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Gay Asian man, parents attacked in D.C.’s Observatory Circle area

Suspect shouted, ‘faggots,’ ‘You are not Americans!’



Sean Lai, 30, an out gay man of Chinese ancestry, was beaten earlier this month. He is shown here at his graduation ceremony at Georgetown University, where he received his doctorate degree last year in physics.

A gay Chinese man and his parents were attacked and beaten about 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 7, on the 3700 block of Fulton Street, N.W. near the National Observatory by a male suspect who called them “faggots” and shouted, “You are not Americans!,” according to charging documents filed in D.C. Superior Court.

The charging documents show that D.C. police, who arrived on the scene as the incident was unfolding, arrested Patrick Joseph Miller Trebat, 38, on one count of Felony Assault, two counts of Simple Assault, and one count of Destruction of Property. A police incident report lists the assault as a suspected hate crime.

A statement released by the Watch Commander of the D.C. Police Second District, whose officers made the arrest, said the family of three were transported to a local hospital for treatment of injuries listed as non-life threatening. 

The Watch Commander, who is not identified by name, added in the statement that suspect Trebat punched and kicked the three victims as he stated, “Get out of my country.”  

Among the victims was Sean Lai, 30, an out gay man of Chinese ancestry who last year completed his doctorate degree in physics at Georgetown University and currently works as a data scientist. He has been a D.C. resident since 2013.

Court documents state that Trebat allegedly attacked Lai and his parents as they were walking on the street in the city’s Observatory Circle neighborhood where they are currently living and which is a short distance from the National Cathedral. 

The court documents show that prosecutors with the Office of the U.S. Attorney for D.C. filed documents in D.C. Superior Court, charging Trebat with two counts of Bias-related Assault with Significant Bodily Injury and one count of Bias-related Assault in connection with the incident along with a charge of destruction of property related to damage to Lai’s cell phone during the attack.

But the charges filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office attribute the bias aspect of the crime only to the three victims’ “actual or perceived national origin.” The charges filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office do not attribute the attack to bias related to Lai’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, even though one of the charging documents quotes Trebat as reciting the word “faggots.”

William Miller, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said the office does not comment on its reasons for charging decisions in pending cases. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is continuing to investigate the facts and circumstances of the case and has no further comment at this time,” Miller told the Washington Blade.

The court documents show that Trebat is a resident of an apartment at 4201 Cathedral Ave., N.W., which is located less than a mile from where the incident occurred. The documents show he was released by a judge two days after his arrest on the condition that he be placed in the court’s High Intensity Supervision release program.

Court records show D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith Pipe also issued a pretrial stay away order. The details of the order were not immediately made public, but most such orders require an arrested person to stay away from anyone he or she is charged with harming.

The court records also show that court status hearings set for the Trebat case initially scheduled for Aug. 30 and Oct. 20 were cancelled and his next scheduled appearance in court for a felony status conference is set for Nov. 15.

Details of the incident are provided in the police incident report and a two-page arrest affidavit prepared by police and prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Although Lai’s sexual orientation is not disclosed in the police report or the arrest affidavit, a close friend who contacted the Washington Blade said Lai wishes to be identified as an out gay man. The friend said Lai plans to release a public statement about the incident after more details about the case become known.

According to the two documents, Lai, who is listed as Victim 3, told police he and his parents were walking home along the 3700 block of Fulton Street, N.W. when Suspect 1, later identified as Trebat, started following them. The police report says the family lives on the 3900 block of Fulton St. 

“Victim 3 states that he and his family tried to cross the street to create distance between them and Suspect 1,” the police report says. “Victim 3 states that he heard Defendant 1 call him and his family ‘faggots’ and that he heard D-1 exclaim, ‘You are not Americans!’ before D-1 began to assault his family,” the arrest affidavit states.

The affidavit identifies Victim 1 as the mother, age 61, and Victim 2 as the father, age 64. 

“Victim 1 and Victim 2 did not speak English,” the affidavit says, adding that police arriving on the scene immediately placed a radio call for a police officer who is a Mandarin speaker who quickly arrived on the scene to provide translation services to help police interview the parents. 

“V-1 stated that D-1 assaulted her husband V-2, causing him to fall to the ground,” the affidavit continues. “V-1 states that D-1 then pushed her to the ground, causing the listed injury. V-2 stated that D-1 came from behind and struck him with a closed fist in the back of the head, causing him to fall to the ground,” says the affidavit.

“V-3,” Sean Lai, “states he turned around and observed D-1 assault his parents,” says the affidavit. “V-3 intervened and pushed D-1 away from his parents, ensuing in a physical struggle between V-3 and D-1,” the affidavit says.

The affidavit says the father then tried to intervene to protect his son from Trebat’s assault, but Trebat “kept pushing them both to the ground.” It says that at some point during the assault, each of the three victims sustained injuries serious enough to send them to a hospital.

It says that during his struggle with Trebat, Lai’s phone fell out of his pocket and was damaged when it struck the ground. The affidavit says the damaged phone prompted prosecutors to charge Trebat with the single count of destruction of property.

The attack against Lai and his parents took place five months after the release of a report in March by the group Stop Asian American Pacific Islander Hate that found at least 140 hate-related incidents had been reported against people of Asian ancestry across D.C., Maryland, and Virginia since March of 2020.

