pyright 1989 The Washington Post

The Washington Post

September 17, 1989, Sunday, Final Edition


LENGTH: 2062 words

HEADLINE: Police, Gay Activists See Rise In Assaults on Homosexuals;

Better Statistics on 'Hate Crimes' Sought

BYLINE: Kara Swisher, Brooke A. Masters, Washington Post Staff Writers


It is only after some time talking to Rod Johnson that you stop looking for the scars. On his scalp, which required dozens of stitches. On his hand and each of his fingers, smashed and shattered. On his arm and shoulder, broken in three places.



Last September, just before dawn, Johnson walked near a section of Rock Creek Park known as a sexual rendezvous spot for homosexual men.

Johnson, 37, said he was on his way home from his job as a waiter in Georgetown when he turned a blind corner and encountered a gang of "skinheads" -- three or more. "They came out of the shadows," he said, ". . . and I was totally encircled -- there were people on front, back and sides," slamming him with baseball bats and taunting him with anti-homosexual epithets that he still cannot bring himself to repeat. "They weren't waiting for me, just forsomeone."

Three young men were arrested 48 hours after the beating and are awaiting trial after pleading not guilty.

In an interview last winter, Mark Hyder, 18, one of those charged, told The Washington Post that he and his friends went to the park that night specifically looking for someone gay, which Johnson is, to beat up. "I have a hatred for gays," Hyder said.

Such incidents of "gay bashing," a class of hate crime, are on the rise nationwide, according to law enforcement officials and gay activists. "Gay bashing is a problem in the city and all over the country," said D.C. police Inspector Melvin Clark.

Accurate statistics on gay bashing and other hate crimes -- those motivated by racial, religious, ethnic and other prejudices -- do not exist. But bills pending in Congress, the District and state and county legislatures across the United States would mandate the collection of such data and increase the penalties for hate-motivated crimes. The Hate Crimes Statistics Act, a national data collection bill, passed the House in June and awaits action on the

Senate floor this fall. In the District, a more far-reaching bill that includes stiffer penalties will be voted on this fall.

The inclusion of anti-homosexual crimes in those bills is controversial, and many efforts, including one last year in Congress, founder on this point.

Those opposed to including homosexuals view the bills as an attempt to legitimize homosexuality. "Sexual preference has no business being elevated to the same status as race, color, religion or national origin," said Rep. William Dannemeyer (R-Calif.) on the House floor earlier this year.

Ensuring that hate crime laws also protects homosexuals is second only in priority to AIDS for most homosexual groups. "If it does not stay in, it sends out a dangerous signal that this kind of crime is less reprehensible," said Kevin Berrill, who heads the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force's

Anti-Violence Project. "It makes us second-class citizens."

Even as politicians and advocacy groups wrangle, gays and lesbians continue to be menaced by acts ranging from simple verbal attack to murder. Stories abound, though many do not appear in the mainstream media.

Locally, cars filled with young men regularly cruise around Dupont Circle -- called "Fruit Loop" by detractors -- shouting slogans such as "Die, faggots."

In 1987, four teenagers came into Lambda Rising, a gay and lesbian bookstore on Connecticut Avenue NW, and threw books all over the floor and shouted, "You faggots . . . have got AIDS," according to employee Jim Bennett.

Phase 1, a lesbian bar in Southeast Washington, installed a wooden barrier near its door because so many people had thrown bottles and rocks at the patrons.

In Doylestown, Pa., two men were sentenced to death for driving a homosexual man they had met in a bar to an open field and slashing his throat.

"There's no question that they killed him only and solely because he was gay," said Bucks County District Attorney Alan M. Rubenstein, who prosecuted the case.

Last month, a California appeals court overturned the murder conviction of three men who attacked and killed a gay man in San Francisco five years ago, ruling that they should have been charged with manslaughter because no murderous blows had been struck before victim's head fatally struck the pavement.

The crime that shocked the homosexual community the most this last year concerned two lesbians gunned down while camping. Last summer, Stephen

Roy Carr stalked Claudia Brenner and her lover, Rebecca Wight, as they hiked along the Appalachian trail and shot them at point-blank range with a rifle. Wight died within minutes. Seriously wounded in the face, Brenner walked four miles to a road for help.

In July, Carr, who said he shot the women because they were lesbians, was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for first-degree murder.

"I thought it was probable I would be harassed all my life, maybe even some physical harassment. But I never thought it would be an issue of life and

death," Brenner said. "He followed us all day, hunted us. He tried to kill both of us, and he succeeded with Rebecca. But I won't let him kill me in spirit."

