August 9, 2011 at 7:35 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Teenager charged in D.C. lesbian attack

D.C. police on Tuesday charged a 19-year-old D.C. man with assault for a July 30 incident in which five lesbians reported being attacked and beaten by two men outside the Columbia Heights Metro station.

In a statement released late Tuesday, police said detectives from the department’s Third District announced the arrest of Christian Washington of Northwest D.C. on a charge of assault after obtaining a D.C. Superior Court warrant.

“The Metropolitan Police Department is still investigating whether others were involved,” the statement says.

The case has attracted widespread attention after two of the victims told the Blade that police officers responding to the scene of the attack refused to take a report of the incident. The two women also said the officers released a suspect they apprehended upon their arrival on the 3100 block of 14th Street, N.W., where the incident occurred.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier issued a statement on Aug. 5 saying she was “appalled” over the conduct of the officers who responded to the scene of the incident. She said the department would conduct a thorough investigation of the incident.

One day earlier, she told members of the D.C. group Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence that officers failing to take a report of a crime similar to this one could be fired from the department depending on the findings of an investigation.

An officer with the department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit did take a report of the incident on Aug. 2. The report prepared by the GLLU officer listed the incident as an anti-lesbian hate crime.

The report says the victims reported that at least one of the two male attackers called the women “dykes” and “bitches” before he and another man punched each of the five women in the head and face several times.

Court records show that D.C. police charged a man named Christian Washington with unauthorized use of a vehicle on July 27, just three days before the attack against the five lesbians. The Blade could not immediately determine whether the Christian Washington charged in the unauthorized use of a vehicle case is the same person as the man charged with assaulting the five lesbians.

The four-paragraph police statement released Tuesday doesn’t say whether the charge filed against Washington was listed as a misdemeanor or felony assault or whether it was listed as a hate crime.

More information about the case was expected to emerge on Wednesday, when Washington was expected to appear in court for a hearing.

“I appreciate the personal interest that Chief Lanier has shown in this case and the fact that the MPD announced an arrest in the case today,” said D.C. gay activist Peter Rosenstein. “I anticipate there may be more arrests, and the LGBT community needs to follow up and make sure that the officers who mishandled this are disciplined or fired.”

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

  • “I appreciate the personal interest that Chief Lanier has shown in this case…”???

    Peter, respectfully, I strongly disagree. If you know anything about police chiefs, you’d understand that for Chief Lanier to show “personal interest” in such an officially embarrassing case — well, put simply, it is the minimal requisite of this Chief’s J.O.B. One would hope it is solely on behalf of the public safety of LGBT residents and LGBT visitors of DC.

    However, the fact is, Chief Lanier seemingly came much too late to this cover-up situation… yet again. Now, she’s ‘shocked, shocked’ at the “lazy policing” of these 3D officers.

    Reportedly, the now rarely called-upon GLLU sent an experienced GLLU officer when alerted to the crime by one of the victim’s persistent mother. By all accounts, he professionally and thoroughly took the complaint of the lesbian victims A FULL WEEK AGO.

    However, we all can’t help but notice it was the DC LGBT community’s own WaBlade that broke the story — and its details — not MPD’s Chief of Police, THREE days later.

    What’s to appreciate of Chief Lanier’s “personal interest” with such a lagging response? How long would have MPD’s cover-up continued had we not read it in the Blade?

    Frankly, IMO, it is the Chief who should be fired for having created within MPD, what one astute observer termed, an “upside-down world… that will not right itself on its own.”

    BTW… some related sidebar info…
    Our new, apparently very competent and experienced Commander of 5D was abruptly relieved of his command in 3D by Chief Lanier. Some residents in 3D think it was because he was becoming too popular with the residents of 3D. You know… perhaps practicing too successfully the much-lauded *community policing* model that ChiefCharles Ramsey brought with him from Chi-town… a concept that inspired his creation of GLLU, no doubt.

  • This case revealed not lazy policing but biased policing. It’s good that persistence resulted in the GLLU eventually being involved, but that should have been immediate. This police reluctance to recognize a hate crime is happening too much, and it needs to be addressed.

  • Exactly right, Rick.
    Also, a CORRECTION… to the last paragraph of my comment above… which applied to *2D* (Georgetown) *NOT to 3D* (Columbia Heights).

    That anecdote was just to illustrate how Chief Lanier appears to abruptly move MPD commands around, often without any explanation to residents of MPD districts, who come to know their respective commanders, and who can strongly disagree with Chief Lanier’s unexplained command moves.

    It is part of a wider problem with the way this Chief handles effective MPD news/ information dissemination with residents and stakeholders throughout the District, IMO. That includes what appears to be a penchant for selective MPD news manipulation.

