Tag Archives: mayor gray

TODAY! DCTC testifying before DC Council on Anti-Trans Violence; Letter sent to Mayor Gray

This morning, DCTC sent a letter to DC Mayor Vince Gray on anti-trans violence and police response, and we will be testifying before the DC Council Judiciary Committee as part of the annual oversight hearing on the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). We will also be participating in a briefing for Council members and staff on preventing anti-trans violence, including passing an implementing DC’s proposed anti-bullying bill, supporting the research being conducted through our DC Trans Needs Assessment project, and improving police accountability.

Last fall, we engaged mediators with the U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service to facilitate conversations between us and the MPD, which had stalled earlier that summer, in spite of an increasing and ongoing wave of anti-trans violence. Yet to date, MPD has refused to accept or deny our request. Therefore today we are calling for increased accountability measures from the mayor and the DC Council to address the problem of anti-trans police bias, and create greater community accountability for police actions.

From our Council testimony:

As we noted at the November 2011 hearing on hate crimes and police response, we have concluded that a culture of anti-trans bias within MPD is at the root of these persistent challenges… This intrinsic bias against trans people manifests itself in several ways:

  • Failure to train all officers in how to interact appropriately with trans people,
  • Failure to devote sufficient resources to solving crimes against trans people,
  • Failure to gather adequate data on crimes involving trans people,
  • Failure to discipline officers who act inappropriately towards trans people, and
  • Increased likelihood of trans people facing arrest for non-violent crimes.

From our letter to Mayor Gray:

The changes we seek from MPD are neither radical nor overly burdensome. Our goals are as follows:

  • An immediate update on the status of investigations of violent crimes involving trans people, especially the seven unsolved homicides from the past decade. There have been more confirmed trans murders in DC than any other city in the United States since 2000, yet only about a quarter of these have been solved. However, MPD has persistently failed to explain why these cases languish, sometimes for over ten years.
  • The reestablishment of the Biased Policing Task Force, with trans representation. MPD disbanded this body in 2008, in spite of the recommendation from the Police Complaints Board and several community organizations that its work continue.
  • Verifiable discipline taken against MPD officers who violate policy related to trans people. Both 2010 and 2011 saw egregious attacks on trans people by police officers. In one case, while no criminal proceedings took place, MPD has been unable to explain whether or not the offending officer is still patrolling the streets, potentially endangering the lives of other trans people.
  • A budget and timetable for ensuring that all MPD officers receive training in interacting with trans people, using community-informed curriculum, over the course of the next 18 months.  In the first 18 months of MPD’s LGBT training program, which is run entirely by community volunteers, approximately 200 officers have been trained. At this pace, it would take over 30 years for the entire force to receive appropriate training – an entirely unacceptable time period.

Be sure to read our full letter here, and our testimony here.

The MPD oversight hearing starts this morning at 10:00am in the Room 412 at the Wilson Building. If you can’t make the hearing in person, you can watch it live on cable channel 13, or stream online here.

Check out our op-ed on continued problems with MPD

We’ve got a new op-ed in this week’s issue of Metro Weekly, focusing on the “Chief Problem” in dealing with DC’s Metropolitan Police Department. At its core are Chief Lanier’s continued pattern of victim blaming, and her failure to recognize that MPD’s current efforts are insufficient towards curtailing anti-trans violence.

A brief snippet:

We ask that Mayor Vince Gray direct Lanier – after nearly six years of failing to do so on her own – to outline concrete steps to solve anti-trans crimes, address police bias, and formalize and fund the training program run by LGBT community groups. The increases in anti-trans violence, reports of profiling of trans women of color in prostitution enforcement, and blatant police bias can no longer be overlooked.

Read the whole thing here.

Take Action! Next Steps After the Rally Against Police Violence

Thank you to everyone who came to the emergency Rally Against Police Violence! Around 70 people turned out with under four hours notice. (Click here for photos and media coverage.) Violence takes an emotional toll on all of us, and seeing such tangible support goes a long way toward community healing and regaining our sense of empowerment. We heard from representatives of DCTC, HIPS, Latin@s en Accion, Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence, and Rainbow Response. Ward 6 City Council member Tommy Wells and individual survivors of violence also spoke. You all have our deep, heartfelt thanks!

So, what next? Already in 2011, MPD has reported 1 murder, 3 assaults with deadly weapon, 1 rape, 2 simple assaults, and 1 incidence of threats against trans women linked to anti-trans bias. Due to police failures in recording bias-motivated crimes and many trans people’s distrust of police, community groups unsurprisingly report much higher numbers. HIPS noted a 300% increase in violent incidents reported to them since last year. Most of these crimes targeted transgender women of color, and most were never reported to police. This must stop immediately.