Most law enforcement officials don't group crimes against homosexuals together, and without solid statistics cannot assign more officers to the problem.

But gay groups do try to record the violence.

The task force released a report in June, which it dubbed a "wake-up call to the American people," claiming more than 7,000 cases of harassment in

1987, 42 percent more than the year before. Verbal abuse accounted for 67 percent of the total. It also reported 70 homicides.

Locally, a yearlong study by the Lesbian and Gay Anti-Violence Task Force, a coalition of area gay advocacy groups, conducted polls in the homosexual community and asserted that 44 percent of male and female homosexuals have suffered harassment or attacks. A Maryland anti-violence hot line project recorded 175 incidents in 1988. There were no statistics for Virginia.

Gay activists said the poll also shows an uneasiness with law enforcement officials. They said two-thirds of D.C. attacks were not reported to police. Of those who reported, 74 percent said they lacked confidence in the U.S. Attorney's Office.

They cite the experience of Ed Hassell. In 1983, two high school students he met in a local bar took him to a deserted park, where they beat and tried to castrate him. They pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon and were put on probation. "I would never file any charges again," Hassell said.

In the trial, the defense attorney and the judge said that Hassell made a sexual advance on his attackers, which Hassell denied.

While homosexual groups say there has been a lull recently in violence, they criticize D.C. government attempts to keep statistics. Only one report of anti-homosexual violence and four reports of hate-related crimes have reached the Office of Human Rights since July 1987.

D.C. police and the U.S. Attorney's Office blame part of the problem on reluctance among victims to report, and the absence of a special space on the crime forms to indicate a hate crime. The form is now being revised, and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments plans to recommend that all local governments use a reporting form that includes anti-homosexual violence, said Michael Cash, deputy director of the Fairfax County Human Rights Commission.

"It's hard to tell if the program is at fault or if it's the lack of reporting by the gay and lesbian community," said the District's Inspector Clark. "We are not any magicians, and need everyone to be as open as possible." Said Janice Smith of the D.C. Human Rights Office, "We are looking into producing educational seminars for the police, because we're committed to this."

Area gay groups acknowledge that many homosexuals who should report crimes do not. They meet with the police monthly to work together on the problem. "Gay citizens are still paranoid about it," said Chris Bates, co-chairman of the Mel Boozer Roundtable, a black gay group. "It's all got to do with the closet mentality."

Collecting data is the point of the Hate Crimes Statistics Act that passed the House by a vote of 383 to 29. The bill authorizes the Justice Department to collect data on hate-motivated homicides, assaults, robberies, burglaries, thefts, arsons, vandalism, trespassing and threats. The FBI already publishes a Uniform Crime Report from 16,000 state and local police departments on many crimes, but does not separate hate crimes. The bill aims to help law enforcement officials spot trends and formulate enforcement and educational strategies. "We ought to know the level of the poison that is in our system," said Sen. Paul Simon (D-Ill.), the bill's sponsor.

This bill has attracted much wider support than anti-discrimination bills that protect gays. More than 100 national groups are fighting hard to keep homosexuals in. "We're not just talking about the Bidens and the Kennedys," said Michael Lieberman, associate director of the Anti-Defamation League.

Indeed, congressional supporters include such conservatives as Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.). But the Senate leadership has not yet scheduled the bill for a vote on the Senate floor because Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) has threatened to attach amendments deemed unacceptable by the bill's supporters. A copy of Helms's amendment obtained by The Washington Post says, in part, that "the homosexual movement threatens the strength and the survival of the American family." Helms derailed a hate crimes statistics bill last year. Helms's office did not return repeated phone calls.

In the District, the Bias-Related Crime Act of 1989, proposed by council member John A. Wilson (D-Ward 2) and expected to reach the full council this month, would go a step further by increasing penalties for hate crimes and providing appropriate civil relief for the victims. Among the provisions: Criminals would face 1 1/2 times the maximum punishment and, in some juvenile cases, parents could be held responsible for civil damages. "It's a real and symbolic statement . . . because there is a lack of an explicit signal saying this is wrong," said Roger Doughty, the president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance.

Maryland and Virginia have reporting laws and impose additional penalties for hate crimes, but neither includes anti-homosexual violence. Montgomery County is poised to become an exception this fall when the County Council votes on a measure, introduced by its president, to extend the protections to homosexuals.

Nationwide, five states -- California, Oregon, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Connecticut -- formally monitor anti-gay crimes, though many cities and counties do.

