Local LGBTQ organizations and activists have expressed mixed views over whether the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department should be partially or completely “defunded” in the midst of a growing nationwide debate triggered by the Black Lives Matter movement to address police brutality and racial bias.
Several local LGBT groups and activists have said they support calls by the Black Lives Matter D.C. organization for significantly reducing the D.C. police budget and diverting police funds to social services and community-led violence interruption programs.
But none of the groups or activists who spoke to the Washington Blade has gone as far as others who say the D.C. police budget should be reduced each year “until we get to zero.”
However, the local LGBTQ group No Justice No Pride, which organized a June 13 protest rally and march in support of defunding the D.C. police that ended in front of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Northwest D.C. house, called on the mayor to “immediately defund MPD.”
Some local LGBTQ activists, who appear to be in the minority, say they are cautious about any reduction in the D.C. police budget until the alternative crime reduction programs favored by Black Lives Matter D.C. and other groups are shown to be effective in reducing crime and protecting the safety of city residents.
These activists point out that LGBTQ people, especially transgender women of color, have been subjected to anti-LGBTQ hate crimes and other violent crimes to a greater degree than other population groups.
“This is a very complex issue,” said longtime gay and Democratic Party activist Earl Fowlkes, who serves as executive director of the D.C.-based national LGBTQ organization Center for Black Equity.
“It has a lot to do with crime and why there is crime and what do we do to prevent crime before the police are even involved,” said Fowlkes, who expressed support for the social services programs advocated by Black Lives Matter and others to address the root causes of crime.
“But do we defund the police or eliminate the police? I don’t see that as a viable alternative at this time,” he said.
Officials with the DC Center for the LGBT Community and Capital Pride Alliance, the group that organizes the city’s annual Pride parade and festival, have expressed support for the “Defund MPD” calls by the local Black Lives Matter leaders, but have not called for a full defunding of the police budget.
In a joint email to local LGBTQ activists, the two groups have called for diverting funds from the police budget to help fund 11 specific LGBTQ-related programs proposed by a coalition of 10 local LGBTQ or LGBTQ supportive organizations of which the DC Center and Capital Pride are members.
Rehana Mohammed, chair of the DC Center’s board of directors, told a June 15 D.C. Council hearing on police issues that the Center opposes a proposal by Mayor Bowser to increase the police budget by $18.5 million for fiscal year 2021.
“We recommend instead investing those funds in community safety, social services, violence interruption programs, and community support programs,” Mohammed testified at the hearing. “The current strategies of creating reforms and increasing funding are simply not working,” she said.
She attached to her written testimony the list of the 11 proposed LGBTQ programs that the coalition supporting them wants the D.C. Council to fund in the city’s FY 2021 budget that amount to $10.6 million.
Mohammed was referring to a sweeping police reform bill that the D.C. Council approved unanimously as an emergency measure on June 9. But the bill does not address the police budget, which the Council is expected to approve in July.
Ashley Smith, chair of the Capital Pride Alliance board of directors, said he too believes the traditional policing strategies in D.C. and other cities have failed to significantly reduce crime and create safer communities.
“I think Capital Pride, from an organizational perspective, we are totally advocating for funds to be diverted and greater investments to be made in supportive and preventive and community-based programs in order to address the needs of diverse communities,” Smith said.
Bobbi Elaine Strang, president of the Gay & Lesbian Activists Alliance and a supporter of some degree of defunding the D.C. police, said she agrees with arguments by defunding advocates that much of the current funding for police goes to activities that police should not be doing.
“Our society asks police officers to act as drug counselors, mental health workers, and social workers,” Strang said. “There are agencies and supportive services that are much better equipped to deal with those issues that should be sufficiently funded, which will allow us to limit the scope of the work we expect from police officers and enhance public safety,” she said.
Among those agreeing with Strang’s assessment is Naseema Shafi, CEO of Whitman-Walker Health, the city’s largest private healthcare agency serving the LGBTQ community.
“Whitman-Walker believes that funding for public safety should go to programs that create public safety,” Shafi told the Blade. “With that core belief, we support disinvesting in armed policing as a method of creating safety and in investing in our public safety budget including social supports that we know interrupt violence such as health care, education, housing, employment and other key areas,” she said.
