FBI Detroit
Special Agent Mara Schneider
(313) 965-5749
June 17, 2016

FBI and U.S. Attorney Meet with LGBTQ Community Leaders

Yesterday, FBI Detroit Special Agent in Charge David P. Gelios and United States Attorney Barbara McQuade, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Michigan, hosted a gathering of LGBTQ community leaders from a variety of groups in Southeastern Michigan.

The meeting, which included Reverend Juan Perez of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan and representatives from Equality Michigan, the Ruth Ellis Center, Affirmations, LGBT Detroit, and the Detroit Police Department, was held in response to the tragic events that unfolded in Orlando, Florida last weekend where 49 people were murdered and more than 50 others were wounded at the Pulse nightclub. A representative of the Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service, which works to foster community collaboration to address conflicts and tensions arising from differences of race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, and disability, also participated in the meeting.

“Despite the tragic circumstances that prompted today’s gathering, it was uplifting to witness the passionate and empowering conversations that were shared among the LGBTQ community leaders and our law enforcement partners” said SAC David P. Gelios, Detroit FBI. “In the aftermath of the Orlando shooting, it is essential to reassure the people of Michigan of the FBI’s commitment to protecting the civil rights of all persons.” Included in yesterday’s discussion was information about the protections afforded by federal hate crime laws, especially the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, and where to report potential hate crimes.

“The U.S. Attorney’s office brings prosecutions and enforces civil rights laws to protect all residents of our region, including members of the LGBT community,” McQuade said. “We are working closely with leaders of LGBT organizations to ensure the security of individuals or groups who may be potential targets of hate crimes.”

“Detroit’s LGBT community organizations are pleased to receive support and resources from the Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” said Curtis Lipscomb of LGBT Detroit. “The horrible tragedy in Orlando was deeply saddening, yet we gathered to ensure the safety of those we serve.”

Hate crimes are the number one investigative priority of the FBI’s Civil Rights Program because of the devastating effect they can have on entire communities. While the FBI in Michigan is working daily with our law enforcement partners to protect against acts of terrorism, individuals who threaten or commit acts of violence motivated by animus towards others due to their lifestyle, religion, national origin, or gender will be investigated to the fullest extent of the law.

The meeting, yesterday, solidified all of the groups’ commitment to continue enhanced inclusionary community outreach efforts in Michigan.