April 30, 2019 at 1:25 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Lesbian magazine hung by ‘noose’ from D.C. light pole
Tagg Magazine, gay news, Washington Blade
Copies of Tagg magazine were tied to a rope and hung. (Photo by Popville courtesy Tagg)

D.C. police are investigating an incident listed as a hate crime in which an unidentified person or persons tied a rope around several copies of Tagg magazine, which covers news of interest to the local lesbian and queer community and is owned by a woman of color, and hung the fastened magazines from a light pole in the heart of the city’s Adams Morgan neighborhood.

The incident was first reported on April 25 on the website of the D.C. blog POPville, which posted a photo of the hanging magazines, which themselves included photos of four African-American women on the front cover.

A POPville reader, who posted the report, said the magazines were first seen hanging from the pole on April 25 in front of the Sun Trust Bank at 18th Street and Columbia Road, N.W.

In a statement released on Monday, Tagg magazine called the knot binding the rope around the magazines a “noose,” which it said was a symbol of hate.

“A noose symbolizes years of hate and the death of thousands of Black people in this country,” Tagg’s owner and editor, Ebone F. Bell, said in the statement. “As a Black lesbian, this incident is more than disturbing,” she said. “I believe there is a reason Tagg was a target, and I believe there is a reason the Enterprising Women issue with people of color on the cover was a target.”

She was referring Tagg magazine’s March-April issue, which includes a feature story about lesbians involved in business that the magazine designated as Enterprising Women of 2019.

Lt. Brett Parson, who oversees the D.C. police Special Liaison Division, including the department’s LGBT Liaison Unit, said the incident was being investigated by the Third District Detective’s Unit. He said the LGBT Liaison Unit took the initial report about the incident. 

Parson said the incident is being listed as a violation of a little-known D.C. law that prohibits the public display of nooses, swastikas, emblems, or other symbols that, among other things, according to the law, “cause another person to fear for his or her personal safety.”

He said the police investigation would seek to determine whether the knot fastening the Tagg magazines onto a rope could be interpreted as a noose.

“I think it is troubling that a rope fashioned in a way that could resemble a noose – whether it is a noose or not is up to whoever looks at it,” Parson said. “But it certainly to some people looks like a noose wrapped around an African-American lesbian magazine and hung on a light pole is quite disturbing,” he said.

“That’s why we’re investigating it as a crime,” said Parson. “But it remains to be seen if it fact it meets the definition of a noose, which has a specific type of knot.”

Bell told the Blade she believes the knot was a noose. “I believe the person who did it just didn’t know how to tie a proper noose, but I do believe that was the intent,” she said.

She said she learned about the incident from one of the women whose picture is on the cover of the Tagg magazines that were hanging from the pole. According to Bell, the woman who called her is a regular reader of the POPville blog and saw the blog posting with the photo of herself on the hanging magazines.

Bell said the rope appeared from the photo to be tied to a place on the pole higher than the average person could reach without somehow having a way to get to the upper part of the pole. She said she was hopeful that nearby video surveillance cameras might have an image of the person who hung the rope on the pole.

Parson said he could not comment on any matter related to possible evidence in an ongoing police investigation.

Police are asking anyone with information about the incident to call the Third District Detectives office at 202-673-6918.

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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