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Washington Post endorses gay Ward 1 D.C. Council candidate

Czapary ‘has smart ideas about how to build the public trust in police’

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Salah Czapary won the backing of the Post over incumbent Brianne Nadeau. (Screen capture via YouTube)

Gay former D.C. police officer Salah Czapary, who is challenging incumbent Council member Brianne Nadeau for the city’s Ward 1 D.C. Council seat in the June 21 Democratic primary, has received the endorsement of the Washington Post.

The Post’s endorsement of a political newcomer over an incumbent Council member raised eyebrows among some political observers, who consider Nadeau to be the frontrunner in the three-candidate race. Also challenging Nadeau in the primary is community activist and Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Sabel Harris.

Nadeau cited her longstanding record of support on LGBTQ issues and Harris expressed support for the LGBTQ community during a candidates’ forum last week organized by the Capital Stonewall Democrats, a local LGBTQ group.

“We previously backed Ms. Nadeau, but she is increasingly on the wrong side of important issues,” the Post states in its editorial endorsing Czapary. “She has voted to cut the police budget and raise taxes and no longer favors mayoral control of schools,” the Post editorial says.

“Of her opponents, the clear choice is Salah Czapary over Sabel Harris, an advisory neighborhood commissioner whose positions on many issues mirror those of Ms. Nadeau,” the Post editorial continues.

“Mr. Czapary is a former D.C. police officer who has made public safety a focus of his campaign,” it says. “His experience in uniform and later in civilian positions that included community outreach gives him unique insights, and he has smart ideas about how to build the public trust in police that is so crucial in crime prevention,” the editorial concludes.

Czapary is one of two gay candidates running this year for a D.C. Council seat. Gay D.C. State Board of Education member Zachary Parker is running in a seven-candidate race for the Ward 5 Council seat being vacated by incumbent Kenyan McDuffie, who gave up the seat in an unsuccessful run for the D.C. Attorney General position.

In that race, the Post has endorsed Faith Gibson Hubbard, an educator, community organizer, and former official in the administration of Mayor Muriel Bowser, over Parker and the five other candidates.

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District of Columbia

Four LGBTQ candidates running for delegate to Democratic National Convention from D.C.

Thirty-two candidates competing for 13 elected delegate positions in April 20 party caucus

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From left, candidates include John Fanning, Jimmie Williams, Monika Nemeth and David Meadows. (Photos courtesy of the D.C. Democratic Party)

Four LGBTQ Democratic Party activists are running for election as delegates from D.C. to the Democratic National Convention at an April 20 local Democratic Party caucus election in which all D.C. voters who are registered as Democrats will be eligible to vote.

The four LGBTQ candidates are among 32 candidates competing for just 13 elected delegate positions. D.C. will have a total of 51 delegates to the Democratic Convention, but the other 38 include elected officials and party leaders who are considered “automatic” or appointed delegates. The convention will be held in Chicago Aug. 19-23,

Under the delegate selection process put in place by the D.C. Democratic Party, six of the thirteen elected delegate positions will be elected by voters in a section of the city designated as District 1, which includes Wards 1,2, 6, and 8. The other seven elected delegates will be chosen by voters in District 2, which includes Wards 3, 4, 5, and 7.

The LGBTQ candidates include longtime gay Democratic activists David Meadows of Ward 6 and John Fanning of Ward 2 who are running in District 1. Transgender rights advocate and Democratic Party activist Monika Nemeth of Ward 3 and gay Democratic activist Jimmy Williams of Ward 7 are running in District  2.

All four of the LGBTQ candidates have been active members of the Capital Stonewall Democrats, one of D.C.’s largest LGBTQ political organizations. Nemeth and Meadows are past presidents of the organization. Williams has served as chair of the Ward 7 Democratic Committee and is a current member of the committee. Fanning has served as an elected member of the D.C. Democratic State Committee from Ward 2 and served as a delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

A total of 12 candidates are running in each of the two districts. Under party rules the highest six vote getters in District 1 and the highest 7 vote getters in District 2 will be declared the winners.

