Up against the system or the wall. No its not all over dear heart. Cops Part 4

Posted: April 9, 2018 in Call to Action, Fight Back, For your information, for your reflection, knowledge is power, PRIDE, Queer Thoughts, Real Food For Thought, resistance, Saying it like it should be said.

This piece is again a collage of ideas put together in the service of the people. We would like to start this piece with two very important events that took place in our community in the past months. We stand with No Justice No Pride and Trans Queer Pueblo. The second part of this piece is dedicated to ourstories from history past.  This piece concerns police entrapment (yes baby it is still going on here today) in history and our people responds or not in fighting back or sitting back. Important fight back that continues today with groups such as No Justice No Pride and Trans Queer Pueblo. We stand with all of our people within the LGBTQ tribe who see the connection with the murder of Black Men and Women, with cops and ICE harassment of people and ourselves. We stand with all of our people who see the connections on why white middle class pride just doesn’t fit the bill anymore. We remember from ourstories this: In early 1952, leaders of the Mattachine became aware that the issue of entrapment of homosexuals by police in Los Angeles also affected Mexican Americans. In the latter regard the Mattachine was contacted by the local Civil Rights Congress (CRC), a Communist Party front group. The Mattachine also made an alliance with the Red-friendly Asociación Nacional México-Americana, which had its roots in organized labor but concerned itself with police brutality as well. ( 1 ) We realize that this is the only way to go. The only way to fight back.

News of Today

No Justice No Pride shows LGBT folks the way to go.

Here is a statement by No Justice No Pride about the Blue Lives Matter Flag flying at Nellies in Washington DC.

Nellie’s Sports Bar is Cancelled.

In the wake of the murder of Stephon Clark and non indictment of the officers who killed Alton Sterling, they have the audacity to fly a flag that tells us they don’t value Black lives NOT TO MENTION NO JUSTICE FOR KAYLA MOORE, A BLACK TRANS WOMAN WHO WAS MURDERED BY BERKELEY POLICE in 2015. Judge Breyer last week ruled in favor of the City of Berkeley and dismissed the case brought by the family of Kayla Moore. The judge thinks that we don’t have enough evidence to prove that the police “mistook her disability for a crime”. It was already so disgraceful that the judge threw out the claims of excessive force and wrongful arrest back in October of 2017. This most recent discarding of the humanity of people with disabilities is also what we are up against. Maybe this is actually better because now we can go back to the arguments about all three of the main claims and widen this movement back up again.

This is anti blackness.
#BoycottNellies
#NeverNelliesx

blue flag at nellies

Nellie’s a gay bar in Washington, D.C., was forced to apologize Saturday for hanging up a “Blue Lives Matter” flag outside its establishment after a group of gay police officers held a meeting there. The blue flag angered some people who claimed it was offensive to the Black Lives Matter movement and represented “anti blackness.”
Representatives of police departments across the country and an organization that manufactures and distributes the flag have said repeatedly that the flag was never intended to be used as a symbol of discrimination or racial injustice.
“The thin blue line stands for the sacrifice law enforcement officers of this nation make each day,” USA Today quoted Thin Blue Line, an organization that distributes the flags “We reject in the strongest possible terms any association of our flag with racism, hatred, and bigotry,” the organization told USA Today. “To use it in this way tarnishes what it and our nation believe in.”

Drew Ambrogi an organizer of No Justice, No Pride one of the groups behind the gay pride protests of the past few years told the Washington Blade the group learned about the flag being displayed at Nellie’s when one of its members walked past the bar last Friday and saw it hanging from a flag pole.

“We saw it as an issue and we posted about it pretty quickly,” Ambrogi said

“We now understand that flying this flag — at this point in time, in particular — was at best tone deaf, and at worst offensive. We sincerely apologize to our customers and our neighbors for this egregious mistake, and want to assure you that this flag will never fly at Nellie’s again. What it represents to you is not what we want to represent, or what we want our bar to be,” the D.C. establishment said in a statement posted to Facebook Nellie’s said it would be sending a donation to No Justice No Pride.

As many have said and we are saying it again, One can not love the oppressed and the oppressor, it just can’t be done.

A wonderful page from Trans Queer Pueblo Zine 2018. To check it out and other great information on what this upfront, out front and great group is going go to HERE.

Trans Queer Pueblo Phoenix Arizona

After a year of trying to convince Phoenix Pride Board that trans, queer, and gender-non-conforming people of color deserve an LGBTQ Pride where we can be safe from the police and the corporations that fund our deportation, we are saying goodbye.