Here are two ways YOU can get involved to stop violence against trans women:

*Demand Justice: Keep the Heat on MPD! DCTC and our allies will continue to put the pressure on Police Chief Cathy Lanier and to demand accountability and transparency. We want to see consequences for both Officer Furr and Officer Radon, who also assaulted a trans woman while off-duty last year. Regardless of Officer Furr’s motivation for harming members of our community, MPD must be held responsible for re-instating an officer who opened fire on innocent people while drunk and unauthorized to carry a weapon. Additionally, we demand that MPD:

  • Expand training for its entire force on the existing laws and protocols to protect trans people,
  • Take crimes against trans and queer people seriously,
  • Track and report crimes against trans people accurately, as they are required by law to do,
  • Notify DCTC and the Critical Response Team immediately with any developments in incidents that impact trans people,
  • Stop profiling trans women of color and abusing communities they assume to be sex workers, and
  • End the the disastrous Prostitution Free Zones and other anti-prostitution initiatives that force sex workers into dangerous situations where they are more likely to encounter violence.

Let the Police Department know that you are concerned about it’s treatment of transgender women. You can contact Chief Lanier at cathy.lanier@dc.gov. Also, Officer Furr’s trial and investigation are getting underway. Follow our blog or Facebook for updates!

*Work Toward Prevention: Fight Poverty, Unemployment and Job Discrimination! Trans communities face a rate of unemployment and levels of poverty that are double the already devastating rates in the United States. D.C. Mayor Gray recently promised to create a jobs program specifically targeting trans communities. Social programs will help decrease violence by solving the underlying housing instability and job precarity that put so many trans people, especially of color, in harm’s way.

Support our efforts to decrease barriers to employment and increase access to jobs for trans people in DC as we follow-up on Mayor Gray’s promised jobs program. Learn more and write him in support of these initiatives at eom@dc.gov.

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For background on the recent apparent rise in violence against transgender women in D.C. (including how it relates to police, racism, sex work, city budget cuts, gentrification and more) … see here!

8/18: Let DC Gov’t Know Your Thoughts About Its New Trans Employment Initiatives!

Hello DCTC members and allies! Tomorrow (Thursday, August 18th), Jeffrey Richardson of the D.C. Office of GLBT Affairs is holding a discussion about unemployment in trans communities. Recently, representatives from a handful of advocacy groups met directly with Mayor Gray. During the meeting, the Mayor proposed several initiatives to decrease barriers to employment and increase access to jobs for trans people in DC. His concessions included a paid jobs training program for trans DC residents and expanded diversity training for all employees of city agencies.

While we would always like to see more done to address un- and underemployment in our communities, we are very excited about this victory! Tomorrow’s meeting will take place from 6:00 – 8:00 pm at The DC Center (1318 U St NW). We had hoped that the original meeting would have included a broader segment representing the many diverse trans communities in DC; this is our chance to be heard. Please attend, learn about the proposed initiatives, and add your voice to this crucial and on-going discussion!

DCTC, Others Meet with Mayor Gray to Discuss Unemployment in Trans Communities

On August 4th, representatives from the DC Trans Coalition, Transgender Health Empowerment, and the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance met with Mayor Vince Gray to discuss barriers to employment for trans people in the District. In a follow-up e-mail, Jeffrey Richardson, head of the DC Office of GLBT Affairs, summed up the Mayor’s commitments:

1)    The Gray Administration is committed to expand cultural diversity training across District Government with a focus on LGBT and specifically transgender cultural competency.

a.    The Mayor has directed DC Department of Human Resources, The Office of Human Rights, and The Office of GLBT Affairs to begin working on the development of a training module that the administration will pilot and make mandatory for all District Government employees upon full implementation. The Mayor has asked for the training module to be in place for implementation planning by October 1, 2011.

2)    The Department of Employment Services will run a pilot of their transitional employment program targeting members of the transgender community. The program includes six weeks of training coupled with subsidized paid employment.

a.    DOES will have the pilot run of the transitional employment program targeting members of the transgender community ready for implementation by September 5, 2011.

b.    The Office of GLBT Affairs will work with DOES to ensure there is community engagement in the development and implementation of the pilot program.

We are excited to see such positive progress, and look forward to holding the Gray Administration accountable to these promises. The groups will reconvene in the future to continue the on-going dialog on how to address barriers to trans employment. We also hope that future discussions will include voices from a broader range of stakeholders.