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Mayor says LGBT groups could qualify for $100k city grants

Lou Chibbaro, Jr., Vincent Gray, Vince Gray, LGBT Town Hall, gay news, Washington Blade

Washington Blade senior reporter Lou Chibbaro, Jr. and D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas)

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray told a Pride Week town hall gathering on Friday that non-profit LGBT organizations providing services to the community could be eligible for grants for as much as $100,000 under a new city program.

Gray discussed the grant program and a wide range of other topics related to the LGBT community during the Third Annual Washington Blade Town Hall Pride Interview with the Mayor, held at the John A. Wilson City Hall building on May 31.

“We requested $15 million in support of the One City Fund,” Gray said in discussing the grant program, which he said is also known as the Innovation Fund.

“That would make available grants to non-profit organizations in the city,” he said. “And the criteria are broad and certainly would include the kinds of issues we are talking about here tonight.”

Gray added, “The entire $15 million was approved in this budget. And we will be ready on Oct. 1 to open the door to applications from organizations that want to get a grant.”

Gray raised the issue of the grants program in response to a question by transgender activist Ruby Corado, the founder and director of Casa Ruby, an LGBT community center in Columbia Heights that reaches out to the Latino and transgender communities.

Corado and David Mariner, director of the D.C. LGBT Community Center, which will soon move into its new home in the city’s Reeves Center building at 14th and U Streets, N.W., have each appealed to the city for funding for their respective community centers. Mariner has said D.C. is one of the nation’s only large cities that so far doesn’t provide city funding for an LGBT community center.

“We have organizations that do worthy work and don’t necessarily fit all the categories or any of the categories in the government [for existing grants],” Gray said. “So this is an opportunity for such organizations to be able to submit grant applications and get funding.”

In response to a question from another audience member about the problem of homelessness among LGBT youth in the city, Gray noted that the D.C. Council approved a proposal supported by his administration that will provide $500,000 this year and $1 million next year for emergency housing for homeless LGBT youth.

“We’re going to try to work with the relevant organizations to make sure that we understand what the scope of the need is [on LGBT youth homelessness] so we can effectively address it,” Gray said.

When asked by the Blade if he would like to make headlines at the town hall gathering by announcing whether he plans to run for re-election next year, Gray laughed and said he wasn’t ready to make such an announcement.

“I’m not going to answer that tonight. And I don’t have a specific date,” he said. “But I will say this. I believe we have done the things that we have set out to do.”

He listed a litany of accomplishments he said his administration has had in the two and a half years since he took office as mayor, including the city’s fiscal stability and booming economic growth, a significant reduction in unemployment, continuing “aggressive education reform,” and a sharp drop in the city’s murder rate.

“I love working with people,” he said. “I love, frankly, what we’ve been able to do to work with the LGBT community, to be able to move efforts along in this city. I want us to be the most friendly place, if you will, in the nation” for the LGBT community.

Gray said that similar to past years, he and members of his administration will participate in the Capital Pride Parade on June 8.

“I love to participate in the Pride Parade. I’m looking forward to that,” he said. “And anybody who would like to march with us, we’d love to have you.”

Among the audience members who spoke at the event was Alvin Bethea, the father of slain transgender woman Deoni JaParker Jones, 23, who was stabbed to death while sitting at a city bus stop in Northeast D.C. in February 2012.

A 55-year-old D.C. man has been charged with first-degree murder while armed in connection with Jones’ murder.

Bethea thanked Gray for his support for the transgender community and thanked the LGBT community for its support for his family at the time of Jones’ death.

Corado and transgender activist Daniel King thanked Gray for a job training program he established for transgender residents at the D.C. Department of Employment Services, which is believed to be the first such program in the country.

But King, Corado and another transgender woman who spoke at the town hall meeting said transgender people continue to face discrimination in the city.

Gray pointed to a city media campaign organized by the Office of Human Rights that seeks to educate the public about the transgender community and promote respect and discourage discrimination.

