Hundreds March to Protest LGBT Hate Crimes in D.C.
Hundreds of D.C. residents took to the streets on Tuesday, March 20, to protest several recent crimes that targeted LGBT victims in various wards across the city in a 3-mile march that covered several neighborhoods, including Columbia Heights, Park View, the U Street corridor and Dupont Circle.
The march, organized by Patrick Pressman after his friend was beaten and robbed on Georgia Avenue NW between Irving and Morton Streets March 12, was intended to be a show of support for Pressman’s friend, as well as for another gay victim who was shot in the abdomen following an altercation at an IHOP restaurant in the 3100 block of 14th Street NW in the early morning hours of March 11.
Pressman told Metro Weekly after posting the plan on Facebook March 15 that he expected about 20 close friends to attend. But the group, ’’Silent March for Victims of GLBT Violence,’’ took on a life of its own as attendees invited hundreds of friends, with the Facebook group topping 700 members by the day of the march.
Councilmembers Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), in whose ward the attacks occurred, Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), Michael Brown (I-At Large) and Council Chairman Kwame Brown (D), as well as top brass from the Metropolitan Police Department, including Chief Cathy Lanier, spoke at the event, which drew hundreds to the march’s designated starting place near the IHOP Restaurant in Columbia Heights, where the March 11 shooting had taken place.
Event organizers told Metro Weekly that they estimated the size of the crowd to have been more than 800 people, including a number of people from the ’’Occupy’’ movement who also took part in the demonstration.
Escorted by officers from MPD, the marchers walked down Irving Street NW to the corner of Georgia Avenue where A.J. Singletary, chair of the group Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV), read aloud a description of what had happened to Pressman’s friend at that intersection as the marchers stood in silence.
Organizers of the march had encouraged members of the Facebook group to wear solid-colored shirts in hues of the rainbow. Some people wore duct tape over their mouths as they marched. Others wore signs that stated their relationship to victims of hate crimes: ’’brother,’’ ’’sister,’’ ’’friend.’’ Still others carried multicolored signs protesting the recent hate crimes directed against members of the LGBT community. A number of people wore rainbow ’’gay pride’’ colored flags, towels and one person carried a rainbow-colored umbrella.