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D.C. murders down, anti-LGBT hate crimes up

Preliminary data show hate crimes based on sexual orientation rose 19% in 2012

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Cathy Lanier, MPD, Metropolitan Police Department, gay news, Washington Blade
Cathy Lanier, MPD, Metropolitan Police Department, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and District Police Chief Cathy Lanier announced at a news conference on Thursday that the 88 homicides reported in the city in 2012 represent the lowest number of slayings within the city in 50 years.

Lanier noted that while robberies and sexual assaults increased in 2012, violent crimes made up just 19.6 percent of the total number of crimes, with “property crime” making up 84.4 percent of the total number of reported crimes in 2012.

Lanier didn’t include statistics on hate crimes in a crime data presentation she gave at the news conference. But preliminary data on hate crimes posted on the D.C. police website this week show hate crimes targeting victims based on their sexual orientation increased 19 percent, from 37 between January and November of 2011 to 44 between January and November of 2012.

The data show the number of hate crimes against transgender residents increased from 8 to 9 in the same 11-month period from 2011 to 2012, representing a 13 percent hike.

Police officials said hate crime data for December 2012 was being tabulated and would be released at a later date.

The total number of reported hate crimes in 2011 (from January through December) was 42 for the “sexual orientation” category and 11 for the category of “gender identity/expression,” according to the data shown on the police website.

The preliminary, 11-month figures for 2012 show that the city recorded a total of 78 hate crimes for each of the categories of victims – sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, ethnicity/national origin, race, religion, disability, political affiliation, and homelessness.

Of that total of 78, hate crimes targeting a victim because of his or her sexual orientation (44) comprised 56.4 percent of the total, the highest of all the categories. Race related hate crimes (12) came in second, at 15.3 percent, with gender identity and expression (9) coming in third, making up 11.6 percent of all reported hate crimes in D.C.

Hate crimes based on a victim’s religion (6) made up 7.7 percent of the 11-month total in 2012. Just one hate crime was reported so far in 2012 for each of the categories of disability and political affiliation. None was reported for the homelessness category in the 11-month period of 2012.

In his remarks at Thursday’s news conference, Gray said he was hopeful that his Project Empowerment program that provides job training for unemployed transgender people would lower the number of anti-trans hate crimes.

Transgender activists have said some of those participating in the job training program were forced to engage in street prostitution to survive prior to entering the program.

“If we can take some of the sense of need from people who feel like the only way they can survive is by engaging in street activity, the sale of sex, if you will – I think that’s going to reduce some of the hate crimes also because it’s not going to make people as vulnerable as they might have been,” Gray said.

“We’ve got a program started now…to try to improve the understanding of people who are transgender,” he said. “So I think in addition to working at it from a law enforcement perspective, we also need to work on it from the perspective of how we improve the conditions under which people who are transgender, for example, are living.”

Although the hate crime data for December 2012 have yet to be released, preliminary reports on the activities of the department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit show at least three possible anti-LGBT hate crimes took place in December.

Officials with the local group Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV) have said they believe the actual number of anti-LGBT hate crimes is significantly greater than the number reported because some LGBT victims choose not to report hate crimes.

Activists say some hate crime victims report the crime as an assault without informing police they were targeted for their sexual orientation or gender identity. In other cases, according to GLOV, a police officer many not recognize an assault or other crime as a hate crime and doesn’t record it as such on a police report.

Just one LGBT related murder took place in 2012 — the February 2012 stabbing death of transgender woman Deoni Jones, 23, at a bus stop in Northeast D.C. Police arrested District resident Gary Niles Montgomery, 55, for the crime less than two weeks later. Montgomery has since been indicted on first-degree murder while armed and is being held in jail while he awaits trial.
Police have listed the motive of the slaying as robbery rather than a hate crime.

Transcript follows:

Blade: Chief, can you say a little about hate crimes and where they fit into the overall crime statistics you presented today? Are they going up or down?

