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Union leaders among LGBT speakers at MLK rally

Anniversary March on Washington embraces LGBT community as ‘out and equal partner’

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Adrian Shanker, Equality Pennsylvania, civil rights, Martin Luther King III, gay news, Washington Blade

Pennsylvania gay rights leader Adrian Shanker (left), one of at least four LGBT people, including union leaders, scheduled to speak on Saturday at the 50th Anniversary March on Washington, with Martin Luther King III at a Philadelphia event earlier this month promoting the march. (Photo courtesy Equality Pennsylvania)

Union leaders Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, and Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, both out lesbians, will be among at least four LGBT rights advocates to speak on Saturday at the 50th anniversary commemoration of the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington.

Also confirmed as out gay speakers are Rev. MacArthur Flournoy, director of faith partnership and mobilization for the Human Rights Campaign, and Adrian Shanker, president of the statewide LGBT rights organization Equality Pennsylvania.

MacArthur Flournoy, gay news, Washington Blade

Rev. MacArthur Flournoy (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Other LGBT advocates were expected to speak at the Lincoln Memorial rally, but organizers of the event said they could not confirm additional speakers until an official list was released later this week.

“Fifty years later, our nation is also more diverse than ever,” said Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the nation’s largest civil rights organization, in discussing the 1963 march, in which famed civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

“And Saturday’s march will be a true reflection of that diversity,” said Henderson in a telephone news conference this week. “Women, who held no speaking roles at the original march, will play leading roles in Saturday’s event. Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Arab Americans will all be represented as well,” he said.

“And whereas Bayard Rustin, executive director of the 1963 march, was silenced because of his sexual orientation, the LGBT community has been embraced as an out and equal partner in Saturday’s event,” Henderson said.

Joining Henderson in speaking at the news conference were Chad Griffin, president of HRC; Sharon Lettman-Hicks, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, an LGBT organization; and Rev. Darlene Nipper, deputy executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Shanker, a marketing director for a company near Bethlehem, Pa., said he was honored to have received a letter from Martin Luther King III and Rev. Al Sharpton inviting him to speak at the event. King III is the eldest son of Martin Luther King Jr. and one of the lead organizers of the 50th anniversary march. Sharpton, president of the New York-based National Action Network (NAN), is another of the lead march organizers.

Shanker has worked on LGBT rights initiatives in Pennsylvania for at least 10 years. This year he said he has followed in the footsteps of his grandfatherAlbert Shanker, who, as a teacher’s union leader, helped arrange for thousands of teachers to travel to Washington for the 1963 march.

He said that as part of his organizing for the 50th Anniversary March he recently spoke at an event in Philadelphia promoting the march at which King III also spoke.

“I guess some of the people who were there thought I was a good enough speaker that they wanted me to speak at the march,” Shanker said. “I do a lot of speaking and I do a lot of organizing in Pennsylvania…But I certainly wasn’t expecting an invitation to speak at the march. It’s a major honor.”

He added, “This is a time when we can really make it clear that the LGBT movement is focused on the broader civil rights agenda and is part of that broader civil rights agenda. So I’m very excited to be among many speakers at this event.”

Weingarten and Henry have been vocal supporters of LGBT equality as part of their work in the U.S. labor movement. The unions they head have endorsement LGBT rights, including marriage equality.

Flournoy of HRC is a theologian, author, and preacher who has worked on civil rights issues for more than 30 years. He served as Faith Director for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the group that led the successful ballot campaign last fall for Maryland’s same-sex marriage law.

In an open letter released on Monday, HRC, NBJC, the Task Force and Pride At Work, an LGBT arm of the AFL-CIO, along with 36 other LGBT advocacy organizations declared their strong support for the 50th anniversary commemoration March on Washington.

“History was made that day 50 years ago when thousands came to Washington, D.C. to lift up their voices in support of civil rights, employment protection, and an end to racial segregation in our nation’s schools,” the open letter says. “On Aug. 24, 2013, we will rededicate ourselves to that dream of equality and justice.”

The letter also notes that the LGBT rights movement celebrated historic victories in the past year, including voter approval of marriage equality in several states and the Supreme Court’s rulings striking down a key provision of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in the nation’s largest state.

But the open letter says that LGBT people – like other minorities and immigrants – continue to face discrimination in employment and other areas, and that gays and transgender Americans continue to be victimized by violence based solely on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Working together, this rally and mobilization are an opportunity to lift up the voices of LGBT people as part of a broad progressive agenda for social and economic justice,” the letter says. “Please join us on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, at 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. in Washington, D.C. at the D.C. War Memorial at 900 Independence Ave., S.W.

