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Transgender woman murdered at D.C. bus stop

Police seek help from community

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Gay News, Washington Blade, Crime

An unidentified transgender woman died early Friday morning after being fatally stabbed about 8:15 Thursday night at a Metro bus stop in the 4900 block of East Capitol Street, N.E., D.C. police said.

According to a police statement, the department’s Homicide Branch is investigating the incident. As of Friday afternoon, homicide detectives had not been able to identify the victim.

Earline Budd, an official with the transgender services and advocacy group Transgender Health Empowerment, said investigators planned to bring one or more photos of the victim to the THC office with the hope that someone there could identify the victim.

The police statement says a citizen flagged down a Metro Transit Police officer about 8:13 p.m. Thursday to report an assault at a bus stop.

“Upon arrival, the officer located a transgender female who was unconscious and unresponsive suffering from a stab wound,” the statement says. “Units from the Sixth District and D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services personnel responded to the scene. The victim was transported to a local hospital and was admitted in critical condition,” the statement says.

“On Friday, Feb. 3, 2012, at 2:35 a.m., the victim was pronounced dead. The decedent has not been identified at this time,” says the statement.

Captain Edward Delgado, director of the department’s Special Liaison Unit, which oversees the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, told LGBT activists in an email Thursday night that police have a partial description of a male suspect in the case.

“Apparently there was a fight with the knife involved,” Delgado said in his email. “An adult female (transgendered) was stabbed at least once to the head by a black male wearing [a] heavy dark coat with [a] grey striped hat.”

The separate statement released by the Metropolitan Police Department’s public information office says police offer a reward of up to $25,000 to anyone that provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons wanted for any homicide committed in D.C.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 202-272-9099. Anonymous information can be submitted to the department’s “TEXT TIP LINE” by text messaging 50411, the police statement says.

Two transgender women were murdered in the city in separate incidents in 2011. Both cases remain unsolved.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. jessica Jacquelime

    February 3, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    Why am i not getting these email and is there a picture somewhere to identify the body??

    • B. Johnson

      February 5, 2012 at 10:46 pm

      What bothers me the most is that on any given day or night the area is swarming with officers on patrol or posted up inconspicuosly in an effort to entrap speeders. My niece was a good spirited child and adult and could have used MPDs help! No DC resident deserves to be killed in their own city becuase MPD inadequately dispenses their resources!

  2. brian / ward 5

    February 3, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    FYI, given the previous transgender-related homicides last summer in 6D and elsewhere, there is considerable LGBT community concern that one or more perpetrators may be targeting transgender women in 6D and/or throughout the city.

    As of this posting on Friday (2/3) afternoon, there has been no news of this homicide posted on MPD’s SLU (aka, ‘SLD’) listserv, nor on MPD’s 5D and 4D listervs. So it appears there has been no widespread MPD request for information/ community help, nor has any alert been issued by MPD citywide.

    Everyone at MPD should be reminded that LGBT people live and work throughout DC. And LGBT residents interact throughout their lives with many other people, *both LGBT and straight*– again, *all across the city*.

    *ANYONE*– whatever their neighborhood of residence, work or recreation, and whether LGBT or straight– might be able to provide a lead to homicide investigators.

    So if MPD is serious about putting an end to these transgender-related homicides, why isn’t MPD publicizing these homicides (and seeking everyone’s help) promptly on all their listservs, citywide?

  3. Blogger

    February 3, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    (Washington, DC)-Detectives from the Metropolitan Police Department’s Homicide Branch have announced the victim has been identified in the fatal stabbing which occurred in the 4900 block of East Capitol Street, Northeast and a person of interest is being sought.

    On Thursday, February 2, 2012, at approximately 8:13 pm, a Metro Transit Police Officer was flagged down for an assault at a bus stop in the 4900 block of East Capitol Street, Northeast. Upon arrival, the officer located a transgender female, who was unconscious and unresponsive suffering from a stab wound. Units from the Sixth District and DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services personnel responded to the scene. The victim was transported to a local hospital and was admitted in critical condition.

    On Friday, February 3, 2012, at 2:35 am, the victim was pronounced dead. The victim has been identified as 23-year-old JaParker Jones of Northeast, Washington, DC, who is also known as “Deoni” and “Logan.”

    Detectives are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying the subject crossing the middle of the intersection in this videohttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRonRazhiCA .The subject in the video is seen crossing the street toward the top of the screen as he approaches the bus stop. He is described as a black male with medium complexion, 30-40 years of age, with a beard. He was last seen wearing blue jeans and a black jacket with a gray hooded sweatshirt underneath.

    The Metropolitan Police Department currently offers a reward of up to $25,000 to anyone that provides information which leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons wanted for any homicide committed in the District of Columbia.

    Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the police at (202) 727-9099. Additionally, anonymous information may be submitted to the department’s TEXT TIP LINE by text messaging 50411.

