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Suspect in custody in D.C. trans stabbing

Gay News, Washington Blade, Bree Wallace, transgender

Bree Wallace (Photo courtesy of Ruby Corado.)

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier broke the department’s silence over whether a suspect had been arrested for allegedly stabbing a transgender woman as much as 40 times early Friday morning, saying a suspect was in custody on “other charges” presumably in an unrelated case.

Lanier’s confirmation that the suspect was in custody came in the form of an email to LGBT activists on Sunday night.

It was the latest in a flurry of emails between activists and police officials over the police investigation into the stabbing of trans woman Bree Wallace, 29, in an abandoned house at 3038 Stanton Rd., S.E.

Wallace was being treated at Prince George’s Hospital Center in Cheverly, Md. D.C. police and D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Service rescue workers found her lying in the street about 1 a.m. Friday, June 21, outside the apartment building where she lives.

A police report says Wallace told investigators a man she knew from the neighborhood met her at the abandoned house, where she intended to buy a cigarette from him, when he suddenly began stabbing her for unknown reasons.

She ran from her attacker and managed to reach her apartment building on the 2400 block of 15th Place, S.E., before collapsing, the police report says. Neighbors who saw her immediately called police, according to the report.

Questions over whether an arrest had been made surfaced early Saturday when Wallace told transgender activists Earline Budd and Ruby Corado, who knew Wallace prior to the attack, that police told her father that the suspect had been arrested.

Wallace told the Blade in a phone interview on Sunday from her hospital bed of her father’s report that police said the suspect implicated in her stabbing had been arrested.

Budd and Corado told the Blade that police declined to confirm that the attacker had been charged in the stabbing when they reached out to police officials by email and phone calls over the weekend.

Police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump told the Blade in an email on Saturday that the incident was under investigation, but she didn’t respond to the Blade’s question asking whether an arrest had been made.

Assistant Police Chief Peter Newsham hinted at a reason the police were withholding information about an arrest in his own email to LGBT activists shortly before Lanier sent out her email on Sunday night.

“It is my understanding that the suspect is in jail on another charge,” Newsham told Budd in his email. “We don’t need the public’s assistance in this case. We believe we will be able to charge the suspect before release,” he said. “We will provide the suspect’s name once an arrest is made [in the stabbing case].”

Although he didn’t say so directly, Newsham appeared to be suggesting that the suspect was arrested on an unrelated charge sometime between the time he allegedly stabbed Wallace about 1 a.m. on Friday and the time police told Wallace’s father on Saturday morning that the suspect was in custody.

It could not immediately be determined why Newsham, Lanier and other police officials were reluctant to disclose the suspect’s name and the nature of the offense, unrelated to the alleged stabbing, that resulted in his arrest.

Corado said she visited Wallace in the hospital on Saturday. She said she is heartbroken over the pain and anguish that Wallace and other transgender women have suffered over what appears to be an endless series of violent attacks during the past several years in D.C.

“She is a good girl,” said Corado. “She always talks about thanking God she is not on drugs. She looked at me. She held my hand. I’m so tired of this happening so many times.”

24
Jun
2013

Bystanders cheer as women attack, beat D.C. drag performer

Miles DeNiro, Manny & Olga's, hate crime, gay news, Washington Blade

Miles DeNiro (Screen capture)

A male drag performer was punched, kicked, and dragged by his hair on the floor at the Manny & Olga’s pizzeria on 14th Street, N.W., about 2 a.m. Sunday by two female attackers in an incident that was captured on video taken by a bystander who cheered the attackers.

An official with the D.C. police department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit said police were investigating the incident and were reviewing the video, which had been posted on at least two websites, to determine the identity of the attackers. The incident was expected to be classified as a hate crime.

Miles DeNiro, 24, who had just performed under his drag name Heidi Glum at the nearby Black Cat nightclub, said he suffered cuts and bruises to his head and upper body and had clumps of hair pulled from his head in an encounter he described as horrifying and traumatic.

“I had ordered some food and was waiting and one girl approached me and she started touching my face, telling me I needed to blend my makeup,” DeNiro told the Washington Blade.

