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Police chief joins rally, walk against anti-LGBT violence

Residents of Bloomingdale, Eckington denounce attack on gay couple

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Silent March, hate crimes, Columbia Heights, gay news, Washington Blade
Eckington, gay news, Washington Blade

Attendees of the Eckington ‘safety walk’ march listen as speakers call for an end to anti-gay violence. (Washington Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier, a contingent of police officials, two members of the City Council, and civic activists from the city’s Bloomingdale and Eckington neighborhoods participated in a rally and walk Thursday night against anti-LGBT violence.

Chanting “From Ward 1 to Ward 8, stop the violence, stop the hate,” about 100 people gathered outside the Big Bear restaurant in Bloomingdale at First and R Street, N.W., where organizers staged a rally.

A smaller contingent of about 60 people then walked several blocks to Third Street and Lincoln Road, N.E., in Eckington near where a gay male couple was attacked and beaten on July 22.

“We are here in response and defense against what happened on the 22nd and the prevailing rise of violence in the District of Columbia in general,” said gay activist Nick McCoy, the lead organizer of the event.

“We’re here today to showcase the broad support of our community that represents black, white, LGBT, artistic, business, and heterosexual,” McCoy said. “Tonight, instead of silence, we’re raising our voices together.”

Police said yoga instructor Michael Hall, 29, and his partner Michael Roike, 28, were attacked by three unidentified youths who shouted anti-gay names before punching and kicking the two men. Hall suffered a fractured jaw and broken face bone and underwent surgery at Howard University Hospital as a result of his injuries.

No arrests have been made in the incident. Lanier said an active investigation continues and police are appealing to the community for witnesses to help identify the attackers.

Hall and Roike didn’t attend the rally and walk. McCoy said the two were invited but declined, saying they were not ready to participate in such an event.

A.J. Singletary, chair of Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV) told the rally that D.C. has the highest rate of anti-LGBT violence in the nation and that between 2005 and 2011 anti-gay crime increased 86 percent.

He said police statics show 21 hate crimes based on the victim’s sexual orientation have been reported so far this year, compared to 15 reported as of August 2011.

“This is absolutely unacceptable,” Singletary said. “The only way we can change this is to work together as one community.”

Lanier joined the walk at the site near where the attack against the gay couple took place. She praised organizers and participants for rallying the community against crime.

“I wish we could do this more often because it sends a message that communities were formed for the protection of the community,” she said. “Sometimes we forget that. So I think that when anybody in the neighborhood is victimized we should stand up and come together and say, no, this is not tolerable. This is not going to happen in our community.”

Others who spoke at the rally or during the walk were Commander Andy Soleberg of the Fifth Police District, which has jurisdiction over Bloomingdale and Eckington; and D.C. Council members Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5) and Vincent Orange (D-At-Large).

Other speakers included Jeffrey Richardson, director of the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs; and Lateefah Williams, president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest LGBT political group.

Captain Edward Delgado, director of the police Special Liaison Division, which oversees the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit; Sgt. Carlos Mejia, supervisor of the GLLU; and several GLLU members participated in the walk and rally.

McCoy said he was especially pleased that Bloomingdale and Eckington residents, LGBT and straight, turned out for the event and expressed strong support for the neighborhoods’ LGBT residents.

E. Gail Anderson Holness, a Bloomingdale civic activist and minister, led the crowd in the chant, “Fired up, we won’t take no more.”

“When injustice happens to one of us, injustice happens to all of us,” she said. “Let’s walk together and stand together and tell this community and all communities in Washington D.C. that we’re all standing together – lesbian and gay, bisexual, tri-sexual, any sexual, no sexual. We’re all standing together and we’re not going to tolerate crime of any sort in our community.”

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Keith Jarrell

    August 10, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Chief Lanier shows up for the cameras. In reality she does very little to combat violence like this from happening again. Department seems clueless to hate crimes. They struggle with every case and every opportunit to callnitvwhat it is.

    • Jayson

      August 10, 2012 at 1:15 pm

      And you are the reason things will never get better. The District has problems in ALL areas. Bitterness never solved anything, she does more than you probably do. She didn’t have to show up at all.

  2. Jeff

    August 10, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    Gay or not, people need gun to protect themselves,

  3. brian

    August 11, 2012 at 10:47 am

    I understand your opinion and frustration, Keith.

    But every day is a brand new opportunity for our city’s leaders to stand up against hate crimes violence. We asked for the broad participation of our city’s police in this short-notice event, and we got it. So while we must continue to insist that they do more to combat the rising tide of anti-LGBT hate crimes in DC, every damn day, let’s give them credit where it is due, too.

