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Attack ad blames Mendelson for rise in hate crimes

Phil Mendelson, D.C. Council, Washington Blade, gay news

‘Rather than doing nothing, I publicly disagreed with the MPD’s decision to reorganize the GLLU,’ said Council Chair Phil Mendelson. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

LGBT activists are defending D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) against an election campaign ad by the D.C. police union that accuses him of failing to take steps to prevent the number of anti-LGBT hate crimes from nearly doubling between 2009 and 2011.

The Fraternal Order of Police, Metropolitan Police Department Labor Committee (FOP), which serves as a police union, is calling on city residents to “vote no on Phil Mendelson” in the April 1 primary in which he is running for re-election.

Rick Rosendall, president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance; transgender activist Jeri Hughes; and gay activist and Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Bob Summersgill called Mendelson a champion of LGBT rights and disputed the FOP’s claim that he didn’t adequately respond to hate crimes targeting the LGBT community.

In what appears to be a first-of-its-kind attack ad accusing a politician of failing to protect the safety of the LGBT community, the FOP ad says that when Mendelson was chair of the Council’s Judiciary and Public safety Committee in 2009, he “sat by and did nothing as the Metropolitan Police Department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU) was dismantled.”

The ad, which the FOP posted on its website and placed in the Washington Blade, goes on to say, “The result of Mendelson’s failure to act? The police department’s effectiveness in responding to hate crimes was weakened and it led to an almost 50 percent jump in hate crimes based on sexual orientation.”

Kristopher Baumann, chair of the FOP, told the Blade that LGBT organizations and activists joined the FOP in 2009 in criticizing a decision by the police department to reorganize and restructure the GLLU in a way that most activists said would decrease its effectiveness.

Baumann noted that concerns about the GLLU reorganization were found to be correct by a report assessing the police handling of anti-LGBT hate crimes released earlier this year. The report was prepared by an independent task force created and led by the Anti-Defamation League of the national capital area at the request of D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier.

Most LGBT activists don’t dispute the findings of the task force report that the reorganization of the GLLU by Lanier led to its becoming less effective in addressing hate crimes and led to strains in relations between the LGBT community and the police department. But Mendelson and some of his LGBT supporters, including Rosendall and Hughes, dispute the claim that Mendelson was responsible for these developments.

“The charge is inaccurate and false,” Mendelson told the Blade in a statement on Monday. “Rather than doing nothing, I publicly disagreed with the MPD’s decision to reorganize the GLLU, and this was the subject of a number of public hearings that I held — including several specifically focused on hate crime and MPD’s handling of hate crime,” he said.

Mendelson said he held separate hearings on hate crimes and determined that the increase in hate crimes targeting the LGBT community was likely due, in part, to improved reporting of hate crimes on the part of LGBT victims rather than an actual increase in the number of such crimes.

“It’s easy for negative campaigns to level false charges days before an election, but the charges neither comport with the facts, nor are echoed by any of the LGBT groups that have actually worked on this problem,” Mendelson said.

“This campaign to hold Phil Mendelson accountable is nothing more than an egregious campaign to smear and malign,” said Hughes. “I know several rank and file officers,” she said. “None of them feel that Phil Mendelson deserves this abuse – none.”

Baumann, who has been a longtime critic of Chief Lanier, said Mendelson held “hearing after hearing” but chose not to take legislative action to correct longstanding problems associated with hate crimes reporting and the police Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit.

Mendelson said the hearings were productive and that none of the LGBT advocacy groups or Baumann proposed legislative changes at that time.

“They forced MPD to address the issue — prior thereto they were downplaying it,” Mendelson said of the hearings. “Police handling of [hate crimes] reports improved.”

According to Mendelson, the hearings also prompted the independent Office of Police Complaints, which investigates citizen complaints against police officers, to weigh in on the issue and led to the revival of the then inactive group Gays and Lesbians Against Violence (GLOV).

Baumann said the FOP has not endorsed Mendelson’s Democratic opponent in the primary, Calvin Gurley. Baumann said the police union’s ad campaign was aimed at urging voters to “take another look” at Mendelson and decide how best to vote both in the primary and, if Mendelson wins on Tuesday, as expected, whether to vote for an opponent that surfaces in the November general election.

GLAA gave Mendelson a +10 rating on LGBT issues on a rating scale of -10 to +10, the highest possible score. The group gave Gurley a +1 rating.

Although most political observers believe Mendelson is the odds-on favorite to win Tuesday’s primary, Gurley received close to 69,342 votes when he ran against Mendelson in a special election in 2012. According to Board of Elections returns, Mendelson won that election with 174,742 votes, with 3,017 voters writing in someone else’s name on the ballot.

Hassan Naveed, co-chair of Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence, and Jason Terry, an official with the D.C. Trans Coalition, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the FOP’s attack ad targeting Mendelson.

31
Mar
2014

D.C. Council candidate receives hate letter

hate letter, Marc Morgan, gay news, Washington Blade

This is the hate letter that Marc Morgan says he received.

D.C. police are seeking to identify the person who hand-delivered a letter with an anti-gay and racist message to the home of gay ANC commissioner and at-large City Council candidate Marc Morgan late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning.

The printed letter, which Morgan said was folded and placed in his mailbox, addresses him by name.

“God hates fags – we hate you,” says the letter, which is written in all capital letters. “Go die now…and we know where U live too.”

Morgan said he saw the folded letter sticking out of his mailbox as he left his house about 10 a.m. Thursday. He said he immediately contacted D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier, who arranged for Third District officers to investigate the incident.

According to Morgan, an officer conducting the investigation listed the matter as a “bias motivated incident.” Other officers with the department’s crime scene unit came to his house on 2nd Street, N.W., in the city’s LeDroit Park neighborhood to look for fingerprints and took photos. He said police were also looking into whether a suspect might be identified through video footage taken by several video surveillance cameras that are stationed in the neighborhood.

“This is not politics,” said Morgan, who is running for the Council seat as a Republican. “This has nothing to do with me running for Council. This person is trying to jeopardize my safety and I just want him thrown in jail.”

Added Morgan: “This is me stepping into the role of a father now because I have a son. And I don’t want someone running around my house scaring my family or scaring my neighbors or making vicious remarks or attacks on me.”

Morgan said he discovered the letter a little over an hour after he received a Twitter message from a man who denounced him as an “abomination” in the eyes of God. The man, who self identifies as Muslim, apparently sent his Twitter message to Morgan in response to a Twitter message that Morgan posted one day earlier.

