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Vandalism of Blade boxes, theft of papers continues

Excrement placed in boxes in Dupont Circle, 17th Street area



Washington Blade, Blade box, vandalism, vandals, hate crime, gay news, newspaper
Washington Blade, Blade box, vandalism, vandals, hate crime, gay news, newspaper

Vandals appear to have stepped up their attacks on Blade distribution boxes. (Washington Blade photo)

Unidentified perpetrators are emptying some of the Washington Blade’s newspaper distribution boxes of papers on the day they are delivered and vandalizing others by smearing human excrement on the papers and the inside surfaces, preventing readers from gaining access to the Blade in locations throughout the city.

Blade publisher Lynne Brown said that while the bulk theft of the papers and the vandalism of the boxes have been taking place for the past two years, the frequency and intensity of the incidents appear to have increased during Thanksgiving week.

“We restock and clean as fast as possible,” Brown said. “But there’s a loss of property. This is our product. It’s being destroyed,” she said. “And the confidence of our readers is being challenged.”

John Ryan, co-owner of Media Point LLC, a newspaper distribution company that delivers the Blade each week to the street boxes and other locations, such as bars, bookstores and restaurants, said his drivers remove the boxes soiled by excrement and take them to a company warehouse, where they are steam cleaned.

Ryan said during the past month or two, the unidentified perpetrator or perpetrators have repeatedly targeted Blade boxes on 17th Street outside some of the neighborhood’s popular bars and restaurants, including the gay bar Colbalt at 17th and R streets, N.W.

“I don’t know how they are getting it into the box, but it’s the fifth time with these boxes that we’ve had to pull them off the street and clean them and put them back,” he said in referring to the boxes smeared with excrement.

“We’re at wit’s end as far as that goes because that is a nasty job as you can imagine,” he said.

“And three days later they’re doing it again, and we have to pick them back up,” said Media Point supervisor Richard Goldsmith, who is in charge of the Blade distribution operation.

D.C. police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump said earlier this year that the department is “very committed” to addressing reports of vandalism of newspaper boxes. But Crump and other police officials have said the U.S. Attorney’s office has determined that it’s not a crime to take a free newspaper, even large quantities of the paper.

Maryland and other states have passed laws that make it a crime to remove large quantities of free newspapers if the intent is to deprive others from reading them or obtaining them. D.C. has yet to adopt such a law, police officials have said.

Brown said that with the vandalism appearing to be increasing, she plans to more aggressively report the incidents to police at the time the delivery drivers discover the damaged boxes.

According to Brown and Ryan, in addition to the excrement smearing, vandals have started to smash the plastic window on the boxes and break off a clip that holds one copy of the paper against the window so readers can read the headlines and determine if a new issue has been delivered.

Ryan and Goldsmith said they take steps to repair and replace the broken windows and clips on the boxes as fast as they can, but in certain locations the vandals return and break them almost as soon as the repaired boxes are put back on the street.

“If a hate crime is a factor, one of my concerns is what if a reader is taking a Blade out and this hateful, spiteful person who’s kicking out the window on the box decides to attack a Blade reader,” Brown said.



Virginia Beach high school students stage walkouts to support transgender rights

City’s school board approved policy to out trans students to parents



Transgender flags (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key.)

Students at five Virginia Beach high schools on Friday staged walkouts in support of transgender rights.

The walkout is in response to the Virginia Beach School Board approving policy 5-31, which the Pride Liberation Project says will require schools to out trans students to their parents.

Students have been organizing walkouts across the state since Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin earlier this year announced new guidelines for trans and nonbinary students.

“Students like me aren’t going to be able to talk to our teachers if we’re constantly worried about our school officials calling home to forcibly out us,” AJ, a trans Kellam High School Student, told the Pride Liberation Project.

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District of Columbia

Pepco, Exelon announce $2.7 million in funding for four minority-owned businesses

‘It’s good business sense to bring more people to the table’



Pepco and Exelon held a press conference Friday to announce four recipients of $2.7 million in investments. (Photo courtesy Exelon)

Pepco and Exelon announced a $2.7 million investment in four minority-owned businesses on Friday.

