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5 lesbians attacked; police refuse to take report

Suspect released as cops threatened to arrest victims

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Cahty Lanier

UPDATE: Police Chief Lanier has responded to this incident and announced there could be terminations; read more here.

A man who shouted the words “dyke” and “bitches” as he and another man assaulted five lesbians outside the Columbia Heights Metro station at 3 a.m. on July 30 was released by D.C. police officers after they apprehended him on the scene, according to two of the victims.

A third man who accompanied the two attackers used his cell phone to make a video recording of the attack and continued to record the unfolding drama after the police arrived, said Yazzmen Morse, 21, who suffered a black eye and a swollen face from the assault.

According to Morse and the other victim, six or seven officers arrived on the scene in four police cars after responding to an apparent 911 call from a bystander. The two women said the officers, who are assigned to the Third District police station, refused to take a report of the incident, ignoring the women’s repeated requests to make a report.

“The police grabbed one of the attackers and restrained him,” Morse told the Blade. “Then they let him go. And then they said they didn’t want to hear our stories.”

An officer assigned to the D.C. police Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit did make a report of the incident three days later, on Aug. 2. Morse said the GLLU became involved after her mother called police to complain about the refusal of the officers on the scene to report the attack.

The GLLU report lists the incident as an anti-gay hate crime.

Morse and the victim, who spoke on condition that she not be identified, said all five women are pleased with the thoroughness of GLLU Officer Joseph Morquecho, who interviewed Morse at her place of work and the other four by phone.

But the two said they are outraged that the officers on the scene refused to take a report and declined to arrest one of the two suspects. They said the second suspect fled as police arrived.

Morse and the other victim said they do not know the identities of any of the officers on the scene.

The two also said the man who recorded the incident on video with his cell phone appeared to be enjoying the spectacle and continued to record after police arrived.

“We’re all wondering if this is going to be on YouTube,” said the woman who asked not to be identified. She said the officers on the scene made no effort to stop the man from recording the incident or to take his cell phone to observe the recording as possible evidence in the case.

Although the GLLU filed the police report, Third District officers and detectives are responsible for investigating the incident since the crime took place within that district.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier released a statement on Friday saying she learned about the incident Thursday night.

“I was appalled when I heard about the incident and the conduct of the officers,” Lanier said. “Obviously, this is not the kind of service that the Metropolitan Police Department provides. I have spoken with victims in this case and I want to assure them and the public that the incident and the conduct of the officers are being investigated thoroughly,” she said.

“I have received an update on this case and I am confident that we will be making arrests,” she said.

A.J. Singletary, chair of the D.C. group Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence, said GLOV would urge police officials to investigate the conduct of the officers on the scene and take disciplinary action if the account of the incident by the victims is confirmed.

“This is just unacceptable,” he said.

Singletary said GLOV members were scheduled to meet with Lanier on Friday over the group’s ongoing concern that the GLLU wasn’t getting sufficient support from police officials, including Lanier. He said he and other GLOV members would raise the issue of the police handling of the July 30 attack on the five lesbians.

The victim, who asked that her name be withheld, said she, Morse and the other three women targeted by the two men were horrified when the man that police released began to laugh and taunt the women as he walked away.

“He walked across the street laughing,” she said. “And I will never forget his face – he was just smiling. And we are five people who are in tears and he is just laughing at us.”

The police report made by the GLLU says the incident began when the two male suspects approached the five women as they were walking along the 3100 block of 14th Street, N.W. The block is in the heart of the shopping and entertainment area of the city’s Columbia Heights neighborhood.

The report says the two suspects began to “flirt” with two of the women. It says one of the women responded by telling the men she wasn’t interested and she was with her girlfriend.

“Suspect 1 became enraged and stated, “You fucking dyke bitches, I will kick that bitch’s ass,” the report says. “I will take that dyke bitch into the alley and kick her ass,” the report quotes suspect 1 as saying.

According to the two women who spoke to the Blade, the suspect was referring to Morse, who is the girlfriend of one of the two women that the two suspects approached. Morse said she walked over to the men to find out what was going on.

The police report, which lists Morse as Complainant 1, says suspect 1 punched her in the left eye. “Complainant 1 staggered back and Suspect 1 punched C-1 twice more with a closed fist. It says that when the other women tried to assist C-1, they were hit by both suspects.

The suspects punched each of the women in the head and face, the report says.

The report describes suspect 1 as a black male between the ages of 20 and 25; 5-feet-seven inches to 5-feet-eight-inches tall, weighing between 150-160 pounds, with a dark complexion and athletic build.