“Sending armed police to respond to instances of intimate partner violence, mental health crises, and housing instability has not safely or effectively served the LGBTQ community,” Shafi said. “Whitman-Walker believes that through listening to leaders in Black communities who have been envisioning a safer and more equitable future, we can create a public safety and justice system that makes our whole community safer and stronger,” she said.
Longtime D.C. gay activist and Ward 8 community leader Phil Pannell expressed a differing view when he spoke during a June 15 webinar on the D.C. police funding issue hosted by Capital Pride and the DC Center. Among the panelists who spoke at the webinar in favor of reducing the police budget were Preston Mitchum, adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center; and Ward 4 D.C. Council candidate and community activist Janeese Lewis George.
“I’m going to be really honest, and it really hurts to say this,” Pannell said during the online forum. “But as a black gay senior citizen who lives in a poorer part of town, I’m more afraid of being on the streets of Ward 8 and being confronted by a young man in a hoodie than someone in a police uniform,” he said.
“I’ve been one of those folks who have been in the chorus of wanting more police in Ward 8 because I’ve been victimized so many times,” Pannell said. “And right on the block where I live I’ve had three neighbors and friends who have been killed. And none of them were killed by police,” Pannell said.
“I would hope that those of us in the LGBTQ community will at least engage in meaningful discussion with police officers,” he said. “And I truly feel that we can have an honest discussion about police brutality without brutalizing the police.”
Pannell told the Blade he acknowledges the need for police reforms to prevent the police killings of black men in other cities that have rocked the country and triggered ongoing protests against police abuse.
“But I don’t believe the behavior of rogue cops represents the general behavior of the police any more than I think the behavior of pedophile priests represents the general behavior of the Roman Catholic clergy,” Pannell said.
D.C. police spokesperson Dustin Sternbeck did not respond to a request by the Blade for the police view of what impact a substantial cut in the police budget would have on police efforts to curtail hate crimes, including anti-LGBTQ hate crimes.
The Blade also asked Sternbeck in an email whether police officials think a cut in the police budget would have a negative impact on the operation of the police LGBT Liaison Unit, which has responded for many years to calls for police help by LGBTQ people in the city. Sternbeck or another police spokesperson had not responded as of late Tuesday.
Gay former D.C. Police Lt. Brett Parson, who served as head of the department’s Special Liaison Branch that oversees the LGBT Liaison Unit, retired from the force last year. When asked last week about his views on the controversy surrounding calls for defunding the police and the impact it could have on the LGBT Liaison unit, Parson declined to comment. But he offered his view on the overall policing issues under debate across the country.
“I support the current discussions and calls for reform of policing in our nation,” he said. “If we are to have true peace and equality in our nation in communities, regardless of race or any other trait, police must gain the trust of all citizens through fair, compassionate, and effective reform,” Parson said. “I hope to be part of that reform movement.”
Gregory Pemberton, chair of the D.C. Police Union, told the Blade the union strongly opposes cuts to the police budget. When asked by the Blade if a significant budget cut would have an impact on the police response to calls for police help by LGBTQ people, he said police response to all calls for service would be hindered.
“MPD responds to over 700,000 911 calls per year,” he said. “That’s nearly 2,000 calls per day where someone is in distress. If we start reducing the number of police officers or their equipment like cars and bicycles, the response time will increase for all citizens,” Pemberton said.
“The first things that are going to be cut from police services are training and personnel,” he said in discussing the impact of a large budget cut. “These are the two tenets of responsible policing, having well trained police and having enough of them to respond to the citizens,” said Pemberton. “The idea that cutting the budget would somehow improve policing is completely contradictory to common sense.”
When asked what he thought of proposals by Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ organizations to divert funds from the police to community-based violence interruption programs as an alternative to police involvement, Pemberton said he and the union would be “all ears” if such programs would lessen the need for a police response.
But he added, “Until someone provides us with a blueprint of exactly how this would work, I’m leery of how successful these approaches would be.”
Among those expressing concern over police defunding are LGBTQ nightlife industry workers, many of whom are hoping to return to work at the city’s restaurants, bars, and nightclubs that have been forced to close or limit operations due to coronavirus.
