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Teen charged in D.C. lesbian attack held without bond

Prosecutors list incident as hate crime

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A D.C. Superior Court judge on Wednesday ordered a 19-year-old District man held in jail without bond following his arrest one day earlier for allegedly assaulting five lesbians on July 30 on the sidewalk next to the Columbia Heights Metro station.

Judge Karen Howze issued the order after prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s office charged Christian Washington with one count each of hate related simple assault and hate related threats to do bodily harm. Both charges are listed as misdemeanors.

A report of the incident prepared by an officer with the police department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit says Washington allegedly called the five women “dyke bitches” before he and an unidentified male suspect allegedly punched each of the women in the face and head.

Police said the incident took place at 14th and Irving Streets, N.W. about 3 a.m. Police said they are continuing to investigate whether others were involved in the attack.

Two of the victims told the Blade that one of the two suspects became enraged when the women politely spurned his attempt to flirt with them and one of the women informed him she was with her girlfriend. The two women said a second suspect joined in the attack and a third man who was with the attackers used his cell phone to capture the incident on video.

In a court hearing Wednesday, Washington pleaded not guilty to the two charges.

Howze scheduled a follow-up hearing on Aug. 17 to determine whether Washington should be released while awaiting trial or continue to be held. The judge set a status hearing on the case for Sept. 6.

Court records show that Washington was arrested on July 26 — four days before his alleged role in assaulting the five women — on a charge of unauthorized use of a vehicle that police say was a motor scooter. That arrest took place near the 1300 block of Columbia Rd., N.W.

A police report shows that Washington and a second man riding on the scooter with him led police on a Hollywood-style chase through streets and alleys before the men dismounted the scooter and attempted to flee on foot. The report says police apprehended Washington but the second suspect escaped.

Court records show Washington was released on his own recognizance at a July 27 court hearing after being formally charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle.

The attack against the five women drew widespread media attention when news surfaced that police officers arriving on the scene refused to take a report of the incident and released a suspect they apprehended upon their arrival.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier released a statement calling the officers’ behavior “appalling.” She told members of the D.C. group Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence that the officers could be fired for not taking a report depending on the finding of an investigation of the incident.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. dee omally

    August 11, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    Oh…so the necessity of a report is made evident, so much so that an arrest was made. So much so that the arrestee is held without bond. Not from the first responders at the scene from an investigation launched after the incident…rather than during the incedent. Wow…this still happens in 2011.

  2. brian

    August 12, 2011 at 6:08 am

    Chief Lanier has found her officers’ anti-LGBT conduct “appalling” too many times before. What if that’s part of the Chiefs’ reactive, after-the-fact, public relations script?

    On its face, it does appear that a de facto policy at MPD continues — from top to bottom …
    — discourage the reporting of anti-LGBT hate crimes,
    — do not call GLLU,
    — do not make arrests

    To do so — to actually enforce the laws for LGBT victims — makes the Chief of Police look bad. It has other legal implications that a police chief might wish to avoid, as well.

    Having first responding officers call GLLU into a case to investigate, may result in recording, forever, a REAL suspected violation of DC’s tough Bias-Related Crimes Act (About 1989-90. Thank you, GLAA, BTW!) — that then triggers tracking and reporting requirements, whether the crime results in an arrest or remains open. If that happens (indeed, whether the first responding non-GLLU officer or a GLLU officer so checks it off and writes it up on the MPD complaint report), as I understand that law (I’m not a lawyer, to be clear), an automatic *CAUSE OF ACTION* is/ may be created, so that the victim(s) may also seek civil remedies, irrespective of how the criminal case may be ultimately adjudicated.

    Whether MPD (DC) could be sued in this case, under the Bias-Related Crimes Act, for failing to make an initial report when asked at the scene by the victims to do so, e.g., is something for lawyers to determine. But IMHO, that provision in the law is designed to preserve and protect the victims’ rights against discriminatory behavior by MPD and others in the criminal justice system.