    Chief Cathy Lanier, 5D Commander Andy Solberg and the entire SLD/ GLLU (Delgado, Mejia, Mahl and GLLU officers) team deserve our thanks and appreciation for their attendance Thursday evening. Their presence sent a powerful message to the perpetrators of that anti-gay hate crime in Eckington, as well as to our city’s would-be hate crimes copycats.

    Also, Keith, it’s important to understand the distinction between INDIVIDUAL bias and INSTITUTIONAL bias. Chief Lanier is no homophobe. Chief Lanier is certainly no bigot, nor is she personally biased. As chief of police, she obviously tries hard every day not to be any of those things. Many of us also sense Chief Lanier learned of that very human struggle we all face, long before she even became a cop.

    But MPD, like any major organization can (and has on occasion, IMO) slipped into forms of the far more subtle and hard-to-recognize INSTITUTIONAL bias that results in discriminatory incidents and/or policing. INSTITUTIONAL bias/ discrimination can and does occur in organizations whose managers are, by all accounts, wholly free of personal bias and/or personal animus.

    There is nothing unique to DC’s PD in that problem. That’s an ongoing threat every big city police chief has to be on guard against within their police department.

    Also, whether it’s a police chief or a cop on the beat, it should not matter that either one has only recently come to a better understanding of the role bullying and violence has had in LGBT history, culture– even personal development of LGBT people. Let’s just thank them for that extra policing effort to try to understand. It will always better serve and inform their policing practices– and much to the benefit of our LGBT public safety.

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Comings & Goings

Nathanson takes role at Outright Action

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Rikki Nathanson

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected] 

The Comings & Goings column also invites LGBTQ+ college students to share their successes with us. If you have been elected to a student government position, gotten an exciting internship, or are graduating and beginning your career with a great job, let us know so we can share your success. 

Congratulations to Rikki Nathanson on her new position as Senior Advisor – Global Trans Program with OutRight Action International in New York. Nathanson will be based in D.C.  

 “I am absolutely thrilled to be taking on this new role as Senior Advisor in OutRight’s Global Trans Program,” said Nathanson. “I have finally found the perfect fit for me: as a trans woman who has been fighting for equality not only for myself, but for others globally, this position is not only a job, it’s intrinsically part of who I am. So, what better way to live, nurture and grow myself.” 

Nathanson will be working closely with all program staff to ensure a cohesive and intentional approach to gender issues throughout OutRight’s programs, including its approach to gender ideology movements. She will lead new initiatives on gender advocacy and policy change, focused but not limited to legal gender recognition and anti-discrimination legislation and policies.

Prior to this Nathanson was director of housing programs at Casa Ruby in D.C. She has also held a number of other positions including: founder/executive director of Trans Research, Education, Advocacy & Training (TREAT), Zimbabwe; chairperson Southern Africa Trans Forum, SATF, Cape Town, South Africa; executive director, Ricochet Modeling Agency, Zimbabwe; and company secretary for Dunlop Zimbabwe Limited, Zimbabwe. 

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SMYAL Director Shakir to step down Dec. 31

Board to launch Executive Search beginning in January

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SMYAL Executive Director Sultan Shakir addresses the crowd at the 2021 Fall Brunch. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Sultan Shakir, who has served as executive director of D.C.’s LGBTQ youth advocacy organization SMYAL since August 2014, announced on Friday that he will be stepping down from his position effective Dec. 31.

In a Dec. 3 announcement, SMYAL said details of Shakir’s future career plans would be announced in the coming weeks.

“While we are sad to see Sultan leave, we wish him nothing but the same success in his new endeavor as he had at SMYAL,” said Rob Cogorno, SMYAL’s board chair. “His leadership and vision enabled SMYAL to expand greatly needed services to LGBTQ youth in the DC metro area throughout his tenure,” Cogorno said.

“I am immensely proud of the work we have been able to accomplish together in my time at SMYAL,” Shakir said in a statement released by SMYAL. “SMYAL has been an integral and vital resource in the DMV community for over 37 years, and while we have come a long way in combating homophobia, transphobia, racism, sexual health stigma, homelessness, violence against the LGBTQ community, and oppression, we have a long way to go,” he said.

“This work has never been about one person,” said Shakir. “SMYAL was founded by our community and we’re still around because of our community,” he said. “I leave knowing that the commitment and passion of the SMYAL Board, staff, volunteers, and youth leaders have created a solid foundation from which our work will continue to grow until LGBTQ youth no longer need us.”

