Hate Crime

08/07/2010
By Craig

Is the Enemy of our Enemy (Injustice) our Friend?

Last week’s edition of the  Washington Blade featured a news item by Lou Chibbaro, on a lengthy and strongly worded statement on the not guilty verdict in last month’s obstruction trial. 

It was released by Rev. Anthony Evans, leader of the National Black Church Initiative, one of the last people we thought would be interested in the Wone case and trial.

Minister denounces HRC silence on Wone verdict

“A D.C. minister who emerged as an outspoken opponent of the city’s same-sex marriage law has denounced the Human Rights Campaign and other LGBT groups for not speaking out against the acquittal of three gay men implicated in the Robert Wone murder case.  Rev. Anthony Evans, president of the National Black Church Initiative, was referencing a D.C. Superior Court judge’s decision June 29 acquitting Joseph Price, Victor Zaborsky and Dylan Ward of charges stemming from the 2006 murder of local attorney Robert Wone.”

Despite his efforts fighting same-sex marriage, and his not-so-thinnly-veiled political motivations for taking HRC to task, Evan’s statement and Chibarro’s piece raises an interesting question: What should the response have been, if any, from Gay, Inc., on Robert’s murder and investigation? 

The HRC response and full NCBI document follows.

Evans’ language was strong:

“Outcries are heard loud and clear when these [gay] organizations or members of their community are wronged – what kind of hypocrisy is at play when they refuse to respond when homosexuals perpetrate a wrong?  Where is the Human Rights Campaign press release on this?  The smell of hypocrisy stinks in the case.”

Chibbaro gets the HRC on record responding to Evans’ accusations:

“Michael Cole, an HRC spokesperson, said the group speaks out on hate crimes against gays and other minorities, but it’s not within its purview to comment on other criminal cases. Police and prosecutors did not classify the Wone case as a hate crime.

“We follow and comment on issues of crimes against our community because one of the critical pieces of work that we deal with is protecting our community from hate crimes,” Cole said.”

Maybe one of the positive effects of the muted media coverage of Robert’s case is that it was never turned into a political football by combatants on either side of the gay agenda.  Or are all who hate crime, despite their politics, welcome in the long delayed pursuit of justice?

-posted by Craig

35 Responses to “ Hate Crime ”

  1. Bruce on 08/07/2010 at 4:39 PM

    Just…..Hateful.

    Apparently the NBCI limits its audience (It says: “For those of us who are African-American….”) and further limits and does not trust its audience to be able to read…thus the constant reminders to the readers that the Swann 3 are “white.”

    Oh, and that they are “wealthy” (really? Dylan the “murderer” would like to hear that!) and, of course, “gay,” (their ugly excuse for doing the announcement, actually) and culminating in one sentence where they indulge the triple threat and describe the Swann 3 as “white, rich & gay.”

    My God! If any of you readers fit that description, WATCH OUT!

    Boy, if the Swann 3 were black, it would have really put a crimp in this announcement! And, of course, if they were straight, there would be no article.

    This announcement is so permeated with homophobic and racial overtones that it is hard to really understand what they are saying!

    For me, I just chock this up to “hate speech” supreme.

    But I have to say I was a bit taken back by the “moral certainty” involved. It drips moral certainty. It knows everything! It is all powerful and all knowing. It will accept NO substitutes!

    Sorry, but I couldn’t help but think of some the “moral certainty” we hear from a few posters on this blog. I’m not trashing, but does it affect anyone else that way? Is this announcement a natural by-product of “moral certainty?”

    It certainly appears that it is “moral certainty” that drives the announcement, with the blessing of the ultimate moral authority for millions: the church.

    For instance, in the first paragraph, the announcement says:

    “They are plain and simple, murderers?” Ok, fine. You have made your decision and have a right to it.

    Yet, several sentences later, it says:

    “Who comitted this heinous crime? Why?”

    Daggone it! You answered your damn question two sentences before! Did you mean it? Do the questions thereafter allow you to “back off” of your moral certainty expressed in the first sentence, which was likely done to draw in readers bored by the topic?

    You can’t help but notice the line under the title, to catch the readers’ attention to read the article:

    “The defendants are guilty and they are murderers, says the judge and the church.”

    Well,not exactly true, is that?

    I doubt that the Swann 3 will sue, but I bet their attorneys consider it. There are untruths in the announcement, and it appears, at least to me, to include some malice. The announcement in some ways seems to be directed to them individually. Not sure if the Swann 3 would have to prove that what was said was “untrue” to win a suit against the organization. Lawyers’ thoughts?