None of the laws will come soon enough for Johnson, who still vividly remembers his assault in Rock Creek Park. He is now preparing for the trial and plans to file a civil suit against Hyder, of Sutherland, Va., and the others charged with assault with intent to kill and armed robbery, David M. McCall, 18, of Dale City, and Richard C. Grimes, 18, of Montgomery County. "There was no warning. It's not like I had two minutes to stand there and watch," he said. "And I honest to God didn't feel a thing. I felt implosions and heard reverberations and sound . . . . But I didn't say a thing -- it was like I moved myself to a higher plane or something."

After the attack ended, Johnson managed to get up and flag help. "I was so enraged that just a simple cry of help was so minimal," he said. "I had to express anger or get out some primal scream. I think everyone in Northwest heard me yell."

It took Johnson months to recover physically, and emotional scars remain. There is the fear of being alone in the dark, a childhood kind of terror most people ultimately shed, but is back again for Johnson. A man who loves the fresh air, he now keeps his windows tightly locked. He takes cabs door to door and pays the cabdriver an extra dollar to wait for him to get inside safely. He moved to a new house in upper Northwest when he found it too painful to live near the scene of his attack.

A year later, Johnson has nightmares. His doorbell rings and there's a man there about to attack him. "Sometimes I run, sometimes I stand my ground, sometimes I slam the door," he said. But the outcome is always the same -- Johnson is brutally beaten. "I'm always the victim."












Copyright 1990 The Washington Post

The Washington Post

January 17, 1990, Wednesday, Final Edition


LENGTH: 108 words

HEADLINE: Man Gets Prison Term in 'Gay-Bashing'

SERIES: Occasional

BYLINE: From News Services and Staff Reports


A Dale City man convicted in November of a "gay-bashing" baseball bat assault and robbery has been sentenced to 15 to 45 years in prison.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Robert M. Scott imposed maximum and consecutive sentences Friday of 10 to 30 years for assault with intent to kill and five to

15 years for armed robbery on David M. McCall, 19. McCall will be eligible for parole in 10 years.

McCall was one of two men convicted of a September 1988 attack on Georgetown waiter Rod Johnson, 37, whose skull was fractured as he was robbed.

Local gay rights activists, citing other recent episodes of anti-gay violence, hailed the verdicts.











The Washington Post

The Washington Post

November 18, 1989, Saturday, Final Edition


LENGTH: 687 words

HEADLINE: 2 Convicted Of Assault On Gay Man;

Verdict Called Plus For Homosexuals

BYLINE: Kara Swisher, Washington Post Staff Writer


A D.C. Superior Court jury yesterday convicted two Virginia men of assault with intent to kill with a deadly weapon and armed robbery for beating a gay man with baseball bats last year, and robbing him.

Local gay rights activists called the verdicts against Mark Hyder, 18, of Southerland, Va., and David McCall, 19, of Dale City, a victory for gay rights.

Sentencing by Judge Robert M. Scott is scheduled for Jan. 5. Each of the pair could receive a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Local homosexual activists saw the two-week trial as significant because they said the assault was one of several violent anti-gay attacks in the area recently.

The victim of the attack, Georgetown waiter Rod Johnson, 37, said tearfully after the verdict, "I have much more faith in the criminal justice system."

Johnson's shoulder and arm were broken and his skull was fractured in the attack in the early morning of Sept. 17, 1988.

Police officers who investigated the case said Johnson's attackers had shaved heads and wore metal-studded leather characteristic of "skinheads." A group of at least three youths jumped Johnson as he walked near a section of Rock Creek Park known as a sexual rendezvous spot for homosexual men, police said. Johnson testified that as they slammed him with bats, the group taunted him with anti-gay epithets, such as "Die, faggot, die."In addition to

Hyder and McCall, Richard "Craig" Grimes, 18, of Ridge, Md., was arrested in connection with Johnson's beating. All three were charged with two other attacks in the Dupont Circle area around the same time on men the attackers assumed were gay.

In a trial last month for one of the other attacks, Hyder was acquitted, and Grimes was convicted of armed robbery.

Grimes disappeared after that conviction, and is now a fugitive.

Immediately after yesterday's verdict, the judge ordered Hyder and McCall held without bond. He said Grimes's flight was a factor in his decision, and he called Hyder and McCall "dangerous adults."

At the trial, defense attorneys repeatedly tried to shake Johnson from his identification of the pair. The defense maintained that Johnson's cocaine use six hours before the attack confused him.

