Portland, Ore., police Wednesday night arrested a man accused of yelling anti-LGBT slurs at a trans woman and then attacking her.
Police arrived at the scene after a caller reported a man punching a woman in the face in downtown Portland. Timothy Emmett Walsh “made a comment about a man in women's clothing," berated her for her sexual identity, and then punched her in the face several times, according to a Portland Police Bureau report. Sgt. Peter Simpson has identified the victim as a transgender woman, reports LGBT publication Them.
Walsh, 38, was apprehended by police at a nearby Greyhound station and booked into the Multnomah County Jail. He was charged with assault in the fourth degree and intimidation in the second degree, classifying the incident as a hate crime. He was also violating parole, police said.
Local activists say the altercation may be a symptom of a spike of anti-LGBT bias in the progressive city.
"Personally I think there is an uptick in anti-LGBTQ+ violence and hate crimes, and there’s an atmosphere of hate being emboldened in this moment," Nancy Haque, executive director of Basic Rights Oregon, told Them. "It leads to people feeling like they can attack people based on who they are, who they love, or the color of their skin."
Last week a Facebook video of a Portland lesbian couple being harassed and threatened by a man went viral. The couple, Wendy and Trudy Dragoon, reported that a man tried to run them over with his pickup truck and screamed homophobic remarks at them. In the video, the man yells at Trudy to fight him, calling her a “gay pride-ass bitch,” and declaring, "I should be so embarrassed of a fucking lesbian on my property — you embarrass America,” then telling the two to “go scissor each other.”
A police officer passing by ignored the man and told the couple to do the same. A spokesman for the Portland Police Bureau, however, said there’s more to the story than what the video depicted and that the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office may do further investigation into the video.
In May, 28-year-old trans woman Gigi Pierce was shot and killed in downtown Portland. Sophia Grace Adler has been charged with Pierce's murder.
"I wish I lived in a world where police didn’t have to protect the LGBTQ+ community," Haque told Them. "We need to get to a place where trans women of color and trans women, in general, are not targeted by police. It’s really important that when trans women are attacked, like last night, police do intervene and do the right thing."