DeNiro, who said he identifies as a gay man, said he was dressed in drag after just having completed a performance at the Black Cat.

He said he asked the woman not to touch him and to “please back off” when another woman approached him and began calling him a “tranny” and “shouted insults at me saying I was a man and a faggot.” He said he shouted back as the name-calling escalated and one of the women slapped him in the face twice.

“Then I flipped out,” DeNiro said. “I spit in her face and her friend jumped in and they started dragging me around by my hair while punching me in the face repeatedly and kicking me,” he said. “They had me held down on the ground and they were pulling my hair out.”

The video shows the two women dragging and punching him before knocking him to the floor as bystanders shouted and cheered. An unidentified man who took the video can be heard repeatedly shouting and screaming the words “World Star,” which refers to a hip hop music website, on which the video was later posted.

The video shows DeNiro wiping blood from his forehead which he said came from at least two cuts on his head sustained when he was knocked to the floor.

Someone also posted the video on YouTube, but the popular video website took down the video a short time later and posted a message saying, “This video has been removed as a violation of YouTube’s policy on shocking and disgusting content.”

The video, which was also posted on the site liveleak.com, shows one of the Manny & Olga’s employees walking past where the women were punching DeNiro while carrying out several boxes of pizzas.

“There were five or six workers behind the counter or in the kitchen area and none of them did anything to stop it,” DeNiro said.

The assault ended, according to DeNiro, when two men walked into the restaurant from the sidewalk and pulled the two women away from him.

“I don’t know who they are but they appeared to have seen what was happening through the window and came in to help,” he said.

DeNiro said two friends who were with him drove him home. He said he chose not to call police at the time of the incident but reported the attack to police Monday afternoon at the Third Police District at 17th and V Street, N.W.

Sgt. Matt Mahl, supervisor of the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, said police first learned about the incident a few hours earlier when Rick Rosendall, president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, emailed a link to the video of the incident to the GLLU office. Rosendall told the Blade he received the video in an email sent by one of DeNiro’s friends, who also sent a link to the video to the Blade and other news media outlets.

Police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump told the Blade a second police report was filed by a party other than DeNiro related to an incident at Manny & Olga’s, but she didn’t identify who the other party was.

A man who identified himself only as Jamie and said he was a manager at Manny & Olga’s, located at 1841 14th Street, N.W., said the owners of the carry out restaurant were cooperating with police. He said the owners agreed to a request by police to show investigators footage from Manny & Olga’s in-house video surveillance cameras taken at the time of the incident. He said police were scheduled to view the video at 9 p.m. Tuesday evening.

“It’s my understanding that someone here did call the police and the police came,” Jamie told the Blade.

But DeNiro said police did not come before he left the restaurant to go home sometime after 2 a.m. on June 23. He said police could have arrived for an unrelated incident at the restaurant on a night in which he said “a lot of rowdy people” were on the street outside and inside Manny & Olga’s.”

DeNiro said he regrets that when he arrived home and observed the extent of his injuries, including damage to his scalp where hair had been pulled from its roots, that he posted two messages on his Twitter account using a racial slur to describe one of the two women attackers who is black.

The LGBT news website Queerty, which posted a story about the assault against DeNiro, quoted DeNiro’s Twitter postings, which used the “N” word.

The Queerty story prompted at least 20 readers to post comments debating one another over whether DeNiro’s racial comment should overshadow the significance of the assault, which many readers said was motivated by anti-gay and anti-trans prejudice.

“I was angry. I was irritated,” DeNiro told the Blade. “I said some things that I of course regret. I can’t change the past but I can only move forward and learn from this to become a better person.”

hate crime, Manny & Olga's, gay news, Washington Blade

A video of the altercation involving drag performer Miles DeNiro early Sunday morning at Manny & Olga’s pizzeria on 14th Street, N.W., shows these two women assaulting DeNiro as one of them drags him by his hair across the floor. (Screen capture)

25
Jun
2013

Attacker says drag performer threatened to give her AIDS

Miles DeNiro, Manny & Olga's, hate crime, gay news, Washington Blade

Miles Denaro, 24, says he was attacked by two women who called him a ‘tranny’ and ‘faggot.’ (Screen capture)

One of two women shown in a video posted online punching and kicking a gay male drag performer while pulling him by his hair inside a D.C. carryout restaurant has filed a police report accusing the man of biting her leg and telling her “now you have AIDS.”

