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Police probing DC attack as hate crime after suspects used anti-LGBTQ slur, mentioned monkeypox

Washington, D.C., police are investigating an attack last weekend as a hate crime after the suspects mentioned monkeypox and called the victims an anti-gay slur before physically attacking them.

In a Tuesday release, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) said the assault occurred Sunday evening in Northwest D.C. It requested the public’s help in identifying two alleged perpetrators, who were captured on a surveillance camera.

The suspects approached the victims, who identified themselves as two gay men, on 7th Street in the Shaw neighborhood and called them “monkeypox f——” before physically attacking them, MPD confirmed to The Hill.

“The Metropolitan Police Department is investigating this offense as potentially being motivated by hate or bias,” the department said in the release, adding that the designation can be changed at any point as the investigation continues.

One of the victims, who told NBC Washington his name is Antonio but did not share his last name, said that one of the suspects punched him in the jaw and gave him a gash for which he received about three stitches. He shared photos with the local news outlet of his wounded lip and bloodied shirt that he wore the day of the attack and also said that his boyfriend had suffered bruises.

Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) addressed the incident in a statement Tuesday, saying that she was extremely disturbed by the attack and that the public must stand against the “anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric sweeping our nation.”

“We must call out the people in our circles if they promote hateful or ignorant ideology, especially right now when people are using public health to stigmatize and discriminate against members of the LGBTQ+ community,” Bowser said.

The monkeypox outbreak, which has reached more than 7,000 cases in the U.S. and has predominantly affected men who have sex with men, has fueled concern over a potential rise in stigmatization and hate crimes targeting the LGBTQ community. Public health officials are working to spread awareness and resources to the communities most affected while not contributing to increased stigmas and fear, particularly given the history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the U.S.

“It’s really important for us not to stigmatize any groups so that they feel comfortable getting information from us or from community partners, that they understand how they can access services, including vaccine and treatment and testing,” San Francisco public health officer Susan Philip told The Hill in an interview.

Tags Hate crime LGBTQ community Monkeypox monkeypox response Muriel Bowser Muriel Bowser
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