The D.C. War Memorial, located across Independence Ave. from the Martin Luther King Memorial, is being used as the starting point for an LGBT contingent in one of many feeder marches that will culminate at the Lincoln Memorial, where the main rally was scheduled to be held.

At least eight LGBT-related events, including forums and receptions, were scheduled to take place this week and next week in association with the 50th Anniversary March on Washington.

Several of the events will honor Bayard Rustin, whom LGBT activists such as National Black Justice Coalition official Mandy Carter of North Carolina have described as an unrecognized gay hero in the U.S. civil rights movement.

At one of the events Tuesday night, D.C. gay activist Paul Kuntzler was one of four panelists to reflect on their participation in the 1963 March on Washington. Kuntzler told a gathering at D.C.’s Martin Luther King Library that he marched with a contingent of United Auto Workers Union members from Detroit, where he lived before moving to Washington.

March on Washington 
LGBT-related events

Friday, Aug. 23


  • Celebrating the Legacy of A. Philip Randolph & Bayard Rustin 44th Annual A. Philip Randolph Institute National Conference. 
8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
 Hyatt Regency Hotel. 
400 New Jersey Ave., N.W.
  • What is the Unfinished Business for the LGBT Community? 
A Conversation and Reception on the Heels of the Anniversary of the March on Washington. 
4:30 – 6:30 p.m.
 Rayburn House Office Building
 Foyer
  • Welcoming Reception for LGBT Participants 50th Anniversary March on Washington
. 6–10 p.m. 
Us Helping Us HIV/AIDS services organization. 
3636 Georgia Ave., N.W.

Saturday, Aug. 24


  • LGBT March contingent 
assembles at D.C. Statehood Rally
. D.C. War Memorial (North side of Independence Ave. between World War II Memorial and Lincoln Memorial). 
Mayor Vincent Gray to speak 
8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
  • 50th Anniversary March on Washington rally
speakers and entertainers to be announced later in week
10 a.m. – 6 p.m.,
Lincoln Memorial

Monday, Aug. 26

A Tribute to Bayard Rustin & the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. Sponsored by National Black Justice Coalition, American Federation of Teachers, A. Philip Randolph Institute. 
6– 9 p.m., 
Lincoln Theater,
 1215 U St., N.W.

Wednesday, Aug. 28

The Life and Legacy of Bayard Rustin: How an African American gay man became the lead organizer of the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington. 
Panel discussion and reception, hosted by the Center for Black Equity 
and sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign,
 7 p.m.
 in the HRC Equality Forum Hall, 
1640 Rhode Island Ave., N.W.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Tom

    August 21, 2013 at 10:20 am

    It’s a sad day when our community ends up being represented by labor union leaders at a national event.

  2. Kurt

    August 22, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    @Tom, Dr. King would not have thought so.

    • rbockman

      August 23, 2013 at 1:30 pm

      King must be twisting in his grave, 50 years later his people, the people he died for are still living in their ghettos, by choice, committing violent crime and anti-social behavior.

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D.C. police seek help in finding missing gay man

Rick Woods last seen in Georgetown on July 14

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Richard G. ‘Rick’ Woods, 65, was last seen in the 1600 block of Wisconsin Avenue, N.W., in Georgetown on July 14.

D.C. police have issued an announcement asking the public for help in finding Richard G. ‘Rick’ Woods, 65, who was last seen in the 1600 block of Wisconsin Avenue, N.W., in Georgetown on July 14.

Friends who know Woods, who is gay, say he has operated for many years an antique wood furniture restoration business at various locations in D.C. The most recent location of his business, according to an online listing, has been at 1408 Wisconsin Ave., N.W., a short distance from where he was last seen. 

The police announcement says Woods was reported missing to police on Friday, July 23, but the announcement doesn’t identify the person who reported him missing.

 “Richard G. Woods is described as a white male, 6’O” tall, 210 pounds, with brown and gray hair and brown eyes,” the police announcement says. “His clothing description is unknown,” according to the announcement.

The announcement says the case is being investigated by the department’s Youth and Family Services Division. Anyone with information about Woods’ whereabouts is asked to call the division at 202-576-6768 or to call the police Command Center at 202-727-9099. 

“Rick is known by many in our community,” said John Fanning, a Logan Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner and longtime local LGBTQ rights advocate. “He’s owned an antique wood restoration business for years,” according to Fanning, who said he and others who know Woods are hopeful that he will be found soon and unharmed. 

A D.C. police spokesperson said the police incident report for the Woods missing person case wasn’t immediately available.

