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Marine calls fellow Marine anti-gay slur, stabs him to death near 8th St. barracks

D.C. police report says incident wasn’t a hate crime

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D.C. police chose not to list as a hate crime an April 21 incident in which one U.S. Marine allegedly stabbed another Marine to death after reportedly calling him an anti-gay slur on a D.C. street, according to a police incident report.

The commander of the D.C. Police Homicide Branch, Lt. Robert Alder, said the department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit and the police hate crimes coordinator were reviewing information about the case and a hate crime designation could be added to the report sometime later.

Police said the incident took place about 2:30 a.m. on the sidewalk along the 700 block of 8th Street, S.E., across the street from the historic Marine Corps Barracks where the man charged in the killing is stationed.

Michael Joseph Poth, 20, has been charged with second-degree murder while armed for the stabbing death of Marine Lance Cpl. Philip Bushong, 23, police said in a statement released on Saturday.

“Information uncovered during the course of the preliminary investigation indicates that there was a verbal exchange, and during the exchange a homophobic slur was heard from the suspect prior to the stabbing,” the police statement says.

Alder told the Blade on Monday that a Marine guard stationed across the street outside the Marine Barracks witnessed the incident. Police said one or more of the guards apprehended Poth before D.C. police and D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services personnel arrived on the scene.

According to Alder, police investigators are looking for more witnesses who may have heard what Poth and Bushong were arguing about just prior ot the stabbing. He said evidence so far indicates the two did not know each other and likely met for the first time when they crossed paths on the sidewalk on 8th Street minutes before a verbal altercation turned violent.

“From what we know, the argument was not over sexual orientation,” Alder told the Blade. “And I would say at this time the information that we have appears to show that it was an insult in the heat of their argument and did not have anything to do with any perceived sexual orientation,” he said.

The police report says Bushong was taken to the Med Star unit at Washington Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

The police report, known as the 251 Incident Based Event Report, says the stabbing took place on the sidewalk in front of 727 8th St., S.E., a sporting goods store located two doors away from the Ugly Mug restaurant and bar.

The Washington Post reports that friends of Bushong said Bushong visited the Ugly Mug earlier that night and was a regular customer and former employee of the bar.

The location where Bushong was stabbed is three doors away from the Dignity Center, a building owned by the gay Catholic group Dignity Washington. The site of the stabbing is also located less than a block from the residence of Gen. James F. Amos, the Marine Corps commandant.

“He was a very lighthearted, good young man,” the Post quoted the Ugly Mug’s general manager, Brent McCaslin, as saying of Bushong. “He was an outstanding employee. I never saw him angry. He was always happy,” the Post quoted McCaslin as saying.

Some additional information about the case was expected to emerge at a D.C. Superior Court presentment hearing for Poth scheduled for Monday afternoon.

“Bushong’s friends said Bushong was not gay, nor was he homophobic,” the Post reported.

“You could have called him gay and he wouldn’t have cared,” the Post quoted Nishith Pandya, one of Bushong’s friends, as saying. “He would have laughed,” the paper quoted her as saying.

Assistant D.C. Police Chief Diane Groomes told the Blade in an email that the police report stating the incident was not a hate crime may have been prepared before witnesses were interviewed and additional information became known.

“When things first happen, not all facts are sorted out immediately on the scene,” Groomes said.

Even if the police listed the incident as a hate crime, the final decision on whether to charge Poth with a hate crime is made by the United States Attorney’s office, which prosecutes most cases in the city involving a violent crime.

The city’s hate crimes law calls for charging a person with committing a hate crime if he or she commits a violent act against another person based on the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or several other factors such as race, religion, or ethnicity.

William Miller, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office, said the office doesn’t comment on pending cases.

Miller declined to say in general whether prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office would charge someone with a hate crime if he or she hurled an anti-gay slur with the intent of insulting a victim whose sexual orientation was unknown or believed to be straight.

“We have veteran prosecutors who review cases to determine if they meet the criteria for hate-crime enhancements,” Miller told the Blade in an email. “We decline to address your specific questions. We can say that we weigh the evidence very carefully in making the charging decisions.”

Zeke Stokes, a spokesperson for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a national LGBT organization that represents gay members of the military, said the group is not aware of an increase in anti-LGBT violence in the military as a result of the recent repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which cleared the way for gays to serve openly in the military.

“All reports from the field are that implementation of DADT repeal is going very well across all services,” Stokes said.

Concerning the murder of Marine Corps member Bushong outside the Marine Barracks in D.C., Stokes said, “We understand that an investigation is underway by the appropriate authorities and it would be premature for SLDN to comment on this homicide until more of the facts are known.”

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. brian

    April 23, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    ***
    “When things first happen, not all facts are sorted out immediately on the scene,” Groomes said.