“As a nightlife advocate, I know firsthand how special policing programs make our nighttime socializing areas safe for workers and accessible for patrons,” said gay nightlife business advocate Mark Lee. “As venues fully re-open in the next fiscal year, they want to ensure there are sufficient monies to reduce the major pre-shutdown crime spike in commercial districts,” Lee said.
“Cities across the country with robust nightlife economies like D.C. are working to create ‘best practice’ approaches for nighttime safety utilizing dedicated police teams,” Lee said. “A merely symbolic slashing of the MPD budget threatens these initiatives.”
Lee said he was also troubled that requests by some local LGBTQ groups to redirect police funds to their organizations to operate proposed LGBTQ programs “smacks of opportunism and self-interest” and appears to be “less about how to improve policing than it is a money grab.”
Kent Boese, president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest local LGBTQ political group, serves as an elected member of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1A in Adams Morgan. He said that while the Stein Club and his ANC have yet to take a position on the police defunding issue, he is concerned that while important city agencies such as the Office of Human Rights are slated for budget cuts, the mayor’s budget calls for an increase in funding for the police.
“While the current budget shows a strong priority for MPD, it does not similarly show a strong commitment to the critical services and programs that will make every District community a safer place,” Boese told the Blade. “So reducing the MPD budget is not only a legitimate option, it is a moral obligation provided the money is reprogrammed into the very services and programs that will result in safer, stronger communities – services and programs that have themselves been defunded for decades to the detriment of all.”
Adam Savit, president of the LGBTQ group Log Cabin Republicans of D.C., pointed to the separate April 2018 and June 2019 beatings of gay men by male attackers along the U Street, N.W. entertainment district as examples of why traditional policing is necessary to address incidents like these.
“Making moderate changes to the D.C. police budget and priorities may be helpful in solving existing problems in police-community relations,” Savit said. “However, massive funding cuts or defunding the police entirely shows a complete misunderstanding of why responsible use of force is needed to keep citizens safe,” he said.
“Perhaps more destructive than defunding is the moral and political undermining of the police to the point that they can’t do their job,” he said. “All citizens, including LGBT citizens, would be less safe if the MPD is defunded.”
Equality Act, contorted as a danger by anti-LGBTQ forces, is all but dead
No political willpower to force vote or reach a compromise
Despite having President Biden in the White House and Democratic majorities in both chambers of Congress, efforts to update federal civil rights laws to strengthen the prohibition on discrimination against LGBTQ people by passing the Equality Act are all but dead as opponents of the measure have contorted it beyond recognition.
Political willpower is lacking to find a compromise that would be acceptable to enough Republican senators to end a filibuster on the bill — a tall order in any event — nor is there the willpower to force a vote on the Equality Act as opponents stoke fears about transgender kids in sports and not even unanimity in the Democratic caucus in favor of the bill is present, stakeholders who spoke to the Blade on condition of anonymity said.
In fact, there are no imminent plans to hold a vote on the legislation even though Pride month is days away, which would be an opportune time for Congress to demonstrate solidarity with the LGBTQ community by holding a vote on the legislation.
If the Equality Act were to come up for a Senate vote in the next month, it would not have the support to pass. Continued assurances that bipartisan talks are continuing on the legislation have yielded no evidence of additional support, let alone the 10 Republicans needed to end a filibuster.
“I haven’t really heard an update either way, which is usually not good,” one Democratic insider said. “My understanding is that our side was entrenched in a no-compromise mindset and with [Sen. Joe] Manchin saying he didn’t like the bill, it doomed it this Congress. And the bullying of hundreds of trans athletes derailed our message and our arguments of why it was broadly needed.”
The only thing keeping the final nail from being hammered into the Equality Act’s coffin is the unwillingness of its supporters to admit defeat. Other stakeholders who spoke to the Blade continued to assert bipartisan talks are ongoing, strongly pushing back on any conclusion the legislation is dead.
Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said the Equality Act is “alive and well,” citing widespread public support he said includes “the majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents and a growing number of communities across the country engaging and mobilizing every day in support of the legislation.”
“They understand the urgent need to pass this bill and stand up for LGBTQ people across our country,” David added. “As we engage with elected officials, we have confidence that Congress will listen to the voices of their constituents and continue fighting for the Equality Act through the lengthy legislative process. We will also continue our unprecedented campaign to grow the already-high public support for a popular bill that will save lives and make our country fairer and more equal for all. We will not stop until the Equality Act is passed.”