The SMYAL statement says that under Shakir’s tenure, SMYAL, which stands for Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders, expanded its programs and services for LGBTQ youth. Among other things, in 2017 SMYAL opened its first of several housing facilities for homeless LGBTQ youth that include culturally competent case management, education and employment assistance.

“The Youth Housing Program now comprises five programmatic models that serve a combined 61 youth residents,” the statement says.

It points out that also under Shakir’s leadership, SMYAL expanded the age range of the youth its programs serve under a new Little SMYALs program, which welcomes LGBTQ youth ages 6-12. And earlier in 2021 under Shakir’s guidance, SMYAL began a new Clinical Services Department “which provides affirming and accessible mental health counseling,” the statement says.

“The SMYAL Board of Directors will officially launch an Executive Search beginning in January 2022 and expects to have named a new Executive Director by summer 2022,” the statement says. It says the board will soon name an interim executive director to work with SMYAL’s Deputy Executive Director, Jorge Membreno, and the organization’s leadership team to oversee the day-to-day activities until a new executive director is named.

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Rainbow History Project to honor LGBTQ ‘Pioneers’

Virtual celebration to take place on Dec. 9

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David Mariner, gay news, Washington Blade
David Mariner (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

D.C.’s Rainbow History Project says it will honor and recognize 12 individuals and one organization by designating them as Community Pioneers “for their diverse contributions to the Washington-area LGBTQ community” at a Dec. 9 virtual celebration.

“Rainbow History Project is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to collecting, preserving and sharing the LGBT history of metropolitan Washington, D.C.,” the group says in a statement announcing the event. “The Pioneers awards recognize diverse community leaders for their roles as organizational founders, innovators, advocates and volunteers,” the statement says.

“The Pioneers celebration will be held virtually and is designed with special features that reproduce the feeling of attending in-person, such as live streaming and video chatting with other attendees and Pioneers before and after the core awards programing,” according to the statement.

“Celebrating our Community Pioneers has been a cherished tradition since Rainbow History Project’s founding 21 years ago,” said Rob Berger, the organization’s chairperson. “It’s always an inspiring event, and we are happy that our virtual platform will still allow participants to meet and talk with the Pioneers,” Berger said in the statement.

The virtual event is free and open to the public, the statement says. Organizers released this link for those interested in attending, saying a short registration process may require registering in advance. 

Remo Conference

Following is the list of Community Pioneers scheduled to be honored at the Dec. 9 event as released by Rainbow History Project along with the project’s description of their backgrounds.

Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance, a local group that since its founding has addressed equal rights issues for LGBTQ Virginians from a state and local perspective.

– Eboné F. Bell, founder and editor-in-chief of Tagg Magazine and Tagg Communication LLC.

Bart Forbes, founding member of “Gay Fairfax,” a pioneering television newsmagazine program in Northern Virginia.

– Ellen Kahan, youth and family advocate, president of Rainbow Families, former director of the Lesbian Services Program at Whitman-Walker Health, and currently senior director of programs and partnerships at the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

– Theodore Kirkland (deceased), a co-founder of D.C. Black Pride in 1991, member of the Gay Liberation Front and Skyline Faggots, active community health volunteer and advocate.

– Paul Marengo, community leader through LGBTQ organizations including Reel Affirmations, Cherry Fund, and Pride celebrations for youth, Latino, Black and Transgender communities.

– David Mariner, executive director of CAMP Rehoboth, and former executive director of the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community.

– Mark Meinke founder longtime chair, Rainbow History Project, and co-founder of Rainbow Heritage Network, a national organization for the recognition and preservation of sites, history and heritage associated with sexual and gender minorities.

– Michael “Micci” Sainte Andress, artist, health educator and advocate and an early leader in bringing African Americans into HIV/AIDS clinical trials.

– Boden Sandstrom, founder and owner of Woman Sound (later City Sound), the first all-woman sound company, which makes LGBTQ rights rallies and the women’s music scene possible.

Casse Culver (deceased), nationally acclaimed D.C. lesbian feminist singer-songwriter, and partner of Boden Sandstrom, whose followers said her love songs and feminist lyrics moved audiences from foot stomping to silent reflection.  

Alan Sharpe, playwright, director and co-founder of the African American Collective Theater in Washington, D.C., in 1976, which now focuses on LGBTQ life and culture in the Black community.

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