Join us in reclaiming Pride’s roots of protest and resistance. Join us for LGBTQ+ Justice Week in Phoenix, AZ.

A bit of ourstories from history past.

Gay Entrapment

Police entrapment of homosexual men and harassment of gay bars were widespread; during the 1950s, cities such as Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., police arrested 100 men a month on misdemeanor charges relating to homosexuality. This harassment was not just limited to the 1950s. This harassment continued throughout the following decades and continues today. One of my very close friends was arrested for a “lingering stare at an undercover cop who was beating his meat in a highway rest stop. “This was in 2001. In 2016 police in Toronto arrested 65 men in a out of the way park some for as little as gazing too long at the undercover agent who again had his dick out, stroking it and the one who was the “come and get it” man.

The Connexion a gay newsletter published in the early 1970s had this to say, “Hartford gays are experiencing a new low in cruising freedom these days, Ask anyone who normally cruises the infamous Asylum Hill and Garden Street area. The numbers of people who have been taken down to the precinct houses are already legion and the arrests and friskings continue to mount… One individual who lives in the neighborhood was arrested for loitering while… [going] to the store for milk.” ( 2 )

Here in Hartford men were arrested for cruising along the river banks back in the mid 1980’s. As recently as last year men were arrested for cruising in a off the way park in Manchester Ct. and this blog heard that the cops in a wealthy suburban town were keeping their eye out for any cruising in a local park. Arrests for cruising go way back in history. All over police are still raiding bath houses and arresting men there, arresting men in parks, in tearooms and other places men meet up with other men. The cops, society and many of their friends in both the L & G and straight communities have this to say, “You’re okay as long as you stay within the lines that we draw, as long as you are willing to wear our straight jackets and as long as you are willing to be “just like us.” If not we will arrest you or have you arrested and from then on your life will be miserable.”

Will you join us in this fight?

How to swell the ranks of a movement, just let the cops act the way they do and bam, folks will turn out, join up and fight back. Here is one example from our early history the entrapment of Dale Jennings, his arrest, trial and the break up of the Mattachine and the founding of ONE INC.

“Were all homosexuals and bisexuals to unite militantly, unjust laws and corruption would crumble in short order … Were heterosexuals to realize that these violations of our rights threaten them equally, a vast reform might even come within our lifetime”. …Dale Jennings

We do not see this ‘vast reform’ simply as rights within this system, such as marriage, the military issue but see the bigger picture of liberation. As we said in the early days we do not seek to transform this system but to topple it.

“An Anonymous Call to Arms!”

“We the CITIZENS COMMITTEE AGAINST ENTRAPMENT, an anonymous body of angry voters in full sympathy with the spirit of rebellion in our community concerning police brutality against Minorities in general, ARE CONVINCED THAT NOW, ALSO, IS THE TIME TO REVEAL IN THE CLEAREST POSSIBLE MANNER THE FULL THREAT TO THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY OF THE SPECIAL POLICE BRUTALITY AGAINST THE HOMOSEXUAL MINORITY.”

One case that swelled the ranks of the early homosexual movement before the battle at Stonewall Inn was the case of Dale Jennings. In the spring of 1952 Dale Jennings was arrested for allegedly soliciting a police officer in a toilet in Westlake Park, now known as MacArthur Park. The trial that took place drew national attention to the Mattachine Society and membership increased drastically due to the decision of the Mattachine Society to help contest the charges brought against Jennings. Jennings called fellow Mattachine founder Harry Hay, and they enlisted the help of attorney George Sibley, a member of the Citizens’ Council to Outlaw Entrapment. Jennings was one of the first homosexual men to contest charges such as this one. Most homosexuals at the time pled guilty, took whatever the cops and the courts handed out, so as not to be publicly scrutinized. We can only imagine what being arrested back in those days did to a person and the worse part is it is still going on today. Lives are being ruined for something that really is not a crime, people are being placed on a sex offender list and their lives ruined just like the bad old days.

