D.C. Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton released a letter last week calling on Michael R. Sherwin, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia who serves as the city’s top prosecutor, to step up prosecutions of hate crimes targeting the LGBTQ community.
Norton’s office said her letter follows several public meetings Norton has held to address the issue of prosecuting hate crimes.
“This letter is the latest in my longstanding work to ensure every member of our community is safe from attack and harassment,” Norton said in an Aug. 5 statement. “We must work to protect our LGBTQ community,” she said.
“The U.S. Attorney for D.C., who is not elected by D.C. residents or appointed by D.C. officials, is responsible for prosecuting almost all local crimes in D.C.,” Norton said. “I have continuously pressed the last several U.S. Attorneys for D.C. to prosecute hate crimes and will continue to do so. The office must work to ensure everybody can live in a safe environment.”
D.C. police records show that as of June 30, 2020, in the first half of 2020, there were 15 reported hate crimes targeting the victim because of their sexual orientation and 12 reported hate crimes targeting the victims because of their gender identity. It couldn’t immediately be determined from police records how many of those cases resulted in an arrest and whether the U.S. Attorney’s Office has prosecuted any of the cases.
Norton noted she has introduced legislation in the House of Representatives calling for giving D.C. the authority to prosecute all local crimes. The legislation was not expected to be approved by Congress under the current Republican-controlled U.S. Senate.
In response to a request for comment by the Blade, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office said the office was looking into Norton’s statement and would have a comment later this week.