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August 12, 2011

Video: arrest in anti-lesbian hate crime in Columbia Heights

I just gave an interview to Paul Wagner at Fox 5 News on the recent arrest of Christian Washington in the July 30 bias-related assault against five lesbians in Columbia Heights. (He was having trouble connecting with A.J. Singletary at GLOV.) In addition to talking about the incident itself, I talked about the need for consequences for officers who refuse to do their jobs, and suggested that the police chief's old Biased Policing Task Force be reconstituted.

I also stressed the need for a fully staffed core group of the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, and for a GLLU officer to be summoned to the crime scene in a case like that in Columbia Heights on July 30. I pointed out that in a 2009 incident involving our friend Sampson McCormick in the eastern part of the city, police responding to a hate crime not only blamed the victims but denied that there even was a GLLU. I said having good policies made no difference if they weren't sinking in with the rank and file.

God knows what if any of that will show up in the report.

Update: Here's the story that ran. As usual with short local news stories, it doesn't raise all the issues I did; but it raises the key point of accountability.

DC Man Arrested For Hate Crime on Lesbians; Victims Say Police Refused To Take A Report: MyFoxDC.com

Comments

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Yes. Chief Lanier's public rhetoric has not matched MPD's actual practices regarding LGBT community policing-- really, throughout her 4 1/2 years in office.

MPD is a chain-of-command organization. The buck stops with the Chief of Police. It is her job to see that everyone at MPD understands her policies and MPD S.O.P.

A growing number of us believe Chief Lanier has, either deliberately or recklessly, sent mixed messages regarding serious enforcement of anti-LGBT hate crimes to officers and commanders throughout MPD.

Lanier's dismantling and cutting of GLLU's core citywide unit at Dupont, her demotion of its parent SLU unit captain (replaced by an inexperienced civilian), as well as other comments and actions-- all have sent repeated messages of contempt for GLLU and DC LGBT residents and vistors whom GLLU was established to serve and protect.

Restoring GLLU to full strength (7 officers, plus a full-time sergeant) as well as maintaining GLLU's safe haven office at Dupont-- will be a good start to ending what has become top-down, institutional discrimination at MPD.

But Chief Lanier and A.C. Groomes have sent far too many mixed messages down their chain-of-command, for far too many years, to be credible to DC residents and vistors re. their sincerity about enforcing anti-LGBT hate crimes.

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