I was shocked to hear that over the weekend three anti-LGBT attacks occurred within a 24 hour period in DC's Columbia Heights neighborhood - less than a 10 minute walk from my front door. I'll be honest, I've had trouble writing about this because I have been so shaken.
The Washington Blade reports that the first incident occurred around 6:30 a.m. Sunday, March 11 in the I-Hop restaurant on the 3100 block of 14th Street, N.W. across the street from the Columbia Heights Metro Station.
A police report for the shooting incident says the incident began when a male suspect got into a verbal altercation with the victim, a 31-year-old gay man . . .
[T]he three suspects were sitting at a table near where the victim and [his] two cousins were seated . . . [T]he suspects referred to the victim and the two cousins repeatedly as "faggies" while the two parties sat at their separate tables.
When the victim stood to pay his check he was blocked by the suspects. After he pushed through a fist fight ensued followed by the victim being shot as the suspects fled the scene. He was hospitalized for a shot to the liver but will recover. The attack has been classified as a hate-crime but no arrests have been made.
The second attack occurred around 9:30 p.m. on Monday at the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Irving Street, N.W.
Rodney Shaffer, the victim's partner, said the victim, who asked that his name not be disclosed, told him he remembers being dragged along the street by the attackers, who did not attempt to rob him. Shaffer said the victim called him for help on his cell phone after the attackers walked away. Seconds later, Shaffer said, another group of attackers took the victim's cell phone, iPad and wallet, leaving the victim lying on the street in a semi-conscious state.
The victims injuries were serious enough to require him to be sedated and a breathing tube inserted. He was due to undergo surgery on Wednesday to repair his broken jaw but is expected to recover. The attack has also been classified as a hate crime but no suspects have been found.
The third attack was on a transgendered women around 11:50 p.m. on March 12th at West Virginia Avenue and Mt. Olivet Street, N.E.
A police report says the victim reported being hit from behind and knocked unconscious. The report says the victim initially told police she could not remember what, if anything, was said at the time of the assault.
Based on a lack of evidence to indicate the attackers used anti-transgender language or showed an anti-trans bias, the case could not immediately be listed as a hate crime, the police report said.
These attacks have accomplished what hate-crimes are intended to do to our community - intimidate and terrorize. I am in this area of DC on a regular basis. My bank is there and the Columbia Heights metro is the closest station to my apartment. I have made multiple late night walks alone from friend's houses straight through the streets where this occurred - I will never do that again.
I have been lulled into complacency because I live in a "gayborhood" - strength in numbers. Having come from an area of the country stereotyped as strongly homophobic, DC has felt like a safe-haven. This woke me up.
I had not heard of these attacks until last night when a friend of mine who is a friend with one of the victims brought it up. When I read the reports this morning, I could not start writing without tearing up. I saw the faces of my partner and my friends battered on the streets.
I hope witnesses come forward. These attacks occurred in very public places at hours when the streets were still full.
It is easy to brush aside the fear we must still fight until it hits so close to home. No matter how safe we feel, there is still hate so deep that people will risk jail time just to see us suffer.
I hope we will not see more victims added to the list. I hope.