

    • Damian G.

      July 20, 2011 at 3:23 am

      Given that the attacker was reportedly a “black male”, I find it highly unlikely (albeit not impossible) that he grew up in a “very Republican household”.

  6. Kurt Foster

    July 18, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    Too bad you can’t have an opinion without being called an idiot. The truth is, there is no quick fix for hoodlums who attack people and only back off when they think the person has a gun. Too bad we can’t just clean up the town like they spray for roaches.

    • Marcus99

      July 19, 2011 at 8:42 am

      The quick fix is to call the police and attempt to apprehend the attackers. It’s really pretty straight forward.

  7. NickadooLA

    July 19, 2011 at 2:01 am

    So when can we expect LaSalvia’s endorsement of his attacker for 2012?

  8. Steven

    July 19, 2011 at 8:18 am

    And why did these group of teenagers all of a sudden call him a faggot? I call bullshit on the hate crime aspect.

  9. Will

    July 19, 2011 at 9:55 am

    Sadly, based on the description, I would guess that this attack was motivated by racism and opportunism. I am not gay, and have been called a faggot by young black males several times as they were either showing off to friends, or testing my willingness to get into a fight. For criminally-inclined young black men, calling a white man a faggot seems to be a common way to try to emasculate the victim verbally, either for the purpose of impressing friends, or starting a real fight.

    Its very sad commentary on the state of many teenagers in the District that ganging up on, or ambushing passersby is considered a mark of street credibility. That area around the Metro Branch Trail has become ground zero for ne’er do wells lately.

    I wish Mr. LaSalvia all the best in his recovery.

  10. Bigg

    July 19, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    This kind of crime shouldn’t happen to anyone. I feel sorry for Mr. LaSalvia because he was attacked – and at the same time, I feel rather sad that he’s made so much of the “gun rights” aspect of the situation by saying to anyone who will listen that armed gays don’t get attacked.

  11. alguien

    July 19, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    my BS meter is way up in the red with this one.

  12. Scott

    July 19, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Attacks on cyclists and pedestrians by black teenagers are common in this city – almost every cyclist I know has been harassed at some point from the sidewalk or passing cars. They call anyone a fag they want to provoke so I doubt LaSalvia’s sexual orientation (which they couldn’t have known) was actually an issue in this case, though I can understand that it would feel that way to him.

  13. nick

    July 19, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    so much for the liason unit they are probably busy getting laid

  14. Jay T

    July 19, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Kinda ironic he wants to call it a hate crime when all of his friends are against hate crime legislation :-/
    Hows that workin for ya Jimmy?

  15. Timmmeeeyyy!

    July 19, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Meanwhile GOProud co-founder Chris Barron told an interviewer “When my parter and sit down at night…we’re not talking about hate crimes, what we’re talking about is taxes and health care retirement security.”

    Why aren’t they talking about hate crimes. It should now be apparent to them that it’s an issue that even affects the elite.

    The interview is on youtube http://youtu.be/mfXH1DovoHQ

  16. Allen in Seattle

    July 19, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    It is my opinion that his story lacks credibility.

  17. Jack Fertig

    July 20, 2011 at 4:25 am

    Cutbacks on police response are due to the Friedmanite economic policies GOProud endorses, just as they scoff at hate crimes legislation.

    When have white Republicans ever hesitated to sic the cops on black youth? Granted, if the crime actually happened the kid would have deserved an arrest at least, but as already noted this report arouses a lot of skepticism. Yes, gay progressives should be sympathetic when even a gay reactionary gets bashed, but LaSalvia, Barron, et al. rather than learning from the example of Ernst Roehm, grovel for approval from homophobes and campaign for privatizing health care thereby eliminating programs keeping people with HIV alive. Yeah… we should always be against any gay bashing, but — especially when his club supports the biggest bashers in Congress — is it any wonder that we neither like nor trust LaSalvia?

  18. John Muller

    July 20, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Strangely enough, the term “faggot” has evolved from a derogatory term for a homosexual to resembling a more broad attack of one’s social legitimacy.

    So, while the assailant allegedly called him a “faggot” he may not have known Mr. LaSalvia’s sexual orientation. I would wager that a typical inner-city teenager wouldn’t be able to recognize anyone from politics on the street, short of the president himself.

    As such, I’m fairly certain that the term used was in reference to his uncool style of being a grown man riding a bicycle while wearing a backpack and, I’m assuming, a helmet.