It describes suspect 2 as a black male, between 20 and 25 years old, between 5-feet-eight and five-feet-nine inches tall, weighing between 150 and 160 pounds, having a medium brown complexion and medium or average build. It says suspect 2 had a mustache and both suspects wore blue pants and a white shirt.

The report lists all five victims as black females.

The victim who asked not to be identified said the officers on the scene gave no explanation for refusing to take a report. But she said some of the officers told them they were too agitated.

“They were telling us if you guys don’t calm down we’re going to lock you guys up,” the woman said. “One officer said I’m not talking to you because you guys don’t know how to act,” she said.

“And yes, we were panicking. Yes, we were crying. Yes, we were going off,” she said. “But the fact is these men had just hit us.”

The attack on the five lesbians comes less than two weeks after a D.C. transgender woman was shot to death in Northeast D.C. and one day after a second transgender woman was targeted by a suspect who fired a gun at her but missed hitting her just one block from where the first victim was killed.

GLOV joined transgender activists in criticizing police for not adequately releasing information to the LGBT community and public about the July 20 shooting near the 6100 block of Dix Street, N.E., that left transgender woman Lashai Mclean dead. Both cases remain open, with police looking into anti-transgender hatred as a possible motive.

 

 

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District of Columbia

Bernie Delia, attorney, beloved Capital Pride organizer, dies at 68

Activist worked at Justice Department, White House as attorney

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Bernie Delia (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Bernie Delia, a founding member of the Capital Pride Alliance, the group that organizes most D.C. LGBTQ Pride events, and who served most recently as co-chair of World Pride 2025, which D.C. will be hosting next June, died unexpectedly on Friday, June 21, according to a statement released by Capital Pride Alliance. He was 68.

“It is with great sadness that the Capital Pride Alliance mourns the passing of Bernie Delia,” the statement says. “We will always reflect on his life and legacy as a champion, activist, survivor, mentor, friend, leader, and a true inspiration to the LGBTQ+ community.”

The statement says that in addition to serving six years as the Capital Pride Alliance board president, Delia served for several years as president of Dignity Washington, the local LGBTQ Catholic organization, where he helped create “an environment for spiritual enrichment during the height of the AIDS epidemic.”

“He also had a distinguished legal career, serving as one of the first openly gay appointees at the U.S. Department of Justice and later as an appellate attorney,” the statement reads.

Delia’s LinkedIn page shows that he worked at the U.S. Department of Justice for 26 years, serving as an assistant U.S. attorney from 2001 to 2019. Prior to that, he served from 1997 to 2001 as associate deputy attorney general and from 1994 to 1997 served as senior counsel to the director of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, which provides executive and administrative support for 93 U.S. attorneys located throughout the country.

His LinkedIn page shows he served from January-June 1993 as deputy director of the Office of Presidential Personnel during the administration of President Bill Clinton, in which he was part of the White House staff. And it shows he began his career as legal editor of the Bureau of National Affairs, which published news reports on legal issues, from 1983-1993.

The Capital Pride Alliance statement describes Delia as “an avid runner who served as the coordinator of the D.C. Front Runners and Stonewall Kickball LGBTQ sports groups.”

“He understood the value, purpose, and the urgency of the LGBTQ+ community to work together and support one another,” the statement says. “He poured his soul into our journey toward World Pride, which was a goal of his from the start of his involvement with Capital Pride.”

The statement adds, “Bernie will continue to guide us forward to ensure we meet this important milestone as we gather with the world to be visible, heard, and authentic. We love you, Bernie!”

In a statement posted on social media, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said she and her administration were “heartbroken” over the news of Delia’s passing.

“Bernie leaves behind an incredible legacy in our city and country — through his life and advocacy, he helped pave a path for LGBTQIA+ residents in our city and within the federal government to live and work openly and proudly,” the mayor says in her statement.

“He helped transform Capital Pride into one of the largest and most inclusive Pride celebrations in the nation — a true reflection and representation of our people and values,” the statement says. “This is the D.C. that Bernie helped build and that he leaves behind.”

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District of Columbia

D.C. Council budget bill includes $8.5 million in LGBTQ provisions

Measure also changes Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs

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The D.C. Council approved Mayor Muriel Bowser’s budget proposal calling for $5.25 million in funding for World Pride 2025. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The D.C. Council on June 12 gave final approval for a $21 billion fiscal year 2025 budget for the District of Columbia that includes more than $8.5 million in funding for LGBTQ-related programs, including $5.25 million in support of the June 2025 World Pride celebration that D.C. will be hosting.