In the earlier message, Morgan said he expressed concern that members of the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas were planning to come to Washington next week to protest an LGBT Pride event organized by students at Woodrow Wilson High School and the city’s annual Capital Pride Parade.

“I posted something saying we don’t need that kind of hatred here in the District of Columbia,” Morgan told the Blade. “And it just sort of seems that right after I posted it all this craziness broke out.”

Although the anonymous letter and the Twitter messages – sent by a man identifying himself as
“Unity Flow” and “Mustafa” – appeared to have surfaced around the same time, Third District Officer Perry Morgan told him the two did not appear to be connected or sent by the same person.

The officer, who’s not related to Marc Morgan, was less certain about whether the letter writer has a connection to the Westboro Baptist Church or was merely imitating the church’s anti-gay rhetoric, Marc Morgan said. The church’s members repeatedly use the term “God hates fags” in its literature and in the placards they hold while staging anti-gay protests.

“We didn’t know if it was somebody affiliated with that church or maybe pretending to be affiliated with that church,” Morgan said.

“It never ceases to amaze me how cowards love to use the veil of anonymity and secrecy to threaten, intimidate and bully,” said Robert Turner, the gay executive director of the D.C. Republican Party.

“We will work with MPD and hope they quickly find the culprit,” Turner said in a statement.

Morgan is running for the Council seat being vacated by Council member David Catania (I-At-Large), who’s running for mayor. All of the candidates running for the seat have expressed support for LGBT rights.

30
May
2014

Lanier gives briefing on police-trans issues

Cathy Lanier, DC Metro Police, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier (Washington Blade photo by Strother Gaines)

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier told a transgender community town hall meeting Tuesday night that her department is moving quickly to implement recommendations by an independent task force on ways to improve police response to crimes targeting the transgender community.

Lanier, who was joined by nearly a dozen high-level police officials, including a captain and sergeant in charge of the police Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, said the overwhelming majority of officers are sensitive to the needs and concerns of transgender citizens.

She said that in cases where members of the LGBT community in general and the trans community in particular encounter improper or abusive treatment by a police officer, such incidents should immediately be reported to the department through an established complaint process.

“If there is wrongdoing on the part of a police officer, we want to know about it,” she said. “We should address that, and we will.”

The town hall event was sponsored jointly by the D.C. Trans Coalition, Casa Ruby, Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV), the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, the LGBT youth advocacy group SMYAL and the sex worker advocacy group HIPS.

The meeting was held in a community room of the D.C. Department of Employment Services on Minnesota Ave, N.E.

The sponsoring groups asked Lanier to discuss the department’s response to the findings and recommendations of a 41-page report prepared by the Hate Crimes Assessment Task Force, an independent body created by the Anti-Defamation League of Washington at Lanier’s request.

Among other things, the task force found that although the “vast majority of MPD leaders and personnel” are committed to the security and safety of the LGBT community, shortcomings exist in the department’s relations with the transgender community.

“With the exception of GLLU officers, most transgender people do not trust the police and believe that MPD officers too frequently see them as criminals because they are transgender,” the report states.

The report says the task force conducted its research between April 2012 and September 2013, which included “extensive interviews with LGBT leaders and advocates, LGBT community members, and MPD personnel of all ranks throughout the department,” with an emphasis on officers assigned to hate crimes, LGBT outreach and related duties.

In response to at least two-dozen questions from audience members, Lanier outlined the department’s efforts to address issues raised by the task force report, most of which are included as an addendum to the report.

The department has already taken steps to revamp the GLLU’s officer affiliate program to improve the training and selection of GLLU affiliate officers, who are assigned to each of the department’s eight police districts throughout the city.

The task force report says many in the LGBT community expressed concern that the GLLU became more distant and less visible to the community after the affiliate program was created by Lanier to expand the reach of the GLLU beyond its half dozen or so “core” officers.

Lanier said her supervisors in the police districts are now carefully assessing how the GLLU affiliate members are interacting with the community. Those found not to have a “good fit” for community interaction will be reassigned to other duties and officers more suited for the GLLU’s duties will replace them, she said.

“So we’ve come a long way,” she told the Blade after the meeting. “Are there individuals in the department — we have almost 5,000 employees — that may harbor a bias? Of course there are. But we can’t let that define our organization. We have to let the mass of the police define our organization and keep looking to get rid of people who don’t belong here,” she said.

Veteran transgender activist Earline Budd and Jason Terry, a member of the D.C. Trans Coalition, said they were optimistic that Lanier will carry out the task force report’s recommendations for improving the department’s relations with the trans community.

12
Jun
2014

Police gay liaison unit transferred to patrol duty

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

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier has reassigned members of the department’s GLLU to street patrol duties. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A decision by D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier to indefinitely reassign members of the department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit to street patrol duties in the Sixth and Seventh Police Districts is hindering their ability to respond to LGBT-related calls throughout the city, according to sources familiar with the Metropolitan Police Department.

A statement released on behalf of Lanier by MPD spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump disputes this claim, saying the GLLU and at least one other specialized unit whose officers have also been detailed to other assignments “are still operational and doing what they have done in the past” to serve the LGBT and other communities.

But the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the GLLU’s four active officers previously assigned to the GLLU headquarters office in Dupont Circle have most recently been assigned to patrol a single location deemed a high-crime area – the 1500 block of Alabama Avenue, S.E. – and must obtain permission to answer a GLLU call outside that location.

“That permission is not always granted,” said one of the sources.

The GLLU and the three other specialized units serving the Latino, Asian-Pacific Islander, and deaf and hard of hearing communities routinely have been temporarily detailed to street patrol and other assignments since former D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey created the units in the 1990s.

The latest change, believed to have been initiated by Assistant Chief Diane Groomes, who heads the department’s patrol division, is different than past detail assignments because it has no known termination date and appears to be an indefinite reassignment for the units, the sources said.

One of the sources said the department also rearranged the work shifts for members of all four liaison units. Prior to these changes, the four units collectively had officers on duty seven days a week, 24 hours a day except for one hour, the source said. Now, according to the source, no core liaison officer is on duty during a period from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m. every day.

“Specific units such as the GLLU and the Asian Liaison Unit have been deployed to the Sixth and Seventh Police District over the last several weeks to enhance community outreach in areas of the city that have seen a high demand and call volume from specific communities represented by the Liaison Division,” Crump said in her statement.

