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March to begin Tuesday at IHOP to remember LGBT shooting, assault victims

Gathering to be held at Cobalt



IHOP, gay news, Washington Blade

The International House of Pancakes restaurant in Columbia Heights (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Friends of one of the victims of three separate incidents of anti-LGBT violence last week have scheduled a march for 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 20, outside the International House of Pancakes restaurant in Columbia Heights to show support for the three victims and others targeted for hate violence.

“This is a march to shows solidarity and support for all the victims of hate violence, whether they be lesbian, gay, bi, or transgender,” said Kyan Brady, a friend of a gay man who was beaten and robbed in one of the incidents.

Brady said it will begin 7 p.m. outside the IHOP restaurant where one of the victims, a 31-year-old gay man, was shot in the abdomen at about 6 a.m. Sunday, March 11 by an unidentified male suspect who called the victim anti-gay names. The restaurant is located at 14th and Irving streets, N.W. steps away from the Columbia Heights Metro station.

According to Brady and other organizers, the march will travel east on Irving St. to Georgia Ave., N.W., the site of the second incident, where a 29-year-old gay man – who is a friend of the organizers — was attacked and beaten by three unidentified male suspects about 9:30 p.m. Monday, March 12. Police say the suspects called the victim anti-gay names as they beat him.

Police say they found the victim three blocks north of where the attack began, at Georgia Ave. and Morton St., N.W. The victim reported he was robbed of his cell phone, iPad, and wallet at the Morton St. location, according to police. Police say they aren’t sure if the robbery was committed by the group of suspects who attacked the victim at the first location or by a different group of male suspects.

Both gay male victims remain in the hospital, with the shooting victim suffering from liver damage caused by the gunshot wound and the victim from the Georgia Ave. attack recovering from surgery needed to repair a broken jaw and additional head injuries.

The third victim, a transgender woman, was attacked and knocked unconscious at West Virginia Ave. and Mt. Olivet Rd., N.E. just before midnight on March 12, police said. The victim was treated and released from a hospital.

Unlike the first two incidents, which police listed as anti-gay hate crimes, police said they lacked sufficient evidence to classify the attack against the transgender woman as an ant-trans hate crime. However, a police report and Assistant Police Chief Peter Newsham said investigators are looking into the possibility that the attack was motivated by hate.

Organizers of the march, which is being promoted on Facebook, say it will travel from Georgia Ave. and Morton Streets back to 14th St., where it will head south to R St, N.W. From there it will turn right on R St. and travel to 17th Street and end at the gay bar Cobalt. Organizers say they will host a fundraiser at Cobalt for the gay male victim attacked at Georgia Ave. and Irving and Morton streets.

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  1. Peter Rosenstein

    March 19, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    This is a great idea and only sad that we must continue to do these things. I will not be in town that day but am urging all my friends to atten and have written to the Mayor and Councilmembers urging them to be there. We need to stand together.

    I hope that there will be a place announced where people can send donations even if they can’t make the event. Maybe some local bank like Eagle would open an account for this.

  2. Gemma Smith

    March 19, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    I’m so proud of Kyan for helping to organize this. Hate crimes against anyone who may be considered different is seriously disgusting!

  3. Jared Bieschke

    March 20, 2012 at 11:19 am

    For those who are interested in participating tonight, you can view the facebook event here:

    There is information listed on the facebook page about donating via PayPal if you are unable to attend the march or the benefit this evening.
    All our prayers and best wishes go to Daniel and his partner, as well as other victims of hate crimes, as we gather in support of those targeted for being who they are. We need to come together as a community and show that these truly heinous attacks are unacceptable. Please join us tonight, or donate if you can.

  4. Rickindc

    March 20, 2012 at 12:53 pm


  5. brian

    March 20, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Peter Rosenstein makes an excellent point. Given the boldness of these multiple, violent attacks targeting LGBTs in DC, the city’s leaders should very publicly stand together at this time– as a show of political force and resolve.

    Police Chief Lanier has been strangely silent and seemingly publicly absent in the wake of these anti-LGBT hate crimes. It is important that the city’s TOP COP (as well as her relevant Assistant Chief’s and District Commanders), especially, be conveying MPD’s resolve to pursue (and deter) hate crimes perpetrators in every way possible.

  6. Rickindc

    March 20, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    It would seem that the Washington Blade likes to play censorship God when it comes to other peoples oppinion when it’s not in lock-step with their’s. What I wrote before was not offensive at all, I disagreed with the over-blown use of the term “HATE CRIME”. Considering you’re money flow situation, if you want to play the censorship game again, I can take this matter-up with you’re readers and advertisers.