They also said that because Johnson was not wearing glasses, he was prevented from seeing clearly. But Johnson testified that he was able to identify his assailants since "they were only a baseball bat-length away."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Friedman also placed Hyder and McCall at the scene by calling as witnesses some of their own friends, who testified that the defendants and Grimes had left a party in an apartment at 14th and T streets NW earlier in the night with the weapons -- an aluminum bat and two wooden Louisville Sluggers. The friends testified that Grimes boasted they were going to "bash some fags" for money and fun.

After the attack, Hyder, McCall and others were stopped on the campus of Georgetown University in Hyder's car and the bats were found in the back seat, according to testimony at trial.

That vehicle was identified by Darnall Lancaster, a bystander who witnessed the attack and aided Johnson after it. But he also took five dollars sticking out of Johnson's jeans pocket at the time. Prosecutors granted Lancaster immunity for taking the money.

At the trial, the defense tried to discredit Lancaster, and said he was testifying only to gain immunity.

Roger Doughty, a spokesman for the D.C. Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, said after the verdict that he is "ecstatic" about it, and that it sends a signal that "beating up on gays is not acceptable . . . It also sends a signal to the gay community that people can get justice."

Johnson also has filed a $ 20 million civil lawsuit against Hyder and several other youths Johnson said were involved in the attack, and against the parents of two of the alleged attackers.

The civil case is focused in part on the behavior of "skinheads." Many skinheads say they are not violent. Law enforcement officials and civil rights groups have linked some with hate violence and with groups such as the Ku Klux Klan.









Copyright 1988 The Washington Post

The Washington Post

December 19, 1988, Monday, Final Edition


LENGTH: 1496 words

HEADLINE: Beatings Said to Reflect Dark Side of 'Skinheads'

BYLINE: James Rupert, Washington Post Staff Writer


When Mark Hyder and some friends went out one evening, they took baseball bats, in case they found any gay men to bash. At 5:25 a.m., Hyder said, he and his friends found Rod Johnson walking near a rendezvous for gay men in Rock Creek Park and beat him with their bats. Police said Johnson's skull, shoulder and several ribs were fractured.

If Johnson had died after the Sept. 17 incident, "I don't think I would have felt any remorse about it," Hyder said in a recent interview at D.C. Jail. "I have a hatred for gays."

Mark Hyder is 17 years old, a thin youth with closely cropped hair who managed a wry smile as he labored with his tightly manacled hands to hold the telephone in the jail's visiting room. Wearing orange jail coveralls and talking softly about his past, Hyder neither looked nor sounded threatening.

But Hyder said he was one of a group of "skinhead" youths who in September made nighttime forays into Rock Creek Park and Georgetown looking for people, especially gay men, to beat up.

Lt. Reggie Smith, a police spokesman, said such attacks are perhaps the most glaring local example of a nationwide wave of violence by skinheads -- young aficionados of a hard-edged brand of rock 'n' roll and its counterculture ethic.

Hyder and two others -- David M. McCall, 18, of Dale City and Richard C. Grimes, 17, of Montgomery County -- have been charged with offenses, including assault with intent to kill and armed robbery, arising from the Johnson beating and three other attacks. The three teen-agers face trial as adults in

D.C. Superior Court. They have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

McCall's attorney, David Niblack, argued in court that his client is "the least culpable" of the three defendants. Hyder's attorney, John Krollman, said his client was drawn into the attacks by others. Bernard S. Grimm, Grimes' attorney, declined to comment on the details of the case, but expressed concern that a negative public image of skinheads might make it more difficult for Grimes to receive a fair trial.

In cities as disparate as Chicago; Reno, Nev.; Portland, Maine, and Portland, Ore., skinhead youths -- who often sport shaved heads, heavy boots and combat fatigues or blue jeans with suspenders -- have been convicted or charged in violent assaults. The victims often have been chosen simply because they were nonwhite, Jewish or homosexual.

Nationwide, many young skinheads are simply fans of the movement's music and dress and are not involved in violence or racist activities. Still, groups of skinheads have marched and rallied with extreme right-wing and white supremacist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, the American Nazi Party and the White Aryan Resistance.

The Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which monitor extremist groups, have expressed fears that young skinheads are providing fresh recruits for such groups, permitting their resurgence after a decline caused by convictions of several extremist leaders.

In Washington, music fans and police agree that white supremacy and Nazism have not made notable inroads in local skinhead circles. But Smith said that "a handful are involved" in attacks on homosexuals.

Karen Windham, manager of Immoral Discipline, a local band that plays skinhead music, said that 10 to 20 skinheads in the D.C. area habitually commit violent assaults. "There are a few more who hang around with them and like to talk about it, but don't do anything," she said.