The Saturday, April 20 caucus election for the delegate candidates will take place at the Walter E. Washington D.C. Convention Center. An announcement by party officials says two voting sessions will take place, one from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and the other from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Aside from the elected delegates, two prominent D.C. LGBTQ Democratic leaders will be appointed as delegates to the 2024 Democratic National Convention in their role as members of the Democratic National Committee from D.C.

They are Claire Lucas, a highly acclaimed Democratic Party and LGBTQ rights advocate and party fundraiser; and Earl Fowlkes, one of the lead organizers of D.C.’s annual Black LGBTQ Pride celebration and former president of Capital Stonewall Democrats.

Lucas and Fowlkes and the four LGBTQ candidates running in the April 20 caucus election are committed to backing President Joe Biden as the Democratic nominee for re-election.

Statements from each of the candidates running for delegate in the April 20 caucus election, including the four LGBTQ candidates, can be accessed here: Candidates for Delegate | DC Democratic Party

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District of Columbia

HIPS D.C. launches ‘Harm Reduction’ vending machine program

LGBTQ supportive group says program aimed at ‘saving lives’ in response to overdose crisis

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HIPS official Andrea Bradley, at right, provides information about the HIPS Harm Reduction Vending Machine at Whitman-Walker's Max Robinson Center as University of Maryland Professor Andrea Lopez, who is conducting a study of the vending machine program, stands beside a red syringe disposal bin that accompanies the vending machines. (Washington Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

HIPS D.C., the LGBTQ supportive organization that provides support and services for drug users and sex workers, officially launched on April 5 a ‘Harm Reduction Vending Machine Pilot Program’ that it says will help save lives by providing free of charge harm reduction supplies for drug users in locations where there is a “higher than average” rate of overdose cases.

The announcement of the project was held outside the Whitman-Walker Health Max Robinson Center building at 1201 Sycamore Dr., S.E., next to where one of the first three HIPS vending machines is located.

Alexandra Bradley, HIPS’ Outreach and Community Engagement Manager, told a small gathering at the announcement event that among the supplies provided free of charge through the vending machines are naloxone, the life-saving nasal spray medication used to treat an opioid drug overdose; fentanyl test kits, syringes, and syringe wound care kits; drug snort kits, condoms, and other items, including  water bottles and snack food such as crackers and granola bars.

Bradley and other officials with HIPS and Whitman-Walker Health said they believe most people, when informed of the rationale behind the vending machines and other programs supporting drug users, will understand that the programs are not encouraging drug use.

“People will use drugs,” Bradley said. “We want them to use them safely,” she added, with the hope that they will seek support to get off drugs. “We can’t help anybody if they are dead. We want to keep people safe,” Bradley said.

A statement released by HIPS says the vending machine pilot program is being funded by a grant from the D.C. Department of Health. It says anyone can access the machines free of charge by contacting HIPS through a phone number posted on the machines – 202-779-0486 – to obtain a four-digit participant code “that they will then punch in to use the machines.” It says that as of April 5, 150 individuals had already registered and enrolled in the program.

Bradley pointed out that registration is not required to obtain naloxone supplies, which can be obtained through a code number posted on the machines. She said each of the three machines are also accompanied by a metal disposal receptacle for safely placing used syringes.

“These machines have been placed in areas where there are higher concentrations of overdose deaths and/or underserved areas with high levels of need for access to services and supplies,” the HIPS statement says.

In addition to the HIPS vending machine at the site of Whitman-Walker’s Max Robinson Center, the second HIPS vending machine is located at The Michelle Obama Southeast Center of Bread for the City at 1700 Marion Barry Avenue, S.E., and the third one is located at Bread for the City’s Shaw neighborhood facility at 1525 7th Street, N.W.

The announcement of the vending machine harm reduction project comes at a time when many in the D.C. LGBTQ community have mourned the loss of beloved local LGBTQ members from a drug overdose, including accidental drug overdoses caused by contamination of their preferred drug such as cocaine with fentanyl.

Also speaking at the announcement event was Andrea Lopez, an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland’s Department of Anthropology, which she said is partnering with HIPS to conduct a  study of the vending machine pilot program and its impact as a public health project and the public health benefits of vending machines as an “intervention” in support of those in need.

