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D.C. man sentenced to 8 years for anti-gay attack

Pleads guilty to brutal assault with metal pole

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hate crime, gay news, Washington Blade
hate crime, gay news, Washington Blade

David Morris, 33, pled guilty on May 14 to a charge of assault with intent to kill with a hate crime designation.

A D.C. Superior Court judge on July 8 sentenced a Northeast Washington man to eight years in prison for attacking and severely beating a male co-worker who he believed was making a “sexual overture toward him,” according to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The statement says David Morris, 33, pled guilty on May 14 to a charge of assault with intent to kill with a hate crime designation.

“This criminal’s prejudices drove him to punch, stomp and use a metal pole to beat his co-worker,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Vincent H. Cohen. “He will spend the next eight years in prison as punishment for this brutal assault,” Cohen said in a statement. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to prioritize the prosecution of criminals who express their hate through violence.”

The U.S. Attorney’s statement says that had the case gone to trial, prosecutors would have presented evidence showing that Morris and the victim, 52, were friends and co-workers at the time of the incident. The statement says that on the evening of March 14, 2015, the two men were in Morris’s apartment in the 200 block of 61st St., N.E., drinking alcohol.

“Morris interpreted an action from the victim as a homosexual overture,” the statement says. “He became enraged and threw the victim out of his apartment and down the hallway stairs, toward the first floor of the building.”

Shortly after dragging him outside the building Morris, while wearing boots, “stomped on the victim’s head” and repeatedly punched him in the head and upper body while the victim remained on the ground. At one point Morris returned inside and came back out with a metal pole and struck the victim with it multiple times in the head and upper body, the statement says.

The victim was hospitalized for two weeks while being treated for severe head and facial injuries that required multiple stitches to treat. He will soon undergo facial surgery to attempt to reverse lingering damage and the loss of feeling in the right side of his face, the U.S. Attorney’s statement says.

Court records show that Morris was held without bond since the time of his arrest on March 19.

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25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. Brian's Ions

    July 10, 2015 at 6:25 am

    Why does Mayor Bowser continue to cover up news of violent anti-LGBT hate crimes in DC? What other anti-LGBT violence is Bowser and her secret police hiding from us?

    How come Mayor Bowser, Chief Lanier– or at least GLLU’s new Supervisor, Sergeant Hawkins– did not report to us news about this case, and its progress thereafter, from the time it first happened back in March?

    Was GLOV or its apparent benefactor, The DC Center, informed in another secretive communication from MPD?

    Police and government corruption can work in subtle ways. Let’s hope GLOV and TDCC haven’t unwittingly become mere PR mouthpieces for a secretive MPD under Bowser’s political control.

    “Mariner appeared to be the first to announce Hawkins’ appointment to the broader community, saying he learned about it through a police department email sent to a private list of local LGBT organizations and activists that monitor police issues, including anti-LGBT hate crimes.”

    http://www.washingtonblade.com/2015/03/10/trans-woman-named-head-d-c-gay-police-unit/#sthash.1tf8h3RO.dpuf

  2. EckingtonWash DC

    July 10, 2015 at 7:35 am

    My god! Terrible!

  3. lnm3921

    July 11, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    This is a perfect example of why I think having gay places where gay people can congregate and socialize like gay specific bars is so important. We need to be able to go places where we can feel safe to be ourselves and express interest in other men without fear of a violent reaction or scorn.

    The last thing I need is to have to walk on eggshells around other men, second guessing whether they are gay or not and if simply checking them out will get me into unwanted problems with them or others.

    I don’t feel comfortable going into any establishment and dancing with another man let alone expressing overt affection like kissing. I don’t think you can do that anywhere you want without having someone come out as offended or disgusted by it. At very least, you will get uncomfortable stares.

    • SincerelyYours88

      July 18, 2015 at 2:26 pm

      I don’t believe checking another man out is the problem. However, inappropriately touching another man that you know isn’t gay in his most private places just may be. Especially when the man whom is doing the touching is claiming to be married to a woman!

      • lnm3921

        July 18, 2015 at 4:32 pm

        Checking out another man who doesn’t want to be checked out by you can be a problem. It depends on the man. I’ve seen quite a few violent reactions, dirty looks and intimidating gestures in response to just that on a personal level on the street or other non-gay venues! Instead of ignoring your stares they stare right back at you so you get the impression they are cruising you back so you stare even more. Then it ends up with a homophobic outburst and threat!