“I wish I could say money will solve this,” Gray said. “It’s hard to buy new attitudes. In fact, it’s impossible to buy new attitudes…There’s still a lot of discrimination and bias in this city towards people who are lesbians or bisexual, transgender, and gay,” he said.

“Even though we’ve made a lot of progress, we’ve got a long ways to go. But I do think we’re making progress and we’re putting in more dollars into efforts to make that happen.”

In response to questions from the Blade and audience members, Gray made these additional comments:

-He opposes a proposed liquor license moratorium for the 14th and U Street, N.W., corridor where many LGBT people live, that would prevent the opening of news restaurants and bars.

-The D.C. Department of Health is taking steps to arrange for services by other providers for clients of Transgender Health Empowerment, a local transgender advocacy and services group that has mostly ceased operating due to financial problems.

-The city has not had any discussions with a developer to sell the Reeves Center building, which might result in the displacement of the D.C. LGBT Community Center.

The Center is expected to move into the Reeves building in rented space later this month. The Washington Business Journal reported unnamed sources as saying the city was “discussing” the possibility selling or trading the Reeves building as part of a land deal to facilitate the building of a new soccer stadium.

“You know, if there were such discussions – and there haven’t been,” Gray said, “but if there were such discussions we certainly would want to work with the D.C. Center to make sure that whatever would happen they would have a permanent home. But that’s really so premature now. There just haven’t been any such discussions.”

03
Jun
2013

Calendar through Feb. 7

Dis Six, Leslie Nolan, gay news, Washington Blade

‘Dis Six’ by Leslie Nolan is on display at Touchstone Gallery. (Image courtesy Touchstone)

TODAY (Feb. 1)

Studio Gallery (2108 R St., NW) has its first Friday reception for “Shadows” by Peter Karp today, featuring photographic images in juxtaposition to found objects, cutouts and geometric shapes, and “Rough/Smooth/Evolving” by Trish Palasik, a play on rough and smooth textures on the surface of figures. For more information, visit studiogallerydc.com.

Touchstone Gallery (901 New York Ave., NW) is hosting the opening reception for the exhibition “Unfiltered,” paintings by Leslie Nolan, this evening at 6 p.m. Nolan’s portraits take a glimpse into people’s raw and vulnerable lives. The evening will include wine and music by Tom Rohde playing classical, Brazilian and Spanish guitar. For more information, visit touchstonegallery.com.

Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) hosts Bear Happy Hour tonight from 6-11 p.m. This event is for people 21 and older. There is no cover charge. Later in the evening, the club will be hosting “So, you think you’re a drag queen?” to find the newest drag talent in the area. Contestants will be judged on performance ability, outfits, attitude and the ability to navigate a contest that requires them to do “ridiculous feats of drag-agility!” This will be a monthly contest. In order to participate, sign up during the drag show a month before the contest. The club will take the first six contestants who sign up. Winners will receive $200 and the title of the month’s winner. All winners are eligible for a final competition at the end of the year. For attendants of the show, the cover is $5 before 11 p.m. and $10 after for anyone 21 and older. For 18-20 year olds, cover is $10. For details, visit towndc.com.

Saturday, Feb. 2

The La-Ti-Do anniversary party takes place tonight starting at 6 p.m. at Black Fox Lounge (1723 Connecticut Ave, NW). La-Ti-Do is Washington’s only weekly musical theater and spoken word cabaret series. Attendees are asked to RSVP on Facebook and to give $5 at the door. For more information, visit blackfoxlounge.com.

A memorial for Deoni Jones, a transgender woman who was murdered last year while waiting for the bus, is being held early this morning from 2-4 a.m. The family of Jones will be holding a candlelight vigil. This will be one year since her death and it will be held at the exact place where she was murdered, the intersection of Sycamore and East Capital St., NE. Everyone is welcome to come out to show their support for the family and to continue to raise awareness on the issue of violence against the transgender community. Those with questions or wanting to volunteer, contact Amy Loudermilk at amy.loudermilk2@dc.gov. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Burgundy Crescent volunteers this morning at Food and Friends (219 Riggs Rd., NE) at 8 a.m. and again at 9:45 a.m. Volunteers will help with food preparation and packing groceries. The shifts are limited to 10 per shift. For more information, visit burgundycrescent.org.

