GetEQUAL releases statement about alleged West Asheville hate crime
FULL STATEMENT from ANGEL CHANDLER, STATE ORGANIZER FOR GETEQUAL, SENT TO ASHEVILLE CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS:
I was alarmed to read about the hate crime that took place in Asheville this week. I am more alarmed at the, at best, lack of judgement and, at worst, outright discrimination the police officer showed in failing to interview witnesses and failing to file a report. I am further outraged by the fact that reports say this officer is carrying out regular duties while an internal investigation takes place. This is especially concerning due to the recent history of inappropriate and criminal behavior Asheville Police Department officers and employees have shown; behavior ranging from evidence missing to sexual harassment. What is even more troubling is the lack of response I have seen from you.
LGBT individuals face hate crime on a daily basis in this country and hate crimes have been on the rise in North Carolina over the past year. Outside of Raleigh a gay couple's home was burned down; in Eastern North Carolina a young gay man was beaten severely; now in Asheville we have someone beaten due to his perceived sexual orientation and an officer continuing his duties without any restrictions who violated protocol and jeopardized catching the perpetrator. I hope this isn't indicative of a bigger problem in the police department and the offices who oversee the department. But given the department's many problems and failure to appropriately handle those problems, I can't be sure of that.
As the North Carolina State Organizer for GetEQUAL I would like to know the plans for holding this officer accountable, getting him off the streets, and making sure that this kind of violation of a victim's rights does not happen again.
I would suggest an LGBT Liaison be appointed at the Asheville Police Department (I called and was informed there was not one); a statement be put out by the Council and Mayor's office condemning the action, or lack thereof, of the officer; and a report on the internal practices of the Asheville Police Department regarding LGBT issues and hate crimes with areas targeted for improvement.
GetEQUAL believes in holding people in power accountable, despite political party affiliation, to make sure we are represented, treated equally, and protected. We plan on this being a focus in coming weeks. The more attention you give this the less of an issue we will have to make it. I would much prefer this be dealt with appropriately and attentively allowing us to focus on other pressing matters surrounding equality for all citizens of this state and country.
I know some of you are advocates for LGBT equality and that is appreciated. I know dealing with the internal workings of the police department is most likely murky and difficult. But it is time those who are supposed to be leaders take the lead. That would be you.