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Mayor joins Whitman-Walker in groundbreaking for new building

Health organization to open largest-ever facility at St. Elizabeth’s East



Mayor Bowser at Thursday’s groundbreaking; to her left are Whitman-Walker CEO Naseema Shafi and Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio. (Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro Jr.)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Council members Trayon White (D-Ward 8) and Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7) joined other city officials and community leaders in a groundbreaking ceremony on July 15 for Whitman-Walker Health’s new healthcare center at the city’s rapidly developing site in Ward 8 known as the St. Elizabeth’s East Campus.

The six-story, 118,000-square-foot building, scheduled to open in the middle of 2023, will be Whitman-Walker’s largest-ever healthcare facility and will expand the health services currently provided in Ward 8 by Whitman-Walker’s Max Robinson Center in nearby Anacostia, according to a Whitman-Walker statement.

“This new health care home will reflect the vibrancy of the community and will give us an opportunity to expand care in ways we have been dreaming of for decades,” said Whitman-Walker CEO Naseema Shafi. “We are humbled to be working with Mayor Bowser and her team on this project,” Shafi told participants in the groundbreaking event.

Whitman-Walker describes itself as a non-profit community health center serving the D.C. metropolitan area with a special expertise in HIV/AIDS healthcare and LGBTQ healthcare. It says it currently provides services and care to more than 20,000 people annually.

In a statement released on the day of the groundbreaking event, Whitman-Walker said the new building will provide, among other services, primary, behavioral, dental, and “substance misuse” treatment services. Shafi said the new facility, similar to Whitman-Walker’s other facilities in Northwest D.C., will provide HIV-related care and care for transgender people and LGBTQ people in general.

According to the statement, the new facility will also include a ground-floor pharmacy and increased care for young people. In addition, it will provide administrative office space for over 100 Whitman-Walker staff, the statement says.

“This expansion will also allow Whitman-Walker to diversify and expand its research portfolio,” said Whitman-Walker spokesperson Jewel Addy. “Whitman-Walker has conducted research since 1987, studying nearly every HIV and Hepatitis C treatment on the market today,” Addy said.

“It’s difficult to say how important Whitman-Walker has been to D.C. residents,” Mayor Bowser told close to 100 people who turned out for the groundbreaking. “You’ve been part of the community for almost 50 years,” the mayor said. “And as you have grown and expanded, you have always prioritized the needs of the community. And because of that, Whitman-Walker has earned the trust of D.C. residents,” she said. “And we can’t wait to welcome you to St. Elizabeth Campus.”

White said he was pleased that Ward 8, which he represents on the D.C. Council, will be the host to the new Whitman-Walker facility. He and Gray, who represents nearby Ward 7, said they were looking forward to the expanded healthcare services the new facility will provide for people in need who live in the eastern section of the city, which historically has been underserved in healthcare.

John Falcicchio, the D.C. Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, told the gathering that the new Whitman-Walker building will be one of several public and commercial buildings and facilities that either have already opened or will soon open at the St. Elizabeth’s East Campus.

He noted that the campus is home to the already operating St. Elizabeth’s East Sports and Entertainment Arena, which is home to the world champion Washington Mystics women’s basketball team. He said the campus will soon become home to a 252-unit housing facility, about 80 new townhomes, a new parking garage, a new city library, and a new hospital.

The Whitman-Walker statement says the D.C. development companies Redbrick LMC and Gragg Cardona Partners are working with Whitman-Walker to arrange for the construction of the new building.

“This groundbreaking represents the beginning of the realization of a bold vision shared by our partners at Whitman-Walker, Gragg Cardona Partners, District leadership and members of the community to build a new engine for economic vitality and quality healthcare,” said Louis Dubin, managing partner at Redbrick LMD.

Whitman-Walker, gay news, Washington Blade
Whitman-Walker’s six-story, 118,000-square-foot building is scheduled to open in the middle of 2023.


Montgomery County police chief discusses arrest of trans student charged with planned school shooting

County executive tells news conference student’s trans identity is irrelevant to criminal charge



(Photo by jiawangkun/Bigstock)

Montgomery County, Md., Police Chief Marcus Jones joined other county and law enforcement officials at a news conference on Friday, April 19, to provide details of the police investigation and arrest of an 18-year-old high school student charged two days earlier with threats of mass violence based on information that he allegedly planed a mass shooting at the high school and elementary school he attended in Rockville, Md.

In charging documents and in a press released issued on April 18, Montgomery County Police identified the arrested student as “Andrea Ye, of Rockville, whose preferred name is Alex Ye.”

One of the charging documents states that a friend of Ye, who police say came forward as a witness who played a crucial role in alerting authorities to Ye’s threats of a school shooting, noted that Ye told the witness that Ye identified as the transgender student he wrote about as character in a 129-page manifesto outlining plans for a school shooting. Police have said Ye told them the manifesto was a fictional story he planned to publish.  

At the news conference on Friday, Police Chief Jones and other law enforcement officials, including an FBI official and Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, referred to the student as Alex Ye and Mr. Ye. None of the officials raised the issue of whether Ye identified as a transgender man, seven though one of the police documents identifies Ye as a “biological female.”

County Executive Elrich appeared to express the views of the public officials at the news conference when one of the media reporters, during a question-and-answer period, asked Elrich why he and the others who spoke at the news conferment failed to “admit that this individual was transgender.”

