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FBI investigates ‘suspicious’ envelope mailed to HRC building

Mark Glaze, Rabin Group, gay news, Washington Blade

Mark Glaze received a threatening letter at his office located in the HRC building.

D.C. police, Fire Department investigators and FBI agents rushed to the Human Rights Campaign headquarters in downtown Washington shortly after 5 p.m. on Memorial Day to investigate a threatening letter containing a suspicious powdery substance, according to police and a Fire Department spokesperson.

Fire Department investigators determined from tests that the substance found on the letter was not hazardous and posed no threat to those who may have come into contact with it, said Fire Department spokesperson Lon Walls.

The letter, which had no return address or name on it, was mailed to nationally recognized gun control advocate Mark Glaze, who had been working for the Raben Group, a lobbying and political consulting firm that rents space in the HRC building, a police report and people familiar with the incident said.

Although Robert Raben, founder and owner of the Raben Group, and Glaze are gay, the threatening letter addressed the subject of gun control and had nothing to do with LGBT rights, said Erika Soto Lamb, communications director for Mayors Against Illegal Guns, for which Glaze serves as director.

Glaze reported that “he arrived [at] his office and retrieved his mail and then went outside into the park area to open his mail,” the police report says. “One of the envelopes opened by [Glaze] contained a threatening message which had a whitish orange substance on the note,” the police report says.

Glaze “left the envelope on the park bench, which was located on the side of the building. The letter was addressed to Complainant 1 [Glaze] but there was no return address or sender’s name,” the report says.

Glaze then called police, triggering the arrival of police and Fire Department members.

“I’ll be working with the FBI and MPD to learn more,” Raben told the Blade in a statement. “I’m grateful no one is physically injured, and sad that hard working professionals have to be concerned about this, but regrettably we do,” he said.

A witness at the scene sent a text message to a friend reporting that police blocked the street near the intersection of 17th Street and Rhode Island Avenue, N.W., where the HRC building is located, shortly after Fire Department and police vehicles arrived on the scene.

The witness also reported that police put yellow crime scene tape around the HRC building as law enforcement officials conferred among each other.

Walls of the Fire Department said the FBI routinely joins D.C. police to investigate incidents in which threatening communications are sent, including those sent with a powdery substance.  He said the substance almost always turns out to be harmless.

“We get about two or three of these calls each day, mostly on work days,” he said. “But we always test it and investigate. We take this very seriously.”

The threatening note sent to Glaze at the HRC building came just over a year after a bomb threat prompted D.C. police to evacuate the HRC building and another D.C. office building in which other national LGBT organizations are located.

For unknown reasons, an unidentified person telephoned the bomb threat to police in Los Angeles, saying a bomb had been placed in the “LGBT building” in Washington, Los Angeles police reported.

As a precaution, D.C. police, when contacted by the LAPD, ordered the evacuation of at least two buildings known to be home to as many as 11 national LGBT organizations – the HRC building and a nearby building on Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.

The latter building is home to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Center for Transgender Equality, and other national LGBT groups.

Both Raben and Glaze have worked on LGBT-related issues and national politics for many years. Raben, an attorney, served as a legislative assistant to gay former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.). Raben later served as an assistant U.S. Attorney General during the Clinton administration before founding the Raben Group in 2001.

Glaze, 42, has worked on a number of issues for Raben Group clients, including campaign finance reform, government ethics, and LGBT-related issues.

Under the auspices of the Raben Group, Glaze recently became a highly visible figure in advocating for federal gun control legislation in his role as director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, of which more than 950 U.S. mayors are members.

The Washington Blade reported on Glaze’s gun control activities in a profile on him in January, noting that he had been widely featured in mainstream news media outlets, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Politico and the Associated Press as well as in TV news programs.

Lamb, spokesperson for the mayor’s group, said Glaze recently decided to leave the Raben Group to become a full-time staff member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. She noted that Glaze coincidently had been packing his personal items and moving out of the Raben Group offices at the HRC building at the time the threatening letter arrived.

Glaze “stated…that he was at the location cleaning out his office and is no longer an employee at this location,” the police report says.

28
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

Suspect in custody in D.C. trans stabbing

Gay News, Washington Blade, Bree Wallace, transgender

Bree Wallace (Photo courtesy of Ruby Corado.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

24
Jun
2013

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

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

Earline Budd, transgender activist, Washington DC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Denaro told the Blade he wasn’t seriously injured.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

01
Jul
2013

Family Research Council shooter pleads guilty

A Herndon, Va., man arrested last August for shooting an unarmed security guard in the lobby of the anti-gay Family Research Council headquarters in downtown Washington pleaded guilty on Wednesday to three felony charges, including the charge of committing an act of terrorism while armed.

