Police are investigating the reported beating of a person leaving a Capitol Hill benefit for Orlando Wednesday night as as a hate crime.
Friends and supporters have donated more than $10,000 to help support Michael Volz during recovery from injuries in Wednesday night’s reported anti-trans beating at 11th and Pike:
Dear community, It is with a heavy heart, deep sadness, and great rage, that I let you know our dear friend Michael M Volz was assaulted last night on capitol hill. Michael, myself, and a group of friends attended the fundraiser to benefit the pulse massacre last night at Neumos. Michael left a little bit before everyone to walk to their car and get ready for work in the morning. As Michael was walking to their car, they past the rose, and were approached by a white man in an orange sweatshirt with scruffy brown hair. The man said to Michael, Happy Pride, and began to assault Michael. As he, was punching and choking Michael, he said, “show me your tits you tranny cunt” Michael some how made it back to their house. Michael contacted myself and their friend Sharon. Sharon drove Michael to the hospital and I met them at the Emergency Room. Currently, michael is home. They have some stitches, abrasions, and a lot of bruising. We will need food and people willing to spend time with Michael over the weekend. Currently, we have care situated until early tomorrow afternoon. If you are available to bring food or company please contact us!
Michael wanted me to attach pictures because this is what transphobia looks like. pictures in comments.
According to Seattle Police, officers responded to a vehicle carrying the victim to investigate the incident around 2:15 AM Thursday morning. Police records show the beating was reported to have happened around 11:30 PM Wednesday night near 11th and E Pike following the Let Your Love Shine: A Queer Benefit For Orlando at Neumos.
UPDATE 4:45 PM: At a Friday afternoon media conference in Cal Anderson before the start of the 2016 Trans* Pride rally and march, Volz, who was still showing wounds from the attack, was accompanied by around 100 supporters and said the attack is part of “a climate of hate” against trans people.
“This is not an isolated incident, this is something that happens to our community frequently and we’re not going to take it anymore,” Volz said.
Volz said they were encouraged by all the people who have offered support.
“It is what great sadness and anger, quite frankly, that I have to stand here,” said SPD Deputy Chief Carmen Best.
Volz was joined by trans activist Danni Askini,founder of the Gender Justice League, who called on people to reject anti-trans bills in the state.
“All of us are in shock and fearful,” Askini said.
“Part of our efforts to do things like Trans Pride Seattle is to create community and solidarity so that people do not feel isolated,” Askini said.
Best said police have not identified a suspect and there is no known video from nearby businesses showing the incident.
Despite the number of Safe Places near the location of the attack, Best said it was not a reflection that the LGBTQ safety program was not working.
“We are united, we’re not going anywhere” says Michael Volz (right), victim of anti trans attack pic.twitter.com/u7KfnJCM5T
— Bryan Cohen (@bchasesc) June 24, 2016
UPDATE 12:40 PM: Police announced Friday afternoon that the FBI is assisting the investigation of the crime and provided new details of the attack:
The victim left the fundraiser around 11:30 PM and was walking near 11th Avenue and East Pike Street when the suspect approached him.
“Hey, Happy Pride,” the suspect said to the victim before punching him in the face. The suspect then grabbed the victim by the throat, continued his assault and used a transgender slur during the attack. The victim lost consciousness and the suspect fled the scene.
Upon regaining consciousness, the victim was able to drive home and contact a friend, who drove him to the hospital. On the way, they stopped and contacted police.
The FBI has offered its assistance to SPD Violent Crimes detectives investigating the case. An SPD victim advocate has also been in contact with the victim to provide support.
The suspect is described as a white male in his 20s, with brown hair and a partial beard. He was wearing an orange or copper-colored sweatshirt, blue jeans, and sandals at the time of the incident.
In the announcement, SPD says it is working with the FBI to investigate the case. “I’m disgusted by this hateful attack,” Chief Kathleen O’Toole said in the statement. “I want to assure the victim and the community that the SPD will leverage every resource to identify the suspect and bring him to justice.”
Police are asking anybody with information to call the SPD Violent Crimes tip line at (206) 233-5000.
UPDATE: Here is the initial SPD report on the incident from one of the responding officers:
The Seattle Police Department and City of Seattle continue to work closely with organizers for this week’s Pride festival and will have an increased and visible presence at weekend events throughout downtown and Capitol Hill,” the statement concludes. Seattle Police are increasing the number of officers assigned to patrols and Pride events this week following the massacre in Orlando. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced this week the city’s Emergency Operations Center will also be activated for Pride and the coinciding visit by President Barack Obama.