    Even if the police listed the incident as a hate crime, the final decision on whether to charge Poth with a hate crime is made by the United States Attorney’s office, which prosecutes most cases in the city involving a violent crime.

    The city’s hate crimes law calls for charging a person with committing a hate crime if he or she commits a violent act against another person based on the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or several other factors such as race, religion, or ethnicity.
    ***

    We in DC are routinely seeing a version of this MPD/ USAO-DC Kabuki dance in the wake of every major LGBT-related assault and/or homicide. Mixing metaphors, it’s rather like they’re playing ‘Good Cop/ Bad Cop’ to throw DC’s LGBT investigative newshounds off their scent.

    Sure, most of well understand that USAO and MPD can not answer too-detailed questions regarding pending cases. But that excuse only goes so far. MPD and USAO-DC can answer more fundamental, generic questions having to do with their respective organizations overall performance records and procedures. DC’s residents and hate crimes victims deserve to know this information, after all.

    Some of us remember when DC’s USAO under Janet Reno’s tenure as U.S. Attorney General was very proactive in educating DC’s citizenry regarding their rights and responsibilities regarding DC’s hate crimes law– as well as directing USAO-DC to pursue its criminal violators. Likewise, we remember when hate crimes criminals in DC were perceived as being arrested and charged under MPD Chief Charles Ramsey’s tenure as MPD Chief of Police.

    DC has had its tough hate crimes law for going on 25 years, now. So…

    … Why isn’t the Obama Administration enforcing DC’s Hate Crimes Law (‘Bias-Related Crimes Act’)?

    … The nation’s top cop is Attorney General Eric Holder. He is also USAO-DC’s boss. Is he monitoring USAO-DC’s performance with respect to prosecution of hate crimes committed in DC? Does USAO-DC need more resources to adequately prosecute DC hate crimes?

    … Why isn’t the U.S.Attorney’s Office for DC perceived as adequately PROSECUTING the numerous hate crimes cases we are repeatedly seeing in DC?

    –Exactly how many cases have USAO-DC prosecuted in the last year? The last 2 years? 5 years? 10 years?

    … Why isn’t MPD under Chief Lanier perceived as adequately CHARGING the numerous hate crimes cases we are repeatedly seeing in DC?

    — Exactly how many cases has MPD arrested and charged n the last year? The last 2 years? 5 years? 10 years?

    — How many DC hate crimes cases have been reported to the FBI as is required under DC law? How many arrests did MPD make in those caes? Did USAO-DC prosecute those cases? And how many resulted in convictions, jail time, etc.?

    And BTW…
    What’s the status of the spate of anti-LGBT hate crimes in March? Or have those conveniently slipped off MPD’s and USAO’s radar screens?

  2. Pla

    April 23, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    This is really stupid. If you listen to the facts Poth (the murderer) was the one that was called the slur and he killed Bushong. How is this a hate crime just another attempt of the LGBT agenda to grab any media to jam down our throats the way they chose to live, forcing us to agree with what we disagree with.Please stop you can live the way you choose to but I do not have to condone or accept it but I will still respect you I ask for the same in return!

    • Derek Williams

      May 18, 2012 at 9:36 pm

      “The way we choose to live”? I am a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, aged 60 years. I have spent my life in education, serving the community in a variety of ways, and as a professional musician. Romantic relationships I have had have been longlasting and monogamous. Your contempt for my “way of life” is therefore incomprehensible to me, considering that my way of life is very much comparable to that of my heterosexual friends, one way or another.

      As to whether the murder described in this article it is a ‘hate crime’ or not, if somebody murders me because I am a homosexual or even if they only think I am, then it is a hate crime because they would not murder me if I was not a homosexual or they did not think I was. To be forced to falsely claim that I am heterosexual in order to remain alive is to be forced to live a life in terror, just as Jews under the Nazis tried desperately to disavow their Jewishness, likewise for homosexuals. That is why such crimes are loaded up as more serious. The same goes for race, sinistrality and gender, because neither I nor they can change the way we were born, and what’s more, no-one should be in the business of murdering us for these reasons, even if we could change.

      Of course, not all homosexuals are decent people by any means, but let me point out that prisons the world over are full of a preponderance of heterosexual criminals who are no more decent. You will find good and bad in every demographic. When you look at lifetime high achievers, you will discover that many of us are right up there with the best.

  3. rickindc

    April 23, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    HATE CRIME!, HATE CRIME, Time for the hysteria to start!

  4. brian

    April 24, 2012 at 7:46 am

    PLA, just so you, and others outside of DC will know… DC hate crimes law is not a matter of opinion. It is in fact, a real law in the District of Columbia, and it’s been a law for over 20 years. Like all criminal statutes, DC’s *Bias-Related Crimes Act* must be enforced.