Burgundy Crescent, a gay volunteer organization, volunteers today for the Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation at Falls Church PetSmart (6100 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church, Va.) starting at 11:45 a.m. For more information, visit burgundycrescent.org.

CODE’s “Uniform Night” is tonight from 9 p.m.-3 a.m. at Green Lantern (1335 Green Court, NW). Those in head-to-toe uniform (Army, Air Force, Navy, etc.) get in half off. Gear, rubber, uniform and leather dress code is strictly enforced. Doors open at 9 with open bar from 9 to 10 p.m. Cover is $10. Join CODE on Facebook for full details.

Sunday, Feb. 3

Metropolitan Community Church (474 Ridge St., NW) holds its weekly 9 and 11 a.m. worship services today. The church is mostly LGBT and communion is open to everyone. For more information, visit mccdc.com.

Monday, Feb. 4

The D.C. Lambda Squares holds its new dance series starting tonight at 7:30 p.m. at National City Christian Church (5 Thomas Circle, NW). The only square dance club located in Washington, the group invites everyone to learn square dancing in just 16 Mondays. No special outfits, partner or prior dance experience is needed. The cost is $100. For more information or to register, visit dclambdasquares.org.

Tuesday, Feb. 5

The Washington, D.C. International Food and Wine Festival starts tonight at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center (1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW). The Wine Tasting Room is free and open to the public from 4 to 8 p.m. every day of the event, which ends Feb. 9. The festival also holds signature events everyday as well as seminar series events. The festival offers individual tickets to the events as well as a combination of packages. Tickets vary from $35-$200. The signature event for this evening is the Regional Food and Wine Celebration beginning at 6:30 p.m., featuring several regional wine and food pairings that have evolved over centuries. The cost of this particular event is $95. For more information, visit wineandfooddc.com.

Green Lantern (1335 Green Court, N.W.) hosts its Safer Sex Kit-packing program tonight from 7-10:30. The packing program is looking for more volunteers to help produce the kits because they say they are barely keeping up with demand. Admission is free and volunteers can just show up. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Wednesday, Feb. 6

Gallery B (7700 Wisconsin Ave., Suite E, Bethesda) opens a February exhibition featuring photographers Howard Clark, Martin Evans, Stephen Hoff and Dave Montgomery today at noon. The opening reception is on Feb. 8 from 6-9 p.m. in conjunction with the Bethesda Art Walk. For details, visit Bethesda.org.

Foundry Gallery (1314 18th St., NW) features “Paintings After Hitler” by Jay Peterzell today at noon. Peterzell’s pastels observe the watercolors by Adolph Hitler and become an examination of Hitler’s political and sexual psychology. This exhibition is part of the gallery’s annual show of new members, including Ana Elisa Benavent, Maruka Carvajal, Meg Mackenzie and Naomi Taitz Duffy. For more information, visit foundrygallery.org.

Bookmen D.C., a men’s gay literature group, meets at Tenleytown Library (4450 Wisconsin Ave, NW) tonight at 7:30 p.m. to discuss “February House: The Story of W.H. Auden, Carson McCullers, Jane and Paul Bowles, Benjamin Britten and Gypsy Rose Lee, Under One Roof in Brooklyn” by Sherill Tippins. For more information, visit bookmendc.blogspot.com.

The Tom Davoren Social Bridge Club meets at the Dignity Center (721 8th St., SE) tonight at 7:30 p.m. No partner is needed. For more information, visit lambdabridge.com and click “Social Bridge in Washington, D.C.”