“Even though the officers were given specific areas to patrol and provide community outreach in, the officers are still available to respond to any area of the city to assist when calls for service come in as well as follow up with victims as they have in the past,” Crump said.

She noted in her statement to the Blade that the latest change came in response to a review of last year’s calls for service to the GLLU. She said a “large volume” of calls came from the Sixth and Seventh Districts and that many of the calls were for incidents of domestic violence.

“Domestic/family violence is a huge concern, and the number of domestic/family violence crimes and incidents that are taking place in the Sixth and Seventh Police Districts involving members of the LGBT community is something that urgently needs to be addressed by the members of the GLLU and Special Liaison Division,” Crump said.

The Seventh District is located in the far Southeast section of the city east of the Anacostia River. The Sixth District consists of a section of far Southeast and part of far Northeast D.C.

The sources familiar with the GLLU who spoke to the Blade said GLLU officers are committed to responding to domestic violence calls and doing all they can to assist victims of domestic violence. But two of the sources said deploying the GLLU’s four currently active core officers to a single block on Alabama Avenue would do little to help curtail domestic violence.

“So how do they respond more quickly to domestic violence if they’re told not to leave the area that they’ve been assigned?” asked one of the sources.

Another source said that since the GLLU officers were detailed nearly two months ago “they haven’t been doing what they normally do and that’s to go out to all wards of the city and all the districts and do outreach and crime patrols and stuff like that,” said the source. “So that’s why they haven’t been around” and seen in the LGBT community in other parts of the city, the source said.

Capt. Edward Delgado, commander of the Special Liaison Division, has in the past issued a weekly and sometimes biweekly report sent by email describing the types of calls to which each of the four liaison units responded and the location of the calls. Delgado’s report also described specific patrol locations where the units, including the GLLU, were assigned each week.

The Blade stopped receiving the reports around the time the GLLU officers were detailed to their new assignments in the Sixth and Seventh Districts.

One of the sources said all four special liaison units had been detailed to areas in the Sixth and Seventh Districts. Crump’s statement only mentions the GLLU and the Asian Liaison Unit as having been detailed to the new locations.

Sterling Washington, director of the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs, said Delgado told him the changes were limited to the GLLU and the Asian Liaison Unit.

The MPD website page for the Special Liaison Division included a chart early this week that showed there were six “core” members of the GLLU and 110 affiliate GLLU members based in the seven police districts and in other police units.

Lanier created the affiliate program for the liaison units shortly after becoming chief in 2007 as a means of strengthening the reach and capabilities of the units. Affiliate members receive special training related to the specific liaison unit to which they join, the chief has said. She has said they are trained to respond to liaison unit calls but remain assigned to their regular police duties in the police districts.

The sources, however, said the core GLLU officers, who are in charge of training the affiliate members, aren’t informed by police officials about how many affiliate members respond to GLLU-related calls. One source wondered whether most of the officers listed as affiliate members actually respond to any GLLU calls or are involved in LGBT related police matters.

The sources said the list of core GLLU officers shown on the website was outdated in that only four of the six listed were currently active with the unit. The website chart identifies the core GLLU members as Officers Kevin Johnson, Justin Markiewicz, Joseph Morquecho, Zunnobia Hakir, Juanita Foreman, and Sgt. Carlos Mejia. The chart shows Mejia as serving both the GLLU and the Latino Liaison Unit.

According to the sources, Officer Hakir is on indefinite maternity leave and Sgt. Mejia was no longer with the GLLU or the Latino Liaison Unit. Sgt. Matthew Mahl, who had been serving as acting supervisor of the GLLU in the recent past, is currently working with the GLLU three days a week on limited duty while recovering from a work-related injury, the sources said.

In her statement, Crump said plans are under way for new activities for the GLLU and other liaison units.

“In the coming months, members of the GLLU and the Special Liaison Division as a whole will launch various community outreach initiatives throughout all of the police districts focusing on the different concerns within each specific community and geographic location,” she said.

“Each police district has different needs, so the Special Liaison Division remains flexible to provide the best possible service and community outreach everywhere,” Crump said.

12
Feb
2014

Police chief to release hate crimes report

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

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier is expected to release a report on how the department investigates and reports hate crimes. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier was expected to release this week a report prepared by an independent task force that assessed how the department investigates and reports hate crimes, including anti-LGBT hate crimes.

A statement on Tuesday by a police spokesperson that Lanier planned to release the report this week came less than a week after the local group Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV) sent the chief an open letter asking about the status of the report, which was commissioned in June 2012.

“It has now been several months since the research phase of this study was completed, and we would like to inquire on the status of the final report findings,” said GLOV co-chairs Hassan Naveed and Matthew Corso, who signed the letter along with representatives of five other local LGBT groups.

Lanier announced at a June 2012 news conference that she had enlisted the Anti-Defamation League, a national group that fights prejudice and discrimination, to create the task force to conduct an impartial study of police practices and procedures for responding to hate crimes.

She said the effort was aimed at helping the department strengthen its efforts to combat hate crimes.

At the time, ADL Director David Friedman announced he had recruited representatives of the Human Rights Campaign, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and two university professors considered experts on hate violence to join the ADA as members of the task force.

Since its launching, the task force has interviewed more than two-dozen representatives of the LGBT community to obtain their views on how police have responded to anti-LGBT hate crimes in D.C, activists familiar with the task force have said.

“If the report has been completed, we request that it be released as soon as possible,” GLOV said in its Feb. 19 open letter. “We look forward to reviewing the report findings and discussing them with you.”

26
Feb
2014

Report critical of D.C. police response to hate crimes

Cathy Lanier, DC Metro Police, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier (Washington Blade photo by Strother Gaines)

The restructuring of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit in 2009 “weakened its effectiveness in responding to hate crimes” and hindered its ability to reach out to the LGBT community, according to a newly released report.

The 41-page Hate Crimes Assessment Report was prepared by an independent task force created in 2012 by the Anti-Defamation League of Washington, a nationally recognized civil rights group, at the request of D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier.

In announcing the launching of the task force, Lanier said she asked the ADL to assist the MPD by conducting an impartial review of its programs directed toward the LGBT community, comparing them with other police departments and identifying areas that could be improved.

“MPD policies on the identification and handling of bias or hate crimes are strong and reflect many best practices of law enforcement agencies nationally,” the report concludes.