Chief Lanier: I don’t have any hate crime statistics with me. I’ll get them for you. We were staying pretty much even across the board for hate crimes. We did have some increases in different categories. But I have to get back to you with the specific categories. I’ll get it for you.

Mayor Gray: I think, Lou, if I could add a facet to that. I think you know that we worked hard to try to create a greater acceptance of people who are transgender, who often times are the victims of hate crimes in the District of Columbia. And if we can take some of the sense of need from people who feel like the only way they can survive is by engaging in street activity, the sale of sex, if you will — I think that’s going to reduce some of the hate crimes also because it’s not going to make people as vulnerable as they might have been.

We had a very successful year with our transgender efforts in the last 12 to 15 months. We had three cohorts to go through the Department of Employment Service’s Project Empowerment. We were able to get people jobs. We got a campaign started now, as I think you know, to try to improve the understanding of people who are transgender. So I think in addition to working at it from a law enforcement perspective, we also need to work on it from the perspective of how we improve the conditions under which people who are transgender, for example, are living.

“While we congratulate MPD and the city of Washington in reaching the lowest level of overall homicides in 50 years, the anti-LGBT violence numbers are still going up at an alarming rate and need to be addressed,” said A.J. Singletary, chair of GLOV.

“Even though the low homicide rate was the big story of the day, Chief Lanier rightly included data on other categories of crime” in her presentation at the news conference, Singletary said. “Hate crimes should have been included for comparison purposes as well. While the LGBT community is acutely aware of the violence we face on a daily basis in Washington, other citizens of D.C. as well as the mainstream media often aren’t aware of this large and seemingly ever-growing problem,” he said.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. brian

    January 4, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    Now why would Chief Lanier NOT want to publicly report anti-LGBT hate crimes stats to the Blade? How about the fact that those anti-LGBT hate crimes have gone up EVERY year… for 5 YEARS running? Or is it SIX years, now?

    These hate crimes are likely to be way UNDER-REPORTED by MPD, as well. Some of that is due to failure to report hate crimes assaults. Like sexual assaults, anti-LGBT hate crimes are notoriously under-reported– but for a variety of reasons, both victim and police-related.

    In the opinion of many, there is also little doubt that MPD is under-reporting anti-LGBT hate crimes– perhaps as a matter of quiet ‘policy’. We have seen chronic failures by initially-responding MPD officers to checkoff the ‘hate crimes box’ in police reports of case where obvious elements of anti-LGBT bias motivation existed.

    Then, only when concerned friends, relatives or other third parties called MPD’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU, “glue”)– note well, *AFTER* MPD’s initial report was taken– were the hate crimes cases amended by GLLU to reflect that.

    Imagine how many cases and victims were NOT able to pass MPD’s additional “squeaky wheel” policing test– simply because there was no concerned, knowledgeable third party to go to bat for the victim.

    Don’t report it, unless someone complains. This is just one way for police management to effectively skew police hate crimes statistics — so as not to embarrass said police management and/or the mayor of a city.

    But Lanier and Gray need to answer much tougher questions on a seeming discriminatory police treatment of anti-LGBT hate crimes in D.C., too.

    It’s not enough for us to ask whether any given horse is winning or losing a race at any given point. Obviously, it is their performances at the finish line that really matters.

    So how many anti-LGBT hate crimes perpetrators are actually being ARRESTED by MPD?

    How many VIOLENT CRIMINALS are getting away with their anti-LGBT hate crimes– free as birds– to spread the word to other haters that Lanier and Gray really won’t arrest you for violently bashing LGBT residents?

    Take just the cases from the last calendar year (2011)– after a year or more for MPD to investigate…

    — How many of those anti-LGBT cases have been closed by MPD with an arrest?
    — How many detectives’ hours were spent investigating those cases?
    — How many witnesses were interviewed?
    — How many MPD fliers, seeking the public’s help, were handed out to neighborhoods where the crimes occurred?