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Two injured in gunfire outside crowded 14th Street restaurants

Witnesses say 20 shots fired near Blade, Whitman-Walker offices

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Police are looking for three suspects in connection with Thursday’s shooting.

D.C. police are seeking the public’s help in identifying at least three suspects involved in a shooting in which two men were wounded shortly after 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 22, on the 1700 block of 14th Street, N.W. where the offices of the Washington Blade and Whitman-Walker Health, the LGBTQ supportive health center, are located.

The shooting occurred while dozens of people were dining at restaurants along the bustling street in the heart of the city’s Logan Circle nightlife area.

Police released a video showing two men – one wearing a white hooded sweater or sweatshirt and the other wearing a dark colored similar hooded shirt running along the street and entering the front and rear passenger doors of a black car double parked on the street that police described as an older model Honda Civic with D.C. license plates.

The video shows the car driving away at a fast speed with a third person driving the vehicle.

“Detectives from the Metropolitan Police Department’s Third District seek the public’s assistance in locating suspects and a vehicle in reference to an Assault with Intent to Kill (Gun) offense,” a statement released by D.C. police says.

“At approximately 8:20 p.m., members of the Third District heard the sounds of gunshots and responded to the listed location,” the statement says. “Upon arrival, members located two adult male victims, both conscious and breathing, suffering from gunshot wounds,” according to the statement. “DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services responded to the scene and transported the victims to area hospitals for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.”

The shooting incident took place at a time when many city residents and police were on edge following the fatal shooting of a 6-year-old girl on July 16 in Southeast D.C. and the firing of gunshots last Saturday outside Washington Nationals Stadium during a game, which prompted people inside the stadium, who heard the gunshots, to duck for cover.

D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee, who was accompanied by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser at a news conference at the scene of the shooting on Thursday night, said investigators believe one of the two men wounded by the gunfire was a target of the shooting. Contee said police believe the second victim was hit in the crossfire.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re doing everything we can as an entire system here in the District of Columbia to hold offenders accountable when these things happen in our community,” Contee said. “This is unacceptable. That’s the bottom line. It is totally unacceptable behavior,” he said.

“I’m asking the community to take a look at these videos,” he told reporters at the press conference. “If you know the person or the vehicle or somebody who is in that – there is one individual with a very distinctive hoody that he was wearing – please look at that very closely,” he said. “We’re asking for the community’s help.”

When asked by a reporter to comment on expressions of outrage by members of the community over the widespread outbreak of gun violence in the city, Bowser said she shares that concern.

“Well, I’m outraged. The chief is outraged. And the community should be outraged,” the mayor said. “What we saw tonight and unfortunately what we saw over the last several days is an illegal firearm brazenly used on D.C. streets,” Bowser said.

“And we know that our investigators and detectives are going to track down every lead. Our citizens have already been helpful in supplying leads and video and anything else that they saw so that we can get these individuals off the street and hold them accountable,” the mayor said.

Witnesses have said the Thursday night shooting on 14th Street reportedly occurred at the intersection of Riggs Street outside the Mexicue Restaurant, which is located at 1720 14th Street, N.W. The Blade office is located just a few doors down and Whitman-Walker’s Elizabeth Taylor building is a short distance away across the street at 14th and R Street, N.W.

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Suspect charged in murder of trans woman in PG County apartment

District Heights man apprehended in Arlington following unrelated arrest

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P.G. Police charged DeAllen Davonta Price with first-degree and second-degree murder and related charges in connection with Taya Ashton’s death.

Prince George’s County, Md., Police announced on Wednesday that homicide investigators identified and filed murder charges against a 27-year-old District Heights, Md., man for the July 17 homicide of transgender woman Taya Ashton, 20, who was found shot to death in her apartment in nearby Suitland, Md.

In a statement, P.G. Police said they charged DeAllen Davonta Price of the 6400 block of Hil Mar Drive in the unincorporated area of District Heights with first-degree and second-degree murder and related charges in connection with Ashton’s death.

According to the statement, while P.G. police detectives identified Price as a suspect in the Ashton murder, Arlington County, Va. Police arrested him on July 18 on an unrelated robbery charge after he attempted to flee from Arlington and Metro Transit police inside a train tunnel at the Pentagon City Metro Station.

“With the assistance of Metro Transit Police, Prince George’s County Police detectives and a K9 officer searched those tracks and recovered a weapon that’s now been linked to Taya’s murder,” the P.G. Police statement says.

“Price remains in custody in Virginia pending extradition to Prince George’s County,” the statement says. “The motive remains under investigation,” says the statement, but it adds, “Detectives have uncovered no evidence suggesting Taya’s murder was due to her gender identity.”