    • Phil Reese

      March 21, 2012 at 1:34 pm

      Everyone is welcome to share their opinion respectfully. Opinions can be expressed without making personal attacks or using terms that many in our community consider derogatory. Your comment could not be approved as is because it contained both. In the future we look forward to publishing all of your comments that are free of derogatory language or personal attacks against readers, writers, commenters, or story subjects. A disagreement with someone is not a license to make offensive statements.

      This website and comment system is available publicly, but this is still privately held content, and we reserve the right to approve and not approve any comment we deem necessary for whichever reason we choose, which we made very clear. Please express your opinion, but leave your hurtful attacks at the door. “Censorship” claims, and empty threats do not apply: this discussion is occurring the Blade’s webpage, and we are within our rights to exclude those that refuse to play by the rules of decency and civility. Period.

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District of Columbia

Dupont Circle ‘gayborhood’ preserved in Council redistricting bill

All of neighborhood remains in Ward 2



Brooke Pinto, gay news, Washington Blade
Councilmember Brooke Pinto raised objections to dividing the Dupont Circle neighborhood into two different wards.

A bill approved by the D.C. Council in a first-reading vote on Tuesday to redraw the boundaries of the city’s eight wards keeps all of the Dupont Circle neighborhood, which LGBTQ activists have referred to as the city’s preeminent “gayborhood,” in Ward 2.

The redistricting plan approved by the Council included a change from an earlier proposal by a special redistricting subcommittee that called for transferring part of the North Dupont Circle neighborhood into Ward 1.

Councilmember Brooke Pinto, who represents Ward 2, joined many of her ward’s LGBTQ residents in raising strong objections to dividing the Dupont Circle neighborhood into two different wards.

A number of LGBTQ residents, including Mike Silverstein, one of five openly gay members of the nine-member Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission, said the initial subcommittee proposal would unnecessarily split Dupont Circle’s historic “gayborhood,” which he said has served as a safe space for LGBTQ D.C. residents for decades.

“Excising this part of Ward 2 would arbitrarily cut off the LGBTQIA+ community that has such a rich and pronounced presence in North Dupont,” Pinto said in a statement her office released last month. “I will be working with my colleagues to ensure that this community remains in Ward 2,” Pinto said.

A spokesperson for D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) said Mendelson worked with the three members of the redistricting subcommittee and other Council members to make some changes to the subcommittee’s initial release of three proposed maps with redrawn ward boundary lines. All three of the maps included plans to move the north part of Dupont Circle to Ward 1, each of which was dropped in the final proposal approved by the Council.

The Council is scheduled to hold a second and final vote on the redistricting measure later this month.

City officials have noted that a redrawing of the city’s ward boundary lines is needed to bring the city into legal conformance with the 2020 U.S. Census count for D.C., which shows shifts in population within the city.

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District of Columbia

U.S. Attorney’s Office declines to prosecute anti-gay assault case

D.C. police report says man beaten by neighbors in Northeast



Antonio Zephir was beaten by neighbors. (Photo courtesy of Zephir)

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has declined to prosecute two women and a man who, according to a D.C. police report, assaulted a gay man after one of the women called him a “Jewish faggot” during an Oct. 13 incident on the grounds of a Northeast Washington apartment building where the victim and the two women live.

The victim, Antonio Zephir, 51, said one of the women, her daughter, and a man he believes to be the daughter’s father repeatedly punched him in the face after he shouted back at the mother in response to the anti-gay and anti-Jewish slur he says she hurled at him.

The incident took place outside the Northwood Gardens Apartments at 4870 Fort Totten Dr., N.E. at about 12:40 p.m. the police report says.

Zephir told the Blade this week that an official with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which prosecutes crimes committed by adults in D.C., informed him in a phone call that the office decided not to prosecute the case after police and prosecutors viewed a surveillance camera video that reportedly captured the entire incident.

He said the official, Crystal Flournoy, Deputy Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Early Case Assessment Section, told him the video showed that he was the “aggressor” in the incident.

Zephir says he strongly disputes that characterization and believes the camera angle from the video may not have captured the full altercation in which he was assaulted first before attempting to defend himself.

A D.C. police spokesperson said police opened an investigation into the incident after Zephir called police immediately after the altercation. A police report lists the incident as a suspected anti-gay hate crime and lists the offense as a misdemeanor simple assault.

Zephir, who was treated and released from the Washington Hospital Center the day after the incident, suffered a fractured nose, a fractured bone surrounding one of his eyes, and other facial injuries, according to a hospital report he provided to the Blade. He said his doctor told him he may need facial surgery to treat ongoing effects from the injuries.