The report given by the woman, which D.C. police made public Tuesday afternoon, was the latest development stemming from an incident early Sunday morning, June 23, at Manny & Olga’s pizzeria on 14th Street, N.W., in which Miles Denaro, 24, says he was attacked by two women who called him a “tranny” and “faggot.”

Denaro said he bit the women in self-defense but denies he ever told her she had or would get AIDS.

He said he came to the restaurant to take out food shortly after he performed under his drag name Heidi Glum at the Black Cat nightclub located on the same block as Manny & Olga’s. He was in drag when he entered the restaurant.

The video shows the two women hitting Denaro with their fists while dragging him by his hair across the floor of the restaurant as bystanders, including a man taking the video, laughed and cheered.

According to Denaro, no one, including about six Manny & Olga employees, came to his aid during the assault.

Denaro said he chose not to call police at the time of the assault. He filed a separate police report on Monday, June 24, accusing the two women of assaulting him. He told the Blade the assault began after one of the women made fun of his makeup and words were exchanged between them, prompting one of the women to slap him in the face twice.

“Then I flipped out,” he said. “I spit in her face and her friend jumped in and they started dragging me around by my hair while punching me in the face repeatedly and kicking me,” he said.

He initially identified himself to the media as Miles DeNiro. When asked by the Blade why the police report spelled his last name as Denaro, he said he has used “DeNiro” as a stage name and that his legal birth name is Denaro.

The police report taken from the woman, who is identified as Rachel Manna Sahle, 22, of Gaithersburg, Md., classifies her biting allegation against Denaro as a felony aggravated assault that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail.

The police report taken from Denaro classifies the assault by the two women against him as a misdemeanor simple assault, which has a maximum sentence of six months in jail and/or a fine of $1,000.

Police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump said police would have no comment on any details of the case because it remains under investigation. No arrests had been made in the case as of Wednesday.

It couldn’t immediately be determined why the police reports classified the woman’s allegation as a more serious offense than Denaro’s complaint – which is backed up by the video – that the two women injured him in a violent attack.

Denaro told the Blade he did, in fact, bite Sahle on her leg but said he did so in self-defense in a desperate attempt to get her to stop pulling out his hair. He denies telling her she had or would get AIDS.

“She was ripping my hair out,” he said. “I have a bag full of my own hair that I picked up off the floor. She ripped my hair out repeatedly. There was nothing I could do to get her off of me because the other girl was on top of me and she was really huge.”

Added Denaro, “At that time, with my face on the ground in her legs, the only thing to help get out of it was to bite her. It didn’t draw any blood. I don’t think I broke the skin. I just bit her hard enough so that she would let go of me. And it worked. She did.”

The police report of Sahle’s allegation against Denaro says Sahle gave a different version of what happened from that of Denaro.

The report says Sahle told police Denaro “became verbally combative” with her at the restaurant. It says Sahle claims that after she and Denaro exchanged words “several people began to fight inside the establishment.” During that altercation, Denaro “bent down and bit Complainant 1 [Sahle] on the right thigh.”

It says that shortly after biting her Denaro stated, “That’s why I bit you, now you have AIDS, bitch.”

Based on the conflicting statements made by Denaro and Sahle, police investigators and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s office will have to decide who to believe and who to charge with a possible crime such as assault.

Denaro told the Blade that he is HIV positive. The video shows him shouting at the other woman who assaulted him that she would get AIDS as he wiped blood dripping over his face. He said the blood came from two head wounds he sustained when the women knocked him down and his head hit the floor.

“I was doing what I thought was the responsible thing to do – to tell the girl I’m positive,” he said.

The police report taken from Denaro says Denaro told police that the two women started the altercation when one of them criticized his makeup and started touching his face. The report taken from Denaro contradicts the report taken from Sahle by saying the altercation was limited to Denaro and the two women.

