September 14, 2012 at 7:29 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Vandals target LGBT media boxes
Metro Weekly box vandalized

A vandalized Metro Weekly box on 17th Street, N.W. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

D.C. police continue to investigate several incidents of vandalism that have damaged LGBT newspaper boxes throughout the city.

Lynne Brown, publisher of the Washington Blade, noted that the newspaper began to receive these reports in February with some readers claiming they even witnessed the vandalism as it happened. She said that the unidentified vandal or vandals have also stolen newspaper copies from these boxes throughout Dupont and Logan Circles — this reporter observed empty Blade boxes last week on 17th Street, N.W., between P and Q Streets, N.W., and along Connecticut Avenue near Dupont Circle hours after that week’s issue was delivered to them.

“Thanks to all who have called, written and texted me their locations and witness to the event (s,) said Brown, who noted that the newspaper remains confident that the Metropolitan Police Department’s Gay, Lesbian Liaison Unit will apprehend those responsible for the vandalism. “A big thanks to Peggy and the Café Berlin folks on Capitol Hill and our tireless distribution company Media Point LLC. Those guys restock and repair as fast as humanly possible.”

The vandals have also targeted Metro Weekly boxes throughout Dupont Circle and surrounding neighborhoods.

The news magazine reported earlier today that the latest incidents occurred just hours after it distributed its latest issue when rotting food and what it described as “human and animal waste” in its boxes. This reporter observed banana peels and other garbage placed in Metro Weekly boxes in front of the CVS on the corner of 17th and P Streets, N.W., and near Annie’s two blocks north earlier on Friday.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

  • Can one commit a “hate crime” against a media box?

  • There is a longer discussion of this problem in the current issue of Metroweekly in the online edition.

  • *****
    Can one commit a “hate crime” against a media box?

    I’m not a lawyer, but IMHO, a hate crime can be committed against business entities whose owners and/or customers are among the designated classifications of people DC’s hate crimes law (#22-3701 +) is intended to protect.

    “Injury to property”– which as I understand it, covers a number of DC private property crimes (e.g., destruction of private property, both felony and misdemeanor, taking property without right, defacement, etc.)– is one of the “designated acts” specifically cited in DC’s hate crimes law.

    Let’s hope MPD catches this/ these perpetrator(s), and that USAO-DC can prosecute these acts of vandalism as the instances of anti-LGBT hate crimes they appear to be.

    DC’s hate crimes law is designed to facilitate victims’ rights and remedies under BOTH DC criminal and civil procedures. And its is MPD’s duty to protect victims’ rights by accurately reporting and classifying each incident.

    So it would appear– again, IMO, from press reports– that MPD should have already listed these crimes as possible hate crimes on their 251 reports. This would give the Blade and MW stronger options to seek civil remedies as well, in the future, if the perp(s) are caught and the circumstances/ situations warrant civil action under DC’s hate crimes law (Bias-Related Crimes Act).

  • I’m not a lawyer either, but I think you are STRETCHING the purpose of DC’s hate crimes law. I thought I was the victim of a hate crime, until representatives of DC’s Gay/Lesbian police unit informed me that what I experienced was a “hate bias incident.” So, if these media boxes are more protected than I am, then this is a serious problem.

  • *****
    …I think you are STRETCHING the purpose of DC’s hate crimes law. I thought I was the victim of a hate crime, until representatives of DC’s Gay/Lesbian police unit informed me that what I experienced was a “hate bias incident.”
    I’m not stretching the purpose of DC’s hate crimes law at all, Jack. These CRIMINAL acts of property destruction and defacement appear to target LGBT-owned (or perceived as such) businesses and their largely LGBT (or perceived LGBT) customers. Hate crimes like these have an impact on entire communities by exercising intimidation upon, and engendering fear within members of such targeted communities. That’s very much what DC’s hate crimes law is intended to address.

    The key difference between these acts against the Blade and MW, and your case may be that of an actual *criminal* act(s) being perpetrated. You did not provide the specifics of your case, so I have no basis for comparison, nor for opining on MPD’s response to your complaint. However, “hate bias incidents” are often so designated by MPD/GLLU because a violation of an actual crime or crimes did NOT actually occur.

    For example, it’s not a crime to call someone a “faggot” or any other anti-LGBT slur, if that is all that occurs. Only when such name-calling is coupled with at least one actual crime, actually in DC’s Code books– i.e., a “designated act” specified in DC’s hate crimes law (homicide, assault, injury to property, etc.)– does DC’s hate crimes law apply as a criminal matter.

  • The problem is people are equating any incident they experience as a hate crime showing their ignorance of the basis for the law. When one starts to use their sexuality as an excuse of why things happen to them, we all lose.

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