Floyd Lee Corkins II, 28, who has been held in jail since his arrest last August, signed a charging document before appearing in court on Wednesday confirming that he intended to commit a mass killing at the FRC building, a federal prosecutor said in court.

“[C]orkins targeted the Family Research Council because of its political views, including its advocacy against recognition of gay marriage,” according to a statement released Wednesday by the U.S. Attorney’s office.

“He entered the building with the intention of shooting and killing as many employees of the organization as he could,” the statement says.

The wounded security guard has been credited by D.C. police and the FBI with saving the lives of FRC employees working on the building’s upper floors by wrestling Corkins to the floor and taking away the semi-automatic handgun Corkins wielded while attempting to gain access to the elevator.

The guard suffered a gunshot wound to the arm and has undergone several rounds of surgery in connection with the injury.

In addition to the terrorism charge, Corkins pleaded guilty to charges of assault with intent to kill while armed and interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition. He faces a potential maximum sentence of 70 years in prison.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard W. Roberts scheduled a sentencing hearing for April 29.

Corkins, who worked for a short time as a volunteer at D.C.’s LGBT Community Center in 2011, has not disclosed his sexual orientation.

In new information released this week, the U.S. Attorney’s office said police and FBI agents investigating the case found a handwritten list on Corkins’ possession containing the names of the Family Research Council and “three other organizations that openly identify themselves as having socially conservative agenda.” The U.S. Attorney’s office didn’t identify the other organizations, saying only that Corkins intended to target them had he succeeded in his planned shooting at the FRC.

Prosecutors also disclosed for the first time that Corkins returned to a gun store in Virginia where he purchased the gun on the night before he arrived at the FRC building and engaged in shooting practice.

Authorities previously disclosed that they had discovered in Corkins’ backpack a box of 50 rounds of 9 mm ammunition and 15 individually wrapped sandwiches he bought the previous day from Chik-fil-A.

FBI unit at Family Research Council headquarters, gay news, Washington Blade

Floyd Lee Corkins II was accused of shooting a security guard inside the Family Research Council’s headquarters building in August. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

In the statement released on Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney’s office disclosed that Corkins told FBI agents interviewing him after his arrest that he planned to “smother the Chick-fil-A sandwiches” into the faces of the FRC employees he intended to shoot.

In a separate court filing last week, prosecutors disclosed that they searched of Corkins’ family computer at the Herndon home where he lived with his parents. The computer search showed that he apparently obtained the list of socially conservative groups he planned to target, including the FRC, from the website of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

SPLC has listed FRC as a hate group based, among other things, on its portrayal of homosexuality and gay people as being associated with pedophilia.

In a statement released on Wednesday, FRC President Tony Perkins reiterated his earlier assertion that Southern Poverty Law Center was responsible for creating a climate that led to someone like Corkins seeking to commit violence.

“[I] stated that while Corkins was responsible for the shooting, he had been given a license to perpetrate this act of violence by groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center which has systematically and recklessly labeled every organization with which they disagree as a ‘hate group,’” Perkins said.

Southern Poverty Law Center officials have denounced Perkins for misrepresenting their position, saying they never label an organization as a hate group based on political views or public policy positions. SPLC officials have said they list FRC as a hate group for what they say are its false and defamatory claims linking homosexuality and LGBT people to pedophilia.

07
Feb
2013

Trans group: D.C. hate crimes review biased toward police

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

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier

More than 1,500 pages of private email correspondence from D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier related to the work of the city’s Hate Crimes Review Task Force show that the Task Force may be biased in favor of the police and may not present an impartial assessment of police handling of hate crimes, according to the D.C. Trans Coalition.

In written testimony submitted on Wednesday to the D.C. Council’s Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, DCTC disclosed it obtained the Lanier email correspondence through a Freedom of Information Act request earlier this year.

DCTC’s testimony says much of the email correspondence is between Lanier and David Friedman, director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Washington regional office, who serves as chair of the Hate Crimes Review Task Force.

“Our concern is that the ADL-led task force is a publicity stunt rather than a good-faith effort at making progress,” the DCTC statement says.

Lanier and Friedman dispute the DCTC’s assessment, saying they expect the task force to provide an independent review of the department’s response to anti-LGBT hate crimes and to make recommendations on how the response can be improved.

“It is a shame that the D.C. Trans Coalition is attacking the work of this group before they even issue their report and recommendations,” Lanier told the Washington Blade in a statement.

Lanier’s office announced last June that she enlisted the ADL, a nationally recognized group that fights prejudice and discrimination, to help the department assess how it investigates and reports hate crimes. The announcement came at a time when LGBT activists raised concerns over the police handling of hate crimes targeting the LGBT community, especially the transgender community.

The police announcement said that at ADL’s invitation, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and two university professors considered experts on hate violence agreed to join ADL as members of the task force.