Jennings decision to fight back was a pivotal point in the movement. The organization raised funds and promoted Jennings’ case nationally. The trial began June 23, 1952 and lasted ten days. Jennings confessed to being a homosexual but denied any wrongdoing. While there were different accounts of what exactly occurred that day, by the end of the trial the jury voted 11–1 for acquittal on the basis of police intimidation, harassment, and entrapment of homosexuals, and the case was dismissed. While only Dale Jennings and the police officer know the exact details of that day in the park, the trial brought a lot of attention to the Mattachine Society, increasing awareness of the gay Rights Movement as a whole as well as increasing the organization’s membership. ( 3 )

Mattachine activists took the news to the streets the same way they had built this case–with widely distributed leaflets hailing the decision in a one-word headline: “Victory!” The July 1952 leaflet read in part: “You didn’t see it in the papers, but it … did happen in L.A.” For the “first time in California history an admitted homosexual was freed on a vag-lewd charge.” This win was “the result of organized work” and contributions of funds, work and time by “people who believe in justice for … the homosexual.”

“The Mattachine leadership, took the position that innocence or guilt was irrelevant to the question of support. The law itself was unjust, they argued, and needed to the questioned, and the abusive police practices toward homosexuals must be stopped.” The bold public campaign act electrified those who lived under the threat of police entrapment. The Citizen’s Committee began receiving mail offering help and donations to defray legal costs.  ( 4 )

The Mattachine Rewiew 1959 ( 5 )

But with new members can come a great cost to any organizations and The Mattachine did not escape from this. Many of the new members were white middle class gay men who didn’t share the same left ideals as the founding committee of the original group. In April of 1953 a convention was held attended by over 500 people (some who attended report there were far less) from across the U.S. the threats by these white middle class gay men to pull out of the organization, rename themselves and begin to fight back in a different manner, with the House In-American Activities Committee about to descend on the West Coast to begin their inquiries, with red-baiting at an all time high, the founders and the Steering Committee of The Mattachine decided to dissolve their role in the organization. So began the march toward assimilation. Harry Hay in an interview with The Progressive Magazine had this to say: “They kicked me out of the Mattachine because the new guys were right of center. I stood for us being a national minority. They didn’t want that. All they wanted was to march up to Sacramento and change the law just a tiny bit. They would say, “It’s ridiculous to think of a homosexual brotherhood. We don’t have anything in common except what we do in bed together. If you can change the law, we can all be normal.”  To this the interviewer said, “People say that nowadays.” and Harry Hay replied, ” I know. The assimilationist group you have now is exactly the same crowd that threw me out, only 50 + years ago. Assimilation is the way you excuse yourself. It absolutely never worked at all. You may not think that you are noticeable. But they know who you are. They know you’re a degenerate, and they’ve never forgotten that. You won’t find that out until the push comes to shove. And then you’ll find it out real fast. Because they’re respectable in the eyes of God and you aren’t.” ( 6 )

Harry Hay had this to say, “The Mattachine after 1953 was primary concerned with legal change, with being seen as respectable-rather than self respecting. They wanted to be dignified by professional “authorities” and prestigious people, rather than by the more compelling dignity of group worth.” ( 7 )

Yes folks that same old tired story began, “We are no different than you except for what we do in bed.” Just go over to the state house change the law and we will be okay. Live inside the straight world’s straight jacket, stay within their lines and you will succeed above all do not associate with anyone who lives outside that which is acceptable or you will be pegged as one of those. Many years ago I say this upfront, in the town where I lived there was a homosexual underground. Most of the men were respectable men, business people and the likes. Heck even the milkman loved to do the wild thing. Well as soon as I began to grown my hair long, rumors had it I did drugs and was a communist things changed over night for me. Not one of the men were willing to even sneak a quick one, talk to me at anytime and I was shunned. Of course I fully now understand why these men acted the way they did from their own closet but hell it was indeed lonely.

Bath House watercolor by Malcolm Lidbury.

Records of men meeting for sex with other men in bathhouses date back to the 15th century. A tradition of public baths dates back to the 6th century BC, and there are many ancient records of homosexual activity in Greece. In the West, gay men have been using bathhouses for sex since at least the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a time when homosexual acts were illegal in most Western countries and men who were caught engaging in homosexual acts were often arrested and publicly humiliated. Men began frequenting cruising areas such as bathhouses, public parks, alleys, train and bus stations, movie theatres, public lavatories (cottages or tearooms), and gym changing rooms where they could meet other men for sex.

