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District of Columbia law enforcement officials are teaming up to better fight hate crimes against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
Mayor Vincent Gray said his Office of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) Affairs formed a partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to enhance prosecutors’ ability to bring criminals to justice in cases where hate or bias might have been a factor in a crime.
Through the partnership, members of the community would be able to give impact statements at criminal trials, which could lead to tougher sentences.
Mayor Gray announced the effort Saturday at a candlelight vigil for Deoni Jones, a transgender woman who was killed at a Northeast bus stop last year.
“While this partnership will not bring Deoni back, it will give the LGBT community more power to affect the sentences handed down to violent criminals, helping to keep them off our streets,” Mayor Gray said.
But one of the District's leading anti-gay violence groups said the effort doesn't go far enough.
“This is perfectly fine for the State’s Attorney's Office to do, but the city government needs to be focused on prevention and addressing the unsolved cases. There are something like six or seven unsolved murders in the past 10 years of trans people. There’s no one to make an impact statement about,” Jason Terry of the D.C. Transgender Coalition said Monday.
Members of Deoni Jones’s family want authorities to declare the murder a hate crime.