UPDATE: Arlington police not yet calling anti-gay graffiti on lesbian couple’s vehicle a hate crime

Arlington police say they aren’t yet calling incident in which a lesbian couple’s SUV was spray-painted with anti-gay slurs a hate crime.

The couple was among the victims in a string of 10 incidents of vandalism in the 1100 block of Crowley Road over the weekend. Tiara Richard, a spokeswoman for Arlington Police Department, said the targeted residences had spray-painted images and words on the houses and cars. Homeowners reported the vandalism to police early Sunday morning.

One of the homes belonged to a lesbian couple, whose SUV, pictured above, had the words “faggot” and “queers” spray-painted on it.

Richard said police are not yet calling the incident a hate crime because it is one of 10 incidents.

“We’re investigating it as a crime,” she said. “If there’s a hate element to it, we’ll share that with the district attorney’s office, and they’ll make that call.”

—  Dallasvoice

Flight attendant Steven Slater appears in court, will undergo mental health evaluation

Treatment could be part of deal to avoid jail time; attorney cites client’s HIV-positive status as one source of stress

COLLEEN LONG  |  Associated Press

NEW YORK — The flight attendant accused of onboard antics that captured the nation’s attention when he told off a passenger and slid down the plane’s emergency chute with a beer will undergo a mental health evaluation with the aim of avoiding jail time in a possible plea deal.

Steven Slater, dressed in a trim blue suit, appeared in a Queens courtroom Tuesday, Sept. 7 for a brief hearing on charges of criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and trespassing after last month’s meltdown aboard a JetBlue Airways Corp. flight from Pittsburgh that had just landed at Kennedy International Airport.

He was working Aug. 9 when, he said, an argument took place with a rude passenger. After landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, he went on the public address system, swore at a passenger who he claimed had treated him rudely, grabbed a beer and exited via an emergency chute, prosecutors said.

Attorneys on both sides said a deal was being discussed. Slater will be evaluated and may qualify for an alternative sentencing program, which means he could face community service and counseling instead of jail.

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said Slater’s willingness to be evaluated shows he’s taking the charges more seriously than he had in the past. Slater had spoken out after the incident, as his public opinion swelled and hundreds of thousands of fans online cheered him for standing up to the inhospitable world of airline travel.

The district attorney, speaking to reporters after the hearing, said it would behoove the public to take the Aug. 9 incident more seriously, noting the slide cost $25,000 to repair and the plane had to be taken out of service afterward, causing passenger delays.

“It’s no laughing matter,” he said.

Slater’s attorney, Daniel J. Horwitz, said his client was taking the matter very seriously and said he had been under tremendous pressure because of his terminally ill mother, recently deceased father, and health problems of his own. (Slater is HIV positive.) He said he was hoping prosecutors would take into account Slater’s “long-standing and well-regarded reputation in the industry.”

Horwitz said he hopes they can come to an agreement that favorably resolves the case, but he wouldn’t specify what he was looking for. Brown said if Slater is admitted for alternative sentencing, he could undergo a treatment program lasting weeks, but he said it depended on the outcome of the evaluation and he’s not ruling out the possibilty of jail time yet.

Slater, his head held high, left the court without speaking to the swell of reporters surrounding him. His publicist and attorney said he’s in good spirits and has spent the past few weeks in California with his ailing mother.

Slater resigned from JetBlue last week after about three years there; JetBlue said only that he was no longer an employee. Slater has spent nearly 20 years in the airline industry, but it’s not clear what he’s going to do now.

“Right now we want to get past the criminal issues. Then we’ll worry about the future,” publicist Howard Bragman said. “Obviously he will be unemployed until all this is resolved.”

JetBlue suspended Slater after the incident. It told employees in a memo that press coverage was not taking into account how much harm can be caused by emergency slides, which are deployed with a potentially deadly amount of force.

—  John Wright