D.C. police are searching for suspects in a string of suspected anti-gay hate crimes that have the Capital’s gay community on edge.
On Sunday during Memorial Day weekend, a suspect called two men anti-gay slurs and punched one of them in the face. The attack happened at around 6:28 p.m. on 14th Street and Rhode Island Avenue in Northwest D.C.
A week before on May 20, police say a group of men repeatedly kicked a man after pushing him to the ground and calling him a homophobic slurs at Sherman Avenue and Harvard Street, NW.
The worst anti-gay attack happened to two gay men on U Street and was captured on cellphone video in mid-April. Several people were seen pushing, punching and kicking the victims. The attack caused one of the victims to be knocked out while the other broke his nose. The three attackers then ran off before two Good Samaritans come to the aid of the man who was unconscious.
Police have not made arrests in any of those attacks, but both Capital Pride organizers and D.C. police say safety is a top priority for next weekend’s Capital Pride Festival.
“We want to make sure that everyone knows that you can come and there will be safety measures that will be taken care of for you and for everybody who is going to be there,” said Ashley Smith, president of the Capital Pride Alliance. “We want you to be there because this for a lot of people is their very first time coming to a Pride situation in any city and this is something that they may be fearful of being able to come out and this is their way of coming out. So we really do want you to be able to come and have an enjoyable time, a safe time while we are all there celebrating the elements of us.”
“What we want to do is to ensure people that we are investigating thoroughly, that we are leaving no stone unturned and that we are just imploring anyone that has any information surrounding any of these crimes that are committed, but especially these bias-related crimes, to come forward,” said D.C. Police Lt. Brett Parson.
There has been a 67 percent increase in hate crimes between 2016 and 2017 in the District along with a 40 percent increase in hate crimes based on sexual orientation.
DC Police say they do not believe the three recent suspected anti-gay attacks are connected.
All suspects being sought are described as being African american males between the ages of 20 and 40 years old.