Washingtonians March to Stop Hate
Published: Thursday, March 22, 2012
Updated: Saturday, March 24, 2012 17:03
On Tuesday, as government officials discussed providing safer environments in schools and neighborhoods for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities, D.C. residents marched through from Columbia Heights to Dupont Circle in silence, honoring LGBT victims of hate crimes.
More than 600 people attended the rally that kicked off outside of the Columbia Heights IHOP, the location of the March 11 shooting of a man that was recently labeled as a hate crime. As they marched, the demonstrators stopped at sites of the other two recent attacks against LGBT individuals—all three apart of the wave of LGBT hate crimes to hit the District this past weekend.
“Washington has the highest rate of LGBT Violence in the country. . . its been that way for a number of years now. The national average is around 13 percent and D.C. is over 60 percent,” said AJ Singeltary, president of GlovDC, a nonprofit organization aimed at reducing violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals.
Singeltary claimed that when the sun shines, and temperatures heat up—so does the violence.
“We always see an increase in LGBT violence when the weather warms,” said Singeltary. “Why? It’s hard to predict. In areas like Columbia Heights and U Street when you have a community of different people coming together there are often abrasive interactions between people. Columbia Heights has the highest rate of crimes in D.C.”
The day after the IHOP shooting, another gay man was robbed and heavily beaten at the intersections of Georgia Ave. and Irving Street.
The last attack was immediately following near the Mount Olivet Road and West Virginia Avenue, where a transgendered woman was left unconscious after being beaten and bruised. Recent reports by WTOP and NBC state that the woman claimed she was targeted because she was transgendered however, police do not have enough evidence to label it specifically as a hate crime.
In a story released by WTOP reporters spoke to Police Chief Cathy Lanier and other police officials who did not show much favor or sympathy:
“ Members of the trans community are responsible for avoiding situations where they might be harmed,'" said the D.C. Trans Coalition in a statement. "This kind of blatant victim blaming demonstrates deep misunderstanding of the pervasive anti-trans discrimination found throughout our city."
Howard University students felt strongly about the incident and although the situation was unfortunate, many felt that it brought attention to an issue that is important and oftentimes overlooked.
“Transgender and gender-queer individuals continue to be misunderstood and that ignorance has led to this violence,” said Ollie Montgomery, a senior print journalism major. “ I hope that the aftermath of this march and these heinous acts send messages of acceptance to those who are not in the LGBT community, because preaching to the choir negates the purpose of the event.”