    It also provides civil remedies for victims, and has reporting requirements, as well. So there are multiple adverse consequences for victims when that law is not enforced.

    Due to the fact that DC is not a state, responsibility for enforcing DC’s hate crimes law, as well as most of DC’s criminal statutes, falls upon President Obama through his U.S. Department of Justice (Attorney General Eric Holder) and its U.S. Attorney’s Office for DC (U.S. Attorney for DC Ronald Machen).

    It could very well be that USAO-DC needs additional resources to prosecute local hate crimes– as they did in the past– due to the fact that this DC office has been tasked to deal with greater homeland security cases in the last 10 years since 9/11.

    Whatever the case, no one is trying to make a ‘federal case’ out of DC’s hate crimes law, since enforcing it IS, already, the responsibility of the federal government. The ultimate responsibility for enforcing DC hate crimes law falls upon Attorney General Holder, and of course, his boss, President Obama.

    Like all Americans, LGBT visitors come to DC to see and experience the unique sites only our nation’s capital offers– as well as its rich, diverse LGBT night life. Whether we’re talking about LGBT visitors to DC, or DC’s own LGBT residents, we all deserve to be free from being assaulted or being killed for who we are.

    [URLs REMOVED]

  5. John Aubry

    April 26, 2012 at 11:01 am

    I read in another article that the weapon used was a “pocketknife”. I’ve been told first-hand by eye-witnesses that it was in fact a bayonet, 13 inch.

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Missing gay man found ‘alive and well’

Police say Richard ‘Rick’ Woods found in good health

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Richard G. ‘Rick’ Woods, a 65-year-old gay man, was found alive and well.

D.C. police announced on Friday that Richard G. ‘Rick’ Woods, a 65-year-old gay man who police said was reported missing and last seen on July 14, has been located. But the announcement doesn’t provide information on where he was found or why he went missing.

Friends who know Woods say he operated for many years an antique wood furniture restoration business in various locations in D.C. The most recent location of his business, friends said, was in Georgetown a short distance from where police said he was last seen on the 1600 block of Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.

“MPD does not publicly disclose the circumstances surrounding a missing person and how they are found, however we do release their flyer as well as a notification when they are located,” said D.C. police spokesperson Brianna Burch. “Mr. Woods was found in good health,” Burch told the Blade.

Police sought help from the public in their initial announcement that Woods was missing. The announcement said he was reported missing to police on Friday, July 23.

Logan Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner and LGBTQ rights advocate John Fanning, who said he has been friends with Woods for many years, said he was delighted to hear Woods was found in good condition.

“Rick is known by many in our community,” Fanning told the Blade at the time Woods was reported missing. Fanning said he and others who know Woods stand ready to provide support for him should he be in need of such support.

The Blade couldn’t immediately reach Woods for comment.

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Some D.C. gay bars to require proof of COVID vaccination

Action prompted by mayor’s order reinstating masks indoors

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Adams Morgan’s A League of Her Own is among the area queer bars requiring proof of vaccination for entry.

At least four D.C. gay bars announced this week on social media that they will require patrons to show proof that they have been vaccinated for COVID-19 as a condition for being admitted to the bars.

They include the Logan Circle area gay bars Number Nine and Trade, which are operated by the same co-owners, and the Adams Morgan gay sports bars Pitchers and A League of Her Own, which are also operated by the same owner and share the same building.

The four bars, which also offer dining service, announced their proof of vaccination requirement shortly after D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Thursday issued a new order reinstating the city’s requirement that facial masks be worn inside all businesses and other public establishments.

The mayor’s order applies to all vaccinated and unvaccinated people over the age of two. It was scheduled to take effect 5 a.m. Saturday, July 31.

At a July 29 news conference, Bowser pointed to a new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance issued two days earlier recommending that fully vaccinated people resume wearing masks indoors in places where transmission of the coronavirus is considered “substantial” or “high.”

The mayor said that, at the advice of her public health experts, she decided to issue the new order to help curtail the rising number of COVID cases in D.C. over the past month or more due to the rapid spread of the virus’s delta variant, which is surging throughout the nation. Like other parts of the country, Bowser and D.C. Department of Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbit said people who are unvaccinated in D.C. make up nearly all of the newly infected cases.

“I know D.C. residents have been very closely following the public health guidelines, and they will embrace this,” Bowser said in referring to the new mask requirement.

The four-page order released by the mayor’s office, similar to the city’s earlier mask requirements, allows indoor patrons of restaurants and bars to remove their masks while “actively” eating or drinking.

But some representatives of restaurants and bars have pointed out that other jurisdictions, including Maryland and Virginia, have followed the CDC’s initial policy of making mask wearing a recommendation rather than a requirement.

