Summersgill criticizes MPD hate crimes reporting
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Summersgill criticizes MPD hate crimes reporting


From:Bob Summersgill
Sent:Monday, November 23, 2009 11:00 PM
To:Councilmember Mendelson; David Catania; Kwame Brown; Michael Brown; Jim Graham; Jack (COUNCIL) Evans; Mary Cheh; Muriel Bowser; Tommy Thomas; Tommy Wells; Yvette Alexander; Marion Barry
Cc:Rick Rosendall; Michael Crawford; Jason Shedlock; Heidi Tseu; Christopher Dyer; Chris Farris; Sadie Baker; Allison Bauer; J. Rhodes Perry
Subject:Hate Crimes in the District of Columbia and Police Response to Reports of Hate Crimes

Chairman Mendelson:

Please accept this email as testimony on the "Hate Crimes in the District of Columbia and Police Response to Reports of Hate Crimes" hearing held by the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary on November 20, 2009. Unfortunately, the Administration did not release their report on Bias-Related Crime in the District of Columbia until less than a day before the hearing, limiting the public's ability to assess it.

What jumps out at me right away in this report is that there are NO bias crimes based on personal appearance or more recently gender expression or identity. This is simply not possible. The great number of hate crimes reported in the Washington Blade and Metro Weekly over the past few years  have been against transgender people. 

Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief Cathy L. Lanier said that transgender people are covered in "sexually-oriented crimes." If hate crimes based on gender identity and expression have been conflated with hate crimes based on sexual orientation, then Chief Lanier is mixing apples and oranges and calling them bananas.

Not only is gender identity and expression fundamentally different from sexual orientation, the Bias-Related Crimes Act treats them as distinct categories. Neither of these categories is about sex crimes. Transgender people are a fairly small population in the District, and yet are reported in the press as one of the most frequently attacked groups in our city. Violence against transgender people is so common, that the hearing coincidently fell on a day to memorialize transgender people who have been murdered in hate crimes. We are unable to tell from this report if hate crimes against transgender people are up, down, or steady. We are unable to tell if the increase in the Sixth District are actually based on sexual orientation, or as one might guess on gender identity or expression. The report makes transgender people entirely invisible, and dismisses both their lives and their deaths.

It is entirely unreasonable to think that no one in the MPD, the Mayor's Office, the Office of LGBT Affairs, or anyone else involved in tracking hate crimes or producing this report could be unaware of the existence of transgender people, the law's gender-identity or expression category, or hate crimes based on that category. To report that no anti-transgender hate crimes have occurred in the past five years, is lying to the Council and defrauding the public.

It is unreasonable to claim that some categories are combined or excluded because of FBI reporting requirements. If D.C. counted gender-identity and expression based hate crimes as sexual orientation based hate crimes would mean that D.C. falsified reports to the FBI.

The report also deliberately obscures how the District responds to hate crimes. We do not know how many reported hate crimes were investigated. We do not know how many were closed. We do not know how many resulted in an arrest. We do not know how many were actually prosecuted, and we do not know how many resulted in actual enhanced penalties. We do not know if the MPD or the U.S. Attorney's Office take race based hate crimes more seriously than sexual-orientation based hate crimes.

By only stating how many hate crimes have been reported, but not how they have been handled, the Council and the public are unable to assess if there is a failure or success in MPD's investigations and arrests; a failure or success in the Office of the Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney's Office in prosecuting hate crimes.

If this report stands as is, it means that the MPD denies the existence of any anti-transgender bias crimes. If that is true, we will need to ask the Department of Justice to intervene in every bias crime--under the authority of the recently enacted federal hate crimes law--and investigate and prosecute those crimes that the District refuses to acknowledge exist at all. Please reject this report and demand an honest and accurate report.

Thank you.

-Bob Summersgill


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