 In 1492 in Florence a purge against the “vice of sodomy” took place in taverns, baths and sheds or houses used for sex. The city’s leading criminal court warned the owners of bath houses to keep out “suspects”. The taverns, baths, sheds and houses were raided. The court in Florence convicted 44 men for homosexual relations from April 1492 and February 1494. So the attacks by straights on homosexual men has been going on for many years. ( 8 )

On February 21, 1903, NYPD conducted the first recorded raid on a gay bathhouse in the basement of the Ariston Hotel at the corner Broadway and 55th Street in New York City. 26 men were arrested and 12 brought to trial on sodomy charges; 7 men received sentences ranging from 4 to 20 years in prison. In the 1950s exclusively gay bathhouses began to open in the United States. Though subject to vice raids, these bathhouses were “oases of homosexual camaraderie” and were, as they remain today, “places where it was safe to be gay”, whether or not patrons themselves identified as homosexual. The gay baths offered a much safer alternative to sex in other public places. If you didn’t care for the baths there was always the showers at the good old YMCA.

Goody Two Shoes Calls The Cops on Gays Sucking and Fucking Down By the Riverside.

Policing our own people is never right.

Joesph who was very involved in the early civil rights movement in this area called me years ago and said, “You will never guess what is happening?” He went on to explain that some members of the Gay and Lesbian community in this city had called the police and reported that there was a lot of cruising going on along the river banks men were being arrested to “stop the spread of HIV/AIDS (or so they say). In an essay on cruising punkpink had this to say about what happened:

“Here I was punkpink leaving the downtown for the liberal/progressive West End. Oh La la, those Liberals, those Progressive, those lovely gay and lesbian citizens who wouldn’t lend a finger to help when their gay brothers were attacked by the police while cruising the river banks. These folks who tried to convince everyone else that it was only straight married men or homosexual men in the closet who did any cruising. (as if that mattered) “So forget it, they don’t belong to the movement. Really what they were saying is “we are ashamed of these our own, and don’t want to ruin our chances for our civil rights if we stand up and say anything.” Cruising and having sex in public places even if your ass is hidden behind the biggest bush is wrong. There is HIV/AIDS to worry about, there is our public image to worry about, all that we have done in the direction of civil rights could go down the drain.

What a load of crap. Many of the male gay leaders were sucking anything they could find in all the near by bushes and I ran into more than one of them in the Tea Rooms of Hartford. But in their tight little groups they would say, NOT US it’s those other guys. Not one of them would stand up and make a statement against the police. The Hartford police that were entrapping and arresting our men. What crap to say that we should forget these men because they are the closeted homosexuals and straight unhappily married men whose wives didn’t do anything for them. “Those were the people who did the cruising in the bushes and tea rooms” or so some said. Sure, a lot of the guys that were around doing it were closeted homosexuals and married but we always said the more the *merrier*. Men on Men! I love it!

Riverside Park in those days was a bit woolly and wild with no boat house, almost an abandoned place. At this hot cruising area, the police began a hard crack down. I forgot the year but a demonstration was held there against the police. Radicals called for a protest at police headquarters, 5 people came out. We still are certain but can’t put our fingers on who it was either some community members or organizations that reported these cruising areas, tea rooms and other areas to the police. The police at that time were not bright enough to know all of these areas. We can just hear the G & L folks now, “These bad guys who are making us look bad and spreading diseases.” “We will never get our rights if we allow this to continue.” Similar crackdowns were happening all around the country as bath houses were being closed, tea rooms were raided and surveillance and entrapments of gays were being stepped up.” ( 9 )

At the same time our dear friends in the church groups which were formed to fight discrimination in their churches had this to say, “cruising to be contributing to the communities oppression, turning us into alcoholics and compulsive sex addicts, and claiming that we were unable to deal with intimacy and close relationships which was born out of hate and self worthlessness.” Gays and Lesbians in the Episcopalian group Integrity were some of the most damning of the cruisers. This is a failure of the LGBT community. This is our failure in trying to get straight folks to like us. No sir we are not deviant; we are just like you; we have nothing in common with “those people.” This is total bullshit.

Wake The Fuck Up!!

As our leaflet and outreach said at the time: “The main issue here is cops went undercover, posing as available trade, showing their hard dicks to get men to hit on them. They baited these men to lure them into a crime. All the prissy apologists who are tsk tsk ing people’s sexual practices and aligning themselves with the cops had better wake the fuck up. This is about criminalizing gay men plain and simple.”

