August 3, 2012 at 1:22 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Police seek witnesses in attack on gay couple

D.C. police have issued an appeal for witnesses to a July 22 incident in which three unidentified males assaulted a gay male couple at 3rd and U streets, N.E. in the city’s Eckington neighborhood.

“Preliminary investigation has revealed that there were witnesses to the assault,” according to a police statement.

Michael Hall Jr., 29, a D.C. yoga instructor, was hospitalized for a broken cheekbone and fractured jaw from injuries suffered in the attack, which police say occurred around midnight. Police listed the incident as an anti-gay hate crime.

Hall’s partner, Michael Roike, told the Blade the three assailants attacked him and Hall minutes after the two got out of a car they hired to drive them home from a night out at two restaurants on Capitol Hill.

Roike said Hall underwent surgery at Howard University Hospital to treat severe face and jaw injuries he sustained from the attackers, whom he said punched Hall in the face, knocking him to the ground. He said he’s uncertain what provoked the assault.

Police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump told the Blade in an email that the three attackers “appeared from an unknown direction and began to yell homophobic slurs” at Roike and Hall. The only information about the suspects released by police so far describes them as “three black males wearing dark clothing.”

Roike said they appeared to be in their late teens but said he and Hall were unable to provide more information about their appearance.

Police said they are urging anyone who witnessed the incident or anyone who has information about it to contact police at 202-727-9099. Friends of Roike and Hall created a Facebook page called “Friends of Michael Joel Hall and Michael Roike” to help the two raise money to cover some of Hall’s medical expenses. Friends said Hall doesn’t have medical insurance.

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
  • Wow. Nearly two weeks later, this seems more than a little late in MPD’s investigation to be asking the LGBT public through the Blade for assistance in closing this anti-gay hate crimes case. Is MPD just coming to the realization that lots of LGBT folks now reside in Eckington, Bloomingdale, Edgewood and Brookland?

    To be sure, maybe some of those LGBT residents were on the way home, driving through or skirting by Eckington, that very early Sunday morning, just after midnight, and may have seen something.

    The truth is, if Chief Lanier really cared about closing this hate crimes case she would not be allowing a MPD-5D listserv surrogate to be misleading the public, claiming the victims said things in their TV interviews that they clearly did not say.

    Come to think of it, Chief Lanier would not have emailed me last week with misleading misquotes of what she claims the victims told TV news interviewers. Lanier used amazingly similar language in her email to me last week as was used subsequently by a ‘spontaneous’ poster on her MPD-5D listserv. What a coincidence.

    Frankly, that can amount to MPD communications resources being used to re-victimize the two gay victims in this case. But to what end? To what purpose? To deny that an anti-gay hate crime occurred?

    Anti-LGBT hate crimes also victimize our LGBT communities– engendering fear and intimidation in our LGBT residents, too. So in a very real sense, Lanier’s Communications Office is using MPD resources– taxpayer-provided let’s not forget– to re-victimize DC’s LGBT community, as well.

    On a brighter note, I want to thank MPD Fifth District Commander Andy Solberg for conducting another police canvass of the crime scene area just last Monday, handing out some 200 flyers, seeking the public’s help. Hopefully Solberg’s 5D team will get some leads. But it also raises a community’s visibility to the issue of anti-LGBT hate crimes. It can provide teachable moments for parents regarding bullying and hateful behavior, as well as providing police/ neighbor introductions and future community policing opportunities.

    That should be standard operating procedure throughout the city, when dealing with any violent hate crime. And to add visibility and truly get perpetrators to turn on one another, MPD ought to be offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to convictions in this hate crime case. That, too, should be standard operating procedure for MPD in dealing seriously with violent hate crimes in DC.

    These are pretty inexpensive ways to deal with the rising rate of anti-LGBT hate crimes — since 2007. These practices are known to, and practiced by PDs and sheriff’s departments all across the country. It’s really not a lack of resources or know-how that is preventing MPD from dealing effectively with the rise in anti-LGBT hate crimes since Lanier became chief. It’s simply a lack of will.

    Finally, it should also be noted how amazingly the Eckington neighborhood has responded with both outrage and loving concern for the victims. LGBT residents throughout Ward 5 know how special nearly all of our neighbors are. But the residents of Eckington deserve a special shout out for wrapping their community arms around Michael and Michael these past two weeks.

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