Thursday, Feb. 7

Howard University hosts “Birthday Suit: Were You Born Like That” tonight at 7 p.m. in the Blackburn Center (2400 6th St., NW). Birthday Suit is a series of events that highlights the way “people are born.” The first two parts of this series discussed the “History and Ideas Surrounding Natural Hair and Beauty in the Black Community” and how “All Shades are Beautiful.” Part three will be discussing whether homosexuality a choice and the LGBT community in the black population. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

31
Jan
2013

Mayor, city officials attend memorial for slain trans woman

Vince Gray, Democratic Party, Washington D.C., District of Columbia, Anacostia, JaParker Deoni Jones, gay news, Washington Blade, transgender

Mayor Vince Gray attended the memorial for slain trans woman Deoni Jones, along with several other D.C. officials. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe, and Deputy Police Chief Diane Groomes were among a contingent of city officials who joined about 100 participants Saturday night in a memorial remembrance for slain trans woman Deoni Jones.

Jones, 23, was stabbed to death Feb. 2, 2012 while sitting at a bus stop near her home at East Capitol Street and Sycamore Road, N.E. A 56-year-old District man was indicted on a charge of first-degree murder while armed in connection with Jones’ murder.

As participants in Saturday’s memorial assembled next to the bus stop where the murder occurred exactly one year earlier, Earl Fowlkes, president of the gay rights group Center for Black Equity, introduced Jones’ family members, who organized the event.

“First of all, they could have stayed private, which would be understandable to heal, to seek justice, and to grieve,” Fowlkes said. “But instead, they joined with the LGBT community and stayed with the LGBT community in their time of pain to show that we cannot tolerate violence in our community.”

Alvin Bethea, Jones’ stepfather, told the gathering he and his family were deeply moved by the support they have received from the LGBT community as well as from Mayor Gray and the police and fire departments, which he said responded quickly to the scene where Deoni Jones was attacked.

“President Obama put the country on notice that discrimination against the GLBT community is wrong,” he said, adding that many in the D.C. community were following Obama’s message of equality for all citizens.

But Bethea said he and his family were troubled that the U.S. Attorney’s office has declined their repeated calls for classifying Jones’ murder as a hate crime. He called on the city and the LGBT community to join his family’s efforts to persuade the prosecutor in charge of the case, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Gorman, to add a hate crime designation to the charge against defendant Gary Montgomery, whom D.C. police arrested eight days after the murder.

Bethea said the family plans to file a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department’s criminal and civil rights divisions requesting an investigation into the handling of the case by the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s office.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office said the office has a policy of not commenting on criminal cases currently before the courts.

In charging documents, police and prosecutors said that a video recording of the incident obtained from a nearby video surveillance camera shows that the person who stabbed Jones took her purse immediately after the stabbing and walked from the scene with the purse in his possession.

The charging documents say the assailant shown on the video recording, which witnesses have identified as Montgomery, dropped the purse after a witness shouted and chased after him. A police arrest affidavit says that the suspect escaped from the scene and remained at large until D.C. police apprehended him eight days later.

Deoni Jones, gay news, Washington Blade

Remembrance of Deoni Jones. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Jones’ friends and family members have said they believe the true motive was hatred toward a transgender person rather than robbery. At the time of Montgomery’s arrest, a police investigator said police were considering the possibility that the incident was a hate crime.

When asked about the family’s and community’s concerns over the lack of a hate crime designation to the case, Gray told reporters after the memorial ended that he would ask the D.C. Attorney General’s office to look into the matter.

“I think there ought to be a clear indication of why or why not this is viewed or not viewed as a hate crime,” Gray said. “The family clearly is not satisfied. And I think we all owe it to them to give a clear explanation over why the direction of the case is proceeding the way it is.”

Gray added, “We can get our attorney general to make a statement to the U.S. Attorney’s office to say we want a clear determination on this situation. And let the family have peace on this because they clearly are still very restive about this whole situation.”

Others who spoke at the memorial included D.C. Council members David Catania (I-At-Large) and Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7); Groomes and Ellerbe; Sterling Washington, director of the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs; Hassan Naveed, co-chair of Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence; and Brian Watson of Transgender Health Empowerment.