26
Jun
2013

2 more trans women attacked in violent month in D.C.

Earline Budd, transgender activist, Washington DC

Transgender activist Earline Budd, who organized a Friday meeting to respond to anti-trans violence, said the slaying of a local lesbian stunned those in the LGBT community who knew her. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

One transgender woman was shot and another was sexually assaulted in separate incidents in D.C. early Saturday morning, June 29.

The two attacks came less than 24 hours after about 50 LGBT activists met to discuss ways to respond to a rash of violent incidents against LGBT people in the city since June 21, including the June 22 murder of a lesbian who was shot to death in what police said was a botched robbery.

Police said the shooting death of Malika Stover, 35, in the 1300 block of Stevens Road, S.E. didn’t appear to be linked to her sexual orientation.

But transgender activist Earline Budd, who organized the Friday night, June 28 “community response” meeting to address the recent incidents, said Stover’s slaying stunned those in the LGBT community who knew her.

“This is really putting all of us on edge,” Budd told the Blade. “You’re seeing all of these incidents happening in such a short period of time.”

The non-fatal shooting and the unrelated sexual assault of the two transgender women on Saturday, June 29, were the fifth and sixth violent assaults against a total of four transgender women, one gay man dressed in drag, and a lesbian, Stover, since June 21.

In the June 21 incident, transgender woman Bree Wallace, 29, was stabbed multiple times in an abandoned house at 3038 Stanton Rd., S.E.

D.C. police have since arrested 23-year-old Michael McBride of Southeast D.C. for the attack, charging him with assault with intent to kill. Police told the Washington Post the stabbing was triggered by a dispute between Wallace and McBride, who knew each other.

“It’s been a series of horrible incidents in the past few weeks in terms of what’s going on against the transgender community,” said Hassan Naveed, co-chair of Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV).

“And tonight we really built momentum to combat the hate violence in this city,” he said, in commenting on the June 28 meeting at the LGBT Center. “We can see the energy in the community and people really coming together to discuss these issues and acting on this,” said Naveed.

Among those attending the meeting was D.C. Police Capt. Edward Delgado, director of the police division that oversees the department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, and two GLLU officers. D.C. Council member Tommy Wells also stopped by the meeting.

“I’m completely open to learning from you,” said Wells, who chairs the Council’s Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety. “We make progress and then sometimes we take two steps back,” he said in referring to efforts to curtail violence against the LGBT community.

One of the more tense moments of the meeting came when Earl Hooks, a public relations representative for Manny & Olga’s pizzeria chain, answered questions about a 2 a.m. incident on June 23 in which a gay man in drag was attacked at the Manny & Olga’s at 1841 14th St., N.W.

The incident, which was captured on a video that went viral online, involved two women who could be seen on the video dragging Miles Denaro, 24, across the floor by his hair as they punched and kicked him in the head and body. Denaro said he went to the pizzeria to take out some food after performing in drag under his stage name Heidi Glum at the nearby Black Cat nightclub.

An unidentified man taking the video is heard laughing and shouting along with other customers in the Manny & Olga’s restaurant as the two women assaulted Denaro and as blood could be seen dripping over his face from a head wound. According to Denaro, as many as five or six employees stood by watching and didn’t take steps to break up the altercation or call police. He said the two women who assaulted him called him “tranny” and “faggot.”

“I’m here right now to apologize for anything that is harmful to this community,” Hooks told the meeting.

Gay activist Nick McCoy, who helped organize the meeting, said he contacted Manny & Olga’s and invited the owners to send someone to the meeting to talk about the incident.

Several activists, including D.C. Center Executive Director David Mariner, pressed Hooks to explain why the employees apparently failed to take steps to stop the attack.

“Our policy is to not touch anyone who comes into the store,” he said. “From what I understand, a call was made to the police.”

Police sources, however, have said no call was received from Manny & Olga’s at the time of the incident.

Delgado told the Blade at the meeting that police have obtained warrants for the arrest of the two women on a charge of simple assault. He said the women had not been apprehended as of the time of the meeting.

Denaro told the Blade he wasn’t seriously injured.