    So it is reasonable to ask, after 4 1/2 years, whether our Chief of Police, through her anti-GLLU policies is advancing anti-LGBT discrimination at MPD. By all accounts she manages MPD, top down, with an iron fist. Just why is it Chiefs Lanier and Groomes have been unable to make it clear to their rank and file responding officers that GLLU must be called in any case involving a potential anti-LGBT hate crime??? It defies credulity to imply that somehow these were rogue cops risking their careers and livelihoods to defy Chief Lanier and Patrol Services Assistant Chief Groomes.

    Just last May, the Blade reported that calls to GLLU by responding officers have noticeably fallen off…
    “Rivera’s appointment comes at a time when sources familiar with the GLLU have said the unit has not been called on for help by other police investigatory units, like the homicide squad, as frequently as it has in the past.”
    http://www.washingtonblade.com/2011/05/26/civilian-bureaucrat-to-head-police-liaisons/

    Moreover, it may be a motive for the Police Chief’s manipulation of MPD news and information of suspected anti-LGBT hate crimes. Could it be that MPD ‘news management’ is designed to keep anti-LGBT hate crimes and potential discrimination charges “boxed up” solely WITHIN DC’s LGBT community?

    Why was this OFFICIAL MPD public safety information withheld for two days? Why was it selectively divulged to GLOV first? Why not an MPD press conference with Lanier or Groomes breaking this terrible, however embarrassing news? Did the Chief issue a MPD press release/ statement/ BOLO alert, citywide, at the same time GLOV was alerted? If not, why not?

    If there is a de facto anti-LGBT discriminatory policy — subtly being communicated from MPD’s highest levels — one certainly does not want the scrutiny of the city’s wider renowned, inquiring press corps to be asking tough questions of MPD’s chiefs, too.

    • Chris

      August 15, 2011 at 1:33 pm

      Take a pill, you’ll feel better.

    • laurelboy2

      August 17, 2011 at 7:01 pm

      Dude, get a grip. Instead of writing a 10000 word diatribe why not use your apparent frustration and determination to right your perceived many wrongs and injustices inflicted on DC’s gay community directly to Lanier?

      • brian

        August 18, 2011 at 8:26 pm

        It’s not an easy story to tell, laurelboy2. There are a lot of dots to connect.

        And be assured, like so many other LGBT activists in DC… I HAVE tried to persuade the Chief directly of the error of her ways with respect to GLLU’s core unit. But obviously, to no avail. FYI, I have exchanged a good number of emails with the Chief, and have even met her once, briefly. The Chief has nearly always responded to my direct emails — but with non-committal results.

        We had quite a lot of anti-LGBT political intrigue in 5D under a previous commander, but he was promoted to Assistant Chief. I’d have to assess her response to my complaints locally as providing mixed results within 5D– again, re. strictly LGBT-related issues.

        Also, FYI, from what anyone can gather from a series of emails, I DO like Chief Lanier as a person. First and foremost, she’s a good cop. She’s thoughtful. But she’s incredibly sharp and fast-thinking, too. Her personal life story is inspiring, as well– especially for those of us with nieces or daughters.

        She and I (and a growing number of other LGBT residents) just strongly disagree on community policing for the LGBT community. I don’t believe the Chief understands how disastrous and how institutionally discriminatory, de facto, her policy has been. It’ has also been accompanied by too much public hype and official prevarication, as well. So I can’t say she is a good Police Chief.

        Perhaps the worst outcome is that IMO, the Chief has caused MPD to lose too much trust and good will within the LGBT community, and that’s why I believe she step aside as Chief and move on, or pursue another career here, if she’s so disposed.

  3. Fire Lanier

    August 13, 2011 at 8:02 am

    The Police Chief is always apologizing for her cops and she already knows she gave the directives for their actions. Maybe Vincent Grey should just relieve her of her duties and hire someone that’s a member of our community.

    • Chris

      August 15, 2011 at 1:34 pm

      You mean Black or Gay? If only people of like characteristics should be hired, there would be a very different profile on the business front.

