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Attack on legally blind trans woman on Seattle-area bus probed as likely hate crime

The trans rider pepper-sprayed several juveniles, allegedly over a dispute at the bus station, before they followed her off the bus and beat her, police say.

An attack on a legally blind transgender woman in the Seattle suburb of Tukwila is being investigated as a potential hate crime, according to the King County Sheriff’s Office.

The woman, who has not been named by authorities, was beaten Tuesday night by “several juvenile males” who had boarded the public bus she was riding. Authorities said the victim walked to the back of the bus, pepper-sprayed the youths and then left the bus. She was then “chased by the juveniles” off the bus and subsequently assaulted.

“Cellphone video from witnesses captured the female lying on the ground motionless and defenseless while being punched and stomped repeatedly by the suspects,” Sgt. Ryan Abbott of the King County Sheriff’s Office told NBC News in an email.

The witnesses heard “offensive slurs” hurled at the transgender victim as the juveniles were beating her. The suspects fled on foot and were later arrested by Tukwila police.

The victim was treated for injuries that were not considered life-threatening and provided a police statement, in which she expanded on why she used pepper spray on the juveniles prior to the attack.

“The victim later told us that earlier in the night there was some type of incident at the transit center prior to the pepper spray incident,” which is why she deployed her pepper spray, he said. “When they got on the bus, the woman explained she felt threatened and deployed pepper spray.”

This is “part of the investigation,” and the police possess the video of her being stomped while unconscious outside the bus.

The suspects were booked for “investigation of Assault 2 and Malicious Harassment (Hate Crime).”

Reported hate crimes against LGBTQ people are on the rise, according to the most recent FBI hate crimes report. Roughly 1 in 5 hate crimes reported to the FBI in 2018 were committed against LGBTQ people. Specifically, transgender and gender-nonconforming people were the targets of 2.4 percent of all hate crimes reported, despite comprising an estimated 0.6 percent of the U.S. population.

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