SF Weekly readers might recall the incident two months ago when two men were arrested after beating a transgender woman on the 16th Street BART plaza. Well, despite the public outcry over the incident -- which sparked a rally at City Hall -- a judge decided today to dismiss the felony hate crime charges.
That's probably not exactly what the LGBT community had in mind to kick off Gay Pride weekend.
The two men -- Lionel Jackson, 32, and Maurice Perry, 37 -- allegedly attacked
the woman on April 1 outside the BART station at Mission and 16th streets after taking her cellphone. According to media reports, the 20-year-old woman, who called herself Mia, was on the plaza when the two men started verbally harassing her. Witnesses said they punched her in the face "very brutally" and knocked her to the ground and kicked her.
Witnesses testified that one of the men said, "Oh, I hate men dressed up as women."
On Wednesday, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Bruce Chan ordered Jackson and Perry
to stand trial on charges of assault, second-degree robbery, and
violating the victim's civil rights. However, he dismissed felony hate-crime
allegations, according to the District Attorney's Office.
Jackson and Perry will return to court on July 7 for formal arraignment on the other charges.
District Attorney George Gascón, who is running for DA in November, didn't take the news well. He gathered reporters at his office this morning to tell them he plans to take this case to the higher courts.
"We disagree with the judge's decision in this case," Gascón says. "The facts presented support the conclusion that the felony hate-crime allegations should be heard by a jury -- the victim has earned her day in court. Singling out people because of who they are is not who we are as San Franciscans."
Theresa Sparks, executive director of the city's Human Rights Commission, also released a statement: "These types of incidences are initiated and provoked by internalized bias and hate and we must all stand up to these crimes. If it becomes acceptable for one community to continuously fall victim to hate, then no one is really safe."
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