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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
September 22, 2006

Four are attacked near a bar in possible hate crime

Cleveland--Four transgender women were attacked after they left a west side bar on the early morning of September 10. The incident could be considered a hate crime if the victims would tell police about it.

The bar�s private security service was not permitted to leave the property to intervene in the incident, two blocks away. The victims fear going to police because they would have to reveal their true identity.

Of the group of friends that left the Edge nightclub, formerly Deco, at Detroit Avenue and West 112th St., one remained unscathed by the attackers and is willing to be identified.

Edward �Chloe� Prince, 34, of Jackson Township near Canton, said the other three �have high profile jobs� and �can�t be exposed� by going to police.

They are known as Amber, Marsha Clark and Charlene, who was out for the first time. Amber and Clark are from Warren. Charlene is from Boardman.

Prince said the four left the bar and walked east two blocks on Detroit to their cars. As they were getting in the vehicles, a �black young man� sitting on a stoop in front of an apartment building with two others made fun of them and told them to leave the area.

�You have to take this somewhere else,� Prince said the man yelled. �I have babies sleeping upstairs who can�t see this shit. You got to leave now.�

Prince said the group responded that they were on their way out and didn�t want trouble. But at that, two of the men came toward them and shoved Clark to the ground. One of the men had a knife.

Charlene was punched in the mouth causing it to bleed. One of the attackers then pulled her wig off, screaming at her, �Get that goddamned wig off!� The man with the knife went after Amber, who, according to Prince, �got in his face and told him to stand down.�

Instead, the man pushed her to the ground, pulled her hair, and cut her forehead with the knife.

Prince said the third man was asked to help break up the attack, but he stayed on his stoop, saying, �I can�t. I got to live here.�

Prince said she went running back toward the bar where �three police officers� were outside.

According to Prince, from about half a block away, she began yelling to the officers, �We�re under attack,� but that the officers ignored her.

Prince recounts that Charlene, bleeding, ran back to her, saying, �We can�t just leave [Amber and Marsha] there,� so the two went back to the scene, and helped their injured friends into cars.

Being from out of town, none of them knew where the nearest hospital was, so they circled in their cars to the front of the bar and asked the security officers for directions. They were directed to Lutheran Hospital, where they were treated.

Prince said she thought the hospital called the police, but �none showed up.�

Later, accounts of the incident, including some by people who were not there, began to circulate on blogs and email lists.

Those accounts accused Cleveland police of �ignoring� the incident.

�Apparently, they did not think the situation was dire enough and ignored her pleas,� reads one.

However, according to Edge manager Michelle Zemla, the officer was employed by Plaza Security, not the Cleveland Police Department, and he did what he was supposed to.

�They carry guns, but are only commissioned to this property,� said Zemla. �If they step off this property, they lose their commission.�

�If something happens off the property, all they can do is call the Cleveland police,� Zemla added.

�They can probably escort a patron to their car,� said Zemla, �but if something happens, they cannot intervene.�

Zemla said she was behind the bar that night and remembered the four. Pointing to where they were sitting, Zemla said, �They are in here almost every weekend.�

Zemla described the quartet as �buzzed,� but not drunk, and said they left at closing time, between 2:15 and 2:30 am.

She said there was only one security officer on duty at the time, though a second had worked earlier and left at 1:00.

Zemla noted that after the four left the bar, the Cleveland police called wanting to know what was going on.

She said she had started to clean up, and nothing was happening inside, and she could not see anything happening outside, so she told them, �Nothing.�

Zemla later learned that her hired officer had called the police when Prince approached asking for attention.

The victims were treated and released by the hospital.

They do not plan to pursue the matter further, but are taking precautions.

�We have learned some valuable lessons and we are all moving on and not going to let it sour our activities and dressing,� wrote Prince to the e-mail group. �We are investing in Mace and a stun gun or Taser.�

But seeking arrest by the police is, so far, out of the question. After the three declined a Gay People�s Chronicle promise of complete anonymity for this report through a third party, the response came back, �You can keep their identities anonymous, but the police can�t.�

The Cleveland LGBT Center and the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization also take reports of anti-LGBT violence, anonymously if necessary. Call the center at 216-6515428, or BRAVO at 614-2947867.


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