        The point is how do I know if he isn’t gay let alone married if I meet him outside of a gay bar? I don’t and I shouldn’t have to worry about that. Heck you even have men that say they are straight working at gay bars who get angry if you flirt with them. Why work at a gay bar then?

        As for what was inappropriate touching, I wasn’t there neither were you so it’s a matter of how you interpret things but even if it was inappropriate touching and he was married that will NEVER justify the brutal violent reaction the gay man got! A simple NO I’m not gay and don’t touch me should have sufficed!

        Some gay men think because of porn movies that they can seduce a straight guy so maybe they fool themselves. How many movies don’t depict men who are married to women playing around with men? Heck it used to be like that before we could be out!

        Some men still have wives but claim to be Bi and play around with men on the side! You see it on sex internet sites all the time.

        • SincerelyYours88

          July 18, 2015 at 4:42 pm

          Yeah, but this incident didn’t happen in a public place…it took place inside the defendants home. And they both knew abt each other’s personal lives (relationship status, etc.) so the victim was well aware of the defendants sexual preference.

          • lnm3921

            July 18, 2015 at 6:09 pm

            In my own personal experience, most heterosexual men do no want to have anything to do with you once they know you are gay. I’ve had “friends” tell me they have nothing in common with me and didn’t want to socialize with me anymore especially on a one on one.

            While a guy might invite you out for a drink after work at a local pub or restaurant, it’s kind of unusual to be invited over a person’s house and be alone with him. Maybe the victim assumed the guy was bi-curious?

            Aren’t straight men sometimes guilty of assuming women want sex when they invite them over their homes?

            We can speculate ad nauseum but never know all the variables or issues that led up to this between them.
            The article said the defendant interpreted a gesture as sexual. It said nothing about specifics such as touching him in his private parts. You’re assuming that.

            Personally, unless another guy makes the first move, I never go there. But everyone is different and sees things slightly different.

          • SincerelyYours88

            July 18, 2015 at 7:03 pm

            Not assuming at all! The defendant is actually my fiance’ so I heard the story and arguments in court first hand. Just wanted the whole truth to be out since the public is only receiving one side… Unfortunately!

          • lnm3921

            July 18, 2015 at 7:48 pm

            Oh, I see now, he’s your fiancé so naturally you’re giving the public the whole “unbiased” truth from his perspective only. His side of it was never related in court. Who are you kidding?

            Were you in the room when all this happened? Did you witness what happened between them or is that what you were told? You actually saw the victim put his hands on his private parts?

            Regardless of how he was touched, your finance’s reaction was overkill and completely unacceptable. Kick him out (not literally) of the apartment but dragging him down the stairs and stomping on the victim’s head is WRONG. Nothing justifies that kind of violence short of defending yourself from murder which wasn’t the case. You should be grateful your fiancé didn’t kill him! Where would he be then?

            Stop trying to make the victim the one at fault. We are responsible for our own actions and how we react to situations in life. If it was road rage and he beat someone then it’s okay? If someone made a pass to you including groping you and he beat them harshly, that’s okay?

          • SincerelyYours88

            July 18, 2015 at 8:15 pm

            Not saying the attack is okay! Just clearing the record on the whole “gay hate” thing.

          • lnm3921

            July 18, 2015 at 8:28 pm

            Again, there is an element of gay hate when you have to stomp someone’s head with your boot. Throwing him out and dragging him down the stairs was more than enough!

            I see nothing that warrants such violence other than a homophobic visceral reaction. If another woman had groped his parts against his will would he have stomped on her head despite her knowing that he was engaged to you?

            Can you read your fiancé’s mind, too? How do you know what it was?

          • Marlon Alston

            September 17, 2015 at 4:44 pm

            We’re talking about another man that groped him, not a woman.

          • lnm3921

            September 17, 2015 at 7:22 pm

            I know what the hell we’re talking about. The fact that it’s another man doesn’t justify that kind of violent of response! Nothing will ever justify it! You want to be violent then you pay the price for it! What part of saying no and get out of my apartment is so hard?

            My point which obviously you missed is that if the attention was unwanted but made by a woman, she wouldn’t have had her he’d stomped on!

            If you did that to a woman should she hit you on the head with a baseball bat or cut it off like Lorena Bobbit did?

