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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

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

Gray holds LGBT Youth Summit

Vince Gray, Washington D.C., Gay News, Washington Blade

D.C. Mayor Vince Gray. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

About 80 people turned out on Saturday, May 11, for D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray’s First Annual LGBT Youth Summit, which was held at the Eastern Market’s meeting hall on Capitol Hill.

Those attending the event appeared to be equally divided between high school age youth and adults, including city officials, teachers and school administrators.

Gray served as moderator of the event, presenting opening remarks outlining the city’s policies and laws that support LGBT equality and fielding questions from the youth.

“We had modest goals – that is to give the youth a chance to be able to express who they are and to talk about some of the challenges of what it means to be gay, bisexual, transgender, and lesbian in our city,” Gray told the Blade after the summit ended.

“And the second goal was to be able to communicate that the mayor’s office, the highest office in this government, is not going to tolerate any kind of discrimination and bias in the city,” he said.

Among the city officials that spoke at the event were Sterling Washington, director of the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs; Elliot Imse, an official with the Office of Human Rights; and Sgt. Matthew Mahl, acting supervisor of the D.C. police Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit.

Imse said the Office of Human Rights has launched an anti-bullying program that allows youth, including students, to file complaints against people who bully them.

Also speaking at the event was Andrew Barnett, executive director of the D.C. LGBT youth advocacy and services group SMYAL.

DeQuan Barclift, a 10th grade student at Richard Wright Public Charter School for Journalism and Media Arts, said he experienced bullying beginning in the third grade.

“I’ve been called the famous ‘F’ word for faggot,” he said. “I’m used to the word. It doesn’t affect me.”

Barclift added, “If anyone here has been bullied my advice to you would be hold your head up.”

He said he’s had a more positive experience in high school, noting that he recently wrote a letter to his school newsletter telling about his coming out.

“I got more positive feedback than negative feedback,” he said.

15
May
2013

Gay man says he was robbed by escort at D.C. hotel

Capital Hilton Hotel, gay news, Washington Blade

Capital Hilton Hotel (Photo by AgnosticPreachersKid via Wikimedia Commons)

A 69-year-old gay man said he was assaulted and robbed by someone claiming to be a male escort and three accomplices on May 28 in a room at the Capital Hilton Hotel rented by the alleged escort.

The man, who spoke only on condition that he not be identified, said he responded to an ad placed by the man claiming to be the escort on the site Rentboy.com. He said he called a phone number listed in the ad and the person answering the phone arranged for him to meet the escort at a room at the Capital Hilton.

When he arrived, the man said, the person who let him in the room was not the same person whose photograph appeared in the ad. He said he immediately told the person he wanted to cancel the arrangement.

“He told me I had to pay him,” the man said. When he refused to pay, three other men rushed out of the bathroom and began to assault him, the man said. Before allowing him to leave, the four perpetrators took $300 in cash from his wallet and one of his credit cards, he said.

He said he decided against reporting the incident to police because he’s mistrustful about the way police would handle the situation. He said he reported the incident to the hotel’s front desk staff.

Sgt. Matt Mahl, acting supervisor of the D.C. police Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, said the GLLU would look into the matter but could not make an arrest unless a victim comes forward to press charges against the person or persons who assaulted and robbed the gay man. Mahl said others who may have been victimized in a similar situation should contact the GLLU at 202-727-5427.

Sean Van Sant, director of the New York City-based Rentboy.com, said he takes immediate steps to remove an ad for an escort when he receives reliable information that the escort has engaged in conduct similar to that described by the gay man in D.C. Van Sant said someone from D.C. called his office to report a similar type of complaint, but the gay man who spoke to the Blade about the Capital Hilton incident said he didn’t call Rentboy.com to report the incident.

“My guess is these people are doing this to others,” said the gay man. “This is clearly a scam.”

Greg Brown, the Capital Hilton’s general manager, said the hotel staff offered to call D.C. police when the gay man reported the incident to the front desk.

“He implored the staff not to call police and left,” Brown said.

06
Jun
2013

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

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

Miles DeNiro (Screen capture)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

25
Jun
2013

Shooting, stabbing of trans women sparks meeting

Gay News, Washington Blade, Bree Wallace, transgender

Bree Wallace was stabbed 40 times last week; another trans woman was shot on Thursday. (Photo courtesy of Ruby Corado.)

The shooting of a transgender woman early Thursday morning on Eastern Avenue in Northeast D.C., which took place six days after another trans woman was stabbed 40 times near Stanton Road, S.E., has prompted LGBT activists to call a “community response” meeting tonight at the LGBT community center.

