June 21, 2019 at 6:14 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Trans activist assaulted, threatened at DC grocery store
Emmelia Talarico, on left, speaks at a vigil at Dupont Circle on June 21. (Washington Blade photo by Drew Brown)

One of three unidentified suspects who shouted homophobic slurs assaulted D.C. transgender activist Emmelia Talarico as she attempted to leave a grocery store near her home in the city’s Eckington neighborhood about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to a D.C. police report.

The attack against Talarico, in which she was not seriously injured, is the fifth incident in five days in which LGBT people in the D.C. area were attacked.

The most serious of the incidents was the June 13 fatal shooting of trans woman Zoe Spears, 23, in Fairmont Heights, Md., just across the D.C. line in Prince George’s County, by an unknown suspect.

Spears was found shot to death just a few blocks from where trans woman Ashanti Carmon was fatally shot on March 30. P.G. County police said the two knew each other but they have no immediate evidence that the two murders are linked.

The rash of anti-LGBT incidents prompted LGBT activists to organize a Vigil Against Violence for Friday, June 21, at 7 p.m. in Dupont Circle.

Talarico, 30, is one of the lead organizers of the LGBT and sex worker advocacy group No Justice No Pride. The police report of the attack against her says one of the two suspects “pushed” her in her back shortly before him and the other two shouted anti-gay names at her as she walked out of the store. It says the act of shoving her constitutes an offense of simple assault.

The report, which refers to Talarico as Victim 1, says the suspect who shoved her did so after he called her “bro” and she told him she was not “a bro,” prompting him and the other two suspects to threaten her by saying “Imma fuck you up” and “using homophobic slurs such as ‘faggot’ and faggie.’”

The report says Talarico then re-entered the store and a store employee asked the three suspects to leave. It says the employee closed the store and drove Talarico to her house, which is located just a few blocks from the store.

“Shortly after Victim 1’s arrival [home] she heard two loud bang noises on the front porch and when she looked out the window she observed Suspect 2 walking around on the front porch,” the report says. “After suspect 2 left, Victim 1 went out to the porch and observed the listed property had been damaged,” the report concludes.

Talarico, who declined to speak to the Washington Blade, told the Washington Post the suspect appears to have thrown rocks that hit the metal frame around one of the windows of the house. The police report lists the rock throwing and the minor damage as an offense of ‘destruction of property’ with damage of less than $1,000.

The report lists the incident as a suspected hate crime based on the victim’s “Gender identity/Anti-transgender/transsexual.” It lists the suspects’ threats against Talarico as an offense of a misdemeanor “threats to do bodily harm.”

Talarico told the Post she shares the house with several other trans women of color and the house is known as the home of the No Justice No Pride collective. She told the Post the discovery that one of the suspects in the incident at the grocery store had apparently followed her home became an especially harrowing experience, prompting some of her roommates to hide in the basement. D.C. police arrived after one of the roommate called 911, she recounted.

“A lot of us are feeling like we can’t even walk to the store safely right now,” she told the Post. “Everyone’s on high alert.”

Talarico is one of two No Justice No Pride members who were arrested last month in Freedom Plaza during a protest against the city’s laws against sex workers when she and the other No Justice No Pride member attempted to hang a large banner bearing the letter “DECRIM” for decriminalizing sex work among consenting adults on two flag poles in the plaza.

The Blade could not find a record of any charges against her and her colleague in the D.C. Superior Court public docket, suggesting that prosecutors may have dropped the misdemeanor charges against the two.

The other incidents involving attacks against LGBT people during the five-day period that began with the Spears murder on June 13 included a June 16 attack by as many as a dozen young men against a gay couple on U Street, N.W., near the gay bar Nellie’s.

D.C. resident Braden Brecht, 21, and his boyfriend Karl Craven, told police someone yelled “faggot” at them before, “out of nowhere a mob of people” jumped on Brecht and began beating him, causing him to suffer a broken tooth and a serious cut on his lip that required stiches at a hospital, where the two were taken.

D.C. police said they arrested two juvenile males and a 19-year-old adult identified as Marcus Britt of Fort Washington, Md. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, which prosecutes adults on criminal matters, said it dropped the charge against Britt. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office told the Blade it never publicly discloses its reasons for dropping charges in a specific case. But the spokesperson said in general, charges are dropped when a determination is made that there is insufficient evidence to convict someone at a trial.

Also on June 16, D.C. police said three customers at the gay bar Fireplace located near Dupont Circle were stabbed inside the bar and sustained serious but non life-threatening injuries. Police released photos of two suspects taken from a video surveillance camera and were seeking help from the public in identifying the suspects.

In yet another incident, which took place June 13, several female clients with the D.C. LGBT community services center Casa Ruby reported being threatened by an unidentified male suspect carrying a gun outside the Casa Ruby building. The suspect reportedly demanded that the clients, who are trans woman, perform oral sex on him. They refused and the suspect left the area before police arrived on the scene.

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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