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), chief sponsor of the Equality Act in the Senate, also signaled through a spokesperson work continues on the legislation, refusing to give up on expectations the legislation would soon become law.
“Sen. Merkley and his staff are in active discussions with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to try to get this done,” McLennan said. “We definitely see it as a key priority that we expect to become law.”
A spokesperson Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who had promised to force a vote on the Equality Act in the Senate on the day the U.S. House approved it earlier this year, pointed to a March 25 “Dear Colleague” letter in which he identified the Equality Act as one of several bills he’d bring up for a vote.
Despite any assurances, the hold up on the bill is apparent. Although the U.S. House approved the legislation earlier this year, the Senate Judiciary Committee hasn’t even reported out the bill yet to the floor in the aftermath of the first-ever Senate hearing on the bill in March. A Senate Judiciary Committee Democratic aide, however, disputed that inaction as evidence the Equality Act is dead in its tracks: “Bipartisan efforts on a path forward are ongoing.”
Democrats are quick to blame Republicans for inaction on the Equality Act, but with Manchin withholding his support for the legislation they can’t even count on the entirety of their caucus to vote “yes” if it came to the floor. Progressives continue to advocate an end to the filibuster to advance legislation Biden has promised as part of his agenda, but even if they were to overcome headwinds and dismantle the institution needing 60 votes to advance legislation, the Equality Act would likely not have majority support to win approval in the Senate with a 50-50 party split.
The office of Manchin, who has previously said he couldn’t support the Equality Act over concerns about public schools having to implement the transgender protections applying to sports and bathrooms, hasn’t responded to multiple requests this year from the Blade on the legislation and didn’t respond to a request to comment for this article.
Meanwhile, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who declined to co-sponsor the Equality Act this year after having signed onto the legislation in the previous Congress, insisted through a spokesperson talks are still happening across the aisle despite the appearances the legislation is dead.
“There continues to be bipartisan support for passing a law that protects the civil rights of Americans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Annie Clark, a Collins spokesperson. “The Equality Act was a starting point for negotiations, and in its current form, it cannot pass. That’s why there are ongoing discussions among senators and stakeholders about a path forward.”
Let’s face it: Anti-LGBTQ forces have railroaded the debate by making the Equality Act about an end to women’s sports by allowing transgender athletes and danger to women in sex-segregated places like bathrooms and prisons. That doesn’t even get into resolving the issue on drawing the line between civil rights for LGBTQ people and religious freedom, which continues to be litigated in the courts as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected any day now to issue a ruling in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia to determine if foster care agencies can reject same-sex couples over religious objections.
For transgender Americans, who continue to report discrimination and violence at high rates, the absence of the Equality Act may be most keenly felt.
Mara Keisling, outgoing executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, disputed any notion the Equality Act is dead and insisted the legislation is “very much alive.”
“We remain optimistic despite misinformation from the opposition,” Keisling said. “NCTE and our movement partners are still working fruitfully on the Equality Act with senators. In fact, we are gaining momentum with all the field organizing we’re doing, like phone banking constituents to call their senators. Legislating takes time. Nothing ever gets through Congress quickly. We expect to see a vote during this Congress, and we are hopeful we can win.”
But one Democratic source said calls to members of Congress against the Equality Act, apparently coordinated by groups like the Heritage Foundation, have has outnumbered calls in favor of it by a substantial margin, with a particular emphasis on Manchin.
No stories are present in the media about same-sex couples being kicked out of a restaurant for holding hands or transgender people for using the restroom consistent with their gender identity, which would be perfectly legal in 25 states thanks to the patchwork of civil rights laws throughout the United States and inadequate protections under federal law.
Tyler Deaton, senior adviser for the American Unity Fund, which has bolstered the Republican-led Fairness for All Act as an alternative to the Equality Act, said he continues to believe the votes are present for a compromise form of the bill.
“I know for a fact there is a supermajority level of support in the Senate for a version of the Equality Act that is fully protective of both LGBTQ civil rights and religious freedom,” Deaton said. “There is interest on both sides of the aisle in getting something done this Congress.”
Deaton, however, didn’t respond to a follow-up inquiry on what evidence exists of agreeing on this compromise.