    • laurelboy2

      August 17, 2011 at 7:03 pm

      Oh, God forbid.

  4. Systematic Bias

    August 16, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    “D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier released a statement calling the officers’ behavior “appalling.” She told members of the D.C. group Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence that the officers could be fired for not taking a report depending on the finding of an investigation of the incident.”

    Could be fired? How about will be fired?

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Virginia

Va. businessman apologizes for burning of rainbow flag poster

‘Shocked and horrified’: Ashburn incident caught on video

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Organizers of an event where a Pride symbol was burned say the incident was a misunderstanding.

The owner of a Virginia technology company that hosted a private Veterans Day party on the grounds of an Ashburn, Va., brewery in which a company employee used a flame-throwing device to ignite a rainbow flag poster said the selection of the poster was a mistake and he and his company have no ill will toward the LGBTQ community.

The Washington Blade learned about the poster burning from a customer of the Old Ox Brewery in Ashburn, where the incident took place on its outdoor grounds. The customer made a video of the incident with his cell phone and sent a copy of the video to the Blade.

The video, which includes an audio recording, shows a man using a hand-held flame-throwing device to ignite the rainbow poster, which was hanging from a cable and appeared to be mounted on cardboard or a thin sheet of wood. Bystanders can be heard laughing and cheering as the poster is set on fire.

The poster consisted of a variation of the LGBTQ Pride rainbow flag that included the word “love” configured from an upper white stripe on the rainbow symbol.

The customer who took the video, who has asked not to be identified, thought the decision to set the poster on fire was a sign of disrespect if not hatred toward a longstanding symbol of LGBTQ equality and pride.

Chris Burns, Old Ox Brewery’s president, shared that view, telling the Blade he and his staff were “shocked and horrified” when they learned later that a rainbow flag poster had been burned on the brewery’s grounds. Burns said Old Ox supports the LGBTQ community and participated in LGBTQ Pride month earlier this year.

He said the company that held the private party paid a fee to hold the event on the brewery’s grounds, but the brewery did not know a rainbow poster would be burned.

“I’m mortified that our event was interpreted in this way,” said Nate Reynolds, the founder and partner of Hypershift Technologies LLC, the Falls Church, Va.-based technology company that organized the Nov. 11 party at Old Ox Brewery. “I can assure you that ZERO ill-will or offense was meant,” Reynolds told the Blade in a Nov. 24 email.

“We held a small private party for a few clients, which included a demonstration of Elon Musk’s Boring Company ‘Not a Flamethrower,’” he said in his message. He was referring to one of billionaire businessman Elon Musk’s companies that specializes in boring through the ground to create tunnels for cars, trains, and other purposes. 

“After so many being isolated during COVID, we wanted to have an event that was lighthearted and to some small effect, silly,” Reynolds said in his message to the Blade.

According to Reynolds, in thinking about what should be used for “fodder” for the flame-thrower, he went to a Five Below discount store and purchased items such as stuffed animals and posters, including a “Space Jam” movie poster as well as what he thought was a poster of the British rock group The Beatles.

“When I pulled the Beatles poster out of the tube it was instead the ‘Love’ poster,” he said, referring to the rainbow flag poster the Blade asked him about in an earlier email.

“All I focused on was the ‘Love’ wording and not the rainbow and did not draw the conclusion that the poster was an icon that represents the LGBTQ community,” Reynolds said. “It was my own ignorance of not connecting the symbolism of the poster. If I had realized it was a symbol of the LGBTQ community, I would not have used it,” he said.

“I feel terrible, and I want to emphasize that I am solely responsible for this mistake – not the Old Ox Brewery,” he wrote in his message. “Nobody at Old Ox had anything to do with this activity.”

Reynolds added, “Hate has no place in my heart, and I sincerely apologize for any offense that could have been drawn from what I now realize was poor judgement on my part. I simply didn’t correlate this poster with the LGBTQ pride symbol.”  