    LGBT residents of DC, as well as LGBT visitors to the nation’s capital, have a right (and NEED) to know why Mayor Gray and Chief Lanier are not keeping the streets of Washington DC safe for LGBT people.

  2. HRIVER

    January 6, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Gay men are responsible for the rise in antigay violence. The younger generation have become so effeminate that they have become targets. You are still men. Screaming down the streets paints a bullseye. Butch it up.

  3. Adrian Salsgiver

    January 10, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    It is long past time for the Gay Community to arm itself. All active duty gay service members should be required to carry concealed when off duty. Everybody else, who wants to protect themselves from violence in this way, should, as it is your God Given Right. It is protected by the Second Amendment of the US Constitution. Unfortunately, my friend Mary Cheh does not get this. It is the NOT part of Shall Not Be Infringed she does not understand.

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Local

D.C. area LGBTQ bars, eateries receive $100K COVID-19 relief grant

Pitchers, League of Her Own received NGLCC, Grubhub funds

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indoor dining, gay news, Washington Blade
(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The D.C. LGBTQ sports bar Pitchers and League of Her Own, its adjoining lesbian bar, are among the nation’s first LGBTQ bars that serve food as well as alcoholic beverages to receive a $100,000 COVID-19 relief grant under a $2 million Community Impact Grant Program.

The program, aimed at supporting LGBTQ-owned and LGBTQ-allied small businesses struggling from the pandemic, was launched in September as a joint project of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, which goes by the initials NGLCC, and the global online food delivery company Grubhub.

In a Tuesday announcement, NGLCC and Grubhub said Pitchers and League of Her Own, which operate as one business in adjoining buildings in D.C.’s Adams Morgan neighborhood, are among the first three recipients of $100,000 grants under the Community Impact Grant Program. The other two recipients are FOODE + Mercantile of Fredericksburg, Va., and Café Gabriela of Oakland, Calif.

“Following this initial round of recipients, more grants will be issued in late 2021 and early 2022,” the announcement by the two groups says. In an earlier announcement, the groups said the application period for the grants program took place from September through Oct. 12, and the grants would range in amounts from $5,000 to $100,000.

“The impact of COVID-19 has been debilitating for countless restaurant and bar owners, including the many LGBTQ+-owned restaurants across the country who have persisted through lockdowns, operational changes and labor supply shortages,” said NGLCC Co-Founder and President Justin Nelson. “We’re grateful to have partnered with Grubhub to offer real lifelines to support businesses throughout the nation,” Nelson said.

“Building community in a fun and safe place has been our mission since the very beginning,” said David Perruzza, the owner of Pitchers and League of Her Own. “We’re relieved and thankful for these funds, and are looking forward to more stable days ahead,” Perruzza said.

“As a trans masculine and queer immigrant person of color, I’ve worked hard and put all my love and energy into building a beautiful and welcoming space in Café Gabriela,” said owner Penny Baldado. “I’ve remained resilient through COVID, and this grant is the injection of funds that we need to continue along our journey to full recovery,” Baldado said.

The statement announcing the first three grant recipient says funds for the $2 million grant program were generated by Grubhub’s “Donate the Change” program of which NGLCC became a partner in June. Grubhub says the program asks customers receiving food delivered by Grubhub “to round out their order and donate the difference” to the charitable fund.

“COVID has turned the restaurant industry on its head the last 18 months, and at Grubhub, we’ve been working hard every day to support our restaurant partners across the country,” said Amy Healy, Grubhub’s vice president of government relations. “As the world starts to return to a new normal, we’re proud to partner with the NGLCC and provide these grants to LGBTQ+-owned and LGBTQ+ ally-owned restaurants across the country that are pillars of their communities.”

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Va. businessman apologizes for burning of rainbow flag poster

‘Shocked and horrified’: Ashburn incident caught on video

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Organizers of an event where a Pride symbol was burned say the incident was a misunderstanding.

