Remarks by Richard J. Rosendall
Vigil Against the Violence
June 21, 2019
Ashanti and Zoe were in their 20s. They were murdered in separate incidents near Eastern Avenue. They knew the dangers of the streets all too well. They were sent there by family rejection. Job discrimination. Profiling. Ignorance. People with unresolved issues looking for scapegoats. These awful crimes reveal the gap between public policy and the terror faced disproportionately by our trans sisters of color.
Police Chief Newsham tells me: “MPD’s LGBT Liaison Unit and Criminal Investigations Division are in contact with [The PG County Police], and we are ready to assist…. We are also increasing our presence in the area. As always, the LGBT Liaison Unit is available at 202-506-0714 at any time to any member of the community needing their support or assistance.”
That’s good. But our own voices and vigilance are crucial. As we have seen on Eastern Avenue, on U Street, in Eckington, and at Casa Ruby, queer and trans people are being targeted. Our nation’s president has set the tone. Social media serve as an accelerant. We need to hold those companies accountable for allowing hate on their platforms.
When the Mayor’s office ordered police to stop sharing information about hate crimes with LGBTQ leaders, it became harder for us to reach survivors with counseling, support, and information about their rights. The activists who do this work need less control from our city and more timely information. Having to wait for a monthly meeting can delay their work for weeks. I understand this is being resolved. Thank goodness. We don’t want survivors to languish while we argue through the news media.
These are dangerous times. We are a community when we look out for one another. We say to District officials: Trust us. Share with us. Work with us. Our public safety demands no less. Thank you.