In addition to Budd, speakers at the meeting included Naveed of GLOV; Rick Rosendall, president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance; Nico Quintana of the D.C. Trans Coalition; Ruby Corado of Casa Ruby; Sterling Washington, director of the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs; and Cyndee Clay, executive director of Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive (HIPS).

Officer Juanita Foreman of the GLLU gave a presentation on steps citizens can take, including members of the LGBT community, to avoid danger while walking on the streets.

Mariner said the D.C. Center would make available to the community a compilation of proposals developed at the meeting to address anti-LGBT violence in the city.

The following summary of the six incidents involving attacks against members of the LGBT community between June 21 and June 29 is based on information released by D.C. police. As of early this week police had not classified any of the incidents as a hate crime, although a source familiar with police thought the incident at Manny & Olga’s would be listed as a hate crime:

1. Transgender woman Bree Wallace, 29, was attacked and stabbed multiple times in an abandoned house at 3038 Stanton Rd., S.E. about 1 a.m. Thursday, June 21. A suspect was arrested and charged with assault with intent to kill.

2. Malika Stover, 35, identified by Earline Budd as an out lesbian known in the LGBT community, was fatally shot about 2 a.m. Saturday, June 22, in the 1300 block of Stevens Road, S.E. Police say she suffered from multiple gunshot wounds and the motive appeared to be robbery.

3. Gay male drag performer Miles Denaro, 24, was attacked and beaten by two female suspects about 2 a.m. Sunday, June 23, inside Manny & Olga’s pizzeria at 1841 14th St., N.W.

4. A transgender woman was shot in the buttocks in the 500 block of Eastern Avenue, N.E., about 6 a.m. Thursday, June 27. Police say the motive appears to be robbery.

5. A transgender woman was sexually assaulted by an unidentified male after accepting a ride in the suspect’s car while walking in the 300 block of 61st Street, N.E. about 3:30 a.m. Saturday, June 29. Police listed the incident as a first-degree sexual assault.

6. A transgender woman was shot and sustained non-life-threatening injuries while walking in the area of 5th and K Street, N.E., about 4 a.m. Saturday, June 29. Police said the shooting took place while two male suspects attempted to rob her.

01
Jul
2013

Gang member accepts plea in anti-gay attack

National LGBT Bar Association, Gay News, Washington Blade

A New York City judge on sentenced a gang member to seven years in prison in connection with an anti-gay attack. (Photo via Wikimedia)

BRONX, N.Y.—A New York City judge on Aug. 9 sentenced a gang member to seven years in prison in connection with a 2010 anti-gay attack.

The New York Daily News reported Bronx Supreme Court Justice Steven Barrett sentenced Nelson Falu after he accepted a plea bargain for his role in the beating and torture of two teenage boys and a 30-year-old man.

Prosecutors contend Falu and seven other members of the “Latin King Goonies” sodomized two of their victims with a plunger while they used homophobic slurs against them inside a home in the borough’s Morris Heights neighborhood in October 2010. The gang members also allegedly used a cigarette lighter to burn their victims.

The Daily News reported two of Falu’s other alleged co-conspirators have also accepted plea bargains.

14
Aug
2013

Annual hate crimes report released

anti-violence, hate crime, Greenwich Village, Mark Carson, gay news, Washington Blade

Thousands of people marched in New York City in response to the rash of hate crimes and Mark Carson’s murder. (Photo courtesy of Karlo)

NEW YORK—The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects on Tuesday released its annual report on anti-LGBT hate crimes and bias crimes.

The report noted 2,016 reported incidents of violence motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation and gender identity in 2012, which is comparable to numbers found in previous years. NCAVP said 25 LGBT people were murdered over the last year, which is the fourth highest yearly total it has recorded since it began to issue annual reports in 1996.

The organization reported transgender women, people of color and gay men remain more likely to suffer what it described as “severe violence.”

NCAVP issued its report slightly more than two weeks after Elliot Morales allegedly shot gay Brooklyn, N.Y., resident Mark Carson to death on a Manhattan street. New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn was among the thousands who marched through Greenwich Village on May 22 to condemn Carson’s murder and a spate of other anti-LGBT attacks that had taken place in the city in the previous weeks.

