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Batts seeks to change culture of police dept.

Anthony Batts, Baltimore City Police Department, gay news, Washington Blade

Commissioner Anthony W. Batts appeared before two-dozen LGBT community activists at a town hall meeting on April 14. (Washington Blade photo by Steve Charing)

Acknowledging that some members of the Baltimore City Police Department are not as sensitive to LGBT issues as they should be, Commissioner Anthony W. Batts pledged to “add tools to the toolbox” to remedy the situation. He was referring to stepped-up training to “change the culture in the department.”

Batts appeared before two-dozen LGBT community activists and city residents at a town hall meeting on April 14 at the Northwest District Community Action Center in Baltimore to provide the status of progress in police-LGBT relations. It was the second such meeting—the other occurred last October—organized by the 10-member LGBT Advisory Council that was formed at the behest of Batts following the beating of a gay man, Kenni Shaw, then 25, in East Baltimore on Christmas night of 2012.

Audience members brought up specific concerns, such as mistrust between the police and transgender residents, police response to domestic violence, need for policies that protect gender variant individuals when interacting with the police, dispatch policies, a reporting mechanism for negative interactions between the police and the community and fear of reprisals if such interactions are reported.

Batts said he would meet more frequently with the LGBT community and would work hard to resolve the issues.


Trial of gay man’s attacker to begin

Kenni Shaw, gay news, Washington Blade, Baltimore, hate crime

Kenni Shaw (Photo courtesy of Shaw via Instagram)

The trial of one of the defendants in the high-profile attack on Kenni Shaw — a gay man —Marcus Troy Evans, is set to begin on June 25 at 9:30 a.m. Shaw, 30, a cosmetologist, was leaving a corner store at E. Hoffman and N. Rose Streets in East Baltimore and punched from behind around 9 p.m. on Christmas night. Shaw was bloodied and sustained bruises to his face and body from the beating that ultimately lasted 10 minutes and included five men.

Marcus Troy Evans, 27, the only attacker arrested in the incident, has a lengthy record of criminal behavior that includes violence. He has been charged with first- and second-degree assault.

The incident led to a march several days later to the location of the beating by community members. Included was Baltimore City Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts. Some community activists are disappointed and angry that the assault was not treated as a hate crime.  Shaw and others said the attack occurred only because he is gay as nothing was stolen.


Police Advisory Council formed

Baltimore City Police, gay news, Washington Blade

Baltimore City Police vehicle (Photo by Artondra Hall)

A new 10-member advisory council was announced June 14 consisting of advocates within the LGBT community and members of the Baltimore City Police Department including Commissioner Anthony H. Batts. Its mission is to seek ways to improve the relationship between the LGBT community and the police.

“We will work hard with other committee members to collect best practices from around the country, to develop training curricula, and review hate crime investigation procedures, among other things,” Aaron Merki, executive director of Baltimore-based FreeState Legal and one of the council’s co-chairs told the Blade.


Activists march after gay man’s beating

Kenni Shaw, gay news, Washington Blade, Baltimore, hate crime

Kenni Shaw (Photo courtesy of Shaw via Instagram)

A march to protest the beating of Kenni Shaw, 30, an African-American gay man, and violence directed toward the LGBT community in general took place on Jan. 5. It included a diverse group of about 50 activists and officials.

Shaw was attacked from behind by at least five men on Christmas night as he left an East Baltimore liquor store. He sustained bruises to his face and body from the beating that lasted for more than 10 minutes. Nothing was stolen from Shaw, who has said the assault was a hate crime.

Following the march that began on N. Gay Street, a rally was held in front of the liquor store near where the beating occurred.

Baltimore City Police Commissioner Anthony Batts addressed the crowd and announced the department will establish an advisory board to meet regularly with LGBT people.

“We wanted to go into the neighborhood and look at the faces in the crowd and say no matter if we’re gay or not, we can live here, we can walk here, and we will not be intimidated,” Kinji Scott, one of the organizers of the march told the Blade. “And when you beat us down, we will stand up.”

Marcus Evans, 26, was arrested in connection with the beating of Shaw and has been charged with 1st and 2nd degree assault.