Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Police Refusing to Report Anti-Lesbian Hate Crime Could Lose Their Jobs

Washington, D.C. – When several Metropolitan Police refused to report a brutal attack against five lesbians in the District of Columbia, they had no idea how big a mistake they were making, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch.  Brushing off the attack by two males who shouted anti-lesbian epithets as they assaulted the women, the police even threatened to arrest the victims because “they didn’t know how to act.”  Now, these officers are under investigation themselves. The investigation could take as long as four months. They could face suspension, punishment, and even termination of their jobs with loss of pension benefits.  Four police cruisers with seven officers responded to a 911 emergency call outside the Columbia Heights Metro station in the early morning hours of July 30.  Two men had beaten their lesbian victims, and a third man accompanying the assailants stood by capturing video of assault on his cell phone. When the lesbians reported the attack to the police, the officers dismissed the violence.  Though the police had restrained one of the assailants, they just let him go. Hatewatch has learned that the mother of one of the victims called the Metro Police to complain about the officers’ behavior.  Then, on August 1, the D.C. LGBT liaison unit filed a report on the incident as a hate crime.

Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV), a local LGBTQ activist group, met with D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier to demand more rigorous protection of the queer community in Washington.  The chief seemed inclined to act on the concerns of the group, according to GLOV spokesperson, A.J. Singletary.  D.C. gays, lesbians, and transgender persons, especially those from racial/ethnic minority groups, have suffered an increasing number of violent attacks in recent years, most notably the murders of four transgender women of color, two of them teenagers.

The once strong and effective gay and lesbian liaison unit of the Metro Police Department was decimated by budgetary cuts three years ago.  Its officers were distributed among police units throughout the city, rather than working together as a discreet group.  Training in LGBTQ sensitivity for the police has been severely diminished, as well, according to Singletary.  The anecdotal result has been an increase of attacks on queer folk, and many reported incidents where police have not even bothered to file hate crime reports when they have occurred. GLOV has asked Chief Lanier to beef up the number and quality of LGBT officers on the force, and to reinstate rigorous LGBTQ training for all members of the Metropolitan Police.  Singletary reports that this latest act of neglect has spurred Chief Lanier to take charges against the police seriously, and to make some of the changes activists in the LGBTQ community are asking for.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has published study results showing that the LGBTQ community is beset by more violence, especially of an extreme nature, than any other community of persons in the United States. Compared to its rank in the population at large, according to the study, an LGBTQ person is 8.3 times more likely to be the victim of a violent hate crime than others in this country.

August 11, 2011 - Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Bisexual persons, Blame the victim, gay bashing, gay men, gay teens, Gays and Lesbian Opposing Violence, gender identity/expression, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Metropolitan Police (D.C.), Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Protests and Demonstrations, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Southern Poverty Law Center, transgender persons, transphobia, Washington, D.C., women | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: