August 18, 2011 at 1:33 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
LGBT activists meet with D.C. police chief

Thirteen representatives of the LGBT community met on Tuesday with D.C. Police Chef Cathy Lanier and other police officials to discuss what participants said was a range of issues related to police response to anti-LGBT violence.

“It was very productive and a lot of information was exchanged,” said Rick Rosendall, vice president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance.

According to accounts by Rosendall; Chris Farris, former chair of the local group Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV); and gay activist Nick McCoy, Lanier made it clear that she would take strict disciplinary action against police officers who fail to follow the department’s policies for responding to calls for help by citizens, including LGBT citizens.

The activists said Lanier was referring to the widely publicized incident in late July when five lesbians were attacked and beaten by two male suspects outside the Columbia Heights Metro station and police officers responding to the scene refused to take a report. Two of the victims in the attack said the officers also released one of the attackers after initially holding him after the victims identified him as one of the men who assaulted them.

Police have since arrested one of the two attackers on a charge of simple assault and making threats of bodily harm. The charges were listed as anti-lesbian bias-related crimes.

Lanier has said the matter was under investigation but the officers could be fired for failing to take a police report.

Farris said Lanier also expressed concern and promised to look into reports by the activists attending the meeting that members of the department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit have been far less visible in the community over the past few years compared to past years. GLOV members have complained that officers and police investigators, such as homicide detectives, haven’t been calling on the GLLU for assistance in LGBT-related cases in an apparent violation of department policy.

McCoy said that in response to concerns raised by transgender activists Earline Budd, Jeri Hughes, and others, Lanier promised to determine whether the department can improve its communication with the LGBT community when seeking help in solving crimes against transgender people. Hughes raised concerns that homicide investigators have yet to make visible progress on at least three unsolved murders of transgender women.

“She made a commitment to follow up on all of these things,” said Farris.

Among those attending the meeting, in addition to Rosendall, Farris, Budd, and Hughes, were Brian Watson of Transgender Health Empowerment; Ruby Corado and Jason Terry of the D.C. Trans Coalition; June Crenshaw and Shauna Fecher of Rainbow Response Coalition, a local group that monitors LGBT-related domestic violence; A.J. Singletary of GLOV; and local activists Alison Gardner and Isaiah Toney.

Deputy Chief Diane Groomes was among the police officials who joined Lanier at the meeting.

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

1 Comment
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    “It was very productive and a lot of information was exchanged,” said Rick Rosendall, vice president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance.
    Rick Rosendall’s meeting account is strangely incomplete. And Rick’s spin on yet another Lanier PR meeting is simply not credible.

    Chief Lanier’s five-year assault on GLLU’s core unit is the cause for the growing anti-LGBT institutional discrimination at MPD, as well as the rise in LGBT-related crimes and hate crimes across the city.

    It is not hard to reverse that policy. All it takes is the WILL of credible activists to insist upon that directly from Mayor Gray, Judiciary Chair Mendelson and others — who promised LGBT voters they would restore GLLU’s core unit to full strength, just last year. I don’t think LGBT voters have, or will forget those promises.

    It is an unforgettable thing when a mayor or council member doesn’t care about the fear their failure to act is creating for average LGBT residents and visitors. Now LGBT people have to worry about whether MPD is going to protect and serve them at all.

    I also find it interesting that not once has Rick Rosendall noted that one of the LGBT community’s most prominent city leaders, CM Jim Graham, dropped by this meeting to show his personal support for the LGBT activists. Graham reportedly also grilled Chief Lanier on her dismantling of GLLU’s core unit. But apparently that wasn’t newsworthy enough for Rick Rosendall to report to the Blade.

    Jim Graham gets it. And he knows what it takes to fix it. Fixing GLLU’s core unit will enable MPD to begin to credibly fix the rest of it. GLAA, sad to say, does not get it.

    Fluffy, happy-talk soundbites, for LGBT community consumption, don’t cut it any more, as fear for our public safety rises. Rick implies something “productive” is being done, but he doesn’t point to any substantive MPD changes that will occur as a result of this meeting.

    Chief Lanier’s promises “to look into” problems she willfully created at GLLU is just laughable, as well. Any of us can deduce that the reason GLLU hasn’t been as visible in the LGBT community is because Lanier herself does not want them there. She slashed GLLU’s core in half!

    Until GLLU’s core unit is fully restored, Lanier’s promises will remain as empty as they have been for the last 4 years+.

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