In the closing prayer, Rev. Dyan Abena McGray, pastor of the LGBT supportive congregation Unity Fellowship, urged members of the LGBT community to be vigilant and supportive in the wake of Deoni Jones’ death.
“I ask you to support one another,” she said. “Stay close to one another. Travel in twos. Protect each other, because there are people outside our group that don’t like us. They don’t understand us,” she said. “But we understand each other so we have to support each other.”
As participants held lit candles and snow began to fall, McGray added, “Just look around. Look at the family here. We are family.”
04
Feb
2013

New partnership to combat hate crimes

Vince Gray, Democratic Party, Washington D.C., District of Columbia, Anacostia, JaParker Deoni Jones, gay news, Washington Blade, transgender

Mayor Vincent Gray is encouraging local LGBT residents to submit impact statements in hate crime cases. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray announced earlier this month that his Office of GLBT Affairs will encourage members of the LGBT community to submit community impact statements to judges in cases where criminals are convicted of committing anti-LGBT hate crimes.

In what Gray called a partnership between the GLBT Affairs Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the mayor said the GLBT Affairs Office would help prosecutors line up LGBT people to submit community impact statements. Court observers say such statements submitted by people sympathetic to crime victims often prompt judges to hand down more stringent sentences.

A statement released by the mayor’s office said the GLBT Affairs Office, headed by Sterling Washington, would also consider on a case-by-case basis whether to recruit LGBT people to submit community impact statements for cases that have not been designated officially as hate crimes but that involve crimes against LGBT people.

LGBT activists have complained that the U.S. Attorney’s Office often does not designate as hate crimes cases that activists believe should be so classified. One such case was the murder one year ago of transgender woman Deoni Jones. Jones’ parents and friends said at a one-year anniversary vigil commemorating Jones’ death two weeks ago that the U.S. Attorney’s office was remiss in not listing the murder as a hate crime.

Gray, who attended the vigil, said he planned to ask the city’s Attorney General to discuss the matter with the U.S. Attorney’s office. Gray used the occasion of the vigil to announce his plans for the partnership between the GLBT Affairs Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is deeply committed to prosecuting hate crimes against members of the LGBT community,” said U.S. Attorney spokesperson William Miller in a statement. “Community impact statements are an important tool for informing judges at sentencing about the effects of a crime that go beyond the direct victim,” he said.

Miller added, “We are pleased that the Office of GLBT Affairs has offered to solicit community impact statements in appropriate cases and look forward to working with them to ensure that the LGBT community is heard at sentencing in hate crime cases.”

13
Feb
2013

Transgender health care rally in D.C. draws more than 100

rally for transgender equality and economic justice, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade photo by Tyler Grigsby)

More than 100 people attended a rally in Columbia Heights on Saturday in support of equal access to health care for transgender people.

“We are here today to advocate for trans competent health care providers and for health care for the transgender community,” organizer Bryce Jordan Celotto said.

Nico Quintana, who came out as trans when he was 19, binded his chest for 10 years because his health insurance providers did not cover transition-related care.

He received a double mastectomy at an out-patient facility last year after saving more than $7,000, but developed an infection in his chest after the surgery. Quintana was hospitalized three times — and he said the personnel who admitted him to the hospital asked whether he was a man or a woman before they processed him.

“No one should have to think about that when they’re dying,” he said.

A 2011 study from the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force noted 28 percent of respondents said they experienced harassment while in a doctor’s office or another health care setting. Forty-eight percent of respondents postponed medical care because they could not afford it.

Nearly a fifth of survey participants said a doctor or other health care provider refused to treat them because of their gender identity and expression. The study notes this figure is higher among trans people of color.

“It’s a sad state of affairs when the number one prerequisite for a good health care [provider] is that they’re nice,” Thomas Coughlin of Whitman-Walker Health said. He noted clients drive up to six hours to access trans-specific care at his agency. “One of our goals is to educate people about trans care and trans-sensitive health.”

