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D.C. police are investigating two separate attacks on members of the LGBTQ community that occurred in the past week. Victims in both incidents required staples or stitches, according to news reports, and police are investigating both as potential hate crimes. There is no indication the two attacks are connected.

The first incident happened Aug. 3 at Player’s Lounge in Congress Heights. Aiyi’nah Ford said on a Facebook video that a man, who was a regular at the bar, called her a “dyke” and later, following a verbal altercation, hit her three times in the head with a barstool.

The Blade reports that the altercation started when Ford and her group of friends were discussing D.C.’s violence interruption program, which Ford does not support. The man who attacked her reportedly said he was interested in participating in the program, and the two got into a back and forth. Ford told the Blade the man repeatedly called her a “dyke bitch” and then hit her several times with the barstool. 

In her Facebook video posted after the incident, Ford showed the nine staples on the top of her head and identified her attacker by name. A Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson could not verify the man’s name because the case is under investigation.

Ford also called out Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White for his affiliation with her attacker. In a comment on his own page, White acknowledged that he knows the man and condemned the violence in an official statement.

“I do not condone this type of behavior or violence,” White’s statement says. “We are in a time where we have to have unity or be nonexistent. The violence in our city is escalating because of the lack of love and understanding.”

The second incident occurred around 5:40 p.m. on Aug. 7. A gay couple had just left Kiki, a gay bar on U Street NW, and were walking on 7th Street NW on their way to a bus stop, the Blade reports. Two teenagers shouted “monkeypox” and hurled an anti-gay slur at the two men, and the couple turned to walk away, one of the men tells the Blade. But one of the teens “came up behind me and got my attention and then sucker punched me and then hit me again and then hit my boyfriend in the face.”

The two men were taken to Howard University Hospital. One of them received two stitches for a gash on his lip. Police have said they’re investigating the incident as a potential hate crime and released photos of two suspects. 

Last week, the Biden administration declared monkeypox a public health emergency. As health officials work to provide vaccinations, there is some concern over messaging that—similar to HIV/AIDS—monkeypox is only a “gay disease.” Although most current cases are in men who have sex with men, the virus can infect anyone. Messaging targeting only queer men can create a stigma that can lead to violence.

Mayor Muriel Bowser released a statement Tuesday condemning the attack. “It is our collective responsibility to understand the role we each play in building a safer community for every person who lives in and visits DC,” Bowser’s statement says. “We must stand up for our friends and neighbors, especially right now when there is so much anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric sweeping our nation.”

D.C. is providing monkeypox vaccines by appointment and at walk-up clinics on Fridays from noon to 8 p.m. Vaccines are available to D.C. residents who are: gay men, bisexual men, men who have sex with men and have had multiple or anonymous partners in the past two weeks, transgender women, nonbinary people assigned male at birth who have sex with men, sex workers, and staff at places where sex occurs.

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