… so how’sabout you actually DO your jobs?
As some of you may have heard, a violent hate crime took place here in Cleveland on November 19th. At the Rapid Transit stop on W. 65th & Madison, three transphobic teenagers waiting at the bottom of the stairs brutally ambushed Alison Lancaster, screaming epithets such as “fag” and “dyke” while repeatedly kicking and punching her down to the ground.
Not only was the Emergency Call Box at the station broken that night when Alison needed to call for help, the survellience cameras were also not functioning. When Alison was being treated for her injuries at Cleveland Metro Hospital, the officer that arrived to take her report of the crime was cold and nonchalant; he did not take a description of the assailants, he did not take pictures or record details of the injuries, and when filling out the police report, he asked whether the attackers used hateful language that would classify this as a hate crime and she replied yes, indeed they did – he ignored her and checked “N/A” for Not Applicable.
This crime is classified as a Hate Crime under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
“The Act authorizes the federal government to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated crimes based on the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.”
This officer wasn’t particularly concerned with bias, I suppose.
Besides the theft of her bag, which contained her financial information such as checkbook and debit cards as well as cell phone; Allison sustained serious injury from this attack, from black eyes to a cut on her leg that required stitches.
Since the night of the attack, the Cleveland Police Department has repeatedly blown off Alison’s attempts to encourage investigation as well as providing conflicting information for the steps she should take. Below is a brief summary of the run-around Alison has been given:
1) The police have not checked with RTA to look for the assailants on other working surveillance cameras along the route.
2) On November 20th, Alison used Tmobiles GPS tracker to discover that her stolen cell phone was being used repeatedly to make phone calls from an address on Clifton. When she called the police to advise them of this, they refused to take the information from her, much less send a car to the location to investigate.
3) She was also told on November 20th that a detective would be assigned to her case, but she must wait until Monday the 21st.
4) On Monday the 21st, she was told that the case would not be assigned to a detective; that she must wait for a detective to voluntarily take interest in the case. You can imagine the frustration this run-around would cause a victim. It took a full week for a detective to be ‘assigned’ (or not?) to the case, and Alison has not heard from Detective Hamerick despite leaving a voicemail for him.
5) As far as Cleveland RTA goes, they are dragging their feet on fixing the survellience cameras, though thankfully at least the Emergency Call Box is now in working order.
6) RTA Transit Police attempted to discourage Channel 19 today from doing their follow up report of this attack, seemingly nervous about the broken cameras being brought to the communities attention.
Considering the hard work that Ohioans put into repealing Senate Bill 5 with a NO vote on Issue 2 this year, you’d think the Cleveland Police Department would be more than eager to DO THEIR JOB. The apathetic response to such a vicious hate crime is inexcusable under ANY climate, but it strikes me as especially egregious that our public servants would so quickly forget that their duty is to protect and serve this community. The victim literally did part of their job FOR them by tracking down the stolen cell phone and providing them with a location, which COULD have led to the arrest of at least one of the thugs that attacked Alison.
At this point in time, while the Cleveland FBI Hate Crime Unit has also begun THEIR investigation, the Police Department is still officially on this case because this crime occurred in their jurisdiction and was also a robbery and theft. So it is imperative that they give this case the attention it calls for, and they have FAILED to do so.
Let’s show the CPD that the time for that ignorance and neglect is OVER, and We Are Watching.
Call the following numbers and ask the Police Department: “What are you doing to seek justice for Alison Lancaster? Why isn’t the department investigating?”
(216) 623-5000 – Michael McGrath, Cleveland Chief of Police
(216) 664-3990 – Frank Jackson, Cleveland Mayor
ALSO: Call Cleveland Rapid Transit Authority complaint line at 216-566-5227 and ask them “Why aren’t your survellience cameras at W. 65th & Madison repaired yet? What will it take for your customers safety to become a priority for you?”