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Before Reynolds issued his statement of apology, Burns, the Old Ox Brewery co-owner, told the Blade in an email he was “saddened and upset” over the rainbow poster burning on the grounds of his brewery.

“We do not wish to benefit from this event,” he said in his email message. “Therefore, Old Ox is donating 100% of the revenue generated from the private event to GLSEN.”

GLSEN is a national LGBTQ advocacy group that focuses on education and support for LGBTQ youth. Burns said Old Ox Brewery also donated proceeds from a Pride month event it organized earlier this year to GLSEN.

LGBTQ activists and organizations contacted by the Blade said they were unfamiliar with the variation of the rainbow flag with the word “love” that was the subject of the poster burning incident. The poster is available for sale at Five Below stores in the D.C. metropolitan area for $5.

Small print writings on the poster show it is produced by Trends International LLC, which describes itself on its website as “the leading publisher and manufacturer of licensed posters, calendars, stickers and social stationery products.” The Blade couldn’t immediately determine who designed the poster.

 The video of the poster burning incident can be viewed here:

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Fairfax schools returns LGBTQ-themed books in high school libraries

Review found ‘no pedophilia’ in texts as critics claimed

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(Book cover insert courtesy of Amazon)

The Fairfax County Public Schools announced on Tuesday that following a detailed review by two committees appointed by school officials it has returned two LGBTQ themed books to its high school libraries that had been temporarily withdrawn after being challenged by critics who claimed they included sexually explicit content inappropriate for students.

The two books, “Lawn Boy,” a novel by author Jonathan Evison, and “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” which is described as an illustrated autobiography by non-binary author Maia Kobabe, each contain descriptions of sexual acts.

But supporters of the books have argued that they have won praise by literary critics and, while describing intimate relationships, they tell stories that do not fall into the category of pornography.  

Fairfax County Public Schools, the name used for the county’s public school system, on Tuesday said in a statement that a thorough review of the books by two committees consisting of educators, school officials, parents and some students found that neither book contained content that could be considered to depict pedophilia as claimed by some parents and others opposing the two books.

School officials announced they had temporarily withdrawn the two books from school libraries following a Sept. 23 meeting of the Fairfax County School Board where strong objections to the two books were raised by parents.

“Two books that were subject to formal challenge have been deemed appropriate for high school readers following a two-month review process and will be reinstated to Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) libraries,” Tuesday’s statement by the school system says.

“The decision reaffirms FCPS’s ongoing commitment to provide diverse reading materials that reflect our student population, allowing every child an opportunity to see themselves reflected in literary characters,” the statement continues. “Both reviews concluded that the books were valuable in their potential to reach marginalized youth who may struggle to find relatable literary characters that reflect their personal journey,” the statement says.

The statement says the final decision to reinstate the books was made by Noel Klimenko, the Fairfax County Public Schools’ assistant superintendent for its Instructional Services Department.

The two books have received favorable reviews in various literary publications. Both have received the American Library Association’s Alex Award, an annual award that recognizes the year’s 10 books written for adults that the association says have a special appeal to young adults ages 12 through 18.

“The robust committee process took place over several weeks and considered whether the books flouted regulations by being obscene or harmful to juveniles as defined by the Code of Virginia,” the school system statement says. “The members also considered the work in line with an excerpt from the FCPS Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook pertaining to possessing obscene visual imagery as defined in the Code of Virginia,” the statement says.

“After careful consideration, neither books were deemed to have fallen foul of these regulations,” it concludes.

The decision by Fairfax school officials to reinstate the two books came about six weeks after more than 425 LGBTQ students and allies from over 30 Fairfax County public high schools sent a letter to the school board and the school system’s superintendent urging them to reinstate the two books.

The Pride Liberation Project, a coalition of LGBTQ and allied students in Fairfax County, organized the joint letter.

“Student representatives from over 30 schools, including nearly every high school in Fairfax County Public Schools, have signed this letter, and many of us are students of color, low-income, gender expansive and not out to our families and communities,” the letter states.