Others who spoke at the event and provided details of the vending machine project were Cyndee Clay, the HIPS Executive Director; Starr O’Leary, the HIPS Community Outreach Coordinator;  and Jona Tanguay, an official with Whitman-Walker Health.

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District of Columbia

Anti-gay incident on Metro train under investigation by Metro transit police

Police response prompted by social media post of incident that drew over 5 million views

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(Photo by jiawangkun/Bigstock)

An incident on Sunday afternoon, April 7, in which an unidentified man began shouting anti-gay slurs at two men believed to be a gay couple with a child on board a Metro train as it left the Dupont Circle Station and which was witnessed by a lesbian couple who defended the gay male couple is being investigated by Metro transit police.

Mishka Espey, who witnessed the incident with her partner, Gianna Gronowski, told the Washington Blade the two women became fearful that the male passenger might have physically assaulted them, and the gay male couple, based on his loud yelling of anti-gay names and the angry facial expressions he displayed.

According to Espey, he did not physically attack them or the gay couple and got off the train at the Judiciary Square station shortly after the gay couple got off the train a few stops earlier, possibly at Metro Center or Gallery Place.

Espey noted that her partner Gianna used her phone to capture part of the incident on video, which she posted on the social media site X, formerly known as Twitter, and which has been viewed over 5 million times, according to D.C.’s Channel 7 News, which has reported the incident.

Espey said someone from Metro police called Gronowski about the incident after police learned about it through the X posting.

“Just witnessed a small child get SCREAMED at by a man for having two dads,” Gronowski posted on X. “This man yelled that everyone on the train should ‘be sick’ that this ‘innocent child’ was being raised by two fags – we yelled at him to get off the train, the family departed, and he followed them,” Gronowski states in her post.

Espey told the Blade that when they saw the man appearing to follow the gay couple as the couple left the train, Espey and Gronowski shouted at the man to divert his attention, with the hope that he would not assault the gay couple on the train platform.

“He was very angry and loud and aggressive toward this couple that was standing right in front of us,” Espey told the Blade. “And he got closer to them. They were horrified,” said Espey. “They got off the Metro and he seemed to be following them off the Metro. And at that point, me and my partner started yelling at him,” Espey recalls. “And he turned his attention to us and started yelling at us,” said Espey, who uses the pronoun ‘they.’

“He was getting off to follow them, and then when we started yelling at him, he stopped right in the middle of the Metro door and was yelling at us from the doorway and holding up the train because he was literally in the doorway,” Espey said. “He then got off the train and walked down the other end of the same car we were in and then got back on the train,” Espey continued.

At that point, Gronowski filmed the second part of her video from her phone that shows the man standing on the opposite side of the train car, Espey says. “And that’s him just glaring at us from the other side of the Metro,” as seen in the video. “And at that point I was a little bit scared he was going to follow us all the way home” to the Silver Spring Metro station, which was their destination.

But instead, the man got off the train at the Judiciary Square station, Espey points out.

Metro Transit police had not responded to a request by the Blade for comment on the incident, including  the question of whether the type of hostile name-calling without a physical assault engaged in by the unidentified man constitutes a crime — including a hate crime designation — that would merit an arrest and prosecution.

Channel 7 News reports that Metro Transit Police told Channel 7 it is “investigating the alleged incident.”

Anyone who witnessed the incident onboard the train or who may have seen the video image of the man who engaged in the name-calling from the X posting and who may be able to identify him can contact Metro Transit Police at 202-962-2121.

Under D.C. law, name-calling by itself is neither a crime nor a hate crime “regardless of how offensive it may be,” according to a statement on the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department website. The MPD statement says a hate crime is also not a crime by itself but instead is a motive for an underlying crime such as assault, murder, or vandalism.

The Office of the United States Attorney for D.C., which prosecutes D.C. crimes, says in a statement that an underlying crime could be an “assault or a threat,” but the statement does not specify exactly how a threat is defined.  

Espey told the Blade that they and their partner Gianna felt threatened by the man on the Metro and two women believe the gay male couple also felt threatened.

Espey said they and partner Gianna boarded the Metro at the Dupont Circle station after they walked from nearby Stead Park, where they played kickball as part of the LGBTQ Stonewall Kickball League.

The X posting by Gianna Gronowski can be viewed here:

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