The owner of a Virginia technology company that hosted a private Veterans Day party on the grounds of an Ashburn, Va., brewery in which a company employee used a flame-throwing device to ignite a rainbow flag poster said the selection of the poster was a mistake and he and his company have no ill will toward the LGBTQ community.

The Washington Blade learned about the poster burning from a customer of the Old Ox Brewery in Ashburn, where the incident took place on its outdoor grounds. The customer made a video of the incident with his cell phone and sent a copy of the video to the Blade.

The video, which includes an audio recording, shows a man using a hand-held flame-throwing device to ignite the rainbow poster, which was hanging from a cable and appeared to be mounted on cardboard or a thin sheet of wood. Bystanders can be heard laughing and cheering as the poster is set on fire.

The poster consisted of a variation of the LGBTQ Pride rainbow flag that included the word “love” configured from an upper white stripe on the rainbow symbol.

The customer who took the video, who has asked not to be identified, thought the decision to set the poster on fire was a sign of disrespect if not hatred toward a longstanding symbol of LGBTQ equality and pride.

Chris Burns, Old Ox Brewery’s president, shared that view, telling the Blade he and his staff were “shocked and horrified” when they learned later that a rainbow flag poster had been burned on the brewery’s grounds. Burns said Old Ox supports the LGBTQ community and participated in LGBTQ Pride month earlier this year.

He said the company that held the private party paid a fee to hold the event on the brewery’s grounds, but the brewery did not know a rainbow poster would be burned.

“I’m mortified that our event was interpreted in this way,” said Nate Reynolds, the founder and partner of Hypershift Technologies LLC, the Falls Church, Va.-based technology company that organized the Nov. 11 party at Old Ox Brewery. “I can assure you that ZERO ill-will or offense was meant,” Reynolds told the Blade in a Nov. 24 email.

“We held a small private party for a few clients, which included a demonstration of Elon Musk’s Boring Company ‘Not a Flamethrower,’” he said in his message. He was referring to one of billionaire businessman Elon Musk’s companies that specializes in boring through the ground to create tunnels for cars, trains, and other purposes. 

“After so many being isolated during COVID, we wanted to have an event that was lighthearted and to some small effect, silly,” Reynolds said in his message to the Blade.

According to Reynolds, in thinking about what should be used for “fodder” for the flame-thrower, he went to a Five Below discount store and purchased items such as stuffed animals and posters, including a “Space Jam” movie poster as well as what he thought was a poster of the British rock group The Beatles.

“When I pulled the Beatles poster out of the tube it was instead the ‘Love’ poster,” he said, referring to the rainbow flag poster the Blade asked him about in an earlier email.

“All I focused on was the ‘Love’ wording and not the rainbow and did not draw the conclusion that the poster was an icon that represents the LGBTQ community,” Reynolds said. “It was my own ignorance of not connecting the symbolism of the poster. If I had realized it was a symbol of the LGBTQ community, I would not have used it,” he said.

“I feel terrible, and I want to emphasize that I am solely responsible for this mistake – not the Old Ox Brewery,” he wrote in his message. “Nobody at Old Ox had anything to do with this activity.”

Reynolds added, “Hate has no place in my heart, and I sincerely apologize for any offense that could have been drawn from what I now realize was poor judgement on my part. I simply didn’t correlate this poster with the LGBTQ pride symbol.”  

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Before Reynolds issued his statement of apology, Burns, the Old Ox Brewery co-owner, told the Blade in an email he was “saddened and upset” over the rainbow poster burning on the grounds of his brewery.

“We do not wish to benefit from this event,” he said in his email message. “Therefore, Old Ox is donating 100% of the revenue generated from the private event to GLSEN.”

GLSEN is a national LGBTQ advocacy group that focuses on education and support for LGBTQ youth. Burns said Old Ox Brewery also donated proceeds from a Pride month event it organized earlier this year to GLSEN.

