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After Rash Of Crimes, LGBT Community Calls For Police Action

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People have left tokens and flowers as a memorial to the transgender woman that was attacked on Dix Street NE Aug. 1. She was the second person attacked in this neighborhood in two weeks; the first was killed.
Armando Trull
People have left tokens and flowers as a memorial to the transgender woman that was attacked on Dix Street NE Aug. 1. She was the second person attacked in this neighborhood in two weeks; the first was killed.

D.C.'s gay, lesbian, and transgender activists are upset by a series of attacks, one of them deadly, that seem to target members of their community. Some say police response to the crimes has been disappointing, and even biased.

During a two-week period in July, a transgender sex worker was shot to death in Northeast D.C, and another transgender woman was shot and wounded just one block away. The mayor and police chief promised swift action, but activist Jeri Hughes says little has been done.

"If it's a transgendered woman who's murdered, it's business as usual, nobody seems to care," Hughes says. "And that starts with the police department."

Gay advocates also point to a July 30 incident where five lesbians were attacked by two men near the Columbia Heights Metro station. The women say police officers refused to file a report or arrest the men.

Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier has promised an internal investigation, and she told a group of advocates in a private meeting that the investigation might end in termination if the officers were found guilty of "lazy policing," according to an Aug. 8 Washington Blade report.

"For four or five officers to be aware of a crime and not take police action is a very serious allegation," Lanier says.

Activist Rick Rosendall says while MPD has many LGBT-friendly policies, the message is not filtering down to everyone in the rank and file.

"There have to be consequences," Rosendall says. "Without consequences for misbehavior by officers, it is absurd to want or expect anything to change."

The activists want Lanier to set up a board to examine cases of bias policing, similar to one that existed prior to her tenure as chief. They say Lanier dissolved the bias policing board after assuming her post.

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