Columbia Heights Metro, as seen from 14th Street NW.
There are some lessons that can be learned from an incident late last month when five women were assaulted by two men near the Columbia Heights Metro, according to observers. Originally, the men were flirtatious, but when one of the women identified another as her partner, the men shouted homophobic slurs, then physically attacked them.
Chai Shenoy of Holla Back DC noted that it was a bystander who called police. “Kudos,” Shenoy said. “Community engagement is key to creating safe spaces in DC.”
She said Police Chief Cathy Lanier was smart to send a strong signal by investigating the police officers who were involved.
Shenoy said that’s key “with the increase of gender-based crimes happening in the LGBTQ community.”
D.C. residents used social media to air their concerns about the case:
Photography by Jason Pier @ www.jasonpier.com
2009 National Equality March
Over at TBD, Amanda Hess looks at “How D.C. hate crimes compare to the nation’s“:
The District of Columbia is the rare jurisdiction where crimes based on sexual orientation dominate hate crime stats. According to the report, almost half of the nation’s hate crimes—48.8 percent—are committed based on the victim’s race. But in D.C., as many as 85 percent of hate crimes reported to federal law enforcement are based on the victim’s sexual orientation.
Further down in her piece, Hess reported that hate crimes in D.C. which target sexual orientation “most often involve black suspects” targeting victims of various races.
In 2008, the District reported 30 offenses based on sexual orientation, eight based on race, three based on ethnicity, one based on religion, and zero based on disability. Last year, D.C. again reported 30 based on sexual orientation, but noted a decline in other kinds of hate crimes—2009 recorded three incidents based on race, two based on ethnicity, and zero based on religion or disability…
I couldn’t stop reading this piece on gentrification and hate crimes in TBD:
The 1400 block of R has always seen more than its share of crime, and the building’s new low-flow showerheads have done little to douse that problem. “If there’s a report of a robbery, assault, anything of that nature in the area, the first place that officers will go is the 1400 block of R Street,” one D.C. police officer told me. “If I’m off-duty and walking by myself, I would walk five blocks out of my way to avoid that block.”
According to a search on the D.C. police website, the 1400 block of R Street records a crime rate two to three times that of the surrounding blocks…The block’s criminal element occasionally has priorities higher than financial gain. When Puntanen came to, he found his watch still on his wrist and his wallet and cell phone in his pocket. “The assault had nothing to do with money,” Puntanen says. “Obviously, I had no money. Everything I have is from the dump or from the corner or from the secondhand store. I have a 14-inch TV. I don’t even have a computer. No stereo,” he says. Stanley, too, was never robbed in his four months on R Street. “They only wanted one thing: To get the faggot white guy out of there,” Puntanen says.