Andy Bowen of the D.C. Trans Coalition and others who spoke at the rally applauded the D.C. government’s efforts to address health care and employment disparities among trans Washingtonians.

Then-Mayor Anthony Williams in 2005 signed a bill that added gender identity and expression to the D.C. Human Rights Law. The Metropolitan Police Department and the D.C. Department of Corrections have also released trans sensitivity guidelines.

More than 70 people have graduated from the Project Empowerment program the D.C. Department of Employment Services launched in 2011 as a way to help reduce unemployment and poverty rates among trans Washingtonians. The city’s insurance regulator last month also clarified existing regulations to say health insurance providers cannot discriminate against their trans policy holders.

Mayor Vincent Gray and other D.C. officials last September unveiled the country’s first publicly-funded campaign to combat anti-trans discrimination, but advocates stressed they need to do more to improve access to health care and reduce economic disparities among trans Washingtonians.

Tyra Hunter died from injuries she sustained during a 1995 car accident after emergency medical personnel who responded to the scene declined to treat her once they discovered she was trans. D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe last fall apologized to Hunter’s family on behalf of the department during a Transgender Day of Remembrance commemoration at the Metropolitan Community Church in Northwest Washington.

Bowen urged D.C. Medicare, Alliance and other publicly-funded health plans to cover trans-specific health care needs, such as hormones, and procedures.

The JaParker Deoni Jones Birth Certificate Equality Amendment Act of 2013, which is named for the trans woman whom Gary Niles Montgomery allegedly stabbed to death at a Northeast D.C. bus stop in Feb. 2012, would allow Washingtonians to legally change the gender on their birth certificates without sex-reassignment surgery.

The D.C. Council has scheduled a May 16 hearing on the proposal, but Casa Ruby CEO Ruby Corado said during the rally that the city needs to enforce existing laws designed to protect trans Washingtonians from discrimination.

“People have rights here,” she said. “We have human rights for everybody. There is equality.”

01
Apr
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

Family to memorialize slain trans woman

The stepfather and sister of a transgender woman stabbed to death at a Northeast D.C. bus stop last February are inviting members of the LGBT community to participate in a memorial remembrance for Deoni Jones on Saturday, Feb. 2, to commemorate the anniversary of her death.

Deoni Jones, gay news, gay politics dc

Over 200 people attended a candlelight vigil held for Jones. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Jones’ family members, who refer to her by her birth name JaParker, told more than 200 people who turned out for a vigil at the site of the murder days after the incident took place that they fully accepted her as a transgender woman and treated her as a cherished member of the family.

“We want to have this event to not only honor JaParker, but to also shine light on the fact that so often members of our society who are GLBT face violence in their daily lives simply because of who they are, and that as a civilized society we will not tolerate violence against the GLBT community,” said Alvin Bethea, Jones’ stepfather.

“At this memorial we will have prayer, songs, and statements from the community,” Bethea said in an email to the Blade.

He said Jones’ sister, JuDean Jones, and other family members and friends were helping to organize the memorial remembrance.

The event is scheduled to take place 4:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 2, at East Capitol Street and Sycamore Street, N.E., at the site of the Metro bus stop where police say Jones was stabbed while sitting on a bench waiting for a bus.

Through the help of witnesses and nearby residents, D.C. police charged 55-year-old Gary Niles Montgomery with second-degree murder while armed in connection with Jones’ death eight days after the murder took place. In November, a D.C. Superior Court grand jury indicted Montgomery on a charge of first-degree murder while armed.

He has been held in jail without bond since the time of his arrest in February 2012.

A police arrest affidavit says a video surveillance camera which recorded the murder shows a male assailant taking Jones’ purse immediately after stabbing her in the face. The affidavit says witnesses identified the person in the video as Montgomery.

Although the taking of the purse indicates the motive of the attack was robbery, police said they have not ruled out the possibility that Jones was targeted because of her status as a transgender person.

However, Bethea told the Blade that he and his family believe Jones’ murder was a hate crime and that police and prosecutors should have classified it as a hate crime, which would give a judge authority to hand down a more stringent or “enhanced” sentence if Montgomery is convicted.

