Trigger warning for transphobic violence and injustice from law enforcement
On Saturday, November 19th, trans woman Alison Lancaster was attacked at the W. 65th & Madison Rapid Transit stop in Cleveland, Ohio. Three teenagers ambushed Alison at the bottom of the stairs and physically attacked her, punching and kicking her even after she fell to the ground. As the teens attacked Alison physically, they screamed transphobic and homophobic slurs and insults at her. When they ran off, they stole her bag and her mobile phone.
Surveillance cameras at the station? Not functioning. The emergency call box at the station? Also not functioning.
Alison did eventually get help and was treated for her injuries from the attack at Cleveland Metro Hospital. But the Cleveland PD officer who was dispatched to the hospital put on the official report that there were no elements of a hate crime, even though he asked Alison, and she informed him of the slurs hurled at her as she was beaten.
Alison suffered serious injuries including two black eyes and cuts that required stitches. Additionally, she lost a checkbook and debit cards, jeopardizing her financially.
Though the FBI is now investigating the hate crime aspect of this attack, the Cleveland PD stonewalled Alison and are still responsible for investigating the theft. A few days after the attack, she used T-Mobile’s GPS tracker to locate her stolen phone which was being used, but when she called the police, they wouldn’t take the information from her. Even though knowing the location of the phone could have led the police to one or more of her assailants, Alison was blown off.
The police also refused to assign a detective to Alison’s case, telling her that she would have to wait until a detective “chose to take an interest” in investigating a blatantly premeditated assault, robbery and theft. After a full week, Alison still wasn’t sure which, if any, detective on Cleveland PD was officially assigned to investigate the crime committed against her because the one she’s had contact with has advised her that he’s taking leave for three weeks. They’re still not being forthcoming with her.
Additionally, the Cleveland Transit Authority is not being forthcoming about why security equipment at this station was in such disrepair, or if surveillance cameras at other stations might reveal footage of the trio before or after their attack on Alison.
None of this is acceptable.
CALL TO ACTION: I join with We Have Had Enough Ohio in asking readers to call:
(216) 623-5000 – Michael McGrath, Cleveland Chief of Police
To ask “What are you doing to seek justice for Alison Lancaster? Why isn’t the department actively investigating the hate crime against her?”
(216) 664-3990 – Frank Jackson, Cleveland Mayor
To ask: “Why is your police department not training officers to recognize and respond proactively to hate crimes in your city?”
(216) 566-5227 — Cleveland Rapid Transit Authority complaint line
To ask: “Why aren’t your survellience cameras at W. 65th & Madison repaired yet? What will it take for your customers safety to become a priority for you?”
Hate crimes are everyone’s concern, no matter where you live. Please take a moment to advocate on Alison’s behalf and feel free to pass this on.