“We are writing to ask you to reject calls to remove Maia Kobabe’s ‘Gender Queer’ and Jonathan Evison’s ‘Lawn Boy’ from Fairfax County Public Schools libraries,” the letter says.

It points out that “hundreds of books in our schools already depict heterosexual relationships and physical intimacy,” and says singling out LGBTQ themed books with similar stories of intimacy for rejection is unfair.

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Transgender Zimbabwean woman in Md. wins asylum case

Mattie Tux Horton lives in Rockville

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Mattie Tux Horton, right, with her lawyer Ankush Dhupar in Los Angeles. (Photo courtesy of Mattie Tux Horton/Facebook)

A transgender woman from Zimbabwe who lives in Rockville won her asylum case in late October after living in the U.S. for the past five years. 

Mattie Tux Horton was represented by Ankush Dhupar from the Los Angeles law firm Paul Hastings LLP.

“I feel at ease,” said Horton. “Although a lot is going on in the [United States], it’s [significantly] different compared to where I’m coming from.”

Horton said that she now considers the U.S. to be her home. 

Although she has been living in Maryland for a while now, receiving asylum stripped away the anxiety associated with returning to Zimbabwe had the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency denied her request. 

With protection from the U.S. government, Horton gets to live in a safe environment and without the vile treatment she encountered in Zimbabwe because of her transness.

In her hometown of Bulawayo, Horton faced constant public humiliation and was once fired from her job as a graphic artist because of her dress presentation, according to an interview she did with Medium. 

She was attacked by a violent group of men in 2014, and was outed later that year following a holiday trip to South Africa, according to the interview. 

This incident garnered media attention and The Sunday News, a Zimbabwean newspaper, published an article in which it misgendered Horton throughout the entire piece. 

This prompted Horton to apply for a U.S. visa so she could attend an LGBTQ leadership conference in D.C. and remove herself from the cacophony in her town.

The Sunday News later ran a story about Horton’s departure in which they misgendered her again and referred to her as a “transgender man” and “alleged gay.”

Horton arrived in D.C. in December 2016 and began her asylum process there. 

While visiting a friend in Los Angeles, she connected with the city’s Human Rights First chapter that referred her to Dhupar, who represented her pro bono. 

Dhupar is a labor and employment law attorney at Paul Hastings LLC and he volunteered to work on Horton’s case as part of his firm’s partnership with Human Rights First to do pro bono LGBTQ advocacy work.

Horton’s asylum was his first ever immigration case.

While the legal underpinnings of immigration were new to him, Dhupar did not struggle to situate his modus operandi because of how compelling Horton’s case was.

“I always referred to the facts of the case because the law is geared towards helping situations like [Horton’s] where someone fears for their life in their home country,” said Dhupar. 

Dhupar also added that Horton’s case was a prime example of why the asylum process exists.

Horton submitted a psychological evaluation in February 2021 that would expedite her asylum case and grant her an interview notice sooner than usual. 

At that point she had lived in the U.S. for more than four years, but she still had to wait a couple more months before she was called for an interview. This caused Horton to feel trepid about whether her case was strong enough. 

“I went through depression and had psychological breakdowns,” said Horton. “I have friends who were called in for an interview months after moving here and didn’t have to wait five years [like I did].”

This hurdle, however, gave Horton and Dhupar adequate time to build an indisputable case. The two built a personal relationship that kept them vigilant despite the abounding uncertainty. 

“She was a perfect advocate for herself and took the initiative to make sure the case did not fall on the backburner,” said Dhupar. 

Now that she has won her case, Horton is taking time to relish on her recent success. 

“I’m going to take a breather,” she said.

She also plans to secure full-time employment in 2022 and build a makeup brand. Horton currently works part time as a steering committee member — a role she says is fulfilling — at the Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project- Transgender Law Center.

There, she links Black trans and gender nonconforming individuals to education, employment, legal and healthcare resources.

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