LGBT related hate crimes have been on the rise in the district lately. There have been at least three incidents in the last few weeks, involving young gay men being brutally beaten while out in the streets. We’re not talking about people who were out really late at night, or even walking alone. One of the most recent victims, Tony Randolph Hunter, died yesterday from his injuries. It hasn’t been confirmed that these incidents were hate crimes, but it’s probable.
I know that my friends and I are pretty scared. I would say that I’m quite visibly queer, and that makes me feel like a target. Nationally, around 16% of hate crimes are LGBT related. In DC, it’s 60%.
It’s such a complicated issue. Crime in DC is pretty severe–it ranks in the top five nationally in terms of crime rates. A lot of my friends have been mugged, it’s a common occurrence. One of the reasons that might explain the disparity in hate crimes rates is the Gay and Lesbian Liasion Unit of the DC police department. So reporting in DC might be better than in other cities, where crimes that could be considered LGBT related hate crimes are not reported. Also, the visibility of the community might contribute to the rate. Poverty is also pretty serious in DC, as well as racial tensions. It’s a majority African-American city, and the gay community is overwhelmingly white. The gentrification issues I mentioned earlier also probably have an impact.
If you happen to be in DC, a group has arisen to try and address these recent crimes. The next meeting is on Monday, I know I will be there.
Cross-posted on Feministing