Police announced they made an arrest in the stabbing case on Wednesday, charging 23-year-old Michael McBride of Southeast D.C. with assault with intent to kill. McBride was scheduled to appear in court on Friday for an unrelated robbery charge.

“In light of the recent violence against the transgender community, Earline Budd along with D.C. Trans Coalition, Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence, and the D.C. Center invite you to a community gathering this Friday, [June 28] at 5:30 p.m.,” said D.C. Center director David Mariner in a Facebook announcement. The D.C. Center is located at 1318 U St., N.W.

Police officials and members of the department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit were expected to attend the meeting.

Budd, a longtime D.C. transgender activist, informed fellow activists early Thursday morning in an email alert that police had just reported that a trans woman was shot by an unidentified male suspect about 6 a.m. on or near the 6000 block of Eads Street, N.E.

Police said later that the woman, whose name had not been publicly released, was standing near the corner of Eastern Avenue and Eads Street when two male suspects approached her. One of the suspects shot her in the left buttocks in what was said to be a non-life threatening gunshot wound, a police source said.

The woman was taken to a nearby hospital where she was treated and was expected to be released later in the day or on Friday.

Police in D.C. and Prince George’s County, Md., which borders on Eastern Avenue, and community leaders from both sides of the city-county line, have said the area is widely known as a place where transgender sex workers congregate. However, transgender activists have said the area is also known as a gathering place for transgender women who are not involved in prostitution.

In an email to LGBT activists, Sgt. Matt Mahl, supervisor of the D.C. police department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, said police found the woman suffering from the gunshot wound on the 6000 block of Eads Street, N.E., where she is believed to have fled immediately after being shot.

Mahl said affiliate members of the GLLU were among the first officers to arrive at the scene. No arrests had been made in the case as of late Thursday night. He said that as of late Thursday investigators had not identified a motive for the attack.

The stabbing victim, Bree Wallace, 29, told police she knew the man who stabbed her from the neighborhood where she lived. A police report said the stabbing took place inside an abandoned house at 3038 Stanton Rd., N.E., which is located a few blocks from the 2400 block of 15th Place, S.E., where Wallace lives.

Budd said Wallace was one of her clients at the D.C. transgender advocacy organization Transgender Health Empowerment. Budd said Wallace told her that the suspect, later identified as McBride, sent her a text message asking to meet her. The police report says Wallace told police she intended to meet up with McBride to buy a cigarette from him.

McBride “then suddenly started to stab [her] for unknown reasons,” the police report says.

In a telephone interview with the Blade from her hospital bed on June 23, Wallace said, “I don’t know why he did it. He didn’t say anything.”

Budd and transgender activist Ruby Corado, director of Casa Ruby, an LGBT community center that reaches out to the transgender and Latino communities, each have made appeals to the police and LGBT community to take action to address a growing problem of anti-transgender violence in the city.

28
Jun
2013

GLLU supervisor stripped of police powers

Sgt. Matthew Mahl, who has been serving as acting supervisor of the D.C. police department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, has been stripped of his police powers, including his uniform, badge and gun, while being investigated for an undisclosed allegation, according to sources familiar with the situation.

“Sgt. Mahl is on non-contact status pending the outcome of an administrative matter,” said police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump. “He is still at the GLLU.”

Crump told the Blade the GLLU is currently “under the management of Capt. Edward Delgado, the official in charge of the Special Liaison Division.”

She said police personnel rules prevent her from disclosing any additional details, including the reason the department suspended Mahl’s police powers.

Dale Sanders, a D.C. area attorney who, among other things, represents D.C. police officers on legal matters, said he has no knowledge of Mahl’s case. But he said the department suspends police powers from officers for many reasons, including complaints by citizens that an officer used excessive force in making an arrest.

“These types of complaints are very frequent,” he said, adding that in most cases, such complaints go to the city’s civilian complaint review board. “It is not permanent. It is subject to investigation.”

However, Sanders said it’s not routine for an officer to have his or her police powers suspended for most allegations made in citizen complaints.

Philip Eure, director of the civilian Office of Police Complaints, said he would take steps to process a required Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the Blade to determine whether his office is investigating a complaint lodged against Mahl. Complaints filed with the Office of Police Complaints are part of the public record, he said, but are not immediately released.

LGBT activists who know Mahl, including Hassan Naveed, co-chair of the local group Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV), have praised Mahl’s work at the GLLU, calling him a dedicated and hard-working officer who works well with the community.

Naveed, who meets regularly with GLLU members and other police officials, including Capt. Delgado, said no one at the GLLU or the department informed GLOV of Mahl’s changed status.