“Though the recent spate of hate violence incidents in New York City has captured the media’s attention, this report demonstrates that severe acts of violence against gay men, transgender people and LGBTQ people of color are, unfortunately, not unique to Manhattan,” Chai Jindasurat, NCAVP coordinator at the New York City Anti-Violence Project, said.

06
Jun
2013

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.

19
Jun
2013

D.C. murders down, anti-LGBT hate crimes up

Cathy Lanier, MPD, Metropolitan Police Department, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and District Police Chief Cathy Lanier announced at a news conference on Thursday that the 88 homicides reported in the city in 2012 represent the lowest number of slayings within the city in 50 years.

Lanier noted that while robberies and sexual assaults increased in 2012, violent crimes made up just 19.6 percent of the total number of crimes, with “property crime” making up 84.4 percent of the total number of reported crimes in 2012.

Lanier didn’t include statistics on hate crimes in a crime data presentation she gave at the news conference. But preliminary data on hate crimes posted on the D.C. police website this week show hate crimes targeting victims based on their sexual orientation increased 19 percent, from 37 between January and November of 2011 to 44 between January and November of 2012.

The data show the number of hate crimes against transgender residents increased from 8 to 9 in the same 11-month period from 2011 to 2012, representing a 13 percent hike.

Police officials said hate crime data for December 2012 was being tabulated and would be released at a later date.

The total number of reported hate crimes in 2011 (from January through December) was 42 for the “sexual orientation” category and 11 for the category of “gender identity/expression,” according to the data shown on the police website.

The preliminary, 11-month figures for 2012 show that the city recorded a total of 78 hate crimes for each of the categories of victims – sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, ethnicity/national origin, race, religion, disability, political affiliation, and homelessness.

Of that total of 78, hate crimes targeting a victim because of his or her sexual orientation (44) comprised 56.4 percent of the total, the highest of all the categories. Race related hate crimes (12) came in second, at 15.3 percent, with gender identity and expression (9) coming in third, making up 11.6 percent of all reported hate crimes in D.C.

Hate crimes based on a victim’s religion (6) made up 7.7 percent of the 11-month total in 2012. Just one hate crime was reported so far in 2012 for each of the categories of disability and political affiliation. None was reported for the homelessness category in the 11-month period of 2012.

In his remarks at Thursday’s news conference, Gray said he was hopeful that his Project Empowerment program that provides job training for unemployed transgender people would lower the number of anti-trans hate crimes.

Transgender activists have said some of those participating in the job training program were forced to engage in street prostitution to survive prior to entering the program.

“If we can take some of the sense of need from people who feel like the only way they can survive is by engaging in street activity, the sale of sex, if you will – I think that’s going to reduce some of the hate crimes also because it’s not going to make people as vulnerable as they might have been,” Gray said.

“We’ve got a program started now…to try to improve the understanding of people who are transgender,” he said. “So I think in addition to working at it from a law enforcement perspective, we also need to work on it from the perspective of how we improve the conditions under which people who are transgender, for example, are living.”

Although the hate crime data for December 2012 have yet to be released, preliminary reports on the activities of the department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit show at least three possible anti-LGBT hate crimes took place in December.

Officials with the local group Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV) have said they believe the actual number of anti-LGBT hate crimes is significantly greater than the number reported because some LGBT victims choose not to report hate crimes.

Activists say some hate crime victims report the crime as an assault without informing police they were targeted for their sexual orientation or gender identity. In other cases, according to GLOV, a police officer many not recognize an assault or other crime as a hate crime and doesn’t record it as such on a police report.

Just one LGBT related murder took place in 2012 — the February 2012 stabbing death of transgender woman Deoni Jones, 23, at a bus stop in Northeast D.C. Police arrested District resident Gary Niles Montgomery, 55, for the crime less than two weeks later. Montgomery has since been indicted on first-degree murder while armed and is being held in jail while he awaits trial.
Police have listed the motive of the slaying as robbery rather than a hate crime.

