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Baltimore Transgender Beating May Yield Hate Crime Charges

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Protesters gathered at a rally outside the McDonald's in Rosedale, Md., in April to call for more protections for transgender people. Police in D.C. say the majority of hate crimes in the city target people based on their sexual orientation.
Armando Trull
Protesters gathered at a rally outside the McDonald's in Rosedale, Md., in April to call for more protections for transgender people. Police in D.C. say the majority of hate crimes in the city target people based on their sexual orientation.

The incident, in which 22-year-old Chrissy Lee Polis was allegedly beaten by two attackers while onlookers recorded it on their cell phones, has sparked strong reactions from activists in the gay community -- and many others. A rally outside McDonald's in Rosedale, Baltimore Tuesday night drew a diverse crowd.

Several hundred people of all ages, races, genders and sexual orientations rallied outside the fast food restaurant where a transgendered woman was kicked and stomped last Friday.

Phillip Gagneu says he was outraged when he saw the video of the beating online. Witnesses filmed the event and posted the video on the online video service YouTube, but most copies of the video have since been removed from the site.

"I'm 63 years old, I haven't protested since I was 19," Gagneu says. "But I said 'I'm coming here for this.' I'm straight, but this is just ridiculous for people to treat each other this way."

15-year-old Amber Thrift agrees. "No matter who you are or what you look like, you're human," she says. "You shouldn’t be treated like trash."

Caroline Temmermand, one of the organizers of the rally, says, "We want that hatred and bigotry to end at any level that it shows up."

Temmermand and other gay rights advocates at the rally say Maryland lawmakers need to pass laws that specifically protect transgendered people. A bill that would have provided such protections died in the Maryland State Senate earlier this month.

The victim in the case, Chrissy Lee Polis, spoke out about the attack in a YouTube video posted Sunday.

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