It also concludes that the “vast majority” of MPD leaders and rank and file officers have a deep commitment to “ensuring the safety and security of the LGBT community and to all of those who live, work, or visit the District of Columbia.”

But the report says a series of structural changes that the department put in place for the GLLU beginning in 2009, which were aimed at expanding the reach of the unit throughout the city, appear to have weakened its effectiveness and diminished its credibility within the LGBT community.

“MPD’s outreach to the LGBT community, which is a critical component of preventing and responding to hate crimes, is significantly less visible and effective than it was prior to the restructuring,” the report says.

“The restructuring of the GLLU reduced the size and limited the role of the central core of the GLLU, weakened its effectiveness in responding to hate crimes and engaging in outreach, and made it less accessible and visible to the LGBT community,” says the report.

“The GLLU’s reduced visibility and presence in the LGBT community has significantly impacted the level of trust the LGBT community has in MPD,” it says.

Former Police Chief Charles Ramsey created the GLLU along with separate liaison units working with the Latino, Asian, and deaf and hard of hearing communities in the late 1990s. Unlike police liaison units in other cities, whose responsibilities were limited mostly to public relations and educational duties, Ramsey arranged for the GLLU and the other units to investigate crimes and make arrests.

Under the leadership of its former commander, Sgt. Brett Parson, the GLLU developed strong ties to the LGBT community, assigning its officers to attend LGBT events and meetings and to patrol neighborhoods with high concentrations of LGBT residents. Although the officers were based in the GLLU headquarters in Dupont Circle, they responded to calls throughout the city and played an active role in investigating crimes targeting LGBT people, including hate crimes.

Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government recognized the GLLU as a highly effective agent for community policing and awarded the unit a grant to expand its work and assist police departments in other cities set up similar units.

In 2009, two years after then Mayor Adrian Fenty appointed her, Lanier put in place a restructuring plan that, among other things, decentralized the GLLU and the other liaison units through the creation of an affiliate officers program that placed affiliate liaison unit members in each of the seven police districts. The restructuring included downsizing the central GLLU office.

LGBT activists, who said they had no objections to the creation of the affiliate program, expressed strong opposition to what they said was an initial plan by Lanier to close the GLLU’s headquarters office. Activists said at the time that the affiliate officers, who were to receive limited training on LGBT related issues, would not have the experience and depth of understanding of the LGBT community that the core GLLU officers, most of whom were gay or lesbian, had.

Lanier quickly backed down from her initial plan to disband the headquarters unit after opposition surfaced from members of the City Council. However, according to activists, she appeared to be gradually decreasing the core unit’s size.

A short time after the restructuring began, Parson requested and was given a transfer out of the unit to patrol duties. Citing budget constraints, the department replaced Parson with a sergeant who was assigned to supervise both the GLLU and the Latino Liaison Unit.

LGBT representatives said the lack of a full-time supervisor for the GLLU was a further indication that the chief was diminishing the ability of the GLLU to carry out its mission.

Other changes associated with the restructuring included restrictions on the types of events or meetings GLLU officers could attend and what appeared to critics as an increase in the frequency that GLLU officers were detailed to other assignments unrelated to the LGBT community.

Lanier has said that due to police personnel limitations, officers from various specialized units would be temporarily detailed to other, street patrol duties as needed.

In a series of recommendations, the Hate Crimes Assessment Report calls on the department to appoint a full-time supervisor of the GLLU and to ensure that the GLLU’s core unit is sufficiently staffed with officers.

In an 8-page response to the task force report, Lanier said she and the department’s leadership agree with most of the conclusions and recommendations of the report.

“Admittedly, some of this is difficult for me to read as it clearly details where the Department has fallen short in our goal to foster strong relationships with our great and diverse communities that enable us to jointly combat the scourge of crimes motivated by hate or bias,” Lanier said in a statement accompanying the report.

“Nonetheless, I strongly support the recommendations of the Task Force, and the Department will be working to implement them,” she said.

Among other things, Lanier said the department agrees with the report’s finding that neither the GLLU nor its affiliate officers “have the visibility in the community that is our goal, and we must improve that.”

She added, however, that it became clear from the report and meetings MPD officials had with the task force that some members of the LGBT community have “expectations” that the MPD cannot meet.

“While we value a strong relationship with the LGBT community, we are also responsible for being sound stewards of public resources,” she said in her response. “Members of the GLLU had attended events in the past that we have determined are inappropriate for police officers on-duty, including bar crawls, book clubs, and certain events in Leather Week,” according to Lanier.

“That said, we believe there are plenty of opportunities for MPD – GLLU as well as its affiliates – to strengthen outreach with the community,” she said.

In her response to the report, Lanier said Sgt. Matthew Mahl, who had been detailed to serve as the GLLU’s supervisor for over a year, “has been assigned to oversee GLLU exclusively since November 2013.” She added that Mahl “is a good fit for the GLLU and its next stage of development.”

In another finding, the report says there is a belief in the LGBT community that “homophobia and transphobia are widespread within MPD, with several describing it as rampant.”

Interviews with members of the community revealed that the hostility toward transgender people, especially transgender women of color, is common among many MPD officers, the report says.

“Virtually every transgender person who spoke to us at the four community meetings reported that they had been harassed or mistreated because of their gender identity or expression, ranging from acts of ignorance and insensitivity to outright hostility and overt expressions of bigotry and harassment,” the report says.

In citing hate crimes data released by the MPD, the report notes that hate crimes targeting the LGBT community make up the highest percentage of hate crimes compared to other categories of victims, such as race, ethnicity, religion, or disability. In 2012, the most recently year for which full data is available, there were 46 reported hate crimes based on sexual orientation, comprising 57 percent of a total of 81 hate crimes for all categories.

Police data show there were 9 hate crimes reported in 2012 based on gender identity or expression.

The report doesn’t say how many cases of anti-LGBT hate crimes resulted in an arrest by police or how many of the cases remain unsolved.

“It remains unclear whether the reported increase [in anti-LGBT hate crimes] reflects an actual higher level of hate violence directed against the LGBT community, better reporting by LGBT victims, or the lack of reporting by victims in other categories,” the report says.