    While I don’t really think the Swann 3 should sue, in a way I hope they sue, just to stop this type of free-for-all homophobic and racist bashing. While I really do firmly believe in freedom of the press, I’m all for those damaged by hateful articles to reap some recompense.

    “Moral certainty” reigns supreme!

    Bruce

    • alternateguy on 08/07/2010 at 4:49 PM

      bruce,

      Well said!

      Unfortunately, this sort of rot is used to influence or national politics. I believe that this sort of “so called” thinking is harmful at best. Sure doesn’t help in truth finding in any case.

    • Bill Orange on 08/08/2010 at 1:31 AM

      “Not sure if the Swann 3 would have to prove that what was said was “untrue” to win a suit against the organization.”

      I’m assuming that a lawsuit would be for either libel or for defamation of character, in which case the plaintiffs would have to prove that the statements were (at a minimum) false. I can’t see that happening. I think the judge’s written ruling will prevent them from winning almost any civil action in which the “Swann 3″ are the plaintiffs, because the defendants are almost certainly going to be able to get the ruling into evidence.

      • Bruce on 08/08/2010 at 2:38 PM

        Bill O:

        Not sure about all jurisdictions. Not an expert, but I was thinking that some have causes of action, including “infliction of mental (or emotional) distress,” etc., that do not require proof of falsity. Any lawyers on this topic?

        • Bill Orange on 08/08/2010 at 3:04 PM

          I really don’t see how that would work. I’m not a lawyer, but that sounds like a pretty clear 1st Amendment violation to me.

        • Sean on 08/08/2010 at 11:59 PM

          Well, I have a hard time believing these guys have actually suffered severe emotional distress from this. From what I know, you usually need something from a psychiastrist documenting that defendant’s extreme and outrageous behavior caused something clinical and not just hurt feelings. Damage to reputation tends not to be recoverable under IIED, but instead should be pursued through defamation claims.

          That, and if it’s true, I don’t see how saying it would qualify as extreme and outrageous behavior.

          Then again, I’m not a lawyer either.

    • carolina on 08/08/2010 at 3:12 PM

      Bruce, poor, poor Dylan is hardly poor.

      The phrase is “chalk it up,” by the way.

      • Bruce on 08/08/2010 at 3:23 PM

        Carolina:

        Well, I think we can both agree that he does not “live poor.” But what information do you have that he has money or property in his own right? The way he is living can go “poof” at any moment.

  2. chilaw79 on 08/07/2010 at 10:35 PM

    The focus of any criminal investigation should be determining who murdered Robert Wone.

    I admire and applaud the editors for taking up this cause and for permitting people to set forth a range of views on the facts and the law. I think the editors of this blog (and the local media) have done a lot more to shed light on Robert Wone’s murder than either the NBCI or the HRC.

  3. susan on 08/07/2010 at 10:53 PM

    Thanks, Editors, for posting that letter from NBCI.

    I can understand, to some extent, how the Council of Black Churches feels. There is a lot of racism–runnning both ways–in this city, and calling out “white” people is a bit racist– HOWEVER, the Council has good reason to feel the way they do. The public schools, where mostly Afro-American children attend are awful (saw a trailer for an upcoming film on that–it was heartbreaking) and the media seems to give more weight to white victims of crime than black ones.

    I remember when Fenty was elected Mayor and he cut his way to the front of the line to send his kids to the Oyster school, not to the school in his own neighborhood, which isn’t as diverse or upscale as the one in which Oyster is located.

    • carolina on 08/08/2010 at 8:36 AM

      It has been said here many times that if P, Z & W had been black and middle class or lower, they’d all be sitting in prison.

      If Robert had also been black, no one would much care.

      • AnnaZed on 08/08/2010 at 3:50 PM

        I believe that I said that if three black heterosexual men (not rich) had found themselves in a house with the body of a white woman (say their old college friend) they would be UNDER the jail by now. I still think that, unfortunately I don’t think that was Rev. Evans’ point.

    • new-ish on 08/09/2010 at 12:30 PM

      Fenty’s kids are not at oyster. Michelle Rhee’s are, but Fenty kept his kids in a private Montessori school, then when they aged out, it appears they did ‘cut in line’ to go to another highly touted elementary in Chevy Chase – though DCPS says all procedures were followed in FEnty’s kids entering DCPS (ie, lottery for slots).

