The intersection of P and 15th Streets NW sits squarely in some of the District’s gayest real estate. Accordingly, ”John” and ”Mike,” a 20-something gay couple who ask that their real names not be printed for fear of retaliation, didn’t think much of holding hands as they walked west along P Street around 2:30 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 27. John had gone to a bar near the 14th and P Streets NW intersection to pick up Mike, who had just finished his Friday-night shift there.
”We were standing on the corner, just waiting for the light to change,” says Mike. ”I’m sure we were holding hands.”
Coincidentally, they say a security guard for the Metropole development at that intersection was ending his shift at roughly the same time, in his car and readying to turn north onto 15th Street. As they stepped into the crosswalk, they believe the guard intentionally intimidated them with his car.
”He goaded us, accelerating, then hitting his brakes, pretending to hit us,” says John. And there’s no disputing that he came close enough for Mike to slam the car’s hood.
”He honked and revved his car,” Mike says. ”He accelerated and slammed his brakes on in the crosswalk. I slammed my fist down on his hood, and was like, ‘Dude! What the fuck are you doing?!”’
Although the damage a car can do to a person obviously outweighs whatever damage a person might do to a car, Mike, naming the make of the car and describing the precise placement of his hand on the edge of the hood, says he did not damage the guard’s car in any way. Still, it was enough to prompt the driver to exit the vehicle.
”He got out of his car and started yelling at us,” says John. ”I was just trying to calm him down, saying, ‘Dude, everything’s fine.’ He just started coming after us, and he said, ‘As soon as I can find something to throw at you faggots, I will.”’
What the guard found, John and Mike say, was large brick.
”This big, big brick whizzed right by us at ear level,” says Mike, explaining they were only about a block from the building where they live. ”He was clearly gunning for one of our heads.”
At the building, they say they rushed inside and locked the security door, as the guard stood on the sidewalk affronting the building. He taunted them, they say, with, ”Good. Now I know where you live.”
Both John and Mike say the response from the Washington Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) was excellent. They are not, however, happy with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, which has dismissed the case.
”[They were] horrible,” says Mike. ”They did not relay any information to us. We’d try to call them and get no answers. They didn’t tell us the case was dismissed. They didn’t contact the people who were assaulted.”
MPD Acting Lt. Brett Parson, who heads the MPD’s special liaison units — including the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit — and who has been working with the couple, says that while the Police don’t always agree with decisions made by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, they certainly respect them.
Channing Phillips, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, could not speak about the specifics of this case, but did offer via e-mail that, ”charging decisions are always subject to reconsideration should additional credible facts come to our attention. … Additionally, as unpleasant and demeaning as ‘name-calling’ may be, words alone are not a crime.”
Parson points out that the U.S. Attorney’s Office has entirely different criteria to consider in whether to pursue a case, requiring professional judgment as to what evidence is available and what sort of case they can build in court.
That, of course, is small consolation to John and Mike, who are now in the process of obtaining a ”stay-away” order against the guard — whom Mike says he still sees regularly when walking to and from his nearby bar job. They’ve also recently gotten involved with the newly reformed Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV) group.
Chris Farris, a leader in that new effort says he’s been trying to secure a meeting with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to discuss this case.
”It obviously raises questions when a decision is made not to prosecute someone who runs down a street chasing a gay couple, yelling ‘fags’ and throwing a brick in an obvious effort to hit them,” says Farris. ”What’s more disturbing is that it is documented that the offender knows where the victims live.”
Adds Parson: ”They should write a letter to the U.S. Attorney’s Office expressing concern that they weren’t consulted, how they feel about this. They should demand an answer. And bring the community’s attention. GLOV is great for that.”
For more information about GLOV, thedccenter.org/programs_glov.html.