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February 10, 2012

Four youths charged in beating at rapid stop

Cleveland--Four juveniles have been charged in the robbery and beating of a transgender woman in November. The charges were filed January 6. The names of juveniles are not released. A possible adult suspect has not yet been identified.

The victim, Alexis Alison Lancaster, 39, was attacked at the RTA Red Line station at Madison Ave. and West 65th Street. She was called “dyke” and other derogatory names and verbally harassed when she got off the train at 11 pm on November 19. Ironically, the attack happened one day after the Transgender Day of Remembrance was commemorated at the LGBT Center a few blocks away.

The suspects hit and kicked Lancaster, knocking her unconscious and badly bruised.

“I was kicked in the ass until it bled,” said Lancaster, who was transported to Metro Health for treatment after an unknown man on a bicycle stopped to help.

As the investigation progressed and RTA video footage of the attack surfaced, detectives ruled the attack a hate crime under the city of Cleveland’s ordinance covering LGBT victims.

Because the attack happened in an RTA station, the matter was handed off to RTA police. They have been joined by the FBI under the 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Act that federalizes hate crimes against LGBT victims and authorizes the FBI to assist with investigations of those cases.

“The FBI will see if it rises to the level of a federal hate crime,” said Special Agent Scott Wilson, “and present it to the U.S. Attorney for Civil Rights to see if charges should be filed.”

Lancaster has lived in Cleveland 14 years and has been an advocate for victims of domestic violence and rape victims. “Now I’m the person on the other side of the coin,” she said.

Now a student at Cleveland State University, Lancaster is still critical of how her case is being handled. She says that Cleveland police were insensitive as initial responders, and incomplete with the initial report, and that the FBI only got involved because of pressure from a Facebook campaign.

The initial police report does not identify the attack as a hate crime, which irritates Lancaster.

Lancaster was robbed of about $40 and her cell phone. She says the emergency call phone at the RTA station was not working, also delaying response to her.

According to Lancaster, she located her cell phone through its GPS tracking. It was at a Lake Avenue address a few blocks away and was making calls from there. Lancaster said the Cleveland police showed no interest in this, even though she believes the phone was either with one of her attackers or calling one of her attackers.

The attack may have also cost Lancaster her apartment. Following television news coverage of the attack, Lancaster was evicted from the apartment she lived in for 13 years. The apartment is owned by the Catholic church.

Transgender rights advocate Karen Gross, who is assisting Lancaster with negotiating both the attack and the eviction, said Lancaster has found a new home and at this time is not pursuing the church for housing discrimination.

Cleveland’s fair housing ordinance protects transgender residents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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