Renee Carr hated to see her daughter, Chrissy Polis, assaulted by two females inside a Rosedale McDonald's on the now-infamous video that went viral on the Internet.
“That video was difficult to watch and I’m so upset of everything Chrissy had to endure during that time,” Carr said.
But Carr believes a lot of good can now be generated in the weeks and months following , a 22-year-old transgender woman who grew up in Essex and Dundalk.
To Carr, the first step in learning from the assault came on Monday night when hundreds of supporters of the transgender community turned out for a rally in front of the McDonald’s, located on the 6300 block of Kenwood Avenue.
Organized by several transgender organizations, supporters hoped the rally would be a venue to preach gender tolerance. The rally appeared to go peacefully with Baltimore County police and the Guardian Angels on hand to provide security.
“I think the assault on Chrissy opened a lot of eyes,” said Carr of Polis, who did not attend the rally. “I thought I would be standing at the rally myself. To see all of these people out here to support Chrissy is unbelievable.”
Those who attended the rally lit candles and prayed for Polis, along with other victims of violence from the transgender community. They hope people learn from the April 18 attack.
Police arrested a 14-year-old girl along with 18-year-old and charged them with attacking Polis. Brown, who lives on the 2000 block of Kelbourne Road in Rosedale, was arrested Friday and charged with first-degree assault and two counts of second-degree assault.
The second count of second-degree assault accuses Brown of attacking 55-year-old of Rosedale, who was struck as she tried to rescue Polis. Brown is being detained at the Baltimore County Detention Center after being denied bail on Monday.
“I didn’t know Chrissy was a transgender woman and it didn’t matter,” said Thoms at the rally. “No one should be attacked like that. But, I’ve learned it happens much more than people realize.”
According to a February 2011 population survey report issued by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 51 percent reported being harassed and/or bullied in school, 61 percent said they were victims of a physical assault, while 64 percent reported being a victim of sexual assault.
“It’s scary to see an assault like the one that happened to Chrissy,” said Angelina Callahan, a 39-year-old transgender from Essex. “She’s lucky it wasn’t worse. Her attack brought to light a problem within the community. It makes people fearful of being who they are in public.”
Callahan attended the rally with her wife Jenn Tucker and their roommate Rachel Bruce, both 39. The trio not only hopes people learn tolerance from Polis’ attack, but also that it convinces legislators in Annapolis to pass HB235, a bill that would extend discrimination protections to transgendered individuals.
The trio also said they would like to see the suspects in the Polis case charged with a hate crime.
“That video was appalling,” Tucker said. “The fact that all of those workers just stood around and did nothing was unbelievable. Maybe some good can come out of all of this.”
Sandy Rawls, of the Baltimore-based organization Trans-United, said her organizations and others hope to work with McDonald’s on improving its treatment of transgender citizens.
Since the attack, McDonald’s franchise owner Mitchell McPherson has fired the employee who took the video and hasn’t ruled out taking additional action. The restaurant was closed on Monday evening; a sign read simply "Closed for Peace."
“It was a wonderful turnout tonight,” Rawls said. "That video was so hideous, but there are lessons that can be learned. We’re going to work internally with McDonald’s so their workers understand that everyone has the right to live their lives.”