  4. JCF

    February 4, 2012 at 3:43 am

    Lord have mercy, and rest in peace, sister.

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Black gay man hopes to ‘shatter lavender ceiling’ in Annapolis

Keanuú Smith-Brown is running to unseat Ward 3 incumbent

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Keanuú Smith-Brown (Photo by David Hartcorn)

Keanuú Smith-Brown, who is affectionately called KSB by his friends, is running to unseat incumbent Annapolis Alderwoman Rhonda Pindell Charles (D-Ward 3) and become the first out LGBTQ elected official in the city.

“Keanuú is on-track to shatter a lavender ceiling in Annapolis, becoming the first out LGBTQ person ever elected in the city,” Victory Fund Vice President of Communications Elliot Imse told the Washington Blade.

Smith-Brown, a 26-year-old substitute teacher, announced in February that he was challenging Pindell Charles, who has represented his ward since 2013. They will face off in a Democratic primary on Sept. 21, then the winner advances to the general election on Nov. 2.

The Annapolis native is the eldest of six siblings, raised by a single mother and a first-generation college graduate who describes himself as a proud Black gay man. His opponent, also a Democrat, stated on an Annapolis Pride survey that she supports the LGBTQ community, just “not overtly.”

“But his candidacy is about more than just making history,” Imse said. “When in office, Keanuú will ensure the interests of the LGBTQ community are considered in every policy discussion and every piece of legislation that comes before the council.”

Smith-Brown told the Blade he is running to represent “those who have been left out,” emphasizing that “there is an urgent need for change in our ward.”

The Annapolis native first came out as gay while still a senior in high school, the same year Pindell Charles was first elected as his Ward 3 representative.

“I grew up surrounded by drug addiction and witnessed domestic violence both in my family and in my community,” he told the Blade, sharing he was raised by a single mom while his father was incarcerated during most of his life.

He still lives in the home in which he grew up, and within five minutes of his partner’s house “if you’re driving fast.”

After graduating from the University of Baltimore in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in government and public policy, Smith-Brown began working with legislators and advocating for LGBTQ bills in Maryland.

As president of the District 30 Democratic Club, Smith-Brown advocated for House Bill 1147 and its companion Senate Bill 401, which were both similar to neighboring D.C.’s requirement for single-occupancy bathrooms to be marked gender-neutral.

Both bills died in committee during the General Assembly’s pandemic-shortened session in 2020, but Smith-Brown’s advocacy continued.

He marched during the Black Lives Matter protests following the murder of George Floyd by then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, and he continued to be a public advocate for LGBTQ rights and visibility as a member of Annapolis Pride.

“I have led and joined LGBTQ+ marches, rallies and events, even hosting a campaign ‘Love with Pride and Unity’ Drag Brunch,” Smith-Brown wrote in response to Annapolis Pride’s first LGBTQ-issues survey. “I helped organize for Maryland’s Health Care Decisions Act which would extend the rights of partners when making medical or funeral decisions.”

Pindell Charles, by contrast, in her survey response stated she did not consider her advocacy for the LGBTQ community to be “overt.”

“My support for the LGBTQ+ community, and even other communities, usually revolves around me working with persons individually, which I prefer,” she wrote. “One-on-one, rather than as a group, or public displays.”

FreeState Justice, Maryland’s statewide LGBTQ rights organization supports public advocacy.

“It’s extremely important for LGBTQ community members to participate in civic engagement — especially as elected officials,” Executive Director Jeremy LaMaster told the Blade in an email.

FreeState Justice has encouraged LGBTQ Marylanders to speak out at public hearings in support of legislation such as the state’s “panic defense” ban, waiving the publication of name change petitions and the establishment of a state commission on LGBTQ affairs. All of these measures passed during the 2021 legislative session.

“There is such immense power for our community that can be built at the grassroots level. From leading neighborhood associations to sitting on city councils, or representing the community in the General Assembly,” said Smith-Brown. “As the world changes, so do the ways in which issues disproportionately or uniquely impact the LGBTQ community, especially for our youth, elders, trans and Black siblings.”

Pindell Charles, who did not respond to the Blade’s requests for comment prior to publication, is a retired Baltimore City prosecutor and chairs the Annapolis City Council’s Public Safety Standing Committee.

During her time in public service, her advocacy included a variety of “groups and communities considered to be ‘underrepresented,’” according to her Annapolis Pride survey response.

Smith-Brown said Ward 3 deserves better.

“She is saying this is in a position of power, that she’s not willing to get out of her comfort zone,” he told the Blade. “You may not be okay with seeing two men or two women together, but when you don’t allow yourself in your position to be inclusive of all people you are now failing in your position.”

“If someone said that about the Black community, it would not be taken in the same way,” he added. “Admit that you don’t need to be here in this way. We can all do our best to do better.”

The Capital Gazette in February reported Pindell Charles intends to run for a third term and welcomes Smith-Brown’s challenge.

