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2 Teens Face Hate Crime Charges In McDonald’s Transgender Attack

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ROSEDALE, Md. (WJZ) –  Prosecutors laid out the charges in Baltimore County, after the videotaped beating of a transgender woman inside a McDonald’s.

Andrea Fujii reports more serious charges have been filed against the two people accused of beating the transgender woman.

The county state’s attorney spent the last month deciding whether to file hate crime charges in connection with the attack. Now the charges have been filed and the two teens have been indicted.

A McDonald’s employees stood by in April and videotaped a brutal attack right in front of them.

The victim, Chrissy Polis, says she was targeted for being transgender.

She appears to have had a seizure after being kicked and punched in the head.

“Be who you are and go as you are, but people don’t want this to happen. In this century, it sickens me that it has to come down to this result,” said Polis.

Teonna Brown, 18, is now indicted on hate crime charges, in addition to the several assault charges she already faces.

A 14-year-old, who police say participated in the attack, faces the same charges in juvenile court.

Brown’s mother recently defended her daughter, but she did not want her identity to be revealed.

“Teonna has her moments, but she doesn’t hate people. She could have a blow out argument with you today and tomorrow she’d be sitting on the phone talking to you, laughing,” said Brown’s mother.

In a statement, Brown’s attorney says his client maintains her innocence, claiming what happened was in self-defense.

Sandy Rawls, who founded the community group Trans-United, doesn’t buy it.

“We kind of figured that it was a hate crime because it happens a lot in the trans community. It just doesn’t get reported because people aren’t taping it and putting it on YouTube,” said Rawls.

Rawls says she and Polis plan to sue McDonald’s for not properly training employees.

Governor Martin O’Malley issued a statement Tuesday about the hate crime charge. 

“I want to commend Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott D. Shellenberger for using every available means to prosecute the heinous beating of Chrissy Lee Polis last month. 

“Even with Maryland’s ‘hate crimes’ law, it is clear that more must be done to protect the rights and dignity of transgendered people.  In the struggle for justice and equality for all, I’m committed to working with the Maryland General Assembly during the next legislative session to increase awareness and provide even greater protections for transgendered people. 

“As some have noted, out of this awful beating has come a moment to foster a deeper understanding and respect for the dignity of all persons.  We should not allow the moment to pass without greater action.” 

A few weeks ago Polis told our media partner, The Baltimore Sun, she is doing OK healthwise, but is still afraid to go outside.

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