          • Marlon Alston

            April 25, 2016 at 4:32 pm

            Yes!

          • Marlon Alston

            September 17, 2015 at 4:41 pm

            I do agree that the violence went to far, but I would kick a guys ass too if he decided to sexually touch me. We are responsible for our own actions, and if the gay guy would’ve kept his hands to himself none of this would’ve ever happened.

          • lnm3921

            September 17, 2015 at 7:31 pm

            And you would go to jail for it rightfully, too if you did! You are responsible for your own actions.

            We weren’t in the room so we don’t know why the gay man did what he did. Maybe he assumed the straight guy was bi-curious. He may have misread the straight guy. Right or wrong, you can always say no and ask the guy to leave or call the police and file a complaint.

            Violence is the answer to all for you homophobes! We can’t even look at your with interest without you going spastic. This is the 21st century, kicking a gay man’s ass in America isn’t something you’re going to get away with anymore without consequences! So use your head instead of your fist! If you don’t like a guy’s attention walk away or clearly state I’m straight and not into you! Why is that so hard for you?

            By your “reasoning” a straight woman should be able to castrate you if you touched her and it was unwanted!

          • Marlon Alston

            April 25, 2016 at 4:35 pm

            I obviously love attention from straight women, but any man that looks at me funny will get approached end of story.

          • lnm3921

            April 26, 2016 at 12:15 am

            This story is over 7 months old and now you respond.

            If by “approached” you mean attacked physically then you will be going to jail..end of your story!

            As for “obviously” liking the attention of woman I hardly think so with that girly hair don’t! You trying to be Rick James?

          • Lamia

            August 2, 2015 at 8:08 pm

            Aren’t straight men sometimes guilty of assuming women want sex when they invite them over their homes?

            Often. And if the overture is unwanted, the women generally don’t respond by attempting to murder such men. Because that would be psychopathic.

  4. *NmySkynn70*

    July 13, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    seemed like he should have gotten more time? but at least he’s being punished i suppose. . . .

  5. SincerelyYours88

    July 18, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    It’s sad! That now days you can’t trust anyone (not even a Co worker) to come into your home without them trying to violate you, or having an ulterior motive. And by protecting yourself against the violation (in YOUR OWN HOME) you’re the one who gets punished? Who created this “gay-biased” law? It needs to be changed.

    • Lamia

      August 2, 2015 at 8:04 pm

      It is not ‘gay-biased’. If every time a heterosexual male made an unwanted overture to a female the response was attempted murder, there would be a lot of badly injured or dead straight men and you would – understandably – not be happy about it. What is it about homophobic straight men that makes them so much weaker and unable to control themselves than women?

  6. Lamia

    August 2, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    Plainly a brutal assault and attempted murder. An 8 year sentence (and obviously he won’t serve all of it) is an insult to justice. He should serve at least 15. He also deserves to be subjected to a violent assault, including beating with a pole and kicks to the head, so that he starts to understand what it was like for his victim. Once again the ‘Justice’ system shows sympathy with a violent thug and shows scorn for the victim.

    • Marlon Alston

      September 17, 2015 at 4:45 pm

      The so called “victim” is a sexual pervert.

  7. Diamond d

    August 15, 2016 at 9:10 am

    The DC system in this case has to be investigated because this wasn’t a hate crime it was a case of someone who made a unwanted advance and touched another person. What the DC court has done is give gay man the right to touch straight men and get away with it. When do we draw the line.

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Monika Nemeth to run for Ward 3 D.C. Council seat

First known trans elected official in city

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ANC Rainbow Caucus, Monika Nemeth, gay news, Washington Blade
Monika Nemeth, the first known trans person to win election to public office in D.C., is running for Council.

Ward 3 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Monika Nemeth, who became the first known transgender person to win election to public office in D.C. when she won her ANC seat in 2018, says she plans to run as a Democrat for the Ward 3 D.C. Council seat currently held by incumbent Democrat Mary Cheh.

Nemeth is a former president of D.C.’s Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, which recently changed its name to the Capital Stonewall Democrats. She currently serves as chair of the ANC Rainbow Caucus, which advocates for LGBTQ issues. She holds the seat for ANC 3F 06, which represents the neighborhoods of North Cleveland Park and Wakefield.

Nemeth’s LinkedIn page says she has worked for more than 25 years in the Information Technology field. She says she currently manages a team of software developers for an IT company.