      • susan on 08/09/2010 at 9:27 PM

        Thanks, New-ish. The overall point remains–better neighborhoods have better schools, more diversity and prob. better media coverage of the crimes committed there.

  4. shawn on 08/07/2010 at 11:55 PM

    Wow as a gay man of color this was very difficult to read, mainly because it diverts attention and resources from the very issue, that Robert Wone was murdered.

    I was one of the people after hearing the jurors speak in the OJ trial thought they came to the most logical verdict with the evidence they were given, I don’t think OJ is innocent by any means. Based on what was written by the NBCI I certainly hope they issued a press release speaking out against a millionaire getting away with murder and walking the streets because he is rich.

    I wonder too, if the NBCI would have the same reaction if it were a Black Gay Man that had been murdered in house with 3 non Black non Gay men.

    Once again I have to say how courageous the Wone family is for not sinking to this level despite if they’re emotions are saying something else. Mr. Wone worked so hard in the Asian community to defeat racism and dispel ideas of homophobia, it is a shame others are not following his amazing example. I hope the Wone family knows that many in the LGBT community from diverse backgrounds want Mr. Wone’s murder brought to justice, regardless of the killer’s ethnicity, religion, beliefs, socio economic status or sexual/relationship orientation.

    • chilaw79 on 08/08/2010 at 12:40 AM

      Shawn,

      I applaud your insight and understanding. Well said, my friend.

    • Eagle on 08/08/2010 at 1:15 PM

      Shawn:
      I strongly suggest you treat yourself to Jeffrey Toobin’s book about the OJ trial. It covers all that went before, during and some follow-up. Title: The Run of His Life: The People vs. OJ Simpson. It’s a great read and it deals with a lot of the dynamics in criminal trials, those who can afford well-tested lawyers, investigators, attitudes toward police, police behavior and the influence of race on the process of identifying suspects.
      Toobin was in Los Angeles, covering the situation from the start , reporting it for the New Yorker His descriptions and observations were obtained first hand. As you know, he is not only an author and commentator but a lawyer.

      • carolina on 08/08/2010 at 3:17 PM

        I cannot help but second this. I read it on Eagle’s recommendation and found it confirmed much of what I’d read and suspected.

      • Clio on 08/09/2010 at 10:16 PM

        I do wonder what Mr. Toobin thinks of this case. Are he and his network ever going to analyze its causes and consequences, or is he too established now to delve into “true crime”?

  5. Bill Orange on 08/08/2010 at 1:25 AM

    I confess that I’m not really all that offended by this. Yes, it was an angry rant that was tinged with homophobia, but the main points were that (a) the DC police are incompetent, and (b) the HRC is a worthless organization. I happen to agree with both points.

    • Clio on 08/08/2010 at 5:24 PM

      Yes, Bill O, I agree with your assessment of the Reverend Evans’ latest jeremiad.

      Luckily, this kind of explicit homophobia is becoming more rare than in the last century, even among ministers of color, who, after all, could not be as good as they are without their flaming choir directors or bull-dykey body guards.

      And, behind the good Reverend, of course, lay Republican strategists, who have always enjoyed an adept “divide and conquer” move pitting “elites” against their “people”.

      At any rate, the Reverend’s rant will soon hit the dustbin of history: nobody is ever listening in August in DC, as we have found out in a very hard way.

  6. JusticeForRobert on 08/08/2010 at 3:38 PM

    Unfortunately, this is not the first time this analogy has been or will be used to further another agenda. My discovery of this very site was fed to me by none other than a homophobic coward, who under the guise of many names on a soap opera website web-board wanted to make Roberts murder a gay on straight hate crime. Arguing with me that there was no need for hate crime legislation because it was nothing more than the “thought police”, and was not needed because every crime is a hate crime.

    The positive side to the experience that I had with him on that board to which I no longer post, was that it brought me to this site, made me aware of the injustice for Robert and his family and allowed me an opportunity to share it with as many people as I could.

    It is my own perspective that Robert was not targeted for murder because he was a straight man. I believe he was however, targeted for a sexual assault. I believe the murder to have been the result of a failed attempt to assault Robert sexually without his consent and or knowledge. I do not believe Robert was targeted because he was straight, although I can not prove that. I believe Robert was targeted because he was attractive to the perpetrator/s and they wanted something that they knew that they were not supposed to have or could not have willingly. Robert could just have easily been married to a man and have been in a monogamous relationship with his husband and had the same thing happen to him. Rape happens every single day. Had Robert’s spouse been a man instead of a woman, would the NBCI be so interested?