20
Mar
2013

GLLU supervisor back to full duty status

Matthew Mahl, GLLU, Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit of the Metropolitan Police Department, Washington Blade, gay news

Sgt. Matthew Mahl (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Sgt. Matt Mahl, the acting supervisor of the D.C. police department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, resumed his full police duties in late March after the department suspended his police powers for undisclosed reasons sometime last year.

“I can only say he is back to full duty,” police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump told the Blade on Monday. “We cannot comment further on a personnel matter.”

Mahl continued to work at the GLLU office in Dupont Circle during the suspension period but activists who know him noticed he was wearing civilian clothes and no longer had a gun and badge.

“Sgt. Mahl is on non-contact status pending the outcome of an administrative matter,” Crump told the Blade in March.

D.C. area attorney Dale Edwin Sanders, who sometimes represents District police officers on legal matters, said he knew nothing about Mahl’s situation. But he said the department suspends police powers for many reasons, including complaints by citizens that an officer used excessive force in making an arrest.

“These types of complaints are very frequent,” he said. “It is not permanent. It is subject to investigation.”

LGBT activists who know Mahl have praised his work at the GLLU, calling him a dedicated and hard-working officer who works well with the community.

Mahl was greeted by activists on Saturday, April 27, when he and other GLLU officers visited the LGBT Youth Pride festival in Dupont Circle.

02
May
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

Police mum about suspect in theft of Blades

Washington Blade, gay news, anti-gay, vandalism

(Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

D.C. police have so far declined to confirm whether they have tracked down the license plate number of a car driven by a suspect that multiple witnesses have said is systematically removing bundles of the Washington Blade and Metro Weekly magazine from distribution boxes throughout the city.

Blade publisher Lynne Brown said she and others have given the license plate number of a white Toyota Camry and a description of its middle age, white male driver to the police Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit. She has not heard back about whether police have traced the identity of the driver or owner of the car, Brown said.

Witnesses say the license plate on the car in question is a Maryland vanity plate with the letters “JS.”

“Theft of all bundles of Washington Blade newspapers from their street boxes around the city continues,” Brown told GLLU Officer Justin Markiewicz in a Jan. 10 email. “It happens weekly. It happens in different neighborhoods. It most often happens, by eyewitness accounts, early Friday mornings.”

D.C. police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump said she would look into the matter this week but did not immediately respond on Wednesday.

Inquires about the status of a possible police investigation into the removal of large quantities of the two LGBT publications from their distribution boxes follows reports in September that Blade and Metro Weekly boxes also were being vandalized in the Dupont Circle, Logan Circle and 17th Street gay entertainment areas.

Brown said one or more suspects have been systematically breaking a clear plastic clip that holds a single issue of the Blade in the window of the distribution boxes, allowing readers to view the front page of the paper to find out when the new edition is delivered each Friday. She said the vandalism is continuing.

Metro Weekly co-publishers Sean Bugg and Randy Shulman didn’t reply to a Blade email seeking comment this week.

In a Metro Weekly story in September about the vandalism and thefts, Bugg said one or more vandals had deposited trash and human or animal feces in some of the LGBT publication’s boxes. The article, in which Bugg described the vandalism as an anti-LGBT hate crime, said Metro Weekly was expending large sums of money to clean and sterilize the distribution boxes, only to have the perpetrator or perpetrators vandalize the same boxes again.

Brown said GLLU members have told her informally that the removal of a free newspaper from a distribution box doesn’t appear to fall under the definition of a theft, even if large quantities of the paper are taken. Brown said she was told that the United States Attorney’s office was being consulted to advise police over whether a suspect could be arrested and prosecuted for removing a free publication from a distribution box.

“I would like the owner of the car identified and an arrest warrant sworn out,” she said.

William Miller, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office, said he would make inquiries about whether prosecutors in his office were looking into the matter.

Brian Moore, an aide to D.C. City Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large), said Mendelson would be open to studying whether the Council should consider legislation to make it illegal to remove large quantities of a free newspaper or other publications from distribution boxes.

The Metro Weekly article suggested that the motive behind the removal of large quantities of the magazine from its boxes appeared to be anti-LGBT animus in at least some of the cases because stacks of the magazines were found in city trash cans near the site of the boxes.

Brown said another possible motive could be the potential sale of bulk quantities of newspapers to recycling centers that pay for newspapers. An aide to D.C. Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), who monitors the city’s recycling programs for Cheh’s Council Committee on Transportation and the Environment, said most commercial recycling centers don’t pay for newspapers unless they are delivered in quantities of at least one or more tons, making it difficult for an individual to carry out such a task in a private car or even a small truck.

“The police have been polite and helpful,” Brown said. “However the message has been this is a low, low level of priority.”

16
Jan
2013