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Outbreak Of Violence Against LGBT Community Prompts Activist Response

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Doctors told Bree Wallace that she had been stabbed 30 times in the attack.
Armando Trull
Doctors told Bree Wallace that she had been stabbed 30 times in the attack.

Six unrelated but very violent attacks against members of the LGBT community in the District during a ten-day period have gay activists scared and working with city officials to stem the violence.

The first attack happened on June 21. Bree Wallace, a 29-year-old transgender woman, was stabbed multiple times inside an abandoned home during a late night argument in Southeast D.C.

"Three stab wounds in my chest, all up and down my right hand side," Wallace says. "It totals up to over 30 stab wounds."

Wallace says she survived by praying.

"For god to make him stop," Wallace says. "I was praying in my mind and I was so numb from the stab wounds that I said it out loud and that's when he stopped. He just had a very evil look on his face."

The suspect, 23-year-old Michael McBride fled, but was arrested and charged with assault with intent to kill.

"Some people don't even view us as human," Wallace says. "They have a heartless feeling towards us."

Police say Wallace and McBride knew each other and the June 21st attack was the result of a dispute.

Just one in a rash of incidents

The next day a 35-year-old lesbian activist was shot to death during a robbery, also in Southeast D.C.

As the month ended, the victims continued to pile up. Three transgender women were stabbed, robbed and sexually assaulted in unrelated attacks in Northeast.

A gay man was savagely beaten in a pizzeria near 14th and U streets NW. The phone camera recording of that attack went viral. It shows the man, a drag performer, being punched, kicked and dragged by the hair by two women at Manny and Olga's pizzeria, and left bleeding on the floor. The assailants were two women and police have charged them with simple assault.

The attacks have frightened many in the LGBT community, says transgender activist Ruby Corado, herself a victim of violence.

"We need to tell our stories. Every single incident of hate," Corado says. "From the moment you walk out of the door to the Metro station and somebody calls you a faggot, everybody needs to know who those haters are."

Response weighed by D.C. authorities

D.C. Police have not classified any of the attacks as hate crimes, although officers with the gay liaison unit are involved in the investigations.

LGBT activists met with District officials last week, and the police to address the violence. Besides the law enforcement component, activists will ride with police vans to provide safety and outreach services to transgender women in certain neighborhoods.

Earline Budd, a transgender activist who helped organize the meeting, outlined a multi-step approach.

"We'll provide information on substance abuse first, for those who are out there forcing themselves to do what they're doing, commercial sex work. then there's mental health, there's the homelessness," Budd says.

Meanwhile, Bree Wallace has fled her home, fearing retaliation from the suspect's friends. She is currently in a victim's protection program.

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