Biden has already missed the goal he campaigned on in the 2020 election to sign the Equality Act into law within his first 100 days in office. Although Biden renewed his call to pass the legislation in his speech to Congress last month, as things stand now that appears to be a goal he won’t realize for the remainder of this Congress.
Nor has the Biden administration made the Equality Act an issue for top officials within the administration as it pushes for an infrastructure package as a top priority. One Democratic insider said Louisa Terrell, legislative affairs director for the White House, delegated work on the Equality Act to a deputy as opposed to handling it herself.
To be sure, Biden has demonstrated support for the LGBTQ community through executive action at an unprecedented rate, signing an executive order on day one ordering federal agencies to implement the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in Bostock v. Clayton County to the fullest extent possible and dismantling former President Trump’s transgender military ban. Biden also made historic LGBTQ appointments with the confirmation of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Rachel Levine as assistant secretary of health.
A White House spokesperson insisted Biden’s team across the board remains committed to the Equality Act, pointing to his remarks to Congress.
“President Biden has urged Congress to get the Equality Act to his desk so he can sign it into law and provide long overdue civil rights protections to LGBTQ+ Americans, and he remains committed to seeing this legislation passed as quickly as possible,” the spokesperson said. “The White House and its entire legislative team remains in ongoing and close coordination with organizations, leaders, members of Congress, including the Equality Caucus, and staff to ensure we are working across the aisle to push the Equality Act forward.”
But at least in the near-term, that progress will fall short of fulfilling the promise of updating federal civil rights law with the Equality Act, which will mean LGBTQ people won’t be able to rely on those protections when faced with discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
D.C. bill to ban LGBTQ panic defense delayed by Capitol security
Delivery of bill to Congress was held up due to protocols related to Jan. 6 riots
A bill approved unanimously last December by the D.C. Council to ban the so-called LGBTQ panic defense has been delayed from taking effect as a city law because the fence installed around the U.S. Capitol following the Jan. 6 insurrection prevented the law from being delivered to Congress.
According to Eric Salmi, communications director for D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who guided the bill through the Council’s legislative process, all bills approved by the Council and signed by the D.C. mayor must be hand-delivered to Congress for a required congressional review.
“What happened was when the Capitol fence went up after the January insurrection, it created an issue where we physically could not deliver laws to Congress per the congressional review period,” Salmi told the Washington Blade.
Among the bills that could not immediately be delivered to Congress was the Bella Evangelista and Tony Hunter Panic Defense Prohibition and Hate Crimes Response Amendment Act of 2020, which was approved by the Council on a second and final vote on Dec. 15.
Between the time the bill was signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser and published in the D.C. Register under procedural requirements for all bills, it was not ready to be transmitted to Congress until Feb. 16, the Council’s legislative record for the bill shows.
Salmi said the impasse in delivering the bill to Congress due to the security fence prevented the bill from reaching Congress on that date and prevented the mandatory 60-day congressional review period for this bill from beginning at that time. He noted that most bills require a 30 legislative day review by Congress.
But the Evangelista-Hunter bill, named after a transgender woman and a gay man who died in violent attacks by perpetrators who attempted to use the trans and gay panic defense, includes a law enforcement related provision that under the city’s Home Rule Charter passed by Congress in the early 1970s requires a 60-day congressional review.
“There is a chance it goes into effect any day now, just given the timeline is close to being up,” Salmi said on Tuesday. “I don’t know the exact date it was delivered, but I do know the countdown is on,” said Salmi, who added, “I would expect any day now it should go into effect and there’s nothing stopping it other than an insurrection in January.”
If the delivery to Congress had not been delayed, the D.C. Council’s legislative office estimated the congressional review would have been completed by May 12.
A congressional source who spoke on condition of being identified only as a senior Democratic aide, said the holdup of D.C. bills because of the Capitol fence has been corrected.
“The House found an immediate workaround, when this issue first arose after the Jan. 6 insurrection,” the aide said.
“This is yet another reason why D.C. Council bills should not be subject to a congressional review period and why we need to grant D.C. statehood,” the aide said.
The aide added that while no disapproval resolution had been introduced in Congress to overturn the D.C. Evangelista-Hunter bill, House Democrats would have defeated such a resolution.
