Hundreds attended last night's Silent March for Victims of GLBT Violence in response to a series of attacks over a 24 hour period earlier this month in DC's Columbia Heights neighborhood.
The march began at the I-Hop restaurant in the Columbia Height's neighborhood where the first attack took place in the early hours of March 11th when a gay man was shot following a verbal attack.
D.C. Police Chief Cathy Ranier and D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), both spoke, and D.C. Council Chair Kwame Brown (D-At-Large), Michael Brown (D-At-large), and Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) joined in solidarity.
The route continued on Irving Street NW down to Georgia Avenue, pausing at the location of the second attack which occurred at 9:30p.m. March 12th. The attack and robbery left the victim with a broken jaw. This and the first attack have both been listed as hate crimes.
The third attack on a transgender woman at 11:45p.m. on March 12th at the intersection of West Virginia Avenue and Mt. Olivet Road, N.E. which left her knocked unconscious has yet to be listed as a hate crime.
The march continued down Florida Avenue to U Street NW, then turned down 14th Street to R before ending at the gay bar Cobalt - the location of a benefit for one of the victims.
My partner, David, and I were running late as usual (with a little help from Bil Browning and Jerame Davis), and had to catch up with the crowd when they paused at Georgia Avenue where we joined in a moment of silence.
D.C. Councilmember Jim Graham speaks outside the Columbia Heights IHOP.
Marchers gather outside the Columbia Heights IHOP in which a 31-year-old gay man was shot in the abdomen early on March 11.
Even though we started out as stragglers, the crowd grew steadily behind us as we travelled along. Some were late-comers like us, but others were people that joined from the streets.
D.C. Police Chief Cathy Ranier prepares to speak to marchers outside the Columbia Heights IHOP.
Supporters lined the streets and cars honked their horns in support. In a city known for protests, I've never seen something with this type of turnout spring up from a Facebook event created less that two weeks ago. Our numbers were large enough that the police allowed us to take the streets, interrupting some of DC's busiest intersections still clogged by the remnants of rush-hour. And with the heavy media presence, we were definitely seen, and our silence heard.
The fact that our community pulled together in response so quickly gives me hope - for the safety of my own neighborhood, but also the city at large. I'm curious to see what actions this showing of solidarity have on the investigations of these crimes, but most of all, that it will not take more violence to prove that we can stand together.
Thanks to Michael Lavers at Boy in Bushwick for providing the late-boy with some pics. Click over for more pics and some video from the event.