    Nothing in that last paragraph, however, should be considered as criticism of our relatively new, and so far, apparently very capable 5D commander, Andy Solberg. Solberg and his command was obviously well-liked by 2D residents, as he is becoming very well-liked for his command of 5D (NE).

  • I agree with Rick and this brings to the fore the issue many of us have been saying which is that the concept of a wider GLLU is nice but the MPD is clearly not ready to do that if it means abandoning the fully staffed core GLLU which needs to be brought back up to full strength. Clearly these officers who responded were either not well trained in dealing with a hate crime; were negligent in their policing; or were homophobic, or a combination of all three. We need the investigation into this to be thorough and public.

  • The lesbians i know are so aggressive it seems they are looking for a confrontation. Think they would have clobbered kids like this

  • When you consider that the suspect was at the crime scene, accompanied by his accomplices, his sole arrest at this late date leaves me with the feeling “too little, too late”. The history of police inaction, incompetency, or outright bias with regards to crimes committed against our community is unfortunately overwhelming. The men attacked in Adams morgan. Tony Hunter, and ALL OF HIS ACCOMPLICES. Nana Boo Mack. Imani Williams. Stephanie and Ukea. and finally, LaShay McClean. The term “under investigation” eliminates a response to inquiries on the progress of the investigations, if in fact any investigations continue. Personally, I am OUTRAGED that these crimes, and especially the murders of these individuals have not found closure…that the killers have not been brought to justice. The message is clear….kill a queer in DC with impunity. NO ONE CARES. well, no one in the MPD. All the caring in the world coming from the community means nothing unless we can FORCE the MPD to do what they are paid very well to do…their job. Protect and serve ALL of the citizens of the District of Columbia, not a select few. I WANT RESULTS. Not explanations.

  • This is the kind of young people we have in DC. They have no respect for anyone. They are ignorant, lazy and violent. And politicians still blame teachers for all the problems? What kind of teachers would want to teach these thugs with fear? Time to stop bashing teachers and see what’s the real issue in their communities and families.

  • Until the LGBT community recognizes that ALL urban PDs are top down, chain-of-command organizations (just like the armed forces), then we have little hope of affecting change at MPD.

    As we have been in denial about that simple truism, the Chief of Police has been able to play the LGBT community, including some of its best young activists, like a fine violin for going on five years now.

    The DE FACTO institutional homophobia, transphobia and culture of discrimination against LGBT residents we see and have seen evident periodically throughout MPD for the last four and half years is A DIRECT RESULT of the willful policies, directives and communications of the Chief of Police (Lanier) and the Assistant Chief of Police for Patrol Services (Groomes).

    Once again, these CHIEFS have not stood up and taken responsibility for their utter failure to extend something like the now-shattered GLLU policing of yesteryear throughout MPD’s districts.

    Jeri and a growing number LGBT residents are recognizing and exposing these Chiefs’ “explanations” and carefully constructed excuses — for many such crimes and discriminatory conduct over the years of their failure to serve and protect LGBT residents. Moreover, Jeri has recognized the subtler ways these MPD chiefs obfuscate, stall, stonewall and/or co-opt LGBT residents and their activists.

    Communicating with MPD under this Chief is like communicating with full length mirrored panels mounted to a brick wall. The Chief is masterful at reflecting what LGBT activists want to hear and selling them on the notion that she is doing something, but none of us really get through her hidden wall of institutional discrimination. All LGBT activists should keep this in mind, and take care to preserve their integrity and credibility.

    Peter Rosenstein correctly notes the cornerstone issue with which this Chief has reconstructed a wall of de facto anti-LGBT discrimination: a fully staffed (7) core GLLU unit of SPECIALISTS — permitting a continuity of LGBT policing services and coverage, nearly 24/7/365, throughout the city.

    From her earliest days, this Chief of Police has persisted in her efforts to all but destroy GLLU’s core unit, as well as respect for GLLU among MPD’s line commanders and rank and file officers.

    Chief Lanier is an incredibly intelligent human being. For any of us who have communicated directly with her, to any reasonable extent at all, does anyone really believe she is too slow to get the fact that her repeated actions of contempt for GLLU sends anything but a quiet message of tacit indifference to anti-LGBT discrimination throughout MPD’s ranks?

    Peter also implies a partial legislative solution, whether he intended to or not. It could be implemented rather quickly one would think. The Council can mandate a fully staffed core GLLU unit.

    Why don’t we call upon those Council leaders who filled out GLAA’s voter information surveys re. GLLU to fulfill the spirit of their promises, and do just that?

  • Brian…thanx for the compliments..referring to me as a “astute observer”. I am a transgender bi female. I am a USAF military police veteran honorably discharged at the Staff Sgt (E-5) level at the ripe young age of 23. I have served in law enforcement in the military, state, and county levels and am an expert marksman. I write with passion against trans hate crimes in my blog (tranSendgender) at WordPress.