The task force members who wrote the report are: David Friedman, Sophie Dornstreich, Michael Liberman – Anti-Defamation League; Sara Warbelow – Human Rights Campaign; Lisa Bornstein – Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Mara Keisling and Vincent Paolo Villano – National Center for Transgender Equality; Jack McDevitt, Associate Dean and Director of the Institute of Race and Justice, Northeastern University in Boston; and Jim Nolan, Associate Professor of Sociology and Criminology, West Virginia University in Morgantown.

“We welcome the recommendations in the ADL report,” said Hassan Naveed, co-chair of Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV). “GLOV and other LGBT organizations plan to issue a community response to the recommendations in the next two weeks.”

The full report along with Lanier’s response can be seen here: http://mpdc.dc.gov/publication/report-hate-crimes-assessment-task-force

01
Mar
2014

Uproar after arrest of trans woman in D.C.

Ruby Corado, Casa Ruby, gay news, Washington Blade, arrest

Ruby Corado said hostile D.C. police officers traumatized a group of young transgender and gay passengers in her SUV over the weekend. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Local LGBT activists on Facebook were in an uproar over the weekend when transgender advocate Ruby Corado posted a message claiming hostile D.C. police officers traumatized a group of young transgender and gay passengers in her SUV on Feb. 28 when they handcuffed and arrested a transgender woman for driving the vehicle without a valid license.

“I sat in my car as a passenger as we are driving my clients home after a support group when a police officer stopped us and in three minutes I witness a D.C. police officer turn into a very homo-transphobic cop,” Corado wrote in her Facebook posting.

Activists commenting on the incident noted it took place less than a week after Police Chief Cathy Lanier released a report conducted by an independent task force that found shortcomings in the department’s dealings with the transgender community.

Sgt. Matthew Mahl, supervisor of the department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Division, told the Blade he looked into the matter after speaking with Corado and reading her Facebook comments. Mahl said that aside from one of the officers referring to the arrested woman by an incorrect pronoun and gender in a police report, he could not immediately identify any improper action by the officers on the scene.

“Anyone involved is welcome to file a formal complaint, which would enable us to look into this further,” he said.

Corado told the Blade she asked Patrice Williams, 51, a volunteer at Casa Ruby, the LGBT community center that Corado heads, to help her drive home three trans women and two young gay men who attended a support group meeting there last Friday night.

Saying she was too tired to drive, Corado said Williams, with Corado sitting in the front passenger seat, was driving north along the 5200 block of 13th Street, N.W. when a police car flashed its lights, prompting Williams to pull over and stop the vehicle.

Officer Ramon I. Moe states in a police report that he conducted a “traffic stop” after observing that two people were sitting in the vehicle’s cargo area “not occupying a seat without a seatbelt restraint.” He stated in the report that he requested an I.D. check for Williams by radio to the Fourth District dispatcher and discovered that Williams did not have a valid driver’s license.

“Suspect 1 [Williams] was placed under arrest for No Permit and transported to the Fourth District Station for processing,” Moe wrote in the report.

According to Corado, the transporting of Williams to the police station came after an ordeal in which the arresting officer and at least one other officer spoke to both Williams and Corado in a hostile manner. She said as many as three or four police cars arrived on the scene.

“I understand that they were going to arrest her for not having a license,” Corado told the Blade. “But my concern is the way they treated her.”

Corado and Williams, who also spoke with the Blade, said the officer’s attitude appeared to change after he saw that Williams’ identification document identified her as a male. Mahl said a more detailed police report not available to the public says Williams handed the officer her auto insurance card rather than a driver’s license.

“When the officer stopped us, I told him it was my car,” said Corado. “I said I am so sorry. I’m the director of an agency and I made the decision to seat the people in the back. I said we just got out of a meeting and it was freezing outside and I wanted to give my clients a ride home rather than have them wait for a bus.”

In her Facebook posting, Corado said, “Looking at his facial expressions, listening to his demanding voice, watching his intimidating body language as he questions and quickly arrests my black trans sister make my advocate persona come out and start questioning why my black sister is being arrested.”

Williams told the Blade the officer asked her if she was white. She said that when she told him she’s black, he appeared to be surprised.

She said she was sitting in the vehicle talking to the male officer who first approached her.

“All of a sudden hands grabbed me, the door swung open and a female officer pulled me out of the car,” Williams said. “They threw me up against the back of the car” and searched her, she said.

“It was verbal abuse and it was physical abuse,” she said of the officers’ conduct toward her.

Corado said the officers’ action and demeanor toward her and Williams caused a lot of stress for the three transgender women and the two gay men as they sat in the vehicle watching.

One of the passengers, Claudia Martinez, told the Blade she suffered an anxiety attack and Corado took her to the Washington Hospital Center for treatment after Corado drove the others home on the night of the incident.

“It just got to me,” Martinez said. “We were in the car for an hour or more.”

Added Corado: “Maybe I caused some of the hostility. I said I have people in the car who are very vulnerable. We were coming from a support group session. Could you be a little nicer?”

That’s when at least of one the officers appeared to become even more hostile toward her, she said.

She said it was then that she called Mahl of the GLLU and asked him to send a GLLU officer to the scene. Mahl said he immediately contacted GLLU Officer Juanita Foreman and asked her to respond to the scene. He said Foreman called him about 15 minutes later to confirm she had arrived on the scene, but she told him she did not see Corado and assumed that Corado left the scene.

Corado told the Blade she didn’t leave the scene until after police drove Williams to the Fourth District station. She said she assumes that Foreman missed seeing her and talked to Williams.

“If she talked to Kaprice, that’s good,” said Corado. “She didn’t need to talk to me.”

Corado and several of the dozens of people who added comments to her Facebook posting expressed concern that the officer stopped the vehicle as part of a “profiling” policy that singles out transgender women for special scrutiny.

Matt Mahl, GLLU, Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, gay news, Washington Blade

Sgt. Matthew Mahl (center). (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas)

Mahl, however, noted that the SUV was stopped about 10:10 p.m. on a dark street and he doubts the officer could have determined the gender of the passengers before getting out of his squad car and walking up to the SUV to question the driver.

When asked about the officer’s description of Williams as a “male” on the police report, Mahl said doing that violated a police department general order that requires officers to ask transgender people or anyone whose gender may not be obvious which gender they prefer to be identified as.

“The order says we must ask the person what is your preferred gender and preferred name,” Mahl said. “They did put down ‘Kaprice’ as an aka,” he said. “We are always required to report the legal name of a person being arrested.”

Mahl said he would suggest that police officials treat this mistake as a “teachable moment” to make sure the officers involved in the arrest know about the general order for dealing with transgender citizens.