UPDATE 3:15 PM: The mayor’s office has released a statement on the investigation:
“This attack is deplorable, and my sympathies are with the young person who was harmed. The attack was meant to injure and to create an environment of fear during Pride. As a City, we worked closely with the community to identify ways to increase visibility, safety and community awareness.
“For example, the Seattle Police Department will continue the Safe Place program to identify local businesses that will shelter victims of harassment until officers arrive. This program is so popular communities throughout the state have started to adopt it. The City directed more resources to support Project EQTY and other social service providers that work with LGBTQ youth. Seattle City Light, Seattle Public Utilities and the Department of Transportation continue to address dark alleys and other physical environments on Capitol Hill that provide cover for criminals. We adopted a new City ordinance to require that single-person restrooms in public accommodations and city facilities be signed for all genders. The Seattle Office for Civil Rights is launching a public education initiative directed to all Seattle residents to teach them about LGBTQ people.
“But make no mistake, this attack and all others like it are the result of hateful language that stigmatizes and alienates groups of people because of who they are, whether they are immigrants or Muslims or LGBTQ people. Despite all of our best efforts as a City, as long as there is a place for hateful language in our communities, our communities will not be safe places for those who are the targets of this hateful language.”
Via Facebook, trans community activist Danni Askini called for friends and supporters to donate to the fund:
Friends – I am really upset that anti-Trans hate crimes continue to happen on Capitol Hill. Michael M Volz is a dear friend – we worked on the King County Trans Resource guide together. Please join me in contributing to Michael’s recovery fund. This type of violence during pride week cannot stand.
Friday night, Askini and the Gender Justice League will lead the fourth annual Trans* Pride rally and march on Capitol Hill. CHS reported last week on Askini’s struggle with domestic violence contributing to her decision to end her campaign for a seat in the 43rd District House. Meanwhile, the Seattle Times is reporting that reports of hate crimes against blacks and LGBTQ in Seattle have doubled.
Here is an announcement from the Gender Justice League on Friday night’s Trans* Pride:
On Friday, June 24, 2016, Trans Pride Seattle 2016 marches through the streets of Capitol Hill, ending at Cal Anderson Park, for a community festival and resource fair. Trans Pride Seattle, now in its fourth year builds on the momentum of recent victories defeating 6 anti-transgender bills in the state legislature and on the eve of signature turn in for an anti-transgender ballot measure. 5,000+ transgender and allied participants are anticipated to attend this years events. Seattle held the first-ever transgender pride in the nation in 1997. Trans Pride Seattle restarted in 2013.
The march begins at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 24 – Marchers will assemble at Nagle Place – just east of the Capitol Hill light rail station. At 6pm sharp the march will step off from the Capitol Hill Light Rail Station and marching East on John Street, at 12th Avenue the march will turn south, and then finally turn west at Olive Street. Trans Pride Seattle 2016 is a smoke-free, scent-free event and will include ASL interpretation and a reserved area for people with wheelchairs and other mobility assistance devices. There will be a resource fair as well as local food trucks.
Gender Justice League enthusiastically welcomes nationally renowned trans speakers, Kris Hayashi – Executive Director of the Transgender Law Center, Candis Cayne – Award winning actress of “Dirty, Sexy, Money” and most recently “I Am Cait”, and Gabriel Foster of the Trans Justice Funding Project will speak. In a year when the transgender community has seen unprecedented legislative attacks, with 6 anti-transgender bills proposed in Washington, with another 28 proposed in other states – tensions in the transgender community are high. Speakers will touch on HB-2 in North Carolina, and efforts here in Washington State to pass Initiative 1515 – which would strip existing non-discrimination protections from Washington’s civil rights law.
Trans Pride Seattle 2016 and Gender Justice League have worked closely with local and federal law enforcement offices to ensure that increased security measures are observed after the Pulse shooting in Orlando. Capitol Hill still experiences routine hate crimes, such as one last night against a transgender identified person. “We are encouraging everyone to take a buddy to trans pride Seattle and not to walk alone after the event ends,” said Danni Askini, Executive Director of Gender Justice League, “everyone should place their safety first – we will have a walking buddy meet up area and provide safety tips from stage.” Seattle Police Department will have an increased presence at this year’s pride event.