DCTC says in its testimony submitted to the D.C. Council that the email correspondence between Lanier and Friedman suggests a bias exists that the task force may not be impartial.

“We received the [FOIA] results last month, five month late, only to discover evidence that the independent review isn’t really independent at all,” DCTC says in its testimony.

Freedman “appears to be a close personal friend of Chief Lanier,” the testimony says. “Further, Lanier personally approved the membership of the review task force,” a development DCTC says raises questions about its ability to make an impartial assessment of the police department’s handling of hate crimes targeting the LGBT community.

The DCTC testimony says the group learned last week at a private task force meeting held at offices of Casa Ruby, a D.C. LGBT community center with an outreach to the Latino community, that the task force will submit its findings to Chief Lanier to give her a chance to respond.

DCTC member Jason Terry told the Blade on Wednesday that a task force representative told activists attending the Casa Ruby meeting that it would be up to Lanier to decide when or if the report should be released to the public and the community.

One of the email exchanges DCTC included in its testimony, which is dated Nov. 3, 2011, shows Friedman mentioning in a lighthearted way that Lanier’s high performance ratings in a public opinion poll of 80 percent may be equivalent to a “B” on a report card.

“Actually the last Clarus poll was 84 percent. Am I slipping?” Lanier said in her response.

“Wouldn’t worry,” Friedman said in his response. “The only people who don’t like you have outstanding warrants.”

Replied Lanier: “That David is one of the many reasons I love you…So quick.”

In a phone interview on Wednesday afternoon, Friedman told the Blade his remark about outstanding warrants was a joke. He also noted that his Nov. 3 email exchange with Lanier that DCTC quoted took place at least a month before Lanier informed him of her plans for the task force and asked him to create it.

“Yes, I am lucky to call David a friend, as are many law enforcement leaders in the country,” Lanier said in her statement to the Blade. “He is a highly respected professional dedicated to making communities throughout the country safe from crime motivated by hate.”

LGBT activists who know Friedman have said he and the ADL’s D.C. regional office have been strong and outspoken advocates for LGBT rights for many years.

“We’re very proud of that,” Friedman said. “We’re proud of our leadership on hate crimes on the local and national level. And I hope that people will feel when this process is done that the task force contributed significantly to protecting the LGBT community from hate crimes and to strengthening the relationship between the LGBT community and the MPD.”

One task force member, who spoke on condition of not being identified, said the DCTC appears to have made a “premature judgment” in assessing whether the task force is biased or whether the outcome of the task force’s work would be biased.

HRC spokesperson Paul Guequierre said in a statement that ADL asked HRC to join the task force because of HRC’s “extensive work on hate crimes prevention legislation at both the state and federal levels.” He said HRC saw its participation in the task force as an opportunity to make sure “there was a fair process” in assessing the police handling of hate crimes in D.C.

“HRC is committed to ensuring that law enforcement respond swiftly and appropriately to incidents of bias crimes without further victimizing the LGBT community,” he said.

Friedman acknowledged that it was he who told people attending the task force community meeting at Casa Ruby’s that the task force’s findings and recommendations would be delivered to Lanier.

“What I said at that meeting was that the chief asked us to review the MPD handling of hate crimes and its relationship with the LGBT community was to be reviewed,” he said. “So obviously we’re going to give her first the report and our findings. She asked for this. And I have every reason to expect – I think all of us would want – these findings to be made public.”

27
Feb
2013

D.C. police clarify ‘condom’ policy

condoms, gay news, safe sex, Washington Blade

(Photo by Inga via Wikimedia Commons)

D.C. police officials have taken steps to inform officers and the community that possession of large quantities condoms is not grounds for stopping and searching someone on suspicion of engaging in prostitution.

An official police department clarification of its “condom” policy came in response to concerns raised by a coalition of LGBT, AIDS and human rights groups that individual officers were threatening to arrest people, including transgender women, on prostitution-related charges if they were found to have more than three condoms in their possession.

“The MPD supports the distribution of condoms to help prevent the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases,” says a card bearing the police department logo that the department is now distributing in the community.

“Individuals are allowed to carry as many condoms as they want,” the card says. “There is no ‘three condom rule.’ MPD officers cannot conduct a stop and search of a person or premises based on whether or not that person possesses condoms.”

The coalition that called on the department to make the clarification includes The Women’s Collective, Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive (HIPS), D.C. Appleseed, D.C. Trans Coalition, AIDS United and Human Rights Watch.

“Last July, Human Rights Watch released research that documented instances of police confiscating condoms or threatening to use safe sex materials as evidence of criminal activity, primarily prostitution,” the coalition said in a statement. “By distributing these cards, MPD clarifies that the police support public health interventions and will not interfere with condom possession and distribution,” the statement says.

13
Mar
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

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