“Yes, I am planning a run for Ward 3 D.C. Council in 2022,” Nemeth told the Washington Blade. “I will be running as a Democrat, so I plan to be on the Democratic primary ballot,” she said. “I will pursue the public finance option for my campaign.”

When asked what she would do differently from Cheh, who is a longtime supporter of LGBTQ rights and who is expected to run for re-election, Nemeth said only that she will announce her platform at the time she formally announces her candidacy, which she expects to happen in early September.

Cheh was first elected to the D.C. Council in 2006. She is an attorney and tenured professor of constitutional law at George Washington University Law School.

The Washington City Paper has reported that at least one other candidate is considering running against Cheh for the Ward 3 Council seat – Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority attorney Petar Dimtchev. Dimtchev received the Washington Post endorsement when he ran unsuccessfully against Cheh in 2018 as an independent, according to the City Paper.

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UDC hit with anti-trans discrimination complaint

University accused of misgendering student

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Emma Alexandra accuses UDC of misgendering her and outing her to fellow students and faculty. (Photo courtesy Alexandra)

A female transgender student at the University of the District of Columbia on Aug. 2 filed a discrimination complaint against the university on grounds that it is violating the city’s Human Rights Act by continuing to use her legal name on school documents and class enrollment lists unless she obtains a legal name change.

Emma K. Alexandra, 28, a part-time student who was admitted to UDC in April, states in her complaint filed with the D.C. Office of Human Rights that she informed UDC officials that she was not ready to immediately undertake a legal name change. She states in her complaint that she has repeatedly asked that her chosen name alone be used on all documents and student lists that can be viewed by fellow students and professors.

She said she understands that her legal name may be needed for legal admissions and academic transcript related documents. But to her dismay, Alexandra told the Washington Blade, UDC officials put in place what they consider a compromise position that identifies her on all public university documents and student class lists by both her legal name and her chosen name.

She said the university began and currently continues to identify her by her male legal name with her preferred name written next to her legal name inside parentheses in this way: Legal First Name (preferred name Emma); Legal last name (preferred name Alexandra).

“This is an egregious solution,” Alexandra told UDC President Ronald Mason Jr. in a July 4 email. “This is the name that appears everywhere now,” she wrote Mason. “Most notable, it’s the name that was displayed to my fellow students and professor during the class I took this summer on Blackboard,” she said, which is an online site like Zoom on which UDC conducts classes.

“This effectively outed me as trans to every other student and my professor,” she told Mason. “I assume the same will continue when I go to campus in the fall and get an ID. My ID will have this name and out me to everyone I show it to,” she wrote. “This is completely unacceptable, disrespectful and dangerous.”

Alexandra said she currently works full time as a Web Application Architect for Bloomberg Industry Group as part of its News Engineering team. She said the company is fully accepting of her using her chosen name without obtaining a legal name change. She said she has enrolled at UDC to take courses she needs to qualify for applying to medical school to fulfill her dream of becoming a psychiatrist.  

Under longstanding procedures, the D.C. Office of Human Rights investigates discrimination complaints and usually calls on both parties to consider reaching a conciliation agreement over the complaint if possible. If conciliation cannot be reached, OHR makes a determination of whether probable cause exists that discrimination occurred in violation of D.C. law.

If such a determination is made, the case is sent to the D.C. Commission on Human Rights, which conducts a trial-like hearing that includes testimony by witnesses before it issues a ruling on the case.

In response to a question from the Blade about whether a refusal by a D.C. university to use a transgender person’s chosen name violates the Human Rights Act, OHR Director Monica Palacio said OHR cannot provide legal advice on such a question. But in a statement to the Blade, Palacio said for educational institutions, the Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on 15 protected characteristics, including gender identity and expression.

OHR’s regulations related to educational institutions “prohibit creating a hostile environment which could include deliberately misgendering a student,” Palacio said. “If anyone believes the statute has been violated, they may file a complaint with OHR,” she said. “OHR investigations are confidential.”

Alexandra said she had yet to receive a direct reply to her email message to Mason as of early this week. But last week she was contacted by phone by an official from the university’s admissions office and from Dr. William Latham, UDC’s Chief Student Development and Success Officer on behalf of Mason.

According to Alexandra, the two explained that her legal name was needed on certain legal documents. She said Latham explained that a software system the university uses to manage student records known as the Banner system, doesn’t support preferred names and currently prevents the school from displaying only her preferred name.