Transcript follows:

Blade: Chief, can you say a little about hate crimes and where they fit into the overall crime statistics you presented today? Are they going up or down?

Chief Lanier: I don’t have any hate crime statistics with me. I’ll get them for you. We were staying pretty much even across the board for hate crimes. We did have some increases in different categories. But I have to get back to you with the specific categories. I’ll get it for you.

Mayor Gray: I think, Lou, if I could add a facet to that. I think you know that we worked hard to try to create a greater acceptance of people who are transgender, who often times are the victims of hate crimes in the District of Columbia. And if we can take some of the sense of need from people who feel like the only way they can survive is by engaging in street activity, the sale of sex, if you will — I think that’s going to reduce some of the hate crimes also because it’s not going to make people as vulnerable as they might have been.

We had a very successful year with our transgender efforts in the last 12 to 15 months. We had three cohorts to go through the Department of Employment Service’s Project Empowerment. We were able to get people jobs. We got a campaign started now, as I think you know, to try to improve the understanding of people who are transgender. So I think in addition to working at it from a law enforcement perspective, we also need to work on it from the perspective of how we improve the conditions under which people who are transgender, for example, are living.

“While we congratulate MPD and the city of Washington in reaching the lowest level of overall homicides in 50 years, the anti-LGBT violence numbers are still going up at an alarming rate and need to be addressed,” said A.J. Singletary, chair of GLOV.

“Even though the low homicide rate was the big story of the day, Chief Lanier rightly included data on other categories of crime” in her presentation at the news conference, Singletary said. “Hate crimes should have been included for comparison purposes as well. While the LGBT community is acutely aware of the violence we face on a daily basis in Washington, other citizens of D.C. as well as the mainstream media often aren’t aware of this large and seemingly ever-growing problem,” he said.

04
Jan
2013

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.

09
Jan
2013

YouTube accused of ‘protecting’ anti-gay church

Brent Childers, gay news, Washington Blade

Brent Childers, executive director of Faith in America. (Photo courtesy of Childers)

The LGBT advocacy group Faith In America says YouTube has refused to explain why it removed from its website a video produced by the group about a 22-year-old gay man who says he was held against his will for four months and assaulted by members of a North Carolina church that considers homosexuality a form of “demonic possession.”

Brent Childers, executive director of Faith In America, said he believes the Spindale, N.C., based Word of Faith Fellowship church misled YouTube into thinking the video infringed upon its religious freedom.

Childers and others who have monitored the church say it has the characteristics of a cult and exerts extraordinary control over the lives of its members and their children. They say Word of Faith Fellowship, which operates on a 40-acre campus, has a long history of abusive treatment of gays.

“It is really dumbfounding,” Childers said. “YouTube allows a controversial video that pokes fun at Islam. But here we have a video in which a person is telling his own personal knowledge of how this bizarre Christian church treats gay youth or those suspected of being gay, and they remove the video.”

Attempts by the Washington Blade to reach YouTube, which is owned by the search engine giant Google, have been unsuccessful. A YouTube spokesperson couldn’t be reached by phone and the company didn’t respond to email sent to an address listed for “press inquiries.”

Pastors Jane and Sam Whaley, the founders and leaders of Word of Faith Fellowship, posted a message on the church website denying the church has mistreated gays and said the allegations made by the Faith In America video were false.

The gay man who is the subject of the video, Michael Lowry, told the Washington Blade his parents raised him as a church member since he was born and that he attended church operated schools on the church compound from kindergarten through 12th grade.

He said church members subjected him to severe pressure since his early teens to expel what they said were “demons” within him that were causing him to embrace homosexuality.

“I was very different than a lot of the other kids,” he said. “I was viewed as being gay. I never said I am gay…It was a very hard time. Through my whole school years I was very bullied, hurt because of that.”

Lowry said that around July of 2011, church members came to his home while his parents were out of town and forced him to go with them to a building on the church compound known as the Fourth Building, where male church members reportedly are taken for punishment for violating church rules.

He said he was held in the building against his will for four months and at one point was assaulted by church members assigned to watch over him during his stay at the facility. He said church officials released him in November 2011.