“Today’s been a long time coming,” said Pepco Vice President of Governmental and External Affairs Valencia McClure.

Pepco’s parent company, Exelon, launched the Racial Equity Capital Fund (RECF) in 2022 to expand capital access to diverse businesses. This latest $2.7 million investment is just a portion of RECF’s $36 million in funding.

At the announcement, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser spoke about the other ways Pepco and Exelon have “put their money where their mouth is” through their partnership with the D.C. Infrastructure Academy. She reported that all 22 of the residents that graduated from the program last week have a job offer from Pepco.

“We know that is not just a job, but a career,” she said to the crowd’s applause. “We know that working together, we can invest in D.C. residents, provide opportunity, and ensure that our D.C. businesses are a part of D.C.’s growing prosperity.”

The four minority businesses that received funding were Gemini Energy Solutions, Public Sector Solutions Group, CJR Development Partners, and Escalate.

“It’s good business sense to bring more people to the table,” said fund recipient Nicole Cober, CJR Development’s Principle Managing Partner.

Gemini Energy Solutions, which is Black owned, received $1 million, the most of the four companies. Its mission is to equitably scale energy efficiency to marginalized communities. For the founder and CEO Anthony Kinslow II, this investment means that he is able to get paid and advance the work of his organization.

“We are now able to accelerate the work in our software and technology development,” he said. “What we were going to do in two years, we are now going to do in six months.”

For Escalate, a workforce development platform focused on frontline worker retention, the funding means that it will be able to double the pay for frontline workers.

Public Sector Solutions Group CEO Darryl Wiggins emphasized that this investment was not just ‘charity’ work, but mission-driven work.

“The principle and the intent is greater than the money we receive,” he said. Public Sector Solutions is Black owned.

Public Sector Solutions Group received a $600,000 debt investment; CJR Development, a minority and woman-owned small business, received a $600,000 debt investment; and Escalate, a majority Black and woman-owned company, received a $500,000 equity investment.

Exelon launched the RECF in partnership with RockCreek, one of the world’s largest diverse-owned global investment firms, in 2022. The RECF expands capital access to diverse businesses so they can create more jobs, grow their companies and reinvest in their neighborhoods and communities, according to a statement from Exelon.

New RECF applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Interested businesses may apply online or contact RockCreek at [email protected] for more information.

(Photo courtesy Exelon)
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Comings & Goings

Armstrong recognized with Lifetime Achievement Award



Lynden C. Armstrong

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].

Congratulations to Lynden C. Armstrong on his Lifetime Achievement award from the Congressional Management Foundation in recognition of his exemplary public service in Congress. 

Upon receiving the award Armstrong said, “This recognition is not just a personal achievement, but a testament to the unwavering dedication and hard work of colleagues and mentors who have been with me on this journey. I’ve dedicated my entire career to public service within the Senate, where recognition isn’t the primary motivation for our work, making this recognition even more humbling.” He is currently Deputy Assistant Senate Sergeant at Arms and Chief Information Officer.  

Armstrong started his career with Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), where he rose to Deputy Chief of Staff in his more than 13-year stint. In 2004, during his tenure with Domenici, amid a debate on the Federal Marriage Amendment, Armstrong became a co-founder of the Gay, Lesbian and Allies Senate Staff (GLASS) Caucus. In 2014, he moved to the Sergeant at Arms CIO organization, where he established a new department within the CIO that was crafted to engage Senate offices in comprehending and harnessing technologies provided by the SAA. 

Lynden has previously served as Chief Clerk on the U.S. Senate, Committee on Rules and Administration, and with the U.S. Senate, Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, as Deputy Inaugural Coordinator, 2012–2013.  In that role among other responsibilities, he served as civilian liaison to the National Special Security Event Executive Steering Committee and subcommittees, including the Capitol, USCP, Crowd Management, Public Relations, Transportation, and credentialing, and as liaison to the Joint Task Force – National Capital Region. 

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