“We need to win this,” Smith-Brown said, encouraging LGBTQ and all voters to get out and vote. “My being at that seat at the table means that we are all in that seat. What is it they say? If I eat, we eat. That is the impact on our future, and I’m in it to win it.”

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LGBTQ Democrats briefed on D.C. ranked choice voting bill

Council may already have enough votes to pass it

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Stein Club, gay news, Washington Blade
Jatarius Frazier of the Capital Stonewall Democrats was among officials briefed on the ranked choice voting bill. (Photo courtesy D.C. Government)

Members of D.C.’s Capital Stonewall Democrats, the city’s largest local LGBTQ political group, received a briefing Monday night from the chief of staff for D.C. Council member Christina Henderson (I-At Large) on a bill she introduced in July calling for a “ranked choice” voting system for D.C. elections.

The bill, called the Voter Ownership, Integrity, Choice, and Equity (VOICE) Amendment Act of 2021, calls for D.C. to join about 50 other jurisdictions across the country, including New York City and San Francisco, in giving voters the option of ranking up to five candidates for a particular office in the order of their preference.

Under the ranked choice voting system, if a candidate receives more than 50 percent of the “first choice” votes, the candidate is declared the winner. But if no candidate receives greater than 50 percent of the first-choice votes in a race where there are three or more candidates, the system provides an instant runoff.

“The candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and voters who picked that candidate will have their votes count for their next choice,” according to a statement released by Henderson at the time she introduced the legislation. “This process continues in rounds until there’s a majority winner,” the statement says.

T.J. Maloney, Henderson’s chief of staff, told Capital Stonewall Democrats members during a virtual Zoom meeting that studies of the ranked choice voting system in jurisdictions where it has been adopted show that overall voter turnout has increased and, following a voter education process, voters appear to adjust and support the system.

Six other D.C. Council members joined Henderson in co-introducing the VOICE ranked choice voting bill, indicating it may already have a seven-vote majority in its favor on the 13-member Council. However, Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) does not support the current version of the bill, according to spokesperson Lindsay Walton.

Councilmember Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), the chair of the Council’s Judiciary Committee where the bill was sent and one of the bill’s co-introducers, has scheduled a public hearing on the bill for on Nov. 18. The hearing, which will be virtual, will be broadcast live on the Council’s website.

Last week, the D.C. Democratic State Committee, which is the governing body of the D.C. Democratic Party and of which the Capital Stonewall Democrats is an affiliated member, voted to oppose the VOICE Act legislation. Some of its members said they believe a ranked choice voting system would be beneficial to the city’s smaller political party candidates, including Republicans and Statehood Green Party candidates, and would place Democratic Party candidates at a disadvantage.

Gay Democratic activist John Fanning, who was an unsuccessful candidate for the Ward 2 D.C. Council seat in the 2020 D.C. Democratic primary, said he favors a simple runoff election system over a ranked choice voting system in cases where multiple candidates run, and none receive at least 50 percent of the vote.

Among the ranked choice bill’s supporters is gay Democratic activist Austin Naughton, who serves as chair of the Ward 2 Democratic Committee. Naughton told the Washington Blade he is not an expert on the ranked choice voting system but his initial research into the system leads him to believe the system has the potential for providing a greater electoral voice for minority communities, including possibly the LGBTQ community and LGBTQ candidates who run for public office.

Capital Stonewall Democrats President Jatarious Frazier said the group was in the process of learning more about the ranked file voting system. No one raised the issue of the group taking a position on the legislation at Monday night’s meeting.

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Lesbian D.C. housing director to retire

Polly Donaldson worked to expand affordable units

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Polly Donaldson, housing, gay news, Washington Blade
Polly Donaldson (Blade file photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

Polly Donaldson, who has served as director of the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development since 2015 as one of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s first high-level LGBTQ appointments, announced on Sept. 10 that she will leave her position at the end of this month to retire.

A statement released by the mayor’s office says Donaldson has led the design and implementation of the mayor’s housing initiative that has produced more than 14,250 units of affordable housing with another 12,300 units under construction or in the planning stages.

“When I came into office and committed to investing at least $100 million into the Housing Production Trust Fund every year, I knew we would need a leader with a true passion for affordable housing to get those funds out the door and into the community – and Polly was the right person for the job,” Bowser said in the statement.

“Then, two years ago, when we set a bold goal to build 36,000 new homes by 2025, with at least a third of them affordable, I was confident that Polly would have a plan to make that happen,” the mayor said in her statement. “She leaves D.C. government with our city on track to meet that goal, and for that we are grateful, and we celebrate her service to our city.”

At the time Donaldson began her job as the city’s housing director she was a recognized expert in affordable housing and homeless related programs. She had served since 2004 as executive director of the Transitional Housing Corporation, a nonprofit organization that provides services to homeless people and develops programs for transitioning them into permanent homes.

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