***************

NOTES:

( 1 ) Chuck Rowland had this to say: “As soon as we got into the oppressed cultural minority phase we had something our backgrounds had prepared us for—oppression of the blacks, the Jews, of women, and now—here in Los Angeles—of the Chicanos (who weren’t called that at the time). A left-oriented organization, ANMA (Asociación Nacional Mexicana [sic] Americana), was formed to oppose police harassment and frequent brutality in East LA. We would make common cause with them for, we were convinced, all socially oppressed minorities had something in common, whether they knew it or not.”Mattachine cofounder Harry Hay recalled that, beginning in October 1951, police raided Mexican American organizations on the pretext of narcotics and gambling, with attendant beatings and brutality.  To my knowledge, such raids weren’t reported in the Los Angeles Times, 2 but two cases involving allegations of brutality towards Mexican Americans by drunken cops received much coverage from that newspaper in the winter and spring of 1952.The Mattachine was paying attention. On March 14, 1952, just a week before the arrest of Mattachine cofounder Dale Jennings, the issue of police brutality was raised at a Mattachine meeting.  Ultimately the Mattachine appears to have abandoned its engagement with other minority groups in favor of focusing both strategically and informationally on the cause of homosexuals. (we have seen this over and over in our lifetime and we do not believe in single issue or only gay issues this is not a true struggle to us.)

( 2 ) The Connexion Newsletter September 1973. Many issues of the Connexion can be found in the Equity and Diversity Collection at Central Connecticut State University Burrit Library Special Collections. Issues of the Kalos Society’s Griffin Magazine, MCC News and copies of the Metroline all LGBT publications with a wealth of information about the LGBTQ Community.

( 3 ) An excellent article on the Mattachine Society and the trial of Dale Jennings is 1952: Mattachine Battles Police Harassment, Leslie Feinberg, Lavender & Red part 43 found HERE.
Many people caught up in anti-gay police entrapment activity will do anything to avoid publicity and put the case behind them, so this kind of activity usually has little risk for the police officer who, as McCumons alleges in this case, falsifies a factual report to support an arrest in a situation where the arrested person has not actually violated the law. McCumons v. Marougi. Gay Entrapment Someone Fights Back!

( 4 ) Dale Jennings said of this, ” Actually I had very little to do with this victory. Yes, I gave my name and publicly declared myself to be a homosexual, but the moment that I was arrested my name was no longer “good” and this incident will stand on record for all to see for the rest of my life. It is a situation where to be accused is to be quality, a person’s good name is worthless and meaningless.” .. Dale Jennings To Be Accused, Is To Be Guilty. ONE (LA) Vol. 1 No. 1 Jan. 1953

( 5 ) The May 1959 issue of the Mattachine Review, an American LGBT magazine

( 6 ) Harry Hay interview with Anne-Marie Cusac The Progressive September 1998 pg. 19-23

( 7 ) Harry Hay interview with Jonathan Katz, Gay American History. Pg. 419

Jonathan Katz included a lot of valuable information in his book, Gay American History concerning Harry Hay, The Mattachine Society, the trial of Dale Jennings and just about anything that a person would want to know about ourstories.

**The primary goals of the Mattachine Society were to
“Unify homosexuals isolated from their own kind”;
“Educate homosexuals and heterosexuals toward an ethical homosexual culture paralleling the cultures of the Negro, Mexican and Jewish peoples”;
“Lead the more socially conscious homosexual to provide leadership to the whole mass of social variants”; and
“Assist gays who are victimized daily as a result of oppression”

( 8 ) In the late fifteenth century, as many as one in two Florentine men had come to the attention of the authorities for sodomy by the time they were thirty. In 1432 The Office of the Night was created specifically to police sodomy in Florence. Indeed, nearly all Florentine males probably had some kind of same-sex experience as a part of their “normal” sexual life. Seventy years of denunciations, interrogations, and sentencings left an extraordinarily detailed record. The men of Renaissance Florence were so renowned for sodomy that “Florenzer” in German meant “sodomite.” In the late fifteenth century, as many as one in two Florentine men had come to the attention of the authorities for sodomy by the time they were thirty. In the short period from April 1492 to February 1494 they convicted 44 men for homosexual relations not involving violence or aggravating circumstances.  ..Michael Rocke Forbidden Friendships: Homosexuality and Male Culture in Renaissance Florence.

( 9 ) Those Were The Days. Hot Sex in The City. Punkpink Furbirdsqueerly is found HERE. 

Coming in Part 5.

The city cop as an Agent of ICE. Telling it like it is to the president. The fight back continues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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