    Also, who gets punched off of anything by a 5’11 145lbs kid? I’m pretty sure I could trade blows with that little dude on a unicycle or a pogo stick and keep on trucking.

  19. Carlos

    July 21, 2011 at 10:09 am

    I regret this happened to Jimmy, but his tortured hate crimes commentary is just…well, remarkably simple-minded. Of course laws don’t prevent crimes. They never have. But they give law enforcement officials the tools to punish criminals, and they speak to our values as a nation. That’s why hate crimes laws have existed for decades that address bias-motivated crimes involving things like race and religion. Adding sexual orientation and gender identity to those laws was long overdue because hate crimes disproportionately affect the LGBT community in this country, according to the FBI.

  20. IMGoph

    July 21, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    I’ve been attacked, verbally and physically, by African American kids within a block of this location as well. I’m straight, but have been called “faggot” by these kids as well. I agree with others that it’s likely that this was less of a hate crime and more of stupid kids who deserve to be smacked around a bit.

    That said, I hope he’s OK. It’s scary to have anything happen to you when you’re on a bike. You’re very vulnerable.

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LULAC Lambda announces 2021 scholarship awards

Castro, Javier Rodriguez win $1,000 honors

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Brian Castro and Victor Javier Rodriguez are this year’s LULAC award winners.

The D.C.-based LGBTQ Latinx organization LULAC Lambda has announced it has selected two D.C. residents bound for graduate studies in foreign affairs and higher education to receive its 2021 annual scholarship award.

“For a fourth year in a row, LULAC Lambda will provide scholarships to outstanding scholars who come from our LGBTQ+ Latinx community,” said Erik Rodriquez, the LULAC Lambda president, in a statement released by the group. “Our scholarship program will help these scholars achieve their academic goals and reduce their student debt,” Rodriquez said.

The statement says one of the two scholarship awards, for $1,000, will go to Brian Castro, who will begin studies for a master’s degree in the fall of 2021 at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service.

“The generous scholarship provided by LULAC Lambda will complement my studies by going directly into my tuition costs,” Castro said in the statement. “Though I have been a resident of Washington, D.C., working full-time at a leading public health consulting firm, I am grateful to have received the support from an organization that is also committed to social justice,” he said.

The other scholarship, for $1,300, will go to Victor Javier Rodriguez for his doctoral work in education at Florida State University. The LULAC Lambda statement says Javier Rodriquez’s academic interest lies in “exploring the relationship between school communities and districts’ implementation of anti-racist practice and student success.”

In his own words, Javier Rodriquez said, “A long-term career goal of mine is to affect change at the federal level through the United States Department of Education, in which I would work to address our nation’s education crisis by advocating for equitable policies and practices that improve the outcome for all our students, especially those who are most vulnerable.”

LULAC Lambda says it was founded in October 2014 “to mobilize and strengthen the LGBTQ+ and Latinx communities of Washington, D.C. through community and civic engagement.” It is one of 1,000 chapters across the country affiliated with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the nation’s largest and oldest Latinx volunteer-based civil rights organization, the group’s statement says.

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Missing gay man found ‘alive and well’

Police say Richard ‘Rick’ Woods found in good health

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Richard G. ‘Rick’ Woods, a 65-year-old gay man, was found alive and well.

D.C. police announced on Friday that Richard G. ‘Rick’ Woods, a 65-year-old gay man who police said was reported missing and last seen on July 14, has been located. But the announcement doesn’t provide information on where he was found or why he went missing.

Friends who know Woods say he operated for many years an antique wood furniture restoration business in various locations in D.C. The most recent location of his business, friends said, was in Georgetown a short distance from where police said he was last seen on the 1600 block of Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.

“MPD does not publicly disclose the circumstances surrounding a missing person and how they are found, however we do release their flyer as well as a notification when they are located,” said D.C. police spokesperson Brianna Burch. “Mr. Woods was found in good health,” Burch told the Blade.

Police sought help from the public in their initial announcement that Woods was missing. The announcement said he was reported missing to police on Friday, July 23.

Logan Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner and LGBTQ rights advocate John Fanning, who said he has been friends with Woods for many years, said he was delighted to hear Woods was found in good condition.

“Rick is known by many in our community,” Fanning told the Blade at the time Woods was reported missing. Fanning said he and others who know Woods stand ready to provide support for him should he be in need of such support.

The Blade couldn’t immediately reach Woods for comment.

