Hate Crime Shocks San Francisco


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A woman, 28, known to the public only as Richmond Jane Doe, was getting out of her car in a Richmond Calif. neighborhood on the evening of Dec. 13, when she was approached by four men and struck in the head with a blunt object. What followed was 45 minutes of brutal violence, homophobic epithets and gang rape.

Doe, an out lesbian who lives with her female partner, was likely targeted because of a rainbow sticker on her car.

The attack began outside of Doe’s car, but when the suspects heard someone approaching they forced her back into her car and relocated to a nearby apartment complex where—while taunting and harassing Doe for being a lesbian—her assailants assaulted her again, before leaving her beaten and naked on the street. Doe sought help from a nearby resident who then called the police.

Her four attackers have since been arrested—three have thus far been charged with kidnapping, car jacking and gang rape, and an additional gun charge and hate crime enhancement has been added to one of the suspect’s list of offenses. The success in arresting the alleged assailants is largely due to Doe bravely reporting the crime and being a witness.

However, this horrific assault remains a brutal reminder to the LGBT community of the importance of visibility. All too often, members of the queer community are victims of homophobic abuse and violence. And according to an annual report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) this trend is only increasing. The report states that the number in reported hate violence incidents rose 24 percent in 2007. The FBI’s annual report on hate crimes also reflects an increased number of LGBT related hate crimes despite the overall number of hate crimes trending down 1 percent.

Avy Skolnik, a coordinator with the NCAVP, highlighted a potential cause of the upswing in these numbers: the recent passing of Prop 8—the bill that robbed same-sex couples of their constitutional right (if the California State Supreme Court is to be believed) to wed in the state of California. "Anytime there is an anti-LGBT initiative, we tend to see spikes both in the numbers and the severity of attacks . . . People feel this extra entitlement to act out their prejudice."

A peace rally has been scheduled—in response to the Richmond hate crime—for Sunday, Jan. 11 at Nicholl Park in Richmond at 4pm, with guest speakers, Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and Rhonda James, executive director of community violence solutions.

Donations for Doe can be sent to Community Violence Solutions, contact Joanne Douglass at 510-237-0113 with credit card donations and send checks to:
Community Violence Solutions
2101 Van Ness St.
San Pablo, Ca  94806
Attn: Mrs. Joanne Douglas
Important: Donors must write "Richmond Jane Doe" on the check in the memo space

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