MARTA fight suspect claims trans woman provoked him; activists claim police continually harass transgender people

Luther Thomas, who was arrested and charged last week for allegedly attacking a transgender woman aboard MARTA, is telling a local TV station that he was provoked and that one of the women was making a sexual advance toward him.

Luther L. Thomas
Luther L. Thomas

“I don’t hate gay people at all. That’s not in my character at all.  But when you are a gay guy and you come on to a straight guy and I tell you I don’t go that way then just let it be,” Thomas told WSB TV.

He is apparently talking about Janell Crosby. Crosby told the GA Voice she identifies as a transgender woman. She also said a group of men were antagonizing them on MARTA and when she responded angrily to their taunts they responded with kicks and punches.

“These guys they came on to me,” Thomas told WSB. “Even the one that looked exactly like a female said she liked guys with dreads.”

Thomas was charged with disorderly conduct and barred from using MARTA. Another man was also charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly beating a second trans woman, Tyra Woods, who tried to help Crosby after Crosby was kicked and punched.

Transgender and LGB activists are planning two town halls this week to discuss the May 20 attack on MARTA. A recording of the attack was uploaded to several websites where it went viral.

The Atlanta-based and trans-led Solutions Not Punishment Coalition (SNaP) also released a “Ride with Respect” video over the weekend that includes an interview with Janell Crosby describing what happened to her and her claim that MARTA police did nothing to help despite her request for help.

“I think I should have been more protected than I was,” Crosby says. “I don’t feel safe coming downtown, I don’t feel like I should be harassed when traveling on the train.”

The video also includes an interview with Dee Dee Chamblee, founder and executive director of La Gender Inc. and a longtime Atlanta trans activist, who calls directly on Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to take action to help transgender people. Trans activist Everette Thompson with SNaP  alleges the Atlanta police have a “culture of disrespecting trans people. They harass us, they profile us.”

“We are a part of this great community,” Thompson says.

MARTA spokespersons have denied the transit system’s police officers did nothing to help and say they are not getting any help from Crosby and Woods into the ongoing investigation.

The first town hall is Tuesday, June 3, at 5:30 p.m. at the Phillip Rush Center and is hosted by SNaP.

On Wednesday, June 4, Restoration Inclusive Ministries in Decatur is holding a town hall 4 at 7:30 p.m. at its church.