Monday, November 15, 2010

TBD Reports on Hate Crimes Along 1400 Block of R Street

A truly horrific story appeared this morning on TBD detailing a series of brutal attacks on homosexuals gays that have occured along the 1400 block of R Street.

The piece centers around the recent efforts to attract moderate and higher income-earning individuals to the R Street Apartments along the 1400 block, following the successful effort last year to ensure that affordable housing units remained on the Block for the next 40 years. The initiative was the result of an agreement between the District government, the National Housing Trust and Hampstead Development Group.

That the 1400 block of R Street has a higher rate of crime that surrounding blocks has been the area's worst-kept secret for years. However, marketing efforts by the Trust were geared towards attracting more affluent residents to a development that had predominantly been home to low-income African-American residents. The dreaded "g word," in other words.

So how's that working out?

Not so good for at least a couple of white, homosexual gay males who decided to take the plunge. According to one excerpt from the story, within a week of moving in, a gentlemen named Stanley experienced the following:

On March 26, Stanley moved to R Street; by April 2, he found himself splayed out in the middle of it. Stanley was drifting in and out of consciousness, talking with a paramedic on the pavement. He remembered walking home on the south side of the street, his grocery cart in tow. He passed a group hanging outside the row of apartment buildings on the block. A woman led the group in taunting him. “She screamed at me about not wanting another white faggot on her side of the street,” Stanley says. A fight broke out, Stanley felt the cart pulled from his hands, and “after the whack on the head, I don’t remember much,” he says.

According to a police report, Stanley was punched in the face and repeatedly beaten on the back of the head. A neighbor from across the street recovered his cart and called an ambulance. He spent the night in Howard University Hospital.

Things weren't any better for Ted Puntanen, who moved into a studio apartment in the complex nad soon encountered problems.

The next day, Puntanen noticed “five young black guys standing around in my hallway, just standing around,” he says. “I didn’t think anything of it. I said hello, and they all just stared at me.”

Two days later, Puntanen noticed another group of black men inside the lobby. As he walked past them with his bicycle, the suspects said, “you don’t belong here, faggot, we’re going to kill you,” and “we don’t need any more faggots in here.” According to a police report, five to six suspects beat and kicked Puntanen in the eye, nose, and knees. “They had pulled my pants down and left me half-naked, half in and half out of the door, bleeding,” says Puntanen. His right eye swelled completely shut. “And out of all the screaming, all the run-around, all of the laughing and calling me faggot,” Puntanen says, “nobody called 911.”

In all, it's both a horrific and sad commentary on what human beings are capable of doing to each other. Crime has been a problem along that stretch of R Street for years...but to learn of the personal story behind such a violent act is particularly troubling.

According to the story, two of the men who beat up Puntanen--Michael Speight and Delonte Olden--were arrested and pled guilty to assault with significant bodily injury. The crime was deemed to be bias-motivated, meaning that both Speight and Olden are looking at longer jail terms. Practically inconceivable, however, was the statement made by Speight's mother: "Michael is a good kid. He just got in the wrong place at the wrong time." As if *anyone* would have beaten the crap out of Puntanen, it just happened that Michael drew the short straw.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news Ms. Speight, but your son is not a good kid. Perhaps he looked out for you, brought the groceries in from the car, or picked up little sister after school sometimes. But he also pummeled a man senseless for no reason other than because he was gay. That is appalling behavior. I hope prison helps your son straighten out his life, because he is not a "good" kid now by any definition of the word.

As for the 1400 block of R Street: I guess old habits die hard.


nwgay said...

I lived on that block for 10 years. The animalistic behavior of many of the residents was disgusting. I had to call the cops dozens of times when passersby were being mugged. Verbal abuse was common. Open air drug dealing.

I never minded walking around the neighborhood... except my own block!

A couple of the older ladies were very nice (and I had a wonderful relationship with 2 of them), but, quite frankly, it's time for the buildings to be burnt to the ground and a fresh start.

Matt said...

I think the problem here and in many low income buildings is the concentration of poverty. Concentrated poverty brings many social ills. Mixed income housing has upside for everyone I think. Wouldn't some of the current residents be better served with less crime and better schools if they had apartments in Dupont, Georgetown, Friendship Heights, etc. And wouldn't the neighborhood be better served with a block which they could walk down without fear of assault.

Didn't the city council pass something which may or may not have been enacted on all new housing requiring a 10% or 15% set aside for low and moderate income people?

Anonymous said...

One has to wonder, given the obvious problem on that block, why there is only minimal police presence.

Anonymous said...

Yup that is an absolutely terrible block. Public housing at it's best!

I agree time to tear that place down. It is a cancer on the neighborhood.

convexhull said...

Mr Grey, tear down that wall [housing project]. this just goes to show the futility of trying to incorporate affordable housing in a development. Why anyone would knowingly choose to live on that block is beyond me. The neighborhood should protest these vicious attacks. Instead we'll attend more sanity rallies and make pretentious jokes about Sarah Palin.

Anonymous said...

Homosexual? Are you guys reporters for the "Washington Times?" Try "gay" next time.

Mr. 14th & You said...

I didn't realize that had become a perjorative term.

Anonymous said...

@convexhull. Hahahaha. It's funny because it's true...although that also makes it kind of not funny...

convexhull said...

The "right wing" uses the term homosexual, as a throwback to a time when being gay was considered an illness.

The American Psychological Association style guide suggest not using the word "homosexual"

Lesbian and gay male are preferred to the word homosexual when used as an adjective referring to specific persons or groups, and the terms lesbians and gay men are preferred to homosexuals used as nouns when referring to specific persons or groups. The word homosexual has several problems of designation. First, it may perpetuate negative stereotypes because of its historical associations with pathology and criminal behavior. Second, it is ambiguous in reference

Anonymous said...

I was horrified reading the story on TBD. I workout at Bodysmith personal training and car break-ins out back are frequent. I've walked down that block on the south side many times and even the small children from those buildings are rude. They puruposely block the sidewalk as if they are trying to start a fight. All I can say is if some of them start anything up with me and I have the ability to over-power them, there's going to be a few of them living dis-figured for life!

Mr. 14th & You said...

Got it - thanks for the clarification. I honestly didn't mean anything negative by it, I know.

Anonymous said...

"Wouldn't some of the current residents be better served with less crime and better schools if they had apartments in Dupont, Georgetown, Friendship Heights, etc."

I can't afford to live in any of those areas and will be damned if I let my tax money be used so that others can without paying.

Joel said...

This is an easy one, people: someone move an oyster bar into the building. Only then will community activists train their eagle eyes on every move around the property, expending countless hours to monitor the "quality of life" issues on the 1400 block of R Street. Until then, sorry, but their dogged mega-time-sink attention is obviously warranted elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

It's unfortunate that the just of your report Mr. 14th and You was lost by me not once but twice simply because I spent the entire time attempting to figure out your homosexual/gay confusion.

It all seemed pointless.
Care to explain?

Mr. 14th & You said...

Read the comments, anon.

Anonymous said...

The comments had been read before I posted. Still doesn't explain why you felt the need to be undecided on which term to use.
Perhaps you should simply focus on Hank's Oyster Bar and leave the gay bashing reporting to Borderstan. They don't seem to be confused about which term to use.

Mr. 14th & You said...

No confusion on my end anon, just made a change to reflect the issues raised by other commenters. If you're offended/confused by this, there are plenty of other blogs you can peruse.