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About 50 people showed up last night to a meeting led by Todd Metrokin, the out-front gay-bashing victim we wrote about two weeks ago, and Chris Farris, an artist and friend of Todd’s who blogs at thenewgay.net.
The meeting effectively re-formed GLOV (Gays and Lesbians Opposed to Violence), a group active in the ’90s (even before e-mails and cell phones!) in establishing victim advocacy, a hotline to report gay-bashing, sensitivity training for cops, and reports of GLBT-related hate crimes. The reconvening is prompted by recent incidents, including the attack in Adams Morgan on Metrokin and two of his friends and the death of Tony Hunter, who was beaten earlier this month outside of BeBar in Shaw.
The city’s sitting up for this, at least right now. Among attendees at last night’s meeting were Councilmembers David Catania, Phil Mendelson, and Jack Evans; Chris Dyer, director of the mayor’s office on GLBT affairs; Lt. Brett Parson, head of the police department’s special liaison units; and several detectives from the 3rd District, which includes Adams Morgan and U Street.
Metrokin’s still struggling with being thrust into a gay-rights leadership role by virtue of being attacked and talking about it. But, he says, he’s inspired by strangers who’ve thanked him and told him their stories. Also, “everyone I’ve come into contact with in the criminal justice system has been much more responsive.” Metrokin was publicly critical of slow progress in his case, which involves a key piece of evidence: a cell phone belonging to one of his attackers; Metrokin found it in his pocket after being discharged from the hospital.
There’s now one suspect in his case; the police report says at least five were involved. Metrokin has met with an assistant district attorney to talk about charges and prosecution.
“People are talking to me more and more about their experiences in D.C., and there are too many to count at this point. Some people are living with this in their neighborhoods on a day-to-day basis. It’s disheartening,” Metrokin says. The feeling at the meeting, he says, was not that gay-bashing is necessarily on the rise, since statistics are unreliable, “but that crimes are becoming more violent.”
(City Paper photograph by Darrow Montgomery)