Civil rights organizations have attributed the anti-Asian attacks to the bogus and racist belief by some that Asians should be blamed for the coronavirus pandemic because it originated in China.



Virginia Beach high school students stage walkouts to support transgender rights

City’s school board approved policy to out trans students to parents



Transgender flags (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key.)

Students at five Virginia Beach high schools on Friday staged walkouts in support of transgender rights.

The walkout is in response to the Virginia Beach School Board potentially approving policy 5-31, which the Pride Liberation Project says will require schools to out trans students to their parents.

Students have been organizing walkouts across the state since Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin earlier this year announced new guidelines for trans and nonbinary students.

“Students like me aren’t going to be able to talk to our teachers if we’re constantly worried about our school officials calling home to forcibly out us,” AJ, a trans Kellam High School Student, told the Pride Liberation Project.

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District of Columbia

Pepco, Exelon announce $2.7 million in funding for four minority-owned businesses

‘It’s good business sense to bring more people to the table’



Pepco and Exelon held a press conference Friday to announce four recipients of $2.7 million in investments. (Photo courtesy Exelon)

Pepco and Exelon announced a $2.7 million investment in four minority-owned businesses on Friday.

“Today’s been a long time coming,” said Pepco Vice President of Governmental and External Affairs Valencia McClure.

Pepco’s parent company, Exelon, launched the Racial Equity Capital Fund (RECF) in 2022 to expand capital access to diverse businesses. This latest $2.7 million investment is just a portion of RECF’s $36 million in funding.

At the announcement, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser spoke about the other ways Pepco and Exelon have “put their money where their mouth is” through their partnership with the D.C. Infrastructure Academy. She reported that all 22 of the residents that graduated from the program last week have a job offer from Pepco.

“We know that is not just a job, but a career,” she said to the crowd’s applause. “We know that working together, we can invest in D.C. residents, provide opportunity, and ensure that our D.C. businesses are a part of D.C.’s growing prosperity.”

The four minority businesses that received funding were Gemini Energy Solutions, Public Sector Solutions Group, CJR Development Partners, and Escalate.

“It’s good business sense to bring more people to the table,” said fund recipient Nicole Cober, CJR Development’s Principle Managing Partner.

Gemini Energy Solutions, which is Black owned, received $1 million, the most of the four companies. Its mission is to equitably scale energy efficiency to marginalized communities. For the founder and CEO Anthony Kinslow II, this investment means that he is able to get paid and advance the work of his organization.

“We are now able to accelerate the work in our software and technology development,” he said. “What we were going to do in two years, we are now going to do in six months.”

For Escalate, a workforce development platform focused on frontline worker retention, the funding means that it will be able to double the pay for frontline workers.

Public Sector Solutions Group CEO Darryl Wiggins emphasized that this investment was not just ‘charity’ work, but mission-driven work.

“The principle and the intent is greater than the money we receive,” he said. Public Sector Solutions is Black owned.

Public Sector Solutions Group received a $600,000 debt investment; CJR Development, a minority and woman-owned small business, received a $600,000 debt investment; and Escalate, a majority Black and woman-owned company, received a $500,000 equity investment.

Exelon launched the RECF in partnership with RockCreek, one of the world’s largest diverse-owned global investment firms, in 2022. The RECF expands capital access to diverse businesses so they can create more jobs, grow their companies and reinvest in their neighborhoods and communities, according to a statement from Exelon.

New RECF applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Interested businesses may apply online or contact RockCreek at [email protected] for more information.

(Photo courtesy Exelon)
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Comings & Goings

Armstrong recognized with Lifetime Achievement Award



Lynden C. Armstrong

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected].

Congratulations to Lynden C. Armstrong on his Lifetime Achievement award from the Congressional Management Foundation in recognition of his exemplary public service in Congress. 

Upon receiving the award Armstrong said, “This recognition is not just a personal achievement, but a testament to the unwavering dedication and hard work of colleagues and mentors who have been with me on this journey. I’ve dedicated my entire career to public service within the Senate, where recognition isn’t the primary motivation for our work, making this recognition even more humbling.” He is currently Deputy Assistant Senate Sergeant at Arms and Chief Information Officer.  

Armstrong started his career with Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), where he rose to Deputy Chief of Staff in his more than 13-year stint. In 2004, during his tenure with Domenici, amid a debate on the Federal Marriage Amendment, Armstrong became a co-founder of the Gay, Lesbian and Allies Senate Staff (GLASS) Caucus. In 2014, he moved to the Sergeant at Arms CIO organization, where he established a new department within the CIO that was crafted to engage Senate offices in comprehending and harnessing technologies provided by the SAA. 

Lynden has previously served as Chief Clerk on the U.S. Senate, Committee on Rules and Administration, and with the U.S. Senate, Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, as Deputy Inaugural Coordinator, 2012–2013.  In that role among other responsibilities, he served as civilian liaison to the National Special Security Event Executive Steering Committee and subcommittees, including the Capitol, USCP, Crowd Management, Public Relations, Transportation, and credentialing, and as liaison to the Joint Task Force – National Capital Region. 

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