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Md. juvenile authorities seek release of youth charged in transgender beating case

Baltimore County prosecutors oppose early release of Chrissy Polis attacker

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Chrissy Lee Polis was attacked earlier last April.

The Maryland Department of Juvenile Services is taking steps to obtain the early release of a 15-year-old female who pleaded guilty to the April 2011 hate crime beating of transgender woman Chrissy Lee Polis at a McDonald’s restaurant outside Baltimore.

According to Baltimore County Assistant State’s Attorney John Cox, DJS officials recently informed his office that they planned to petition a juvenile court judge to grant early release for the juvenile. Cox said his office will oppose the early release request at a court proceeding expected to take place later this month.

“We will definitely make it known to the judge that we oppose this,” Cox told the Blade on Thursday.

The juvenile, whose name has been withheld, was 14 at the time police arrested her and then 18-year-old Teonna Brown in connection with the Polis beating case. Both pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and the commission of a hate crime.

The incident attracted international attention after a McDonald’s employee captured the attack on video through his cell phone and posted it online, where it went viral.

The video shows Brown and the juvenile repeatedly punching and kicking Polis in the head and body while dragging her by her hair across the floor of the restaurant. Polis was 22 at the time.

Police and witnesses said the incident started when Polis attempted to use the women’s bathroom at the McDonald’s and the two teens who attacked her denounced her for being a guy dressed as a woman.

Brown, who was charged as an adult, was sentenced to five years in prison and three years of probation, which is to begin at the time her release. The juvenile was sentenced to a juvenile offender facility for an undetermined period of time.

Transgender activists cited the case as an example of the discrimination and violence often experienced by transgender people. They used the incident to build greater support for a transgender non-discrimination bill pending in the Maryland General Assembly.

Jay Cleary, a spokesperson for the state’s Department of Juvenile Services, said his agency is barred from discussing specific cases under a state privacy law pertaining to juveniles.

In commenting on cases in general, he said state law and policies for juvenile offenders sentenced to incarceration call for providing them with services and treatment in a “secured facility” for from thirty days to a year depending on their needs and the circumstances surrounding the case.

He said DJS has a staff of experts, including psychiatrists, who evaluate the juveniles to determine whether they are no longer a threat to the community or to themselves and may be ready for release into the community. Once released, Cleary said, they continue to receive treatment and services while in the care of a group home, foster parents, or in the home of their own parents if the experts deem that appropriate.

DJS recommends to a juvenile court judge whether a juvenile offender should be released from a secured facility and a judge makes the decision on whether to accept the recommendation, he said. If the recommendation is contested by prosecutors, a court hearing is held to give the parties an opportunity to argue their respective positions, Cleary said.

Cox said that under Maryland law, DJS operates the state’s juvenile detention and rehabilitation facilities and programs. He said that in most cases where juveniles are sentenced to incarceration under the state juvenile justice system, no specific length of time is set for the incarceration.

He said the DJS determines when a juvenile offender has been rehabilitated to a degree where he or she is ready for release. It then petitions a juvenile court judge to seek release of the juvenile, with the judge making the final decision on the request for release.

Cox said the judge would take into consideration the position of the prosecutor, which, in this case, is the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s office.

Mark Scurti, an attorney representing Polis, said he plans to inform the court that Polis joins the State’s Attorney’s office in opposing early release for the juvenile. He said he would seek permission to have Polis testify in opposition to the release if the judge calls a court hearing on the matter.

Scurti has said Polis overcame the physical injuries she received in the attack but suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, which was brought about by the attack.

Dana Beyer, executive director of Gender Rights Maryland, a transgender advocacy group, said her organization won’t second guess the action by DJS or the judge that makes the final decision on the possible release of the juvenile charged in the Polis case.

“We stand by the action by the state prosecutor who prosecuted Ms. Brown as an adult in this case and we would stand by he action of the juvenile justice system in the juvenile case,” Beyer said.

“But what we would like to see is a change in the culture that would ensure that this type of violence doesn’t occur again,” she said.

Beyer said Gender Rights Maryland also would welcome a decision by Baltimore County and state officials to testify before the County Council and before the state General Assembly on behalf of pending transgender non-discrimination bills expected to come up for a vote this year in both bodies.

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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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Baltimore

Police say they didn’t spray a chemical agent at Baltimore Pride. Why don’t those who attended believe it?

Attendees allege city failed to adequately respond to emergency

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A parade participant is photographed clutching on to a rainbow flag at Baltimore’s Pride Parade held on June 15, 2024. (Photo by Ronica Edwards/Baltimore Banner)

BY BRENNA SMITH and JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV | A chemical agent that disrupted Pride Parade festivities last weekend continues to cause confusion and raise suspicion among many in the Baltimore LGBTQIA+ community, who question the police account of what happened.

The Baltimore Police Department said Tuesday that they had determined the released substance was Mace, but did not say how they came to that conclusion. A BPD spokesperson said that the chemical was released after two groups of people got into an altercation. Three people were treated and released from a nearby hospital because of injuries from the spray.

The rest of this article can be read on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

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Baltimore

Carlton R. Smith: LGBTQ advocate, ‘mayor’ of Mount Vernon, passes away

‘The Duchess’ died on May 29 in his sleep

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Carlton R. Smith, an LGBTQ advocate, died May 29. He was 61. (Photo courtesy of Carlton R. Smith)

BY JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV | Carlton R. Smith was affectionately called “The Duchess” in a nod to royalty, because of his unofficial role of mayor of Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood. He was a “walking billboard” for Calvin Klein, with a love for purple, Batman, cooking, house music, Prince, and Diana Ross.

“If you said Duchess, you knew who that was,” said his close friend of 25-years, Carrietta Hiers.

The rest of this article can be found on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

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