“Because it’s not a lead,” Elrich replied, asking if the press and law enforcement authorities should disclose that someone arrested for murder is “a white Christian male who’s heterosexual.” Elrich stated, “No, you don’t – You never publish somebody’s sexual orientation when we talk about this. Why you are focusing on this being a transgender is beyond me. It’s not a news story. It is not a crime to  be transgender.”

The reporter attempted to respond but was cut off by the press conference moderator, who called on someone else to ask the next question.

In his remarks at the press conference Chief Jones praised the so far unidentified witness who was the first to alert authorities about Ye’s manifesto appearing to make threats of a mass school shooting.

“Now, this is a situation that highlights  the critical importance of vigilance and community involvement in preventing potential tragedies,” Jones said. “I commend the collaborative efforts of the Montgomery County Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation,  the Rockville City Police Department, and the Montgomery County Public Schools, as well as Montgomery County Health and Human Services,” he told the gathering.

“Thanks to their swift action and cooperation a potentially catastrophic event was prevented,” Jones said.

Jones pointed out that during the current school year, police have received reports of 140 threats to the public schools in Montgomery County. He said after a thorough investigation, none of them rose to the level where an arrest was made. Instead, police and school officials took steps to arrange for the student making the threats and their parents to take remedial action, including providing  mental health services.

“But this case is different,” Jones said. “This case is entirely different that takes it to a different level. It was a concerned witness who brought this matter to light by rereporting the suspect’s manifesto to the authorities. This underscores the value of community engagement and the ‘see something say something’ approach,” he said.

Jones mentioned at the press conference that Ye was  being held without bond since the time of his arrest but was scheduled to appear in court for a bond hearing on Friday shortly after the press conference took place to determine whether he should be released while awaiting trial or continue to be held.

In his manifesto obtained by police, Ye writes about committing a school shooting, and strategizes how to carry out the act. Ye also contemplates targeting an elementary school and says that he wants to be famous.

In charging documents reported on by WJLA 7 and WBAL 11, the 129-page document, which Ye has referred to as a book of fiction, included writings that said, in part:

“I want to shoot up a school. I’ve been preparing for months. The gun is an AR-15. This gun is going to change lives tomorrow … As I walk through the hallways, I cherry pick the classrooms that are the easiest targets. I need to figure out how to sneak the gun in. I have contemplated making bombs. The instructions to make them are surprisingly available online. I have also considered shooting up my former elementary school because little kids make easier targets. High school’s the best target; I’m the most familiar with the layout. I pace around my room like an evil mastermind. I’ve put so much effort into this. My ultimate goal would be to set the world record for the most amount of kills in a shooting. If I have time, I’ll try to decapitate my victims with a knife to turn the injuries into deaths.”

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Rockville teen charged with plotting school shooting after FBI finds ‘manifesto’

Alex Ye charged with threats of mass violence



Alex Ye (Photo courtesy of the Montgomery County Police Department)

BY BRETT BARROUQUERE | A Montgomery County high school student is charged with what police describe as plans to commit a school shooting.

Andrea Ye, 18, of Rockville, whose preferred name is Alex Ye, is charged with threats of mass violence. Montgomery County Police and the FBI arrested Ye Wednesday.

The rest of this article can be found on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

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District of Columbia

New D.C. LGBTQ+ bar Crush set to open April 19

An ‘all-inclusive entertainment haven,’ with dance floor, roof deck



Crush (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C.’s newest LGBTQ+ bar called Crush is scheduled to open for business at 4 p.m. on Friday, April 19, in a spacious, two-story building with a dance floor and roof deck at 2007 14th St., N.W. in one of the city’s bustling nightlife areas.

A statement released by co-owners Stephen Rutgers and Mark Rutstein earlier this year says the new bar will provide an atmosphere that blends “nostalgia with contemporary nightlife” in a building that was home to a popular music store and radio supply shop.

Rutgers said the opening comes one day after Crush received final approval of its liquor license that was transferred from the Owl Room, a bar that operated in the same building before closing Dec. 31 of last year. The official opening also comes three days after Crush hosted a pre-opening reception for family, friends, and community members on Tuesday, April 16.

Among those attending, Rutgers said, were officials with several prominent local LGBTQ organizations, including officials with the DC Center for the LGBTQ Community, which is located across the street from Crush in the city’s Reeves Center municipal building. Also attending were Japer Bowles, director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, and Salah Czapary, director of the Mayor’s Office of Nightlife and Culture.  

Rutgers said Crush plans to hold a grand opening event in a few weeks after he, Rutstein and the bar’s employees become settled into their newly opened operations.

“Step into a venue where inclusivity isn’t just a promise but a vibrant reality,” a statement posted on the Crush website says. “Imagine an all-inclusive entertainment haven where diversity isn’t just celebrated, it’s embraced as the very heartbeat of our venue,” the statement says. “Welcome to a place where love knows no bounds, and the only color or preference that matters is the vibrant tapestry of humanity itself. Welcome to Crush.”

The website says Crush will be open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m., Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., Fridays from 4 p.m. to 3 a.m., Saturdays from 2 p.m. to 3 a.m., and Sundays from 2 p.m. to 12 a.m. It will be closed on Mondays.

Crush is located less than two blocks from the U Street Metro station.

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