“We believe that it is clear in the video footage of this murder that the elements of a hate crime are present and that hate crime enhancement papers should be served upon this individual,” Bethea said in a email.

He said the family has urged the U.S. Attorney’s office, which is prosecuting the case, to list the murder as a hate crime.

“[W]e are considering filing a complaint with the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division seeking redress of [this] error,” Bethea said in his email.

According to court records, on March 23, Montgomery was declared competent to stand trial following a court ordered mental evaluation. He pleaded not guilty on Nov. 9, two days after the grand jury indicted him on the first-degree murder while armed charge. During a court hearing on Nov. 30, Superior Court Judge Robert E. Morin scheduled a trial date for June 10.

Court records show that questions surrounding Montgomery’s metal health surfaced in January, prompting Morin to order “24 hour forensic screening” for Montgomery “based on the representations of defense counsel.”

Morin scheduled a mental observation hearing for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29, to assess Montgomery’s condition.

Court records show Morin denied at least two requests by Montgomery’s attorneys that he be released from jail while awaiting trial. Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s office opposed the requests for Montgomery’s release.

D.C. Homicide Watch, a blog that reports on all murder cases in the city, reported that defense attorney Colle Latin argued in a motion that prosecutors failed to demonstrate that Montgomery would be a risk to the community or of fleeing the area if released. Latin also argued that the video, which is fuzzy in quality, doesn’t clearly identify Montgomery as the person who stabbed Jones.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

28
Jan
2013

Memorial planned for slain trans woman

Deoni Jones, gay news, gay politics dc

Over 200 people attended a candlelight vigil held for murdered trans woman Deoni Jones. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The stepfather and sister of a transgender woman stabbed to death at a Northeast D.C. bus stop last February are inviting members of the LGBT community to participate in a memorial remembrance for Deoni Jones on Saturday, Feb. 2, to commemorate the anniversary of her death.

The memorial was scheduled to take place four days after a D.C. Superior Court judge ordered a 56-year-old man arrested for the murder last Feb. 10 transferred from jail, where he was awaiting trial, to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital for mental observation.

Jones’ family members, who refer to her by her birth name JaParker, told more than 200 people who turned out for a vigil at the site of the murder days after the incident took place that they fully accepted her as a transgender woman and treated her as a cherished member of the family.

“We want to have this event to not only honor JaParker, but to also shine light on the fact that so often members of our society who are GLBT face violence in their daily lives simply because of who they are, and that as a civilized society we will not tolerate violence against the GLBT community,” said Alvin Bethea, Jones’ stepfather.

“At this memorial we will have prayer, songs, and statements from the community,” Bethea said in an email to the Blade.

He said Jones’ sister, JuDean Jones, and other family members and friends were helping to organize the memorial.

The event is scheduled to take place at 4:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 2, at East Capitol Street and Sycamore Street, N.E., at the site of the Metro bus stop where police say Jones was stabbed while sitting on a bench waiting for a bus.

Through the help of witnesses and nearby residents, D.C. police charged then 55-year-old Gary Niles Montgomery with second-degree murder while armed in connection with Jones’ death eight days after the murder took place. In November, a D.C. Superior Court grand jury indicted Montgomery on a charge of first-degree murder while armed.

Until the time of his transfer this week to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, he had been held in jail without bond since the time of his arrest in February 2012.

A police arrest affidavit says a video surveillance camera that recorded the murder shows a male assailant taking Jones’ purse immediately after stabbing her in the face. The affidavit says witnesses identified the person in the video as Montgomery.

Although the taking of the purse indicates the motive of the attack was robbery, police said they have not ruled out the possibility that Jones was targeted because of her status as a transgender person.

However, Bethea told the Blade that he and his family believe Jones’ murder was a hate crime and that police and prosecutors should have classified it as a hate crime, which would give a judge authority to hand down a more stringent or “enhanced” sentence if Montgomery is convicted.

