Bil Browning

Lesbians Attacked in DC: Police Do Nothing

Filed By Bil Browning | August 05, 2011 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: anti-gay violence, DC police, hate crimes against LGBT people, LGBT violence, police misconduct

DC's finest seem to have let down the LGBT community yet again. Five lesbians were attacked by two men next to a metro stop in the Columbia Heights neighborhood, DC-police-emblem.jpgbut police refused to file a report. A third man recorded the entire incident and the police response on his phone.

The victim who asked not to be identified said the officers on the scene gave no explanation for refusing to take a report. But she said some of the officers told them they were too agitated.

"They were telling us if you guys don't calm down we're going to lock you guys up," the woman said. "One officer said I'm not talking to you because you guys don't know how to act," she said.

"And yes, we were panicking. Yes, we were crying. Yes, we were going off," she said. "But the fact is these men had just hit us."

The attack on the five lesbians comes less than two weeks after a D.C. transgender woman was shot to death in Northeast D.C. and one day after a second transgender woman was targeted by a suspect who fired a gun at her but missed hitting her just one block from where the first victim was killed.

The two men yelled anti-gay slurs at the group of women and punched them repeatedly in the face and head. While the police had one of the attackers in custody at the scene, they let him go.

Police didn't ask to watch the third man's footage. The victims are worried the video will show up online.

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Assuming that this article is true, I wish the five Lesbians could be protected (could their faces be blacked out?) so the video could be posted online to show the world how the law enforcement officers reacted to the incident. The more visible we Gays become, unfortunately, the more violence that will be perpetrated against us. That violence needs to be shown to the world so that the non-extreme-religious-right folks will continue to understand what's going on all across the face of the globe.

do you know if the LGBT unit was dispatched to this call? DC is one of the only places that have officers trained to deal with situations particular to our communities.

Well, if you read the linked story it says that a report was filed days later by the LGBT unit and that all five women were very pleased with the unit's work and thoroughness, though still understandably upset about the original altercation.

It is sad evidence of lowered expectations when a city has to assign and train a special unit that's understanding and tolerant of LGBT people. If there's one thing we know about bureaucracies, its that this completely absolves all other police officers from any accountability for prejudice in the course of their work.

I think the purpose is to address the real issues that LGBT citizens may feel between themselves and the police. The LGBT unit doesn't exist to be specifically trained so that other police don't have to be; the intent is so that a LGBT individual can feel comfortable reporting or discussing an event. True, in an ideal world, we would feel safe interacting with any police officer, but do you? In a reality in which this is not the case, this is why the unit exists.

Dan Massey | August 5, 2011 1:03 PM

Sorry to have to correct you, but there really is not much in the way of a functioning LGBT unit in DC police, thanks to intervention by the hold-over chief from the Fenty administration. It is time for a fierce reorganization of DC police and district wide establishment of trained GLLU officers in EVERY precinct, with authority to act is special as well as internal affairs capacities. The officers who committed this travesty should be severely reprimanded, receive critical notations on their personnel files, and be placed on temporary leave and required to attend EXTENSIVE retraining. On a second offense of this type, well...use your imagination.

By the way there are excellent DC police officers, including especially the leadership of the old GLLU, but also others, who have spoken up about this, and they deserve our heartfelt appreciation.

Britney Austin | August 5, 2011 10:17 PM

I don't think this is limited to D.C. The police here in Phoenix, AZ don't do anything either. It has been demonstrated to me time and time again that the police do not protect. In fact I believe there was even a U.S. Supreme Court ruling stating that the police aren't required to protect you. I shouldn't have to pay taxes for them then.

have you commented on this point to Chris or Tracy in Phoenix, Britney?

It's not just Trans women who get treated like this. We should not forget that it sometimes happens to cis-sexual lesbians too.

And whether it happens to Eskimos or Patagonians or Gays or whoever, this inequality has to stop. There are no degrees of humanity, no first or second or third classes of citizen. Those of us who have first-hand experience of it have less, not more, excuse to condone the treatment of others this way, whether we identify with them or not.

Best of luck to the victims here. Forget the Big Picture for a while, these are fellow humans who have been treated with cruel inhumanity. If anyone knows them, please let them know that at least one person on the other side of the planet gives a damn about them.

If a video was taken then we need to see it for several reasons.
To prove it happened. Who , what, where, and why. And to record the police responses and actions.
The more video of the real hate we suffer will change minds and make sure the bad guys can't skip out.
When Chrissy Polis was beaten in the Mc Dees here in Baltimore, not only did it go wild on the net but it was proof to those who just voted down transgender protections how badly we need them. It also made it impossible for the 2 girls that did the beating to plead anything but guilty. The under age girl is in a JD and the oldest one could get 5 years.
There is nothing wrong with proving you are the victim. They should post it.

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