Also included in the budget is $1.7 million in funds for the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, which includes an increase of $132,000 over the office’s funding for the current fiscal year, and a one-time funding of $1 million for the completion of the renovation of the D.C. Center for the LGBTQ Community’s new building in the city’s Shaw neighborhood.

The D.C. LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition earlier this year asked both the D.C. Council and Mayor Muriel Bowser to approve $1.5 million for the D.C. Center’s building renovation and an additional $300,000 in “recurring” funding for the LGBTQ Center in subsequent years “to support ongoing operational costs and programmatic initiatives.” In its final budget measure, the Council approved $1 million for the renovation work and did not approve the proposed $600,000 in annual operational funding for the center.

The mayor’s budget proposal, which called for the $5.25 million in funding for World Pride 2025, did not include funding for the D.C. LGBTQ Center or for several other funding requests by the LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition.

At the request of D.C. Council member Zachary Parker (D-Ward 5), the Council’s only gay member, the Council approved at least two other funding requests by the LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition in addition to the funding for the LGBTQ Center. One is $595,000 for 20 additional dedicated housing vouchers for LGBTQ residents who face housing insecurity or homelessness. The LGBTQ housing vouchers are administered by the Office of LGBTQ Affairs.

The other funding allocation pushed by Parker is $250,000 in funds to support a Black LGBTQ+ History Commission and Black LGBTQIA+ history program that Parker proposed that will also be administered by the LGBTQ Affairs office.

Also at Parker’s request, the Council included in its budget bill a proposal by Parker to change the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs to become a “stand-alone entity” outside the Executive Office of the Mayor. Parker told the Washington Blade this change would “allow for greater transparency and accountability that reflects its evolution over the years.”

He said the change would also give the person serving as the office’s director, who is currently LGBTQ rights advocate Japer Bowles, “greater flexibility to advocate for the interest of LGBTQ residents” and give the Council greater oversight of the office. Parker noted that other community constituent offices under the mayor’s office, including the Office of Latino Affairs and the Office of Veterans Affairs, are stand-alone offices.

The budget bill includes another LGBTQ funding provision introduced by D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) that allocates $100,000 in grants to support LGBTQ supportive businesses in Ward 6 that would be awarded and administered by the Office of LGBTQ Affairs. Allen spokesperson Eric Salmi said Allen had in mind two potential businesses on 8th Street, S.E. in the Barracks Row section of Capitol Hill as potential applicants for the grants.

One is the LGBTQ café and bar As You Are, which had to close temporarily earlier this year due to structural problems in the building it rents. The other potential applicant, Salmi said, is Little District Books, D.C.’s only LGBTQ bookstore that’s located on 8th Street across the street from the U.S. Marine Barracks.

“It’s kind of recognizing Barrack’s Row has a long history of creating spaces that are intended for and safe for the LGBTQ community and wanting to continue that history,” Salmi said  “So, that was his kind of intent behind the language in that funding.”

The mayor’s budget proposal also called for continuing an annual funding of $600,000 to provide workforce development services for transgender and gender non-conforming city residents experiencing homelessness and housing instability.

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Virginia

Suhas Subramanyam wins Democratic primary in Va. 10th Congressional District

Former Obama advisor vows to champion LGBTQ rights in Congress

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Virginia state Sen. Suhas Subramanyam (D-Fairfax County) (Photo courtesy of Subramanyam's campaign)

Virginia state Sen. Suhas Subramanyam (D-Loudoun County) on Tuesday won the Democratic primary in the race to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) in Congress.

Subramanyam won the Democratic primary in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District with 30.4 percent of the votes. The Loudoun County Democrat who was an advisor to former President Barack Obama will face Republican Mike Clancy in November’s general election.

“I’m thrilled to be the Democratic nominee in Virginia’s 10th, and to have won this election during Pride Month,” Subramanyam told the Washington Blade on Wednesday in an emailed statement. “As I have done in the state legislature and as an Obama White House policy advisor, I will always stand as an ally with the LGBTQ+ community.”

Wexton, who is a vocal LGBTQ rights champion, last September announced she will not seek re-election after doctors diagnosed her with progressive supranuclear palsy, a neurological disorder she has described as “Parkinson’s on steroids.” Wexton is a vice chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus and a previous co-chair of its Transgender Equality Task Force.

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