The police report identifies Williams by her birth name of Howard Williams.

Mahl said a longstanding police policy gives motorists a 90-day grace period after their driver’s license expires in which no penalty is given if they are stopped for a driving infraction. He said Williams had not had a valid, current license for more than a year.

“She was not treated any different than anyone else,” he said, whose license elapsed for more than 90 days.

Court records show that Williams was arrested in August 2013 on an identical charge of driving with “no permit.” The records show that case is still pending and Williams is scheduled to return to court for a status hearing on April 8.

She told the Blade on Monday that she currently has a valid learner’s permit and is in the process of arranging for a road test needed to obtain a new license. She said she meant to show the learner’s permit to the arresting officer during the incident last Friday but, while nervous and reaching into her purse, pulled out her insurance card instead.

Court records also show that Williams successfully applied for and was granted a legal change of her name to Kaprice Williams on July 2, 2013. She said she’s hopeful that the legal name change will protect her from future situations where her identity is questioned.

Corado said LGBT activists plan to raise the issue of police handling of Williams’ Feb. 28 arrest at a news conference being planned later this month to discuss a report released last week that assessed D.C. police handling of anti-LGBT hate crimes and the police relations with the LGBT community.

The report, prepared at the request of Police Chief Cathy Lanier by an independent task force, offers recommendations for improving LGBT-police relations and ways to improve police response to hate crimes.

03
Mar
2014

Catania enters race for mayor

David Catania, gay news, Washington Blade

David Catania is the first serious openly gay contender for the office of D.C. mayor. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Council member David Catania (I-At-Large) filed papers on Wednesday to become a candidate for mayor in the November general election, saying he has the “values and the vision and the tenacity” to tackle the challenges facing the city.

As a 16-year veteran on the Council with a long record of legislative accomplishments, including his role as author of the city’s historic marriage equality law, Catania becomes the first serious openly gay contender for the office of D.C. mayor with a shot at winning.

“This is a city that believes strongly in equality of opportunity, a strong sense of fairness and the importance of playing by the rules,” Catania said at a news conference outside the city’s Reeves Center municipal building, where he registered his candidacy.

“These are the values we all share and these are the ones that have guided me since I was elected,” he said.

In what many LGBT activists will likely view as a twist of fate, a large segment of the city’s LGBT community has already lined up behind the re-election campaign of Mayor Vincent Gray, who they consider the most LGBT-supportive mayor in the history of the city.

The potential dilemma of LGBT voters having to choose between an out gay candidate with a longstanding record of support on their issues and a pro-LGBT mayor they consider a longtime friend and ally was likely heightened on Wednesday when Catania reiterated his call for Gray to resign.

When asked by reporters at his news conference what he thought about revelations by the U.S. Attorney earlier this week that Gray was aware of an illegal “shadow campaign” orchestrated by businessman Jeffrey Thompson to benefit Gray’s 2010 mayoral campaign, Catania said he believes the allegations to be true.

“I made my feelings known about the mayor’s shadow campaign when it was first disclosed nearly two years ago,” he said. “I said he should have resigned then and I believe that today.”

Catania, however, said the timing of his declaration of candidacy for this week was set in motion over a week ago, before the revelations of the U.S. Attorney were known, when he set up a campaign bank account that required him to formally enter the race this week.

Catania said he’s ready to run against Gray or any of the other seven Democrats challenging Gray in the city’s April 1 Democratic primary, including four of Catania’s Democratic colleagues on the Council.

In response to questions by reporters, Catania said he’s not at all deterred by the fact that he’s an independent and former Republican running in a city with an overwhelmingly Democratic electorate. No non-Democrat has ever won election as mayor in the District of Columbia.

“I want to be as clear as I can be,” he said. “I won more citywide races than everyone else in the race combined. I’ve won five times citywide. I’ve represented every corner of the city since 1997.”

Catania added, “I believe I have the values and the vision and the tenacity to tackle the challenges facing the city and I have the record of accomplishments that supports it. So I’m not worried about who prevails in the Democratic primary. I’ve got a record that I’m very proud of and that I’m very excited to share, and I’m very excited to talk about my vision for the city.”

The most recent poll on the Democratic primary, which was conducted before the latest revelations about Gray’s alleged 2010 shadow campaign, show Gray leading his closest rival, Council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), by a margin of 28 percent to 20 percent. Council members Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), and Vincent Orange (D-At-Large), were trailing with 13 percent, 12 percent and 4 percent respectively.

Businessman Andy Shallal had 6 percent, attorney and former State Department official Reta Jo Lewis had 3 percent, and civic activist Carlos Allen had less than 1 percent.

Political observers, including Bob Summersgill, former president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, said that if Gray squeaks out a victory in the primary with around 30 percent of the vote or less, many of the Democratic voters that backed his rivals could turn to Catania in the November election.

When asked by the Blade where he thinks the LGBT vote would go in the general election, Catania said he believes he would be a strong contender for that vote based on his record on a wide range of issues.

“I think people are going to vote their interests and their values,” he said. “And I hope we can refrain from having constituency voting blocs. I don’t think that’s good for anybody.”

But he added, “I’m happy to put my record as an LGBT advocate against anyone. I hear in these forums how everyone takes responsibility and credit for same-sex marriage. But I was there. I know members who never showed up for the hearings and never said a word on the dais,” he said.

“I know the difference between those who have revisionist history and those who were there,” he said. “And so whether it’s having been the first openly gay elected member of the Council, from championing everything from HIV education and treatment to same-sex marriage to adoption to transgender rights, I’ll put my record against anyone’s.”

When asked about a recent independent report indicating shortcomings in the D.C. Police Department’s handling of anti-LGBT hate crimes, Catania praised Police Chief Cathy Lanier but said he would not discuss personnel issues before the election.

“I think Cathy Lanier has been an excellent chief,” he said. “Now we can all do better and learn from our mistakes…[T]here’s always room for improvement both in terms of the reaction of the LGBT community, internal affairs and others,” he said.

A transcript of Catania’s news conference follows:

Reporter: So you just filed your papers today to run?

Catania: Actually, this has been in the works for some time. We decided in January that this would be the week we would announce. In fact, just last Wednesday, before any of the latest revelations came out, we opened our bank account and by law we have five business days to file. And so last Wednesday we opened our bank account, always with the intention of filing this week. And of course you know what has happened in the intervening time known to all of us.