    It saddens me deeply to think that a group of people, who’s very own history dictates social injustice, think that it is perfectly appropriate to perpetuate prejudice against another group of people. Why must we blame this injustice on being white? Rich? Gay?

    While it may be true that the outcome of this trial could have been far different had the three defendants been poor and less educated. I think that is a wakeup call to our justice system that has been needed for many a decade. Changes need to be made. You can be white, poor and gay and be both persecuted and prosecuted in court. You can be black, rich and straight and beat a charge as well.

    Let us not forget that in this very case it was prejudice that led the defendants to avoid a jury trial. Perhaps, had that prejudice not existed, justice could have and would have been carried out. We will never know, thanks in part to that very prejudice it’s self.

    • tattoo on 08/09/2010 at 7:09 PM

      Thanks for your point about why Robert was targeted, I have always thought the exact same thing. The very characteristics that most likely made Robert successful in life, his looks, his charm, his caring and thoughtful nature for others, being adorable, were probably what made the murderer want to “covet” him. Being able to objectify him, would make it easier for the murderer to sexually assault and then murder him.

      We all have those times in our life when we are so attracted to someone, because of their looks, personality, wishing we were that person, etc., who we know is unavailable to us for whatever reason. Most people hopefully realize the person is unavailable and move on, some become obsesesed and may start stalking their object of affection, which is just a psychological way of becoming/staying close to that person. Some people are unable to control this obsessive emotion and must “have” the person they desire at any and all cost.

      Sadly soceity in some ways supports this behavior, for instance it is just fine in soceity’s eyes that someone camps out for 3 days just to get a glimpse of their favorite celebrity at a movie premiere or award show and it’s okay to shout out I love you to a celebrity, even though you do not know this person outside of their work in entertainment. These obsessive feelings and desires are not of course unique to any one sexual background but happen to everyone, although once again soceity is more encouraging of men seeking and possessing their objects of sexual interest.

      In many communities there is intense sexual gratification in watching someone reach their height of sexual activity, which would be an orgasm, hence the type of sexual assault on Robert. So it is possible this is what the murderer desired and the only way to achieve this would be to incapacitate him. Then upon completion of the act needing a way out, the murderer first tried to smother Robert and then realizing when was the last time anyone ever heard of an accidental smothering, the murderer had to go another step further.

      It does seem Robert’s sexuality was not the core of the sexual assault, but the person Robert was.

      Hoping also for Justice for Robert and the Wone family.

  7. Rich on 08/08/2010 at 3:40 PM

    By The Time This Post Ends:

    I hope the Editors bring the site to the attention of the NBCI or maybe someone can cut and paste and send all of the comments to them.

    The NBCI needs to hear people’s viewpoints concerning their message.

    Very Disappointing to Read.

  8. Michael on 08/09/2010 at 8:04 AM

    “It is either that the US Attorney’s Office bungled this case, which is a moral outrage, or they just did not care because the victim was Asian.”

    >>> Man, if only Robert wasn’t so Asian… if he had been, say, half-asian half-white… maybe then the USAO would have put a little back into it. <<>> Some wishful thinking right there. <<<

    • Michael on 08/09/2010 at 8:06 AM

      I just got owned by code. The wishful thinking reference was made toward NBCI’s belief that “moral conscience will prevail”.

  9. Bill on 08/09/2010 at 11:33 PM

    Shame on you for giving any attention to Evans’ letter. This guy and his “organization” are homophobes and could care less about the trial. This is so disgusting to be embarrassing.

    • susan on 08/09/2010 at 11:40 PM

      Bill,

      The news item was in the Washington Blade. If you think the Blade is homophobic, write to the Blade, but I can’t see them taking you seriously, since the Blade is a free gay/lesbian-focused newspaper that has been around for years and years (went through a bit of trouble about a year ago, but looks like it’s back under new owners). The editors were picking up that news item. It may not be savory but most things related to this crime are not.

      • susan on 08/09/2010 at 11:43 PM

        Speaking of long-time DC publications, the current issue of the Washingtonian has about half a page dedicated to “people we’d like to have lunch with and get to know” (a title that reads something like that) and lists Judge Leibowitz, connecting her to the Wone case, as one person they’d like to lunch with. About five other people were listed, one of which is the co-owner of Politics & Prose. Don’t remember the others.