“House Democrats support D.C. home rule, statehood, and LGBTQ rights,” said the aide.
LGBTQ rights advocates have argued that a ban on using a gay or transgender panic defense in criminal trials is needed to prevent defense attorneys from inappropriately asking juries to find that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression is to blame for a defendant’s criminal act, including murder.
Some attorneys have argued that their clients “panicked” after discovering the person against whom they committed a violent crime was gay or transgender, prompting them to act in a way they believed to be a form of self-defense.
In addition to its provision banning the LGBTQ panic defense, the Evangelista-Hunter bill includes a separate provision that strengthens the city’s existing hate crimes law by clarifying that hatred need not be the sole motivating factor for an underlying crime such as assault, murder, or threats to be prosecuted as a hate crime.
LGBTQ supportive prosecutors have said the clarification was needed because it is often difficult to prove to a jury that hatred is the only motive behind a violent crime. The prosecutors noted that juries have found defendants not guilty of committing a hate crime on grounds that they believed other motives were involved in a particular crime after defense lawyers argued that the law required “hate” to be the only motive in order to find someone guilty of a hate crime.
Salmi noted that while the hate crime clarification and panic defense prohibition provisions of the Evangelista-Hunter bill will become law as soon as the congressional review is completed, yet another provision in the bill will not become law after the congressional review because there are insufficient funds in the D.C. budget to cover the costs of implementing the provision.
The provision gives the D.C. Office of Human Rights and the Office of the D.C. Attorney General authority to investigate hate related discrimination at places of public accommodation. Salmi said the provision expands protections against discrimination to include web-based retailers or online delivery services that are not physically located in D.C.
“That is subject to appropriations,” Salmi said. “And until it is funded in the upcoming budget it cannot be legally enforced.”
He said that at Council member Allen’s request, the Council added language to the bill that ensures that all other provisions of the legislation that do not require additional funding – including the ban on use of the LGBTQ panic defense and the provision clarifying that hatred doesn’t have to be the sole motive for a hate crime – will take effect as soon as the congressional approval process is completed.
D.C. man charged with 2020 anti-gay death threat rearrested
Defendant implicated in three anti-LGBTQ incidents since 2011
A D.C. man arrested in August 2020 for allegedly threatening to kill a gay man outside the victim’s apartment in the city’s Adams Morgan neighborhood and who was released while awaiting trial was arrested again two weeks ago for allegedly threatening to kill another man in an unrelated incident.
D.C. Superior Court records show that Jalal Malki, who was 37 at the time of his 2020 arrest on a charge of bias-related attempts to do bodily harm against the gay man, was charged on May 4, 2021 with unlawful entry, simple assault, threats to kidnap and injure a person, and attempted possession of a prohibited weapon against the owner of a vacant house at 4412 Georgia Ave., N.W.
Court charging documents state that Malki was allegedly staying at the house without permission as a squatter. An arrest affidavit filed in court by D.C. police says Malki allegedly threatened to kill the man who owns the house shortly after the man arrived at the house while Malki was inside.
According to the affidavit, Malki walked up to the owner of the house while the owner was sitting in his car after having called police and told him, “If you come back here, I’m going to kill you.” While making that threat Malki displayed what appeared to be a gun in his waistband, but which was later found to be a toy gun, the affidavit says.
Malki then walked back inside the house minutes before police arrived and arrested him. Court records show that similar to the court proceedings following his 2020 arrest for threatening the gay man, a judge in the latest case ordered Malki released while awaiting trial. In both cases, the judge ordered him to stay away from the two men he allegedly threatened to kill.
An arrest affidavit filed by D.C. police in the 2020 case states that Malki allegedly made the threats inside an apartment building where the victim lived on the 2300 block of Champlain Street, N.W. It says Malki was living in a nearby building but often visited the building where the victim lived.
“Victim 1 continued to state during an interview that it was not the first time that Defendant 1 had made threats to him, but this time Defendant 1 stated that if he caught him outside, he would ‘fucking kill him.’” the affidavit says. It quotes the victim as saying during this time Malki repeatedly called the victim a “fucking faggot.”
The affidavit, prepared by the arresting officers, says that after the officers arrested Malki and were leading him to a police transport vehicle to be booked for the arrest, he expressed an “excited utterance” that he was “in disbelief that officers sided with the ‘fucking faggot.’”