In a Dec. 7 email, a copy of which Zephir sent to the Blade, D.C. Police Lt. Scott Dowling informed Zephir that the U.S Attorney’s Office declined to process an affidavit submitted by police requesting the case be prosecuted.

“[T]he affidavit submitted to the United States Attorney’s Office was declined, meaning that their office is not willing to move forward with criminal charges,” Dowling told Zephir in his email message. “As a result, there will be no arrests relating to the offense you reported,” Dowling said. “As the Affidavit was declined, our investigation is closed,” Dowling wrote in the message.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute this matter after reviewing the evidence,” William Miller, a spokesperson for the office, told the Blade in a statement on Wednesday. “Beyond that, we typically do not comment on charging decisions and have no further comment,” Miller said.

Zephir said he doesn’t think the video, which he hasn’t seen, shows that one of the two women involved in the altercation was the first to assault him. He identified her in court papers he filed seeking a stay away protection order as Aurlora Ellis.

Court records show that a D.C. Superior Court judge on Nov. 30 issued a “Consent Stay Away Order” requiring Ellis and her daughter, identified as Latera Cox, and a woman who Zephir says lives at Ellis’s apartment, to “stay at least 100 feet away from Plaintiffs Zephir or Johnson.”

Steve Johnson, who is cited in the stay away order, is Zephir’s roommate who the police report says attempted to stop the Oct. 13 altercation in which Zephir says he was assaulted.

The court order further states that the three women “shall not contact Plaintiffs Zephir or Johnson in any manner, including but not limited to by telephone, in writing, and in any manner directly or indirectly through another person, including social media,” and that the order will remain in effect for one year.

“Ms. Ellis was the person who made those threats and slurs against me,” Zephir said. “I responded with not-so-kind words. She ran towards me and assaulted me with hard punches toward my face,” Zephir recounted. “I punched back in an attempt to defend myself,” he said.

According to Zephir, during the altercation Ellis told him, “Call the police, you bitch faggot. They’re not going to do anything. This isn’t over yet.” He said he continues to worry that Ellis’s comment that the matter “isn’t over yet” was a threat and that she may try to harm him again.

Ellis couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Zephir said the October altercation wasn’t the first time Ellis has acted in a hostile way toward him.

“For several months, every time Ms. Ellis sees me, she shouts homophobic slurs and I continued to ignore her,” he told the Blade in October after contacting the Blade about the incident.

On Tuesday, Zephir told the Blade that Ellis later apologized for the altercation and asked him to drop the charges he filed against her with D.C. police. He said he declined her request, but said he’s now dismayed that the U.S. Attorney’s Office has refused to prosecute what he calls a “serious hate crime” against him.

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District of Columbia

Dignity Washington opens new center in Dupont Circle

Proceeds from sale of old building used to expand programming



Dignity Washington President Tom Yates. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The local LGBTQ Catholic organization Dignity Washington recently opened its new Dignity Center office and community meeting space at a Dupont Circle condominium building that includes first-floor offices for small businesses and community organizations.

Dignity Washington President Tom Yates said the new space at the Imperial House condominium building at 1601 18th Street, N.W., is currently being used as Dignity’s office headquarters and for meetings of the group’s board and committees. He said as COVID-related restrictions are relaxed the space will be used for various events and possible use by other LGBTQ community organizations.

Yates said the group purchased the 1,700-square-foot office space in March of this year, eight months after selling its former Dignity Center building at 721 8th St., S.E., in the Barracks Row section of Capitol Hill. Dignity officials have said the Capitol Hill building was larger than the space the group needed and the proceeds from its sale would provide funds to expand its programs.

“Dignity Washington, making use of the fiscal support made possible by the change of properties, hopes to become more active speaking truth to power of the Catholic Church,” Yates told the Blade. “The new facility is only a handful of blocks from the Cathedral of St. Matthew,” he said, referring to one of the city’s largest Catholic churches.

Noting the Catholic Church’s historic lack of support for the LGBTQ community, Yates said the proximity of the new Dignity Center would help the group’s mission of showing “the local same-sex community that one can be both Catholic and same-sex loving.” 

Yates said Dignity Washington, founded in 1972, is the largest chapter of the national LGBTQ Catholic organization Dignity USA. 

Dignity Washington, among other things, organizes a weekly 6 p.m. Sunday Mass for LGBTQ Catholics and their friends and families at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church at 1830 Connecticut Ave., N.W.

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