After U Street assault, DC police chief acknowledges rise in hate crimes

WASHINGTON — D.C. police are still looking for the suspects involved in what Chief Peter Newsham said seems like an unprovoked attack on two men in the U Street neighborhood.

Newsham acknowledged the city’s troubling rise in hate crimes over the last few years.

“There has been increases in hate crimes in the city from ’15 to ’16 and ’16 to ’17,” he said of the recent year rise. “It’s hard to say exactly what the increase is due to.”

D.C. reported 66 hate crimes in 2015 and 107 in 2016. D.C. hate crime statistics have not been updated yet for 2017.

“I think one of the things to note about the hate crimes is most of the increases in our hate crimes are against property and not necessarily against persons,” Newsham clarified.

The department released video of three suspects kicking two men in the street just blocks from the U Street Metro Sunday morning, but Special Liason Unit investigators haven’t determined whether it was a hate crime.

Police are offering a reward of up to $1,000 for a tip that leads to a conviction. It took place around 12:05 a.m. on 10th and U streets Northwest.

“For this particular case, we have information to suggest that some homophobic slurs were used during the course of the assault,” Newsham said. “If it is a hate crime, we’ll bring that charge once we bring the person into custody.”

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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