The window at Remingtons -- a bar with a predominantly gay crowd and a recent history of anti-gay violence -- had no sooner been punched out by an angry Marine than the first call was made.
By 5:30 a.m. last Sunday, about two hours after the incident, the officer of the day at the Marine barracks had made the short trip to the bar in Southeast. Within hours, a Marine had confessed in writing and he and his two companions had replaced the glass.
On Wednesday, justice was meted out. Jason Lucas, 21, underwent a summary court-martial after pleading guilty to three charges stemming from the incident. His punishment includes 30 days in the brig, and commanders also are seeking his discharge because they say Lucas has been in trouble before. His two companions, whose names were not released, were reduced in rank, restricted to barracks, given additional duties and fined about $800 each.
In the community of gay activists in the District, the Remingtons episode was well known by Monday. Members of the different groups, from the controversial ACT-UP, which focuses on AIDS issues, to the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force to the local Gay & Lesbian Activists Alliance, learned of it through word-of-mouth or from eyewitnesses.
But beyond that, the incident itself illustrated a significant change in the way some gay and lesbian groups in the District are reacting to what they say are an increasing number of violent incidents. With greater frequency and some success, they are protesting and pressing for punishment, insisting that these incidents be recorded, and encouraging often hesitant members of the community to speak out when abused.
A telephone hot line established by the local alliance, for example, has recorded 15 physical assaults and 20 incidents of verbal harassment this year.
The incidents are only a fraction of the actual cases that occur because victims are still reluctant to come forward, gay activists say. In areas where gay people socialize -- bars in Southeast, Northwest and Dupont Circle, the gay cruising area at Rock Creek Park known as P Street Beach -- activists say gay men and women are being abused as never before.
"We believe it's worse, primarily because the community, on a daily basis, is getting more visible, more active and more out," said Tom Swift, chairman of the D.C. Lesbian and Gay Anti-Violence Task Force, a coalition of gay groups. "And as that happens, people who hate us are doing something about it."
The most serious incident this year occurred in January in front of the Brass Rail, a popular black gay bar in Northwest. Michael Warren, 27, who activists said came to the aid of a transvestite being harassed by a group of young men, was shot and killed outside the club. Police, who said the shooting stemmed from an argument, later arrested an 18-year-old man and charged him with first-degree murder.
More recently -- in the Dupont Circle area on Aug. 6 -- two juveniles driving on P Street NW verbally abused two gay men, apparently drove around the block and on the second encounter beat them with a club. The two juveniles were held by several witnesses and later charged with assault with a deadly weapon.
The beating, one of at least three in the neighborhood recorded during the last few months by ACT-UP, was an exception because it led to an arrest. What is more common, activists say, are the abuses that go unrecorded -- because victims remain fearful and silent, the abuse is limited to a verbal attack or the assailant proves too elusive.
"If you're a perpetrator, and you want to prey on a class of citizens, let's face it, we're the best ones," said Mindi A. Daniels, president of the Gay & Lesbian Activists Alliance.
In the black gay community, which is less active than the white community, activists say abuses occur weekly and almost all go unreported. The extent of violence is not known -- particularly against black lesbians -- and no statistics are maintained.
The reasons for this are varied, but one of the main causes is the stigma many in the black community still place on gay men, said Philip E. Pannell, a longtime activist and member of the D.C. Council of Black Gay Men and Women.
The coalition has met with bar owners and asked for more security. But the greatest obstacle is still the reluctance among gay blacks to report these crimes -- a reluctance gay blacks say runs much deeper than in the white gay community.
"If they are victims of things like harassment, victims of things like assault and robberies, they are more apt to not pursue matters for fear of having to come out," said Thomas Gleaton, president of the black coalition. "I think we could all recount a story of ourselves or of our friends who were either assaulted or robbed coming from a club."
As a result of the fear of reporting anti-gay crimes, statistics are not seen as a reliable gauge of the violence in the community. For example, U.S. Park Police have recorded three robberies, two attempted robberies and six assaults so far this year in the P Street Beach area, a slight increase over 1989. Gay activists insist those reports understate the extent of the problem.
The statistics do not say whether they were bias-related, and activists say victims are very reluctant to come forward because the area is known for gay cruising. The police department, whose cooperation with gay and lesbian groups is generally praised, records all sex-bias incidents in compliance with a new federal law, but a computer breakdown is not yet available, a spokesman said.
The increase in anti-gay violence locally is following a national pattern. Among the reasons cited are the increased visibility on the part of gay people, a better accounting of the violence, AIDS-related retribution and opposition from ultra-right conservatives. Entertainers such as Andrew Dice Clay and Public Enemy are also seen as contributors because of anti-gay sentiments expressed in their acts.
"The bottom line," says Robert Bray, spokesman for the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, "is that violence against gays and lesbians is increasing. We are a community under siege."
In response, the largest and most vocal local groups are fighting back. ACT-UP has been distributing whistles and pamphlets on weekends, urging gay people to protect themselves. There are plans to form a D.C. chapter of the Pink Panthers, a gay security patrol system that has been successful in parts of New York, where activists say anti-gay violence increased 110 percent in the first half of this year, as compared with 1989.
"Increasingly, it is very difficult to know anyone" who has not been abused, said Peter Thompson of the local chapter of ACT-UP. "That's what prompted us to start hitting the streets."
If there is some consolation, it has been the response gay activists have gotten for their protests. After a brawl involving Marines at Remingtons in June, activists insisted on a meeting with the commander of the barracks, Col. Peter Pace. Although there have been other clashes between Marines and gay people in Southeast, the last one on record at the barracks occurred eight years earlier, pointing to what Pace called a communication problem.
"We went out and we got to call all the leaders in the business community, and asked them to call us immediately if there was any incident involving the Marines," Pace said. "That's exactly what happened early Sunday morning. The message is out that we will not tolerate this."
Gay activists used the same tactic in June, when a group of gay people was harassed at Union Station by other patrons.
These advances aside, it is the increase in violence that preoccupies the gay community. Many still remember the 1988 beating of Rod Johnson, whose case led to the conviction last year of two men. Activists point to the lasting effects suffered by the abused, arguing they remain victims long after the court cases -- if it gets that far -- are settled.
"It can happen to anybody at any time," Johnson, who is 38 and still recovering, said last week. "It took a long time to come back to where I am today, a lot of frustrations and a lot of pent-up emotions. I just couldn't understand why someone could walk down the street with a baseball bat and beat somebody."