Court records show that Malki is scheduled to appear in court on June 4 for a status hearing for both the 2020 arrest and the arrest two weeks ago for allegedly threatening to kill the owner of the house in which police say he was illegally squatting.
Superior Court records show that Malki had been arrested three times between 2011 and 2015 in cases unrelated to the 2021 and 2020 cases for allegedly also making threats of violence against people. Two of the cases appear to be LGBTQ related, but prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office did not list the cases as hate crimes.
In the first of the three cases, filed in July 2011, Malki allegedly shoved a man inside Dupont Circle and threatened to kill him after asking the man why he was wearing a purple shirt.
“Victim 1 believes the assault occurred because Suspect 1 believes Victim 1 is a homosexual,” the police arrest affidavit says.
Court records show prosecutors charged Malki with simple assault and threats to do bodily harm in the case. But the court records show that on Sept. 13, 2011, D.C. Superior Court Judge Stephen F. Eilperin found Malki not guilty on both charges following a non-jury trial.
The online court records do not state why the judge rendered a not guilty verdict. With the courthouse currently closed to the public and the press due to COVID-related restrictions, the Washington Blade couldn’t immediately obtain the records to determine the judge’s reason for the verdict.
In the second case, court records show Malki was arrested by D.C. police outside the Townhouse Tavern bar and restaurant at 1637 R St., N.W. on Nov. 7, 2012 for allegedly threatening one or more people with a knife after employees ordered Malki to leave the establishment for “disorderly behavior.”
At the time, the Townhouse Tavern was located next door to the gay nightclub Cobalt, which before going out of business two years ago, was located at the corner of 17th and R Streets, N.W.
The police arrest affidavit in the case says Malki allegedly pointed a knife in a threatening way at two of the tavern’s employees who blocked his path when he attempted to re-enter the tavern. The affidavit says he was initially charged by D.C. police with assault with a dangerous weapon – knife. Court records, however, show that prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office lowered the charges to two counts of simple assault. The records show that on Jan. 15, 2013, Malki pleaded guilty to the two charges as part of a plea bargain arrangement.
The records show that Judge Marissa Demeo on that same day issued a sentence of 30 days for each of the two charges but suspended all 30 days for both counts. She then sentenced Malki to one year of supervised probation for both charges and ordered that he undergo alcohol and drug testing and undergo treatment if appropriate.
In the third case prior to the 2020 and 2021 cases, court records show Malki was arrested outside the Cobalt gay nightclub on March 14, 2015 on multiple counts of simple assault, attempted assault with a dangerous weapon – knife, possession of a prohibited weapon – knife, and unlawful entry.
The arrest affidavit says an altercation started on the sidewalk outside the bar when for unknown reasons, Malki grabbed a female customer who was outside smoking and attempted to pull her toward him. When her female friend came to her aid, Malki allegedly got “aggressive” by threatening the woman and “removed what appeared to be a knife from an unknown location” and pointed it at the woman’s friend in a threatening way, the affidavit says.
It says a Cobalt employee minutes later ordered Malki to leave the area and he appeared to do so. But others noticed that he walked toward another entrance door to Cobalt and attempted to enter the establishment knowing he had been ordered not to return because of previous problems with his behavior, the affidavit says. When he attempted to push away another employee to force his way into Cobalt, Malki fell to the ground during a scuffle and other employees held him on the ground while someone else called D.C. police.
Court records show that similar to all of Malki’s arrests, a judge released him while awaiting trial and ordered him to stay away from Cobalt and all of those he was charged with threatening and assaulting.
The records show that on Sept. 18, 2015, Malki agreed to a plea bargain offer by prosecutors in which all except two of the charges – attempted possession of a prohibited weapon and simple assault – were dropped. Judge Alfred S. Irving Jr. on Oct. 2, 2015 sentenced Malki to 60 days of incarnation for each of the two charges but suspended all but five days, which he allowed Malki to serve on weekends, the court records show.
The judge ordered that the two five-day jail terms could be served concurrently, meaning just five days total would be served, according to court records. The records also show that Judge Irving sentenced Malki to one year of supervised probation for each of the two counts and ordered that he enter an alcohol treatment program and stay away from Cobalt.
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