      • Bill on 08/10/2010 at 12:18 AM

        Please, I read the Blade every week. I direct my ire to the blog editors for giving space to this homophobe. “The Reverend” is just using the Wone case to attack the gay community. He doesn’t give a damn about Robert Wone or his family. He is virulently anti-gay marriage. It is the usually black minister gay hate. It must have been a slow day for this blog’s editors to put us such bull.

        • shawn on 08/10/2010 at 1:25 AM

          Bill, your anger is understandable I would just ask people to be mindful about using the words typical or usual regarding any group of people. Some may say Mr.Wone is dead today because it is usual case of gay men not being able to control themselves around straight guy flesh. Isn’t that why LGBT folk were banned for so long from serving in the military? The NBCI has done enough streotyping let’s not follow their lead. My minister is black and has said to me, that if I select to get married he would be honored to perform the ceremony.

          • Bill on 08/10/2010 at 2:59 PM

            Shawn – while I am glad that you have a black minister who is supportive of gay marriage, of course you realize that he/she is an anomaly in the black community. I would also caution from generalizing from a specific example to the general. It’s undeniable that black church has been atrocious in its relentless attacks against the rights of gays and lesbians on the whole. And while exceptions, as in any group exists, the collective voice of the black church is decidedly anti-gay. If you have been following the Blade, you are aware of the antics of Rev. Jackson and his vendetta against gay-marriage in DC. I find these actions to be the true “abomination.”

            A constant drumbeat that we hear from black ministers is how gay marriage is an attack on the black family and its vital role in the raising of children. However data report a far different reality.

            According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics for 2007 (the latest year of recorded data) 40% of children in the U.S. are born to single women, this is a blended number. The breakdown is: 28% to white women; 51% of Latinas; and 72% to Black women. This irrefutable data is a clarion call to these ministers to focus on the real problem, and one decidedly within THEIR COMMMUNITY – blacks kids born to single women and with these kids having a near guarantee for a life of poverty, illness, lack of opportunity. And to you Clio, this is not racism, this is fact.

            So, does it bother me when the likes of “Reverend” Evans and his ilk get on their high horse to twist facts in a way to serve their own bigoted agenda? You’re god damn right it does! And it should both a lot of others whether they are gay, lesbian or straight.

        • susan on 08/10/2010 at 8:02 AM

          It’s related to the case, however peripherally, and I’m sure that’s why they posted it.

  10. Lily White on 08/10/2010 at 1:17 AM

    So the enemy (NBCI) of an enemy (injustice) is WMWR”s friend? Craig, Doug and David in bed with the NBCI is not a pretty picture. Not a pretty picture indeed. Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas. Fall asleep in the gutter, wake up with tire tracks on your face.

    The NBCI is not the enemy of injustice; rather, they are perpetrators thereof. And barely literate ones at that. Until they start decrying the crimes of Blacks, and not just against other Blacks, but against Whites, Latinos, and Asians, they will continue to be regarded as nothing more than bigoted, racist hypocrites. But then we already knew that.

    So don’t be a tool and fooled into thinking that this group is about any kind of justice. Best distance yourself philosophically and rhetorically from this kind of racist religious riff-raff. I can assure you that justice for Robert Wone is not a priority for them except in so much as it facilitates a pretext for preaching hate and violence against gays, lesbians and Caucasians.

  11. Clio on 08/10/2010 at 5:54 AM

    Craig, Doug, and David literally in bed with the NBCI? Trouples giving comfort to cultural conservatives? Now, that is a disturbing thought.

    In general, though, racist rants and their equally racist responses reveal much more about the participants in “the debate” than about their subject matter. Let’s all move on … to the Culuket Show!

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Purpose of this Site

On August 2nd, 2006, Washington attorney Robert E. Wone was murdered at 1509 Swann Street. Over two years passed before any criminal charges were filed - and then only conspiracy, obstruction of justice and crime scene tampering charges were brought against the Swann Street housemates, all present in the home on the night of the murder: Joe Price, Dylan Ward and Victor Zaborsky.

On May 17, 2010, a DC Superior Court trial got underway and all three defendants were all acquitted in that bench trial on those pending charges.

Nearly four years later, very little seems clear about what happened that night and who murdered Robert Wone. A cloud of suspicion remains over the Swann Street defendants who have denied any involvement in the murder of their friend or in the alleged cover up.

Judge Lynn Leibovitz found a moral certainty in their collective guilt, but not evidentiary certainty. Civil proceedings in a wrongful death suit filed by Robert's family is the next chapter in this tragic story.

We continue to work together seeking answers to the mystery of Robert Wone's murder and in finding justice for his memory and legacy.

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