“Mayor Bowser’s announcement that nightlife hospitality patrons must wear a mask indoors when not ‘actively eating or drinking’ renders the reinstated mandate essentially unenforceable and results in the rule being reduced to a largely theatrical requirement,” said Mark Lee, director of the D.C. Nightlife Council, a local trade association representing bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and other nightlife related businesses.

“The greatest disappointment for many venue operators and staff, however, is that the mayor’s decision does not allow an option for establishments to admit only fully vaccinated patrons and be exempt from the mandate, as a number of other jurisdictions across the country have done,” Lee said.

John Guggenmos, co-owner of the bars Trade and Number Nine, told the Washington Blade he and his co-owners adopted the proof of vaccination policy as an added means of protecting the safety of both patrons and employees of the two bars.

“We’re hopeful that this will be in effect for just a few weeks or a month or two,” Guggenmos said. “Our patrons have always been very supportive,” he said in referring to the city’s public health directives last year and early this year in which masks were required up until May of this year.

Guggenmos said Trade and Number Nine will allow an alternative to the vaccination requirement if patrons provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test conducted within the previous three days of their admission to the bars.

In its social media postings, Pitchers and A League of Her Own said their proof of vaccination requirement was based on the concern for the health of their patrons and staff.

“We will require proof a COVID vaccination until further notice at Pitchers/ALOHO and masks per the mayor,” a Facebook posting says. “We take guidelines and the health of our patrons and staff very seriously. We will accept a picture or hard copy of your COVID vaccination card,” it says. “No exceptions, no arguing, no talking to the manager.”

Tammy Truong, owner of the gay bar Uproar Lounge at 639 Florida Ave., N.W., told the Blade the bar has no immediate plans to require proof of vaccination as a requirement for admission, but Uproar will fully comply with the mayor’s order requiring indoor masks.

Justin Parker, co-owner of the nearby gay bar The Dirty Goose at 913 U St., N.W., told the Blade he and his staff decided on Friday to also put in place a requirement that patrons show either proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the past five days. He said a 5-day window for the COVID test, which the CDC allows in some cases, was chosen rather than a three day requirement to accommodate people who may not be able to get tested during weekends.

Owners of other D.C. gay bars couldn’t immeidately be reached. But the Blade could not find any announcements by the other gay bars as of Friday afternoon that they planed to put in place a proof of vaccination requiremenet. 

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Judge dismisses lawsuit against Va. school guidelines for transgender students

Christian Action Network and other conservative groups filed suit

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Connor Climo, gay news, Washington Blade

Lynchburg Circuit Court Judge J. Frederick Watson on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the Virginia Department of Education’s model policies for transgender students that are to be implemented for the 2021-2022 school year.

The VDOE introduced the policies in March to better protect and affirm trans and non-binary students in schools, considering they are more likely to face discrimination and harassment from their peers and students. The directives would require Virginia schools to allow them to use school bathrooms and locker rooms that conform to their gender identity and pronouns and a name that reflects their gender identity.

Several conservative organizations, including the Christian Action Network, and families whose children attend Lynchburg public schools had sought to overturn the VDOE’s policies. The groups cited their need to protect their right to free speech and religion under the First Amendment.

Challenging the enactment of non-binary and trans-inclusive school policies in Virginia is not a new occurence. 

Tanner Cross, a Loudoun County teacher, was suspended in May after stating he would not use trans students’ preferred pronouns. Circuit Judge James E. Plowman, Jr., who invoked Pickering v. Board of Education,  a 1968 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of a teacher that stated they have the right to provide commentary on issues of public importance without being dismissed from their position, reinstated Cross after he filed a lawsuit,  

Equality Virginia on Tuesday a statement celebrated what they described as “a win for Virginia schools and students.”

“This ruling is important progress and emphasizes the continued need to protect transgender and non-binary youth in Virginia,” said Executive Director Vee Lamneck. “These policies will create safer classrooms and will reduce bullying, discrimination and harassment. It’s imperative school boards adopt these policies as soon as possible because the lives of transgender students are at risk.”

Equality Virginia, ACLU of Virginia, and more than 50 other organizations and school board leaders across the state filed an amicus brief earlier this month encouraging the court to deny the lawsuit.

The brief’s arguments included references to historic lawsuits like Brown v. Board of Education and Grimm v. Gloucester City School Board that specifically addressed inequalities in schools for minority students.

While Tuesday’s ruling is a win for LGBTQ rights advocates in education and their respective students, there still remains a final barrier to ensure that the VDOE’s policies are sanctioned in the fall. 

“The dismissal clears one statewide hurdle for the guidelines and limits future challenges,” reports the Virginian-Pilot newspaper. “But it leaves the fight to continue at local school boards, which are currently debating how or if to implement policies before the start of the school year.”

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