The announcement by P.G. police of Price’s arrest came on the same day that family members and friends of Taya Ashton held a vigil to honor her life at 4 p.m. on Wednesday at River Terrace Park in Northeast D.C. along the banks of the Anacostia River, which is part of the neighborhood were Ashton grew up.

Veteran D.C. LGBTQ rights advocate Phil Pannell, who attended and spoke at the vigil, said that in addition to family members and friends of Ashton’s, those who spoke included Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy; D.C. Council member Trayon White (D-Ward 8), D.C. transgender rights advocate Earline Budd, and numerous community leaders in D.C. and P.G. County. Budd said more than 200 people turned out for the vigil.

At the conclusion of the vigil, many of the participants drove in a lengthy caravan of cars to the apartment building in the Suitland section of Prince George’s County, where Ashton lived and where her life ended, to further honor her.

“The nearby streets were completely filled with people coming out for Taya and her family,” Budd said.

A three-page charging document filed in Prince George’s County District Court by P.G. Police on Wednesday, July 21, provides a detailed account of how homicide detectives used cell phone records and high-tech firearm ballistics techniques to link Price to the murder.

P.G. police said homicide detectives began an intense investigation into the murder almost immediately after family members who discovered Ashton’s body at her apartment on July 17 called police. Ashton’s grandfather, Stuart Anderson, who said Taya Ashton’s status as a transgender woman was accepted by her family, told the Blade that family members who arrived at the apartment could not find any evidence of a forced entry, leading them to believe the assailant responsible for the murder may have been someone Ashton knew and invited into her home.

The charging document says that although Ashton’s phone was missing from the apartment and presumed stolen at the time her body was found, detectives obtained her phone number from family members and used it to discover through the tracing of her calls and text message records that she and Price communicated with each other by text or calls between Friday, July 16, one day prior to the murder, and at 11:42 p.m. Saturday, July 17.

“This is the last call that the Decedent makes or answers before being found deceased,” the charging document states.

According to the charging document, earlier in the evening of July 17 Ashton and a friend of hers exchanged text messages in which Ashton wrote, “My dude is on his way” which the friend understood to mean a sexual encounter was expected to take place. A short time later Ashton told her friend in a follow-up text message “that a sexual encounter occurred,” the charging document says.

“As the investigation continued, it was discovered that Defendant was arrested on 07/18/2021 at approximately 1642 hours [4:42 p.m.] by the Arlington County Police Department for a theft,” the charging document in support of Price’s arrest says.

It says that when Arlington Police initially attempted to apprehend Price, “he jumped off of a platform and ran into a subway tunnel towards the Pentagon Metro Station.” The document says he hid inside the tunnel for about two hours before being arrested after he walked out of the tunnel into the station.

At the time of his arrest, the charging document says, Price was in possession of a Gucci cross strap bag with distinct markings that Ashton’s family members reported was missing from her apartment at the time her body was found.

A short time later, P.G. County homicide investigators, who arrived on the scene, conducted a search of the train tunnel and found a black semi-automatic .40 caliber Smith and Wesson handgun, the charging document states.

It says that that a police firearm expert, after examining the gun, “was able to conclude that the fired .40 caliber cartridge casing recovered from the scene [of the murder] and the fired projectile recovered from the Decedent’s body were fired from the Smith and Wesson handgun bearing serial #HTU3274 recovered from the area the Defendant hid from police.” 

The document states that when questioned after his arrest, Price waived his Miranda rights to withhold comment and obtain representation from an attorney and acknowledged that police had obtained access to his correct cell phone number.

“He also admitted to being sexually intimate with the Decedent and stated that he has known the Decedent for approximately three months,” the charging document continues. “He then admitted to being at the Decedent’s apartment the night of the murder and being sexually intimate with the Decedent that night,” it says.

“Based on the aforementioned facts, the evidence indicates that the Defendant is responsible for shooting and killing the Decedent,” the document concludes. The document does not state whether detectives asked Price whether he committed the murder or whether or not he admitted or denied fatally shooting Taya Ashton.

An arrest warrant that accompanies the charging document says that in addition to being charged with first-degree and second-degree murder, police charged Price with Assault-First Degree; Firearm Use/Felony Crime of Violence; Assault-Second Degree; Handgun on Person; and Loaded Handgun on Person.

Court records show that Price had been arrested in Virginia and Maryland several times prior to his latest arrests beginning in 2012 on charges that include illegal possession of a firearm, armed robbery, misdemeanor theft, and grand larceny.

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