December 26, 2012 at 3:00 pm EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Year in review: Anti-LGBT violence triggers D.C. marches
gay news, gay politics dc, Muriel Bowser, Jim Graham, Jeffrey Richardson

Public officials joined D.C. residents and other supporters in calling for an end to anti-LGBT violence in a march through the streets of Columbia Heights on Mar. 20. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Two marches and a candlelight vigil were among the actions taken by LGBT activists in response to at least seven widely reported incidents of anti-LGBT violence in 2012, including the murder of a transgender woman at a D.C. bus stop.

More than 200 people turned out for a candlelight vigil on Feb. 7 at the site of a city bus stop at East Capitol Street and Sycamore Road, N.E., to mourn the loss of transgender woman Deoni Jones, 23. Jones was stabbed to death while sitting at the bus stop five days earlier in an incident that police said could have been motivated by anti-trans hatred.

At least three citizens came forward with information that enabled D.C. police to arrest 55-year-old Gary Niles on a charge of second-degree murder while armed in connection with the case. While horrified over the Jones murder, activists and the victim’s family members expressed optimism over the help in solving the case by witnesses who lived in the community where the crime occurred.

But less than a month later, three more incidents of anti-LGBT violence took place within a few days of each other, including the shooting of a gay man in a Columbia Heights restaurant. The incidents prompted more than 700 people to participate in a rally and march through the streets of Columbia Heights near where two of the incidents occurred.

Police arrested a female suspect in the non-fatal shooting inside the International House of Pancakes restaurant, which they said occurred minutes after the victim was called anti-gay names. The second incident, which occurred on Georgia Avenue, N.W., a few blocks away from the I-HOP restaurant, involved a group of about five unidentified males who attacked and assaulted a 29-year-old gay man as he was walking to his nearby home. The victim said the attackers shouted anti-gay names as they punched, kicked, and dragged him along the street. He suffered a broken jaw and serious facial injuries. The case remains unsolved.

The attack on a transgender woman, who didn’t suffer serious injuries, also remains unsolved.

The other incidents include a non-fatal stabbing of a gay man outside the Howard Theatre in July by assailants he said called him anti-gay names; the beating of a gay male couple as they walked toward their apartment in the city’s Eckington neighborhood that same month; and the beating in October of a Latino gay man, which also occurred as he was walking to his apartment in Columbia Heights.

Officials with the local group Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence and the D.C. Trans Coalition have said police have improved their outreach to the LGBT community over the past few years, but they said more work is needed by the city to change attitudes that lead to violence against LGBT people.

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

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