FBI may have been contacted by U.S. Attorney’s Office

Jerry Cooper, a Baptist minister and former member of Word of Faith Fellowship, said he has been assisting Lowry since last year in his role as a counselor to people who leave the church and who often suffer psychological scars from their experiences with the church.

Childers said the video that YouTube deleted consisted of an interview with Cooper talking about Michael Lowry’s case. Childers said for unknown reasons YouTube did not delete a separate video that includes an interview with Lowry.

According to Cooper and Don Huddle, a member of Faith Freedom Fund, a North Carolina group that helps ex-Word of Faith Fellowship members adjust to life outside the church, said church members brought Lowry to a nearby hotel after they released him.

“They took him to the hotel with just a few of his belongings,” said Huddle, who noted that someone familiar with the church alerted his group to Lowry’s plight and informed him that a confused and emotionally distraught young man had been taken to the hotel.

“I picked him up from the hotel and brought him to a safe house,” he said. Huddle said Faith Freedom Fund has a network of volunteers and supporters who spring into action when they learn of Word of Faith Fellowship members who desire to leave the church.

Cooper said he met Lowry through Huddle’s group in 2011 and advised him to consider reporting the church’s actions against him to the Rutherford County Sheriff’s office, which is the law enforcement agency in the area where the church is located.

He said Lowry reported to a Sheriff’s Office investigator that he had been taken against his will and held against his will by church members, and the office began an investigation that resulted in Lowry being called this week to testify before a county grand jury. His testimony was scheduled for Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Childers said Faith In America contacted the U.S. Justice Department about Lowry’s allegations in October and called on the department to investigate the church’s alleged detention of Lowry and his claim of being assaulted by church members as a possible anti-gay hate crime.

A spokesperson for the United States Attorney’s Office in the Western District of North Carolina, which represents the Justice Department, said she would make inquiries about whether her office has responded to Faith In America’s request for an investigation. The spokesperson didn’t immediately get back to the Blade.

However, Cooper said an FBI agent interviewed Lowry for several hours last week about his allegations against the church, a development that suggests the U.S. Attorney’s office contacted the FBI to investigate the matter.

A copy of an incident report taken from Lowry by the Sheriff’s Office in February 2012 and released by Faith in America, says a group of men affiliated with the church “held him down and hit him about the face and chest area” at the time the church held him against his will in August 2011.

“Mr. Lowry stated that he told them to let go but they would not,” the report says. “The reason they [did] this was because he was homosexual and they [were] trying to get him to stop being homosexual. When this incident was taking place, the group would tell him he had demons in him and he was going to hell,” the report says.

‘YouTube… is giving cover to a church that believes it is OK to harm gay youth’

A statement released by Faith In America says that during Lowry’s forced stay at the church facility “he was subjected to humiliating acts, such as being made to sleep on the floor in the hallway and had to submit to supervised bathroom visits because church members feared he might be masturbating.”

“What YouTube is doing, perhaps inadvertently in this particular case, is giving cover to a church that believes it is OK to harm gay youth and families in the name of religious teaching,” Chiders said. “In doing so, it is giving cover to a vast number of churches who do the same thing, whether a small charismatic church in rural North Carolina or a large Methodist church in some American suburb.”

In a posting on its website, Word of Faith Fellowship disputes Lowry’s allegations and accuses Faith in America of “repeated vicious lies” about the church.

“We have always been a church that has loved everybody, because God is love,” the statement says. “What Michael Roy Lowry has said never happened. We would never allow it to happen. We do not discriminate against anyone, and we never have.”

The statement adds, “We never knew Michael Roy Lowry was gay until we heard it on the news program. It would have made no difference to us, because we love him.”

Cooper, who said he has closely followed Word of Faith Fellowship since he left it in 1998, said evidence is “overwhelming” from people who leave the church that church leaders abuse people suspected of being gay or suspected of engaging in any type of sexual activity not deemed appropriate by the church, even between consenting adults, gay or straight.

He said the church has prohibited Lowry’s family from seeing or talking to Lowry, a practice he said the church carries out with most people who leave it.

09
Jan
2013