Bil Browning

McDonalds Attackers Indicted on Hate Crimes Charges

Filed By Bil Browning | May 17, 2011 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Baltimore, Chrissy Lee Polis, McDonalds, McDonalds attack, Vicki Thoms

Teonna Brown, one of the two women seen attacking a transgender woman in a Baltimore McDonalds, will be facing serious legal charges after a grand jury indictment Monday. Equality Maryland sent over a statement shortly after the grand jury's decision was announced that read, "Equality Maryland applauds the Baltimore County State's Attorney's decision to indite Teonna-Brown-mugshot.jpg[sic] the two women who brutally attacked Chrissy Polis on charges that include hate crime [sic] and first and second-degree assault."

According to information obtained from the Baltimore County State's Attorney's Office, Brown was charged with first-degree assault, second-degree assault and a hate crime for the attack on Polis. Brown also was charged with second-degree assault charges regarding Vicki Thoms, who tried to intervene during the attack, and Darrick Jones.

In addition to Brown, the Baltimore County State's Attorney's Office states that a female juvenile has been charged in the Juvenile Court with the identical charges as the adult. Both individuals are currently detained. According to the office, no other individuals will be charged "with crimes arising out of this incident."

Video of the attack went viral in late April shortly after the Maryland state senate refused to hear legislation providing housing, credit and employment protections for transgender people. The bill had already passed the state House of Delegates.

Equality Maryland Interim Executive Director Lynne Bowman's statement is after the jump.

Lynne Bowman, Interim Executive Director of Equality Maryland

"Today, the .State's [sic] Attorney for Baltimore County came to the only possible conclusion in deciding to try the assault on Chrissy Lee Polis as a hate crime. As the video shows, the violent attack was directly related to the fact that Ms. Polis is a transgender woman. Lack of understanding or fear about someone who is transgender is never an excuse for violence and when it occurs, it should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

"Through our Transgender Education Project, Equality Maryland will continue to work to educate people in Maryland about issues related to gender identity and the challenges transgender people face just trying to go about their daily lives. We will also continue our push in Annapolis to see gender identity protections added to Maryland's existing anti-discrimination laws. Maryland has always been on the forefront of social justice issues. It's time that our Assembly make a clear statement that discrimination against someone based on their gender identity is wrong and will no longer be tolerated in this state."

(Photo via Baltimore police department)

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Governor O'Malley has pledged "to work on transgender protection" in the next legislative session. I'm not sure what this means in terms of direct action on his part. Those of us in MD need to keep his feet to the fire on this.

Cathy Brennan | May 17, 2011 4:53 PM

I applaud the governor's commitment to stand against irrational discrimination. I truly hope, however, that our legislators will rework the language in the Maryland gender identity bill, as HB 235 included language that relied on stereotypes about "gender" in order to attempt to ban discrimination against trans folx. We should come together as a community to suggest legislative language that will root out the evil of irrational discrimination without enshrining sex stereotypes into law.

Need this entire story be filtered through PR releases by Equality Maryland? It's not as if they actually have anything to do with this case.

I'm glad to hear that hate crimes charges were preferred, because it seems clear to me that the video shows that at least one of the motivations of the attack was gender identity.

But I don't understand this part of the press release: "Through our Transgender Education Project, Equality Maryland will continue to work to educate people in Maryland about issues related to gender identity and the challenges transgender people face just trying to go about their daily lives."

What "Transgender Education Project?" I searched Equality Maryland's website in vain for anything called by this name. What is this project, and does it only exist in a press release?