Hate Crime Committed Against Group of Lesbians in D.C.

In what appears to be a bias-motivated assault, five lesbians were attacked in Washington, D.C. outside the Columbia Heights Metro station. The Washington Post reports that Yazzmen Morse, a 21-year-old D.C. resident, and four friends were walking toward the subway station on July 30 when two men made advances towards them. One of the women said she was “not interested” and pointed out that Morse was her girlfriend. One of the men threatened Morse using an anti-gay epithet and proceeded to punched Morse several times in the head and face. Three of the other women were also struck before police arrived. According to the victims’ account, several police officers showed up, but they refused to take action or to file a report, even as one suspect continued to scream epithets at the women. It was only after Morse’s mother spoke with someone from the police department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit days later that the department formally filed the women’s complaint. On August 9, 19-year-old Christian Washington was charged with assault. The attacks came after a D.C. Council hearing on July 6 where Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier agreed to meet with community leaders to address criticism over police response to recent bias-related incidents targeting the LGBT community. Lanier said that the department will conduct an internal investigation into the officers’ response to most recent assault. The investigation is ongoing. A recent report released by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs shows that the number of hate crimes against people in the LGBT community rose 13% in 2010, and that minorities and transgender women were most likely to be targets of violence. Of the victims murdered, 70% were people of color. GLAAD applauds the Washington Post for highlighting the often underreported violence members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community face. We encourage other media outlets to follow in the Washington Post’s strong example. GLAAD will continue to monitor media coverage of this incident. We have also taken steps to reach out to the victims, their families, and local advocacy groups and to bring the necessary media attention to this issue.