Tuesday, March 11, 2008

WJLA reports gunfire aimed at MCC in Washington DC

Washington DC television station WJLA (ABC) reported today two recent disturbing incidents where gunfire has been aimed at the Metropolitan Community Church of Washington DC, in the Shaw neighborhood. This is a congregation that largely ministers to and is run by gays and lesbians.

The link for the story appeared around 4 PM today (March 11) and is here. It is expected that the Washington Blade will have much more detail on Friday. A nearby art gallery, apparently sporting a rainbow flag, also received random fire. No one has been injured in any of the incidents, some damage has occurred from the vandalism.

The link for MCC-DC is here. The link for the Fellowship headquarted in Los Angeles is here.

I attended MCCDC in the 1990s. I played piano at a few services. The current building was completed in 1992. The pastor then was Rev. Larry Uhrig, who wrote a famous advertisement column, “There Is No Better Half” in the Washington Blade in the early 1990s. He died of AIDS in 1993. Rev. Candace Shultis was elected pastor in 1995 (story). Shultis had served in the Marine Corps. The Church web site indicates that it is in transition for a new pastor.

The news story and police investigation suggest that this is a “hate crime,” but as a whole the pattern of violence in Washington DC and other cities has not necessarily targeted the gay community. Other communities have been involved, however.

Washington DC has been plagued by violent incidents in or near night clubs, as in Adams Morgan, along Wisconsin Avenue, and on the U-Street corridor; but none of these have involved gay clubs. A few “straight” clubs have been forced to close for this reason. A number of businesses from the SE part of the City have been displaced by real estate development associated with the Nationals Stadium, and few have re-opened, partly because of neighborhood zoning opposition. Around the nation, violence directed at gay clubs used to occur in the 1960s and 1970s, as with a tragic fire in New Orleans in 1973, but had become less common by the mid 1970s. However, other major tragedies have sometimes occurred, as with the assassination of George Moscone and Harvey Milk in San Francisco in 1978, subject of a book (“The Mayor of Castro Street”) by the late Randy Shilts, and to become a motion picture (dir. Bryan Singer) in 2009.

Update: March 12:

I posted a comment about the disturbing Netherlands-Britain deportation case involving a gay teen from Iran on my International Issues blog, here.

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