The officials said the university planned to upgrade to a newer version of Banner in October and the new system “may” support using preferred names, Alexandra said.

“Overall, I thought this was a really ridiculous conversation where folks from UDC tried to convince me that they are using my preferred name while also stating that they cannot use my preferred name as it should be used, mostly due to limitations of software,” Alexandra told the Blade. “I don’t think the Human Rights Act has an exception for software systems,” she said.

The Blade contacted UDC President Mason by email on July 20, asking him to comment on Alexandra’s concerns and asking him what, if any, problems would be caused if the university used Alexandra’s chosen name rather than her legal name on the various public, external documents and lists in which her legal name is being used.

“In response to your July 20 email, the Office of the Registrar can enter the student’s preferred name in Banner (via all access screen for faculty and staff awareness), however all official documents, such as the academic transcript, will require the use of the student’s official legal name,” Mason told the Blade in a one-sentence response.

His response didn’t address the issue raised by UDC official Latham in his phone conversation with Alexandra in which Latham said the Banner software system couldn’t currently identify Alexandra only by her chosen name. Mason also didn’t respond to the Blade’s question of why UDC could not adopt a policy like the D.C. Public Schools system, which accepts a request by transgender students to use their chosen name without having to obtain a legal name change.

Alexandra, meanwhile, points out that UDC’s refusal so far to allow her chosen name alone to be used on all public university documents and student lists without her legal name being attached to it appears to be at odds with a May 4 open letter Mason released to the university community expressing strong support for using the appropriate pronouns for transgender and gender non-conforming students.

“The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) strives to be an inclusive campus that supports and values all members of our community, including LGBTQIA+, nonbinary, intersex and gender non-conforming students,” Mason says in his letter.

“Choosing to not use or ignore the pronouns someone has requested you to use implies that person shouldn’t and doesn’t exist and does not deserve respect,” Mason wrote in his letter. “Therefore, we encourage all faculty and staff to use pronouns in their email signatures as an act of solidarity and to foster a culture of respect for every Firebird,” he concludes in referring to the symbolic name used for members of the UDC community.

UDC is governed by a 15-member independent Board of Trustees. Eleven of the members are appointed by the D.C. mayor and confirmed by the D.C. Council. Three are appointed by UDC alumni and one by students, according to information on the UDC website.

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LULAC Lambda announces 2021 scholarship awards

Castro, Javier Rodriguez win $1,000 honors

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Brian Castro and Victor Javier Rodriguez are this year’s LULAC award winners.

The D.C.-based LGBTQ Latinx organization LULAC Lambda has announced it has selected two D.C. residents bound for graduate studies in foreign affairs and higher education to receive its 2021 annual scholarship award.

“For a fourth year in a row, LULAC Lambda will provide scholarships to outstanding scholars who come from our LGBTQ+ Latinx community,” said Erik Rodriquez, the LULAC Lambda president, in a statement released by the group. “Our scholarship program will help these scholars achieve their academic goals and reduce their student debt,” Rodriquez said.

The statement says one of the two scholarship awards, for $1,000, will go to Brian Castro, who will begin studies for a master’s degree in the fall of 2021 at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service.

“The generous scholarship provided by LULAC Lambda will complement my studies by going directly into my tuition costs,” Castro said in the statement. “Though I have been a resident of Washington, D.C., working full-time at a leading public health consulting firm, I am grateful to have received the support from an organization that is also committed to social justice,” he said.

The other scholarship, for $1,300, will go to Victor Javier Rodriguez for his doctoral work in education at Florida State University. The LULAC Lambda statement says Javier Rodriquez’s academic interest lies in “exploring the relationship between school communities and districts’ implementation of anti-racist practice and student success.”

In his own words, Javier Rodriquez said, “A long-term career goal of mine is to affect change at the federal level through the United States Department of Education, in which I would work to address our nation’s education crisis by advocating for equitable policies and practices that improve the outcome for all our students, especially those who are most vulnerable.”

LULAC Lambda says it was founded in October 2014 “to mobilize and strengthen the LGBTQ+ and Latinx communities of Washington, D.C. through community and civic engagement.” It is one of 1,000 chapters across the country affiliated with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the nation’s largest and oldest Latinx volunteer-based civil rights organization, the group’s statement says.

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