“We believe that it is clear in the video footage of this murder that the elements of a hate crime are present and that hate crime enhancement papers should be served upon this individual,” Bethea said in an email.

He said the family has urged the U.S. Attorney’s office, which is prosecuting the case, to list the murder as a hate crime.

“[W]e are considering filing a complaint with the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division seeking redress of [this] error,” Bethea said in his email.

According to court records, on March 23, Montgomery was declared competent to stand trial following a court-ordered mental evaluation. He pleaded not guilty on Nov. 9, two days after the grand jury indicted him on the first-degree murder while armed charge. During a court hearing on Nov. 30, Superior Court Judge Robert E. Morin scheduled a trial date for June 10.

Court records show that questions surrounding Montgomery’s mental health surfaced in January, prompting Morin to order “24 hour forensic screening” for Montgomery “based on the representations of defense counsel.”

During a court hearing on Tuesday, Morin ordered that Montgomery be transferred to St. Elizabeth’s to undergo a “full competency examination” at the recommendation of a psychiatrist, court records show. The records show Morin vacated the June 10 trial date and scheduled a follow-up mental observation hearing for April 5 to assess Montgomery’s ability to stand trial.

Court records show that at a previous hearing Morin denied at least two requests by Montgomery’s attorneys that he be released from jail while awaiting trial. Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s office opposed the requests for Montgomery’s release.

William Miller, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office, said the office doesn’t comment on pending criminal cases.

This is an update of a story published earlier this week, here.

30
Jan
2013

Year in review: Anti-LGBT violence triggers D.C. marches

gay news, gay politics dc, Muriel Bowser, Jim Graham, Jeffrey Richardson

Public officials joined D.C. residents and other supporters in calling for an end to anti-LGBT violence in a march through the streets of Columbia Heights on Mar. 20. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Two marches and a candlelight vigil were among the actions taken by LGBT activists in response to at least seven widely reported incidents of anti-LGBT violence in 2012, including the murder of a transgender woman at a D.C. bus stop.

More than 200 people turned out for a candlelight vigil on Feb. 7 at the site of a city bus stop at East Capitol Street and Sycamore Road, N.E., to mourn the loss of transgender woman Deoni Jones, 23. Jones was stabbed to death while sitting at the bus stop five days earlier in an incident that police said could have been motivated by anti-trans hatred.

At least three citizens came forward with information that enabled D.C. police to arrest 55-year-old Gary Niles on a charge of second-degree murder while armed in connection with the case. While horrified over the Jones murder, activists and the victim’s family members expressed optimism over the help in solving the case by witnesses who lived in the community where the crime occurred.

But less than a month later, three more incidents of anti-LGBT violence took place within a few days of each other, including the shooting of a gay man in a Columbia Heights restaurant. The incidents prompted more than 700 people to participate in a rally and march through the streets of Columbia Heights near where two of the incidents occurred.

Police arrested a female suspect in the non-fatal shooting inside the International House of Pancakes restaurant, which they said occurred minutes after the victim was called anti-gay names. The second incident, which occurred on Georgia Avenue, N.W., a few blocks away from the I-HOP restaurant, involved a group of about five unidentified males who attacked and assaulted a 29-year-old gay man as he was walking to his nearby home. The victim said the attackers shouted anti-gay names as they punched, kicked, and dragged him along the street. He suffered a broken jaw and serious facial injuries. The case remains unsolved.

The attack on a transgender woman, who didn’t suffer serious injuries, also remains unsolved.

The other incidents include a non-fatal stabbing of a gay man outside the Howard Theatre in July by assailants he said called him anti-gay names; the beating of a gay male couple as they walked toward their apartment in the city’s Eckington neighborhood that same month; and the beating in October of a Latino gay man, which also occurred as he was walking to his apartment in Columbia Heights.

Officials with the local group Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence and the D.C. Trans Coalition have said police have improved their outreach to the LGBT community over the past few years, but they said more work is needed by the city to change attitudes that lead to violence against LGBT people.

26
Dec
2012