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Some D.C. gay bars to require proof of COVID vaccination

Action prompted by mayor’s order reinstating masks indoors

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Adams Morgan’s A League of Her Own is among the area queer bars requiring proof of vaccination for entry.

At least six D.C. gay bars announced last week on social media that they will require patrons to show proof that they have been vaccinated for COVID-19 as a condition for being admitted to the bars.

They include the Logan Circle area gay bars Number Nine and Trade, which are operated by the same co-owners; the Adams Morgan gay sports bars Pitchers and A League of Her Own, which are also operated by the same owner and share the same building; the 17th Street, N.W. gay bar JR.’s; and the U Street, N.W. gay bar The Dirty Goose.

The six bars, which also offer dining service, announced their proof of vaccination requirement shortly after D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Thursday, July 29, issued a new order reinstating the city’s requirement that facial masks be worn inside all businesses and other public establishments.

The mayor’s order applies to all vaccinated and unvaccinated people over the age of two. It took effect at 5 a.m. Saturday, July 31.

At a July 29 news conference, Bowser pointed to a new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance issued two days earlier recommending that fully vaccinated people resume wearing masks indoors in places where transmission of the coronavirus is considered “substantial” or “high.”

The mayor said that, at the advice of her public health experts, she decided to issue the new order to help curtail the rising number of COVID cases in D.C. over the past month or more due to the rapid spread of the virus’s Delta variant, which is surging throughout the nation. Like other parts of the country, Bowser and D.C. Department of Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbit said people who are unvaccinated in D.C. make up nearly all of the newly infected cases.

“I know D.C. residents have been very closely following the public health guidelines, and they will embrace this,” Bowser said in referring to the new mask requirement.

The four-page order released by the mayor’s office, similar to the city’s earlier mask requirements, allows indoor patrons of restaurants and bars to remove their masks while “actively” eating or drinking.

But some representatives of restaurants and bars have pointed out that other jurisdictions, including Maryland and Virginia, have followed the CDC’s initial policy of making mask wearing a recommendation rather than a requirement.

“Mayor Bowser’s announcement that nightlife hospitality patrons must wear a mask indoors when not ‘actively eating or drinking’ renders the reinstated mandate essentially unenforceable and results in the rule being reduced to a largely theatrical requirement,” said Mark Lee, director of the D.C. Nightlife Council, a local trade association representing bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and other nightlife related businesses.

“The greatest disappointment for many venue operators and staff, however, is that the mayor’s decision does not allow an option for establishments to admit only fully vaccinated patrons and be exempt from the mandate, as a number of other jurisdictions across the country have done,” Lee said.

John Guggenmos, co-owner of the bars Trade and Number Nine, told the Washington Blade he and his co-owners adopted the proof of vaccination policy as an added means of protecting the safety of both patrons and employees of the two bars.

“We’re hopeful that this will be in effect for just a few weeks or a month or two,” Guggenmos said. “Our patrons have always been very supportive,” he said in referring to the city’s public health directives last year and early this year in which masks were required up until May of this year.

Guggenmos said Trade and Number Nine would allow an alternative to the vaccination requirement if patrons provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test conducted within the previous three days of their admission to the bars.

In its social media postings, Pitchers and A League of Her Own said their proof of vaccination requirement was based on the concern for the health of their patrons and staff.

“We will require proof of a COVID vaccination until further notice at Pitchers/ALOHO and masks per the mayor,” a Facebook posting says. “We take guidelines and the health of our patrons and staff very seriously. We will accept a picture or hard copy of your COVID vaccination card,” it says. “No exceptions, no arguing, no talking to the manager.”

Tammy Truong, owner of the gay bar Uproar Lounge at 639 Florida Ave., N.W., told the Blade the bar has no immediate plans to require proof of vaccination as a requirement for admission, but Uproar will fully comply with the mayor’s order requiring indoor masks.

Justin Parker, co-owner of the nearby gay bar The Dirty Goose at 913 U St., N.W., told the Blade he and his staff decided on July 30 to also put in place a requirement that patrons show either proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the past five days. He said a five-day window for the COVID test, which the CDC allows in some cases, was chosen rather than a three-day requirement to accommodate people who may not be able to get tested during weekends.

Owners of other D.C. queer bars couldn’t immediately be reached. But the Blade could not find any announcements by the other bars as of Friday afternoon that they planned to put in place a proof of vaccination requirement.

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