    I am 1st generation American. I have two first cousins in L.E. at the city and county levels as Sgts here in CA. In the 1940’s three “immigrant” brothers came over in the 1940s from Mexico. One son from each brother became officers here in California at the state, county, and city levels! Two served their new country in the U.S. Marines during Vietnam and I served in the Air Force as a Cold War combat-trained warrior in what is now called Security Forces . I am not active in L.E. but my dream is to return in my new physical gender! At 50, (51 next month) I still am healthy and able. I am so appalled at what is going on relative to crime and the LGBT community that I wish I were there in uniform now. I think Chief Lanier and the D.C Police should step up and recruit someone just like me right about now..don’t u think? In fact I suggested exactly this…because the D.C dept’s credibility relative to LGBT interaction can’t go lower than the rock bottom it already finds itself in. A Police Dept is only as credible as the people of which it is comprised. I will never know what its like to be another race than Hispanic, although I am perceived as being caucasian which genetically I am. Likewise, a non-LGBT person will never really know our struggles. Being bisexual, Hispanic, and transgender, I understand them very well. Whether I or another, the D.C. Dept must, without delay, actively recruit LGBT officers. Their credibility depends on it. A department must represtent internally, the public it serves externally…period…exclamation mark.

  • I hate the term “Unauthorized use of a vehicle.” Shouldn’t the police and everyone else call it what it is…car theft. Sounds like Orwellian newspeak to me. I had an incident of car theft a few years back where the perp. had 4 previous UUVs. Car theft seems to be where the young thugs get their street cred and move on to more serious crimes like the one that hurt these women.

  • Gosh, Dee. Sorry to get back to you so late. First, THANK YOU for your extraordinary service to our country, including your law enforcement service to your communities! Likewise, the service of your family members.

    I’m part Hispanic myself, and have plenty of cousins in CA. So we’re kinda paisan. ;)

    And thanks for joining us here! Many of us in this town have been informed by the Blade and Lou Chibbaro for a very long time, now. So we’re not terribly surprised the Blade’s reporting casts such a long shadow.

    I think you ARE EXACTLY the kind of LGBT experienced talent Chief Lanier should be recruiting to MPD! As I’ve noted before, DC attracts the best of the best from around the nation. You sound like you’d fit right in.

    However, I must note, MPD already has many LGBT officers serving quietly in the Department– and a number of us are increasingly concerned for their welfare and fair treatment under Chief Lanier’s management. Indeed, IMO, this Chief’s off-with-your-head management style has not served MPD’s officers well, whatever their sexual orientation, identity or expression… nor the public safety of this city.

    This Chief refuses to take responsibility for the pernicious fear and real public safety injuries her years-long effort to dismantle and degrade GLLU has inflicted upon DC’s LGBT community. Whatever the Chiefs’ intentions, the de facto quiet, implied message that has sent to MPD’s rank and file — again, FOR YEARS — is that policing for LGBT residents and LGBT visitors doesn’t really matter.

    It might go something like this for too many within MPD…

    “Hey, you MPD patrols out on DC’s streets… Don’t increase MPD’s great crime stats — especially with those high-profile LGBT hate crimes, if you can avoid it. And if you can’t avoid it, and don’t understand the confusing signals and hints from your ‘higher authorities’ — do be warned, you just might be the first blamed and thrown under the bus. We can’t have the political image of your Chief(s) on high besmirched.”

    And this Chief won’t even recognize the problem, AS a problem. Obviously, the Chief would have to take some command/ policy responsibility for the many incidents — hate crime vandalisms, stalkings, violent personal assaults and murders her reckless policy and inadequate efforts have produced, year after year.

    We should note, this Chief did not even stand up forthrightly and report to DC’s residents directly, both LGBT and straight, the news of this terrible incident. Apparently, this news was deliberately held back, and then leaked, selectively — enlisting and/or co-opting members of the LGBT community, quite innocently on their part — to break the news somewhat gently to the LGBT community ONLY.

    Being breaking news, and the only available account, MPD’s news management did result in as favorable an initial report of this Chief’s efforts in response, as could be had.

    That’s hardly unethical public relations ‘news management’ for a corporation selling soap or cars. However, IMO, we should all think about the implications of such media manipulation and selective news dissemination– especially when it is directed by MPD, the very law enforcement organization responsible for keeping ALL DC citizens and visitors safe from criminal injury and death.

    Dee, FYI, for DC LGBT residents, the Chief’s familiar lame excuses and not-credible promises to serve and protect LGBT people, maybe next time, have become an annual refrain. DC’s Chief of Police can no longer be trusted by far too many in the LGBT community, in the opinion of a growing number of us.

    But don’t let that discourage you, Dee. Our nation’s capital has more LE departments and agencies than any other city in the free world. Times are tough. But DC has always made room for another dedicated professional.

    Keep at it– and good luck!

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