It won’t be surprising if gay locals begin to suspect that Pizza Mart and late nights are a dangerous mix. In December 2005, a gay man was beaten in the Adams Morgan restaurant as he and his partner stopped by for a post-Velvet Nation nosh.
Now, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) is seeking five suspects involved in the attack of three gay men in Adams Morgan during the early hours of Sunday, July 13, after a similar visit to the same outlet.
A police report released by the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU) on Tuesday, July 15, describes the suspects as ”black males in their late teens or early twenties,” one wearing a black baseball cap, white tank top and jeans.
Acting Lt. Brett Parson, the gay officer responsible for MPD’s liaison units, including GLLU, says the crime is being investigated as an aggravated assault and as a potential hate-bias crime.
The gay men who were attacked had left a private party in the 1800 block of Kalorama Road, walking to the nearby Pizza Mart at 2445 18th St. NW.
”At 3:30 in the morning, the place is packed with your night drinkers trying to get their munchies,” says Parson. ”While they were in that big customer [waiting] area, four or five black males began to taunt them and to make homophobic references to them.”
One of the victims, says Parson, responded to the taunts briefly as they left the restaurant.
”The victims thought that it was kind of over, that it had been diffused … and they went walking back to the apartment at the 1800 block of Kalorama,” Parson says. ”Suddenly, they were confronted by the same individuals … and again the homophobic epithets started, and they were just attacked.”
According to a GLLU police report, ”Two of the victims were taken to a local hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.”
Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Jack Jacobson, of ANC 2B04 in Dupont Circle, who is gay, is a friend of one of the victims. He describes the group of victims as in their late 20s and says that his friend’s injuries included black eyes and bruised ribs, for which he missed a week of work.
”One of the other individuals that was attacked was in worse shape than he was,” Jacobson says, adding that the victims are not yet ready to discuss the crime.
Jacobson learned about the incident on Facebook, a social networking Web site on which users frequently post up-to-minute ”status updates.”
”He had a status message up that indicated that he had been involved in a hate crime, that someone had beat him up and I reached out to him to get some more specifics.”
Jacobson says he became more alarmed when he heard about another incident involving a gay man who was attacked by a group of men at 14th and U Streets NW on Wednesday, July 16, in close proximity of two gay venues, Town Danceboutique and Nellie’s Sports Bar.
As of Tuesday, July 22, Parson says the GLLU is not aware of the July 16 incident, but that he is seeking information.
”If something occurred there, the GLLU was not made aware of it,” he says. ”This isn’t uncommon; if there is a hate crime or something occurs and the officers on the scene feel comfortable handling it, sometimes they don’t notify the GLLU.”
Asked if this recent Adams Morgan attack should make gay people wary of the neighborhood, Parson insisted that the attack is in no way an indication of any increase in homophobic violence. He also recommended that people not drink to the point of intoxication, and that they not engage anyone who may be verbally abusive.
”In most instances, that’s going to diffuse the situation,” he says.
Jacobson is hoping to prevent similar incidents by raising awareness about the attack.
”Be aware of your surroundings,” he implores. ”Know where you’re walking at all times, and who’s around you. If you are involved in a verbal confrontation that begins to escalate, extract yourself from that as quickly as you can. If you’re uncomfortable and feel unsafe, find a public-safety official. Don’t try to take things on yourself. Even if you’re in a group, there’s still danger.”
Anyone with information regarding the Adams Morgan incident is asked to contact the GLLU at 877-495-5995.