Reporter: What do you think about what’s happened with the mayor this week?

Catania: Well, I made my feelings known about the mayor’s shadow campaign when it was first disclosed nearly two years ago. I said he should have resigned then and I believe that today.

Reporter: What is your path to victory at this point? Does the mayor have to win the primary?

Catania: No. I want to be just as clear as I could be. I won more city wide races than everyone else in the race combined. I’ve won five times citywide. I’ve represented every corner of the city since 1997. I believe that I have the values and the vision and the tenacity to tackle the challenges facing the city and I have the record of accomplishments that supports it. So I’m not worried about who prevails in the Democratic primary. I’ve got a record that I’m very proud of and that I’m very excited share and I’m very exciting to talk about my vision for the city.

Reporter: This is a city that remains hugely Democratic.

Catania: That’s right. And I would be delighted to put my record against any of those who have Democrat by their name as it relates to democratic values. I think my record more embodies democratic values than the field of candidates running as Democrats. If you look at what I’ve done for marriage equality, medical marijuana, smoke free D.C., cutting the rate of uninsured children and adults in half in this city, my work with HIV, and most recently my work with respect to education, including a fair funding bill which is finally going to give the resources for poor kids to catch up. And so labels are fine but I think the people are looking for a leader who’s actually delivered. And there’s one thing I can say – I’ve delivered.

The others have talked a good game and good for them for having labels. But I’ve actually delivered.

Reporter: You’re a former Republican and you’re also a white person. How does that play into the racial mix of this city?

Catania: Well I think the citizens of this city want a leader that shares their values. And it doesn’t matter what label you have. Clearly I do. This is a city that believes strongly in equality of opportunity, a strong sense of fairness and the importance of playing by the rules. These are the values we all share and these are the ones that have guided me since I was elected. So with respect to labels, you know, I think they may matter with some but by and large if you look at where we are in the city and if we’re going to secure our future we need a leader who shares our values, has a vision, and has the tenacity to get the job done.

Reporter: You’re campaigns have actually taken money from Jeffrey Thompson and then I guess you had a really serious falling out with him. Would you give back the money you took from Jeffrey Thompson or did you give the money back?

Catania: You know, Mr. Thompson held a fundraiser for me in 2006. And so the bulk of the funds that were raised through that fundraiser were in 2006. Unfortunately, as you know, we, unlike federal campaigns, we close each of our campaigns out – by law we’re required to – at the conclusion of the election. So the money has simply been closed out. Now the money – whatever was left over – went to a constituent services fund. And so it’s not like I have additional monies lying around to do that. And I think we’re prohibited by law from taking our existing campaign funds to pay back the debts of another campaign.

Reporter: Were you the chairman of the Health Committee when the agreement to give Jeffrey Thompson more money signed out? You fought that, didn’t you?

Catania: I think what’s interesting is that we’re here today because of the work of the Committee on Health when I became chairman. In 2005 when I became chairman of the committee the first thing I wanted to do was kind of survey the landscape of the area of responsibility that I had, which included the city’s three largest contracts for managed care and for Medicaid. And so I actually put the money in in 2005 to conduct an audit of our three managed care organizations, including Jeff Thompson’s. That audit is what ultimately led to Mr. Thompson having to settle with the city with $17 million in 2008. So it’s not about having a falling out one way or another. I was doing my job. I wanted the city’s largest contracts to be subject to an audit. They were. It demonstrated that he was helping himself, candidly, and that resulted in him having to pay some money back. I suspect that’s part of what inspired him to try to find leaders that were more malleable. I wasn’t one of them.

Reporter: The mayor calls him a liar. He says everything he says is a lie, lie, lie.

Catania: Well I think this whole subject, this whole drama we’ve had with Jeff Thompson – this great drama – the time has come for this to end. And you know we need to be talking about how we’re going to make sure our kids are ready to succeed. We need to be talking about an affordable housing plan and a public safety plan of action for Fire and EMS. The less we talk about Vince Gray and Jeff Thompson the better. That’s for others to talk about. I’m talking about my vision for the city, which doesn’t include serving as a human lie detector for Jeff Thompson or Vince Gray.

Reporter: What about this settlement. Did you think that settlement that was reached with Chartered Health was good and above board or did you think –

Catania: Which settlement, the first one or the second?

Reporter: The one that was agreed to [by the city] and paid him.

Catania: This was obviously an attempt to square accounts with the shadow campaign as far as I am concerned. It was laid out as meticulously as it could be. Jeff Thompson in 2008 had to pay $12 million because he stole from the city. And then two weeks after he wins his primary his group begins putting in motion the very settlement that ultimately, that Mayor Gray advanced – that we paid him the money from the false claims actions against the city. Do I believe the mayor knew it and participated and do I believe the city actually paid the shadow campaign money back? Yes, I believe that…

Reporter: You have a reputation for being a little difficult. I won’t even say the words that some – [Tom Sherwood interrupts: The Rahm Emanuel of D.C.?]

Catania: Well listen, we’re not cutting the crusts off cucumber sandwiches here. This is not a garden party. This is about running a $12 billion organization where the lives of 640,000 people depend on someone being honest, having values and a vision and being faithful to those values and those visions. And so I’m not going to apologize for the passion that I take to this job. I think most of us are outraged when they have Fire and EMS officials just standing by while our citizens are in harm’s way. I think most of our citizens are outraged when the see half of our African American males not graduating on time for high school. I think most of our citizens are outraged when they see our homeless in rec centers. So I’m not going to apologize for that outrage. I’m not going to apologize for the passion. It’s helped me get though some of the toughest measures in the last 15 years, 16 years on the Council…

Reporter: Concerning the police department, there was an independent report that just came out saying there are some shortcomings in their handling of hate crimes and that the chief may have caused the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit to not be able to do its job as well as it could. If you were elected, have you decided whether you would retain the police chief?

Catania: Look, I think Cathy Lanier has been an excellent chief. Now we can all do better and learn from our mistakes. But I want to make clear I’m not talking about personnel decisions until after the election. It is the right of every mayor to select those individuals that he or she wishes to work with. I think that Chief Lanier has been an excellent chief but there’s always room for improvement both in terms of the reaction of the LGBT community, internal affairs and others.

Reporter: We’re now in the primary. Will you be out campaigning or will you wait to see who wins the primary?

Catania: No, the race starts today, Tom. The race starts today.

