The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Police Who Wouldn’t Take Hate Crime Report May Face Sanctions

By Marilyn Elias on August 9, 2011 - 1:50 pm, Posted in Anti-LGBT, Hate Crime

Several Washington, D.C., police officers could lose their jobs because they refused to take an on-scene report after a violent attack on five lesbians July 30 that police classified as a hate crime two days later.

“I was appalled when I heard about the incident and the conduct of the officers,” police chief Cathy Lanier said in a statement.  The officers’ actions “are being investigated thoroughly,” she added.

The investigation could take up to four months and end in the officers’ dismissal, Lanier said at a meeting with gay activists on Friday, A. J. Singletary, chair of Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV), told Hatewatch. Singletary attended the meeting, which had been set up a few weeks earlier to discuss growing concerns about police laxity in responding to LGBT complaints of harassment and assaults.

In the latest incident, five women, all in their early 20’s, said three men approached them, trying to flirt, outside the Columbia Heights Metro station. After the women rebuffed them, and one said she was with her girlfriend, one man allegedly became enraged and began shouting about “fucking dyke bitches.” Two of the men then began punching them in the face and head, the women said. A bystander called 911, bringing four police officers to the site, along with three other officers who were nearby but not on duty. The officers restrained one of the attackers, the women said, but then let him go and refused to take a report on the incident.

The mother of one of the women called police later to complain about the officers’ behavior. Then, on Aug. 1, the department’s gay and lesbian unit filed a report and listed the incident as a hate crime, a unit spokesman told Hatewatch.

In the last few years, GLOV has seen a disturbing rise in anecdotal reports of anti-LGBT incidents, and police officers have refused to take reports in numerous cases, said Singletary. (Research by the Southern Poverty Law Center has determined that the LGBT community is the group most victimized in America by violent hate crimes.)

At their meeting with police chief Lanier, GLOV officials said that the department’s move to virtually gut its once-celebrated gay and lesbian liaison unit three years ago has left the LGBT community less protected against harassment and assaults. The unit was created 11 years ago, a pioneering move at the time. But then the approach changed a few years ago. Certain officers were trained on LGBT issues and dispersed around the city, rather than work out a centralized unit. “We didn’t think it was a terrible idea at the time, but it’s working much less well for us,” said Singletary.

It’s not even clear to many officers when these special police should be brought in to deal with LGBT harassment and crimes, he said.  The department needs to do much more to raise the profile of these officers with other police and the public, and the officers’ training needs to be improved, Singletary told Lanier at the meeting.

“She was pretty receptive to changes,” he told Hatewatch. “She wants to work with us, and we’ve set another meeting for later this month.”

The incident in which five lesbians were assaulted occurred just a day before a man approached a transgender woman in Washington, D.C., said a few words and then pulled out a handgun and shot at her. He missed in that attack, but a man using a similar MO killed 23-year-old Lashai McLean, a transgender woman, on July 20. The attacks were reminiscent of the murders of four Washington transgender women, two of them teenagers, in 2002 and 2003.

  • Emma

    The coming fascist dictatorship will have the people in place to handle the people they consider a problem. Voluntary expatriation might be the best route..while there is still time….

  • EarleyDaysYet

    Re this attack: I’m straight, and I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been called a “bitch dyke” when I’ve rebuffed a stranger’s advance; for a certain demographic, it seems to be the first insult that comes to mind. This seems to be ingrained in a certain societal subset, and I’m not sure how to change it.

    Re @thinkworldpeace: “it is OFFENSIVE AND DISRESPECTFUL to women born as women, and any woman who says differently is lying”

    Seriously? If I don’t feel offended or disrespected, I’m *lying*? There are cis women who don’t have periods/uteri & can’t have kids – are they not women? There are female children born with fused legs whose genitalia have to be constructed – are they not women? It’s been said before, but here goes: just because you feel a certain way, or believe a certain thing, doesn’t make it an absolute truth. EVERYONE who says otherwise is a liar? You need to check your tolerance levels, I think your bigotry is showing.

  • THINKWORLDPEACE

    Gays reading this may get upset so be it; it doesn’t mean I don’t love you. I would like the labeling of transgender “woman” noun and pronoun she to stop. I am a woman complete with mammary glands and ovaries and a uterus who has earned the noun “woman and she” from years of painful periods and childbearing and it my birthright. I find it an afront to women born as women to be sharing the label with sexually reassigned men and I, personally, do not support it or play the game because my instincts forbid it. You may say transgender “female” for lack of a better description, but stop the false labeling; it is OFFENSIVE AND DISRESPECTFUL to women born as women, and any woman who says differently is lying. Having said that and having been around gay men all my life due to a gay brother whom I loved deeply, no matter a person’s sexual orientation, abuse cannot be tolerated in any form.

  • Ilona Jackson

    How sad, only 3 comments for the lesbian young ladies who were attacked! How did the violent worm know they weren’t joking to just get rid of him. That has been known to happen. We women in general have trouble getting our complaints heard, especially if it involves violence (we asked for it), or rape (we wanted it) or hate/discrimination (playing the race/hate card). Everyone of those officers should be fired with details going to any future employers. Those officers could be dangerous around any gay or minority coworkers. Letting the assailant go also endangered the young women even further. He could have follow them & hurt or killed them due to his rage

  • BRL

    Agree with Jim Carlson 100% enough is enough!

  • Jim Carlson

    The officers should be fired and stripped of any pension and benefits.

  • A walkaway

    They also don’t want to take reports when it’s harassment or attacks based upon race or religion. Over the years, I’ve complained about things that have happened, but always got the “It’s just local kids playing pranks!”. I don’t consider my workshop being torched, cats poisoned, racist hate graffiti spraypainted in front of our mailbox, being threatened, and being internet stalked to be “pranks”.
    (Dominionists don’t like it when you tell people you can be Christian and accept evolution.)

    I finally got the start of a paper trail because one of the officers who showed up re the graffiti told me they would write a report. His supervisor was furious he’d made that promise.

    Until then, they always claimed it was something else and not worth documenting.