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Gay man says D.C. police lost $8,000 ring after arrest

A gay Virginia man has accused Second District D.C. police officials of losing an $8,000 diamond ring he says they took from him at the time they placed him in a cell following his July 21 arrest on an assault charge.



A gay Virginia man has accused Second District D.C. police officials of losing an $8,000 diamond ring he says they took from him at the time they placed him in a cell following his July 21 arrest on an assault charge.

Clifford Ward told the Blade that officers took the ring and other personal belongings from him when they processed his arrest. He said that when he was released the following day after a court appearance, officers told him the ring was reported missing in a police log.

“Our Internal Affairs Division will look into the allegations addressed in this complaint,” said Gwendolyn Crump, a police spokesperson. “I cannot comment further at this time.”

Ward said police have not returned his repeated calls asking about the ring. He describes it as a platinum ring with four black diamonds, saying its disappearance added to the emotional stress he suffered from his arrest.

A police charging document filed in D.C. Superior Court says Ward was charged with assault with significant bodily injury, a felony, for allegedly punching a woman in the face “with a closed fist causing a severe laceration to her lip.” The charging document says the alleged assault occurred on the sidewalk in front of 2130 P Street, N.W., near several gay bars, about 6 p.m. on July 21.

The document says the alleged victim is the owner of the Solar Planet tanning salon at that address. It says the woman, identified as Karen Weber, accuses Ward of entering her shop and placing three bottles of tanning lotion worth $185.97 in the pockets of his cargo shorts before leaving the shop without paying for them.

It says Weber followed Ward out of the store and confronted him about the items, at which time he allegedly punched her in the face.

Ward, in a telephone interview, denied he took anything from Weber’s store. He said he entered the store to look for his sister, who he said entered the shop to ask about prices for tanning services. He said he left the store and was standing on the sidewalk waiting for his sister when Weber “attacked” him and began “ripping off all my clothes” while accusing him of shoplifting.

He said he hit her with his elbow in self-defense, fearing that she would seriously injure him.

But the police charging document says at least three witnesses told police they saw Ward hit Weber in the face with his fist. The document says “Weber recovered during the struggle with defendant Ward” three bottles of tanning lotion. She told the Blade that witnesses on the street saw the bottles fall out of Ward’s pockets.

Ward was scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 9 for a preliminary hearing on the case.




Virginia Beach high school students stage walkouts to support transgender rights

City’s school board approved policy to out trans students to parents



Transgender flags (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key.)

Students at five Virginia Beach high schools on Friday staged walkouts in support of transgender rights.

The walkout is in response to the Virginia Beach School Board approving policy 5-31, which the Pride Liberation Project says will require schools to out trans students to their parents.

Students have been organizing walkouts across the state since Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin earlier this year announced new guidelines for trans and nonbinary students.

“Students like me aren’t going to be able to talk to our teachers if we’re constantly worried about our school officials calling home to forcibly out us,” AJ, a trans Kellam High School Student, told the Pride Liberation Project.

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District of Columbia

Pepco, Exelon announce $2.7 million in funding for four minority-owned businesses

‘It’s good business sense to bring more people to the table’



Pepco and Exelon held a press conference Friday to announce four recipients of $2.7 million in investments. (Photo courtesy Exelon)

Pepco and Exelon announced a $2.7 million investment in four minority-owned businesses on Friday.

“Today’s been a long time coming,” said Pepco Vice President of Governmental and External Affairs Valencia McClure.

Pepco’s parent company, Exelon, launched the Racial Equity Capital Fund (RECF) in 2022 to expand capital access to diverse businesses. This latest $2.7 million investment is just a portion of RECF’s $36 million in funding.

At the announcement, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser spoke about the other ways Pepco and Exelon have “put their money where their mouth is” through their partnership with the D.C. Infrastructure Academy. She reported that all 22 of the residents that graduated from the program last week have a job offer from Pepco.

“We know that is not just a job, but a career,” she said to the crowd’s applause. “We know that working together, we can invest in D.C. residents, provide opportunity, and ensure that our D.C. businesses are a part of D.C.’s growing prosperity.”

The four minority businesses that received funding were Gemini Energy Solutions, Public Sector Solutions Group, CJR Development Partners, and Escalate.

“It’s good business sense to bring more people to the table,” said fund recipient Nicole Cober, CJR Development’s Principle Managing Partner.

Gemini Energy Solutions, which is Black owned, received $1 million, the most of the four companies. Its mission is to equitably scale energy efficiency to marginalized communities. For the founder and CEO Anthony Kinslow II, this investment means that he is able to get paid and advance the work of his organization.

“We are now able to accelerate the work in our software and technology development,” he said. “What we were going to do in two years, we are now going to do in six months.”

For Escalate, a workforce development platform focused on frontline worker retention, the funding means that it will be able to double the pay for frontline workers.

Public Sector Solutions Group CEO Darryl Wiggins emphasized that this investment was not just ‘charity’ work, but mission-driven work.

“The principle and the intent is greater than the money we receive,” he said. Public Sector Solutions is Black owned.

Public Sector Solutions Group received a $600,000 debt investment; CJR Development, a minority and woman-owned small business, received a $600,000 debt investment; and Escalate, a majority Black and woman-owned company, received a $500,000 equity investment.

Exelon launched the RECF in partnership with RockCreek, one of the world’s largest diverse-owned global investment firms, in 2022. The RECF expands capital access to diverse businesses so they can create more jobs, grow their companies and reinvest in their neighborhoods and communities, according to a statement from Exelon.

New RECF applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Interested businesses may apply online or contact RockCreek at [email protected] for more information.

(Photo courtesy Exelon)
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Comings & Goings

Armstrong recognized with Lifetime Achievement Award



Lynden C. Armstrong

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected].

Congratulations to Lynden C. Armstrong on his Lifetime Achievement award from the Congressional Management Foundation in recognition of his exemplary public service in Congress. 

Upon receiving the award Armstrong said, “This recognition is not just a personal achievement, but a testament to the unwavering dedication and hard work of colleagues and mentors who have been with me on this journey. I’ve dedicated my entire career to public service within the Senate, where recognition isn’t the primary motivation for our work, making this recognition even more humbling.” He is currently Deputy Assistant Senate Sergeant at Arms and Chief Information Officer.  

Armstrong started his career with Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), where he rose to Deputy Chief of Staff in his more than 13-year stint. In 2004, during his tenure with Domenici, amid a debate on the Federal Marriage Amendment, Armstrong became a co-founder of the Gay, Lesbian and Allies Senate Staff (GLASS) Caucus. In 2014, he moved to the Sergeant at Arms CIO organization, where he established a new department within the CIO that was crafted to engage Senate offices in comprehending and harnessing technologies provided by the SAA. 

Lynden has previously served as Chief Clerk on the U.S. Senate, Committee on Rules and Administration, and with the U.S. Senate, Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, as Deputy Inaugural Coordinator, 2012–2013.  In that role among other responsibilities, he served as civilian liaison to the National Special Security Event Executive Steering Committee and subcommittees, including the Capitol, USCP, Crowd Management, Public Relations, Transportation, and credentialing, and as liaison to the Joint Task Force – National Capital Region. 

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