Skinhead music began in Britain in the early 1970s as a vague offshoot of the punk rock movement. It stressed working-class consciousness and adopted shaved heads and laborers' boots as its symbols.

Some British skinheads added racist themes. A band named Skrewdriver put to song the political ideas of the United Kingdom's right-wing National Front,playing anthems for white supremacy and against Britain's immigrant population.

The music, dress and attitudes of British skinheads spread through Northern Europe -- including Scandinavia, the Netherlands and the two Germanies -- and the United States. Racism and violence -- often laced with themes of patriotism and "white pride" -- have spread among U.S. skinhead communities in the past two years, according to monitoring groups. The Anti-Defamation League estimated last month that 2,000 skinheads were part of gangs in 21 states, with the heaviest concentration in California.

Three skinhead teen-agers were convicted this year in connection with a pair of racially linked killings in Florida and California. In Portland, Ore., this month, three alleged members of the East Side White Pride skinhead gang pleaded not guilty to murder charges in the baseball-bat killing of an Ethiopian immigrant. The Anti-Defamation League has reported arrests in recent months, on assault and other charges, of self-described members of such groups as the Skinhead Army of Milwaukee, the Confederate Hammer Skins of Dallas, and WAR Skins, a group sponsored by the White Aryan Resistance, in


While U.S. skinheads often echo British skinheads' claims to working-class identity, "they are as often as not from middle-class or upper-class families," said Irwin Suall, director of the Anti-Defamation League's fact-finding department. The league's research -- including the monitoring of skinhead newsletters and interviews with police, probation officers and families of skinhead youths -- suggests that "a melange of influences" leads alienated youths to racist or violent behavior. Among skinheads identified as part of violent groups, "an astonishingly high percentage come from broken families," said David Lowe, Suall's assistant.

At Washington's main showcase for skinhead and punk music, the 9:30 Club on F Street NW, hundreds of fans attend concerts by skinhead bands. Such crowds include many youths who live largely unremarkable life styles and who, in interviews, rejected the hatred and violence publicly associated with skinhead values.

A few fans said the lives they have chosen reflect their alienation from mainstream society. They may live on the streets or in group apartments away from their families.

Local skinheads interviewed this month said white supremacy and neo-Nazism are unwelcome in their community -- notably because it includes black skinheads. Skinheads who support racism "are new skins who pop up and do stupid things and give us all a bad name," said Shawn Garard, a singer with

Immoral Discipline. "They don't really understand the skinhead movement."

Pro-Nazi skinheads try to recruit supporters at shows or parties in Washington, Garard said.

"We beat up quite a few" neo-Nazis, Garard said. "It sucks that it has to be that drastic, but we don't want that to be part of our scene. If we beat them up, chances are they won't come back."

Garard and Hyder condemned hatred spawned by neo-Nazism and white supremacy. But they see no contradiction in advocating violence against gays as an act of morality, patriotism and self-defense. "I've fag-bashed before," said Garard, acknowledging that his former apartment served as a base for skinheads, including some who told him they beat up Rod Johnson and others in September.

Garard said he is aware of other groups of skinheads in the Washington area who have beaten gays. Many of the attacks have been in a part of Rock Creek

Park, called the P Street Beach, that serves as a sexual rendezvous for gay men.

Hyder and Garard said skinheads who beat gay men do so because they are offended by public expressions of homosexuality, such as gay men holding hands or kissing. Defending his attacks on homosexuals, Hyder said, "If they flaunt it in my face, that's disrespectful."

Hyder said that gay men meeting for furtive sex at night in little-used parkland were not necessarily "flaunting" their homosexuality, but said he sought to beat them anyway because "it's hard to do it in broad daylight. We'd get arrested."

Garard and Hyder said they feel threatened by homosexuality in society. They cast their conflict with gays in terms of a gang rivalry.

"There is a danger that [homosexuals] are going to get other people involved," Hyder said. "I don't want to be gay and I don't want anybody that I know to be gay. They pose a threat. Since we're both in the minority, trying to get our communities established, it seems that one is trying to overwhelm the other, like two gangs in New York."

Awaiting trial, Hyder said he is less concerned about the way his defense of "gay bashing" will be seen than about the association of skinheads nationwide with extremist groups. "The whole Nazi deal is giving us a bad name," he said. He expressed concern that jurors in his case may have seen television appearances by neo-Nazis or skinheads -- including a Geraldo Rivera program that erupted in a fistfight -- "and think I'm some Nazi. I'm more concerned about that than most skinheads because I want to get treated fair in court."







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