9 MAY 2011
The following two items were received from the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) on 9 May 2011. The video mentioned in the article is too upsetting to be put on this web page, but if anyone wants to see it, it can probably be found on the web.
Beating of transgender woman caught on tape
in UNITED STATES, 28/04/2011
A video of a vicious beating at a Baltimore County McDonald's restaurant went viral Friday, garnering hundreds of thousands of views on websites and prompting the fast-food giant to issue a statement condemning the incident.
The video shows two women — one of them a 14-year-old girl — repeatedly kicking and punching the 22-year-old victim in the head, as an employee of the Rosedale restaurant and a patron try to intervene. Others can be heard laughing, and men are seen standing idly by.
Toward the end of the video, one of the suspects lands a punishing blow to the victim's head, and she appears to have a seizure. A man's voice tells the women to run because police are coming.
The three-minute clip was apparently first posted on YouTube, then taken down by administrators who said it violated the site's policies. But it popped back up on other sites and was ultimately linked from the popular Drudge Report, which gave it top billing for much of the day.
By early evening, the video had received more than 500,000 views on one site alone.
County police confirmed that the attack occurred April 18 in the 6300 block of Kenwood Ave. Police said the 14-year-old girl has been charged as a juvenile, while charges were pending against an 18-year-old woman.
Equality Maryland said the victim is a transgender woman and called on state Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler to step in and investigate the case as a hate crime. Police and prosecutors said they did not know whether the victim is a transgender woman.
"It does appear that the victim was a transgender woman, and she was brutalized while people stood by and watched," said Lisa Polyak, vice president of the board of directors for Equality Maryland, an advocacy organization that fought unsuccessfully in the past legislative session for greater protections for transgender individuals. "There's no excuse for that violence under any circumstances, but we would encourage police to investigate as a hate crime."
The police report does not provide a motive, but quotes one of the suspects saying that the fight was "over using a bathroom."
As the video spread online, McDonald's acknowledged that the attack had occurred in a Baltimore-area restaurant and said it was working with local police.
"We are shocked by the video from a Baltimore franchised restaurant showing an assault. This incident is unacceptable, disturbing and troubling," the company said in a statement posted on its website. "Nothing is more important than the safety of our customers and employees in our restaurants. We are working with the franchisee and the local authorities to investigate this matter."
The video received widespread attention part because of the racial dynamics of the attack – the attackers were black, and the victim is white. State's Attorney Scott D. Shellenberger, who said he was unaware of the gender-related issues, said the racial dynamics of the incident could result in hate-crime charges.
"We just received this case, and the Police Department is continuing their investigation," Shellenberger said. "If there is evidence that the crime was racially motivated, we will take a look at those charges and see if we meet those elements. We have the ability, if the facts are there, to upgrade the charges at a later date."
The victim suffered cuts to her mouth and face, and a police report said she had been taken to Franklin Square Hospital Center in fair condition. Police said Friday they had no update on her status.
The video begins with two women near a bathroom door kicking and hitting a woman who is lying on the ground.
An employee repeatedly tries to separate them, but the attackers continue to stomp and kick the victim's head. People yell, "Stop! Stop!" to no avail, though others can be heard laughing. An older woman at one point also attempts to pull the attackers away and is shoved.
About halfway through the three-minute clip, the attackers rip a wig off the victim and drag her by her hair to the front door. That is where the victim is sitting before another blow to the head causes an apparent seizure.
Throughout the attack, a man is filming and does not intervene. But when the victim appears to have a seizure, he yells, "She having a seizure, yo. … Police on their way. Y'all better get out of here."
Through a McDonald's spokesman, the owner of the Rosedale restaurant released a statement. The chain said the owner and employees would not be made available for comment, including an update on possible discipline of the employees.
"I'm as shocked and disturbed by this incident as anyone would be. The behavior displayed in the video is unfathomable and reprehensible," said the franchise owner, Mitchell McPherson. "The safety of our customers is a top priority. We know the police were called immediately, and we are thoroughly investigating this matter.
9 MAY 2011
Teonna Monae Brown - 18-year-old charged in McDonald's beating
in UNITED STATES, 28/04/2011
Baltimore County police have named the 18-year-old charged with beating a transgender woman at Rosedale McDonald's, amid demands from some community members that the incident be investigated as a hate crime. As charges formally filed vs. teen, transgender community plans rally at restaurant.
Teonna Monae Brown of the 2000 block of Kelbourne Road in Rosedale was charged in the attack on Chrissy Lee Polis. The incident was videotaped and went viral online late last week, with hundreds of thousands of views on various websites. The video shows Polis, 22, being kicked and punched in the head by two people until she appears to have a seizure. While one employee and a patron try to intervene, others can be seen standing and watching, and some are laughing.
Brown, who was arrested Friday, has been charged with one count of first-degree assault and two counts of second-degree assault. She remains at the Baltimore County Detention Center on $150,000 bond.
A 14-year-old girl has also been charged in the attack, but her name has not been released because the charges were filed in juvenile court.
Scott Shellenberger, the state's attorney for Baltimore County, has said his office plans to gather additional evidence to determine whether the April 18 attack on Polis can be prosecuted as a hate crime.
Another woman filed assault charges against Brown in July, which prosecutors dropped three months later.
Sandy Rawls, founding director of Trans-United, a Baltimore-based group that fights discrimination against transgender people, said people hate what they do not understand.
"When people see us, they don't understand us. So it's an educational problem," said Rawls, a transsexual woman who lives about a mile from the McDonald's. She also blamed "a violent culture."
"'Love thy neighbor' is fading," she said.
Rawls is helping to organize a rally for 7 p.m. Monday at the McDonald's in Rosedale, to raise awareness of hate crimes against the transgendered.
Andrew I. Alperstein, a defense attorney and a former Baltimore County prosecutor, said it is possible to add hate crime accusations after the initial charges are filed. He said the 14-year-old girl could be charged as an adult, but the state's attorney's office must see whether she has a previous record and evaluate her role in the attack, adding that "it was a horrible assault."
"A picture is worth a thousand words," he said.
McDonald's issued a statement condemning the beating, and the owner of the Rosedale restaurant announced Saturday afternoon that the employee who taped the beating had been fired.
While Alperstein said the employee who taped the incident faces little liability for not stopping the fight, he could be held criminally liable if found to have encouraged the fight.
Alperstein predicted that McDonald's would likely face a civil lawsuit because it has a duty to protect its customers.
By Sunday evening, a Facebook page titled "Chrissy Lee Polis" with a picture of the McDonald's arches had more than 800 people who "liked" the page. Many of the posters on the page pledged their support and provided words of comfort, and several identified themselves as transgender.
One poster, Robyn Webb, has a teleconferencing company, TG Works, that is collecting funds to help pay for Polis' medical bills and help her relocate. Polis, who has not had a job or a stable place to stay for the past two years, has said she has been living with friends in the area.
Webb thought the incident should be prosecuted as a hate crime.
The police report does not provide a motive, but it quotes one of the suspects saying that the fight was "over using a bathroom." In the report, officers said the teens accused Polis of going into the wrong one.
Many transgender individuals face public accommodation issues, Webb said.
Donna Plamondon, who is transgender, plans to attend the rally for Polis. "It does my heart good to see the outpouring of support" for the community, she said.
She too called the incident an apparent hate crime.
"People are waking up that this is what life is like for a transgender," she said. "Why would you choose to put yourself in this position every day?"