LGBTQ activists and organizations contacted by the Blade said they were unfamiliar with the variation of the rainbow flag with the word “love” that was the subject of the poster burning incident. The poster is available for sale at Five Below stores in the D.C. metropolitan area for $5.

Small print writings on the poster show it is produced by Trends International LLC, which describes itself on its website as “the leading publisher and manufacturer of licensed posters, calendars, stickers and social stationery products.” The Blade couldn’t immediately determine who designed the poster.

 The video of the poster burning incident can be viewed here:

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Fairfax schools returns LGBTQ-themed books in high school libraries

Review found ‘no pedophilia’ in texts as critics claimed

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(Book cover insert courtesy of Amazon)

The Fairfax County Public Schools announced on Tuesday that following a detailed review by two committees appointed by school officials it has returned two LGBTQ themed books to its high school libraries that had been temporarily withdrawn after being challenged by critics who claimed they included sexually explicit content inappropriate for students.

The two books, “Lawn Boy,” a novel by author Jonathan Evison, and “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” which is described as an illustrated autobiography by non-binary author Maia Kobabe, each contain descriptions of sexual acts.

But supporters of the books have argued that they have won praise by literary critics and, while describing intimate relationships, they tell stories that do not fall into the category of pornography.  

Fairfax County Public Schools, the name used for the county’s public school system, on Tuesday said in a statement that a thorough review of the books by two committees consisting of educators, school officials, parents and some students found that neither book contained content that could be considered to depict pedophilia as claimed by some parents and others opposing the two books.

School officials announced they had temporarily withdrawn the two books from school libraries following a Sept. 23 meeting of the Fairfax County School Board where strong objections to the two books were raised by parents.

“Two books that were subject to formal challenge have been deemed appropriate for high school readers following a two-month review process and will be reinstated to Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) libraries,” Tuesday’s statement by the school system says.

“The decision reaffirms FCPS’s ongoing commitment to provide diverse reading materials that reflect our student population, allowing every child an opportunity to see themselves reflected in literary characters,” the statement continues. “Both reviews concluded that the books were valuable in their potential to reach marginalized youth who may struggle to find relatable literary characters that reflect their personal journey,” the statement says.

The statement says the final decision to reinstate the books was made by Noel Klimenko, the Fairfax County Public Schools’ assistant superintendent for its Instructional Services Department.

The two books have received favorable reviews in various literary publications. Both have received the American Library Association’s Alex Award, an annual award that recognizes the year’s 10 books written for adults that the association says have a special appeal to young adults ages 12 through 18.

“The robust committee process took place over several weeks and considered whether the books flouted regulations by being obscene or harmful to juveniles as defined by the Code of Virginia,” the school system statement says. “The members also considered the work in line with an excerpt from the FCPS Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook pertaining to possessing obscene visual imagery as defined in the Code of Virginia,” the statement says.

“After careful consideration, neither books were deemed to have fallen foul of these regulations,” it concludes.

The decision by Fairfax school officials to reinstate the two books came about six weeks after more than 425 LGBTQ students and allies from over 30 Fairfax County public high schools sent a letter to the school board and the school system’s superintendent urging them to reinstate the two books.

The Pride Liberation Project, a coalition of LGBTQ and allied students in Fairfax County, organized the joint letter.

“Student representatives from over 30 schools, including nearly every high school in Fairfax County Public Schools, have signed this letter, and many of us are students of color, low-income, gender expansive and not out to our families and communities,” the letter states.

“We are writing to ask you to reject calls to remove Maia Kobabe’s ‘Gender Queer’ and Jonathan Evison’s ‘Lawn Boy’ from Fairfax County Public Schools libraries,” the letter says.

It points out that “hundreds of books in our schools already depict heterosexual relationships and physical intimacy,” and says singling out LGBTQ themed books with similar stories of intimacy for rejection is unfair.

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