Last night, a man smashed a transgender person's* head into the pavement on Capitol Hill, according to a man who said he witnessed the incident and intervened to stop the person from being further injured and possibly killed.
Vincent Renart, a waiter who lives and works on the Hill, said he was walking home from Central Co-op at about 9 p.m. when he came upon a crowd of roughly 20 people near the southwest corner of Cal Anderson Park. The crowd had formed around two people who at first seemed to be "play fighting," he said.
"After he hit her a couple of times in the face, I was, like, no, this is real," Renart told me today. "Once somebody stops fighting, that's when the fight's done... But the guy kept hitting and kicking him, and hitting his head against the pavement."
"Basically," he continued, "I just saw a transgender dude get his ass whooped as a whole bunch of people watched." Renart said when he saw the person's head get kicked, he intervened and was able to dissuade the assailant from landing more blows.
I tried to confirm this account with the Seattle Police Department, who sent me this statement:
Two officers on-viewed a disturbance around 9:20 PM Sunday while working a foot patrol on Capitol Hill. The two individuals involved in the disturbance told police they had been “sparring” and “play-fighting,” which escalated into an altercation.
Both had sustained minor injuries, but did not require transport for medical treatment.
Officers documented the incident and provided a warning about fighting in public before releasing the pair from the scene.
The location and physical description of the two individuals taken down by police also match Renart's. Police also received a 911 call from a witness about the incident.
That's all we know right now. Renart said the person was badly bleeding.
"She was beaten up because she was transgender," Renart said, momentarily switching gender pronouns. "That's what I think. It was, like, 'Look at this transgender person try to defend themselves.' [People in the crowd] were watching it. It was a spectacle, to them."
"I don't know what's going on in this town," he added. "I just know that for some reason around this area, it's not just transgender, it's not just gays, or blacks. It seems like a movement against what Capitol Hill used to be. I think sometimes people come into this neighborhood who aren't from here, and when they see all this diversity, they get angry. I walk in a certain way now, where I'm aware of what's going on."
The Gender Justice League, which is based on Capitol Hill, "is looking to identify and offer assistance to the victim of this attack," the group said in a statement. "We believe a united and strong response is needed to send a clear message that bias motivated violence, harassment, and discrimination has no place on Capitol Hill. If you know the victim of this attack, please reach out to Danni Askini, Executive Director of Gender Justice League: firstname.lastname@example.org."
This is the third report of violence against an LGBT person on Capitol Hill in one week. (Reported hate crimes have been on the rise for the past year.) Last week, Chip Perala said he was gay-bashed in broad daylight.
This story has been updated since its original publication.
(*We're avoiding using gender pronouns because we don't know how the person identifies.)