Mean Streets

Police investigating three possible hate crimes

by Will O'Bryan
Published on September 27, 2007, 12:00am | Comments

It's been three years since the brutal shooting death of Adrian Alstad, the popular gay waiter at Annie's Paramount Steakhouse, and the string of violent muggings of gay men in the Dupont area. But news of a recent hate crime in an area with a rising gay presence -- Northwest's Shaw neighborhood -- may prick those memories.

According to the Metropolitan Police Department's report, a victim was attacked at Ninth and O Streets NW, one block from the neighborhood's relatively new Be Bar, which draws a largely gay clientele, in the early hours of Saturday, Sept. 22. From that report: ''[H]e was confronted by [four suspects] calling [him] a 'fucking faggot.' [He] replied to [suspect No. 1], 'I know that I am homosexual.' [He] continued walking and [the four suspects] hit [him] in the back of the head with an unknown object and caused the listed injuries.''

The victim declined an interview with Metro Weekly, citing a desire to ''move on'' from the ''traumatic event.''

The report lists two cuts to the back of the victim's head, a swollen lip, a bruised shoulder and a small cut to his left wrist. According to the report, all that the victim could recall of these suspects was that they are males in their 20s and rode bicycles.

Police Lt. Michael Smith, who works in the Shaw neighborhood, says three arrests were made Monday evening in an attack similar to the Sept. 22 attack -- though with no evidence of it being a hate crime -- but adds that Police do not believe the perpetrators are the same.

Officer Joe Morquecho of the GLLU said as much Tuesday: ''I'm personally on this case.... We are still looking at all our options, canvassing the area. As of right now, we don't have much to go on.''

Meanwhile, Michael Benardo, a gay commissioner serving ANC 2F, which includes the site of the latest attack, says he's been hearing of an uptick in assaults, including a warning from Lt. Smith at his ANC's Sept. 5 meeting of increasing assaults centered on the 10th Street NW corridor, though he doubts homophobia is the root cause.

''I definitely think there's been a trend in muggings,'' says Benardo, who lives on the 900 block of P Street NW. ''I don't know if I could say it's definitely hate-crime related. I got an e-mail from a straight couple on the 900 block of O Street who got mugged recently. This was during daylight, like at 5 o'clock in the afternoon. The [muggers] were being loud and not really hiding what they were doing.''

Though there's no apparent cause for any rise in assaults, Benardo, says he is confident in the way D.C. Police are handling the situation: ''I certainly know Lt. Smith is doing all he can to get resources here.''

Sgt. Brett Parson, former commander of the Police Department's Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, who now works in Chief Cathy Lanier's Office on Special Projects, reports that two other gay-related hate crimes are currently under investigation.

One happened nearby, on the 800 block of Seventh Street NW, on Sept. 13. A transgender woman says she was first verbally harassed by a group of juveniles, then attacked and thrown through a plate-glass window, suffering cuts and bruises but refusing medical treatment. Police have arrested one juvenile who has been charged with a hate-related, simple assault. The other attack occurred a block from the Georgetown University campus, when a man walked through a crowd as a party dispersed. Anti-gay epithets were followed by an attack by two men, leaving the victim with cuts, bruises and a broken thumb. Police have identified a suspect in that attack.

Anyone with information in any of these cases is asked to call the GLLU at 877-495-5995.