…If we’re electing leaders rather than administrators I think it’s time for people to look at the record. And among those who are running for mayor if you look at what have they done in the last 15 months. I think that’s a fair subject for discussion and it’s what I intend to talk about during this race. But look, it isn’t about who the Democratic nominee might be. I have an affirmed agenda that I believe is consistent with the values of our residents. I think we can do better. We have incredible fundamentals. When I look at our economy and I look at the values of our citizens and we have yet to capture the entire trajectory, the entire direction of those values…

Q: The leading candidates in the Democratic primary are all very supportive on LGBT issues. The mayor says he’s very supportive. Whoever wins the primary, how do you think the LGBT vote will go in the general election?

A: Lou, I think people are going to vote their interests and their values. And I hope we can refrain from having constituency voting blocks. I don’t think that’s good for anybody. I’m happy to put my record as an LGBT advocate against anyone. I hear in these forums how everyone takes responsibility and credit for same-sex marriage. But I was there. I know the members who never showed up for the hearings and never said a word on the dais. I know the difference between those who have revisionist history and those who were there. And so whether it’s having been the first openly gay elected member of the Council, from championing everything from HIV education and treatment to same-sex marriage to adoption to transgender rights, I’ll put my record against everyone’s or anyone’s.

Q: Can you say something about the EMS?

A: You know, I’m very open to the idea of separating the EMS and putting it candidly under the Department of Health because I see the EMS as the front line of the Department of Health. These are the front line deliverers of health services. The way it has been organized, specifically it’s been subsumed by the Fire Department and has not been able to stand on its own. And so I’m open to the idea of separating the two…

Q: Would you retain Chief Ellerbe as fire chief?

A: No. I’ll make an exception because that’s so glaring.

Q: How do you assess your chances?

A: Good.

Q: Why do you think they’re good?

A: Well I think this is an election about change. I think the electorate is eager to have a leader instead of an administrator and I think the work that I’ve done touches many constituencies across the city. Who else can claim that they saved our public hospital? Who else can lay claim to a marriage equality bill that finally made all of our families equal before the law? Who else can claim that they produced the lowest rate of uninsured children in the country? Who else championed medical marijuana or the most comprehensive mental health system for young people in the country? So I think it’s time to ask some of those who are running on the inertial of a label why they believe they have a chance of winning having accomplished so little.

12
Mar
2014

Justice Department launches transgender training program

Ruby Corado, Casa Ruby, gay news, Washington Blade

Ruby Corado, executive director of Casa Ruby, is among those who took part in a U.S. Justice Department training on Thursday. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

In a conference room at its headquarters in Washington, the U.S. Justice Department on Thursday held a first-of-its-kind training session for law enforcement officials on how they can better serve the transgender community.

Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, in opening remarks, said Thursday’s session represented the launching of an ongoing nationwide series of similar training sessions designed to educate the nation’s law enforcement establishment about problems and needs of trans people.

“At its most basic level, the new training will provide tools to enhance an officer’s ability to build partnerships with community members and to work with fellow citizens, who share a commitment to public safety,” Cole told the gathering.

Cole and other DOJ officials said the department’s Community Relations Service, which was established under the famed U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964, developed the trans training program with input from representatives of the LGBT community.

LGBT community members, including D.C. trans activist Ruby Corado, were among those attending the March 27 session.

“We heard you when you told us that we needed to establish a foundation of trust between those who serve and protect the public and those in the LGBT communities – particularly the transgender community – who are disproportionately the victims of hate violence,” said Cole.

Among those who helped develop the training program and who were scheduled to give a presentation at the session were Major Irene A. Burks of the Prince George’s County, Md., Police Department; and Diego Miguel Sanchez, a veteran trans advocate, legislative assistant to former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and current National Director of Policy for Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).

Also scheduled to give a presentation at the session was Harper Jean Tobin, an attorney and Director of Policy at the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Sgt. Brett Parson of the Metropolitan Police Department of D.C., who formerly headed the division that oversees the department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, assisted in developing the trans training program. Parson was scheduled to be one of the instructors at the March 27 training session but had to cancel his appearance due to a scheduling conflict, people familiar with the event said.

Also attending the training were D.C. police Sgt. Matthew Mahl, the current supervisor of the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, and Officer Justin Markiewicz, a member of the unit.

DOJ officials limited news media attendance of the event to the introductory remarks by DOJ officials. DOJ spokesperson Emily Pierce said the training itself was closed to the media because it involved role-playing exercises that could make participants uncomfortable under the glare of the press.

A statement released by the DOJ says the trans training program will become an important component of the DOJ’s Community Relations Service, which, among other things, helps communities develop strategies to prevent and respond to violent hate crimes committed on the basis of a victim’s sexual orientation and gender identity as well as other factors such as race, religion, and national origin.

The trans training program “will hereafter be facilitated around the country by CRS (Community Relations Service) regional personnel and local volunteer experts in communities that are experiencing hate violence and wish to better respond and prevent such incidents against transgender persons,” the statement says.

It says that in addition to its D.C. headquarters, the Community Relations Service has 10 regional offices and four smaller field offices that serve all 50 states and U.S. territories.

“The training resources that CRS (Community Relations Service) has created (with input from law enforcement leaders and transgender advocates) is intended to assist communities across the country and law enforcement agencies wishing to improve their understanding of and work with the transgender communities they serve,” according to the statement.

Trans activists across the country, including those in D.C., have reported widespread incidents of police mistreatment of trans people. D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier has been credited with putting in place policies and procedures for officers to treat transgender residents with respect and sensitivity.

Despite these policies, trans advocates says incidents of insensitivity by officers, while declining, continues to surface.

“We understand when you shared the worst possible – and frankly unacceptable – outcome that the transgender community could face,” said Cole at the training session in Washington. “Based on the community’s fears about law enforcement’s support and perceptions, too many of you in the transgender community simply didn’t report incidents of crime brought to bear against you,” he said.

“This is not a result that can or will be tolerated by the Justice Department, and it runs counter to the very role your community public safety officials want to promote,” said Cole.

Cole acknowledged, however, that the trans training program would likely be utilized mostly by “forward-thinking chiefs of police, sheriffs, and other public safety professionals who opt to participate” in the program.

Tony West, DOJ’s associate attorney general, and Grande H. Lum, national director of the department’s Community Relations Service, also spoke at the training.

28
Mar
2014

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