Note: this is the 2nd of multiple posts discussing the rally and issues that occurred on Wednesday evening in Bloomfield. I am going to write multiple short posts that talk about various parts of the whole of the evening. I know I will get negative comments on some (maybe all) of these posts. We all are entitled to our opinions. I thought about trying to write a single summarizing post, but it would end up being 8000 words long and no one would read it, so small posts about differing parts of the evening.

So much has happened between 6:55PM last evening and now, and much of it is worth writing about. I want to start by writing about what I’m afraid is going to get lost in the shuffle of the whole evening, but remains a very serious and crucial issue. On Tuesday evening, two women were walking down the streen when some patrons from the Pleasure Bar came out of the bar and started saying homophobic slurs at them. Then, these guys pulled a gun on Lauren and held it in her face. Even after returning the gun to his pants waist, the one guy continued to threaten Lauren and her friend. While there have been homophic stuff happen in that same area before, the fact that a gun was pulled seems to me to be an escalation in the violence directed at lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, or queer people. This escalation needs to be alarming to everyone! It needs to illustrtate how crucial it is for all of us to speak out against homophobia and demand to be able to live and be freely in our own communities.

I didn’t see anything until mid afternoon yesterday, but then, on Facebook, there was a post about a rally. The post didn’t have a lot of info, and unlike what happened there 16 months ago, the amount of chatter about it was non-existant. I arrived to the rally spot near the Pleasure Bar at about 7:10 pm ad there was a wonderful crowd gathered. The crowd was quite diverse in terms of gender, and race, and it was an extremely young crowd. I looked at that, and was amazed and thrilled.

A bit later, someone with a bull horn tried to get the rally started. Lauren was handed the bull horn, but it wasn’t very loud. She attempted to yell to explain what had happened to her. The entire crowd was very supportive and unified in the sense that expressions of homophobia and violence against LGBTQ’s is not acceptable. I loved watching the dynamics of the crowd. I think people within my generation dont know much about this Queer movement of younger people. There is truly a passion and an unwillingness to be quiet in the face of injustice.

There were two police cars there, that I was aware of, and three police officers. If there were more, I didn’t see them. The police had no idea that this rally was going to happen, and were not prepared to either protect the protesters or manage the situation. While I believe, you only need a permit if the crowd is over 250. If the police are aware that something is going to happen they can act differently. For example, last year when there was the rally for Verucca, I don’t remember seeing any police and the crowd was larger than this one.

Another person spoke who couldn’t be heard at all, but who has I have a feeling an extremely important story about police brutality. I went up to ask her about what happened to her, and she refused to talk about it in front of the police. I then realized that there was an officer standing directly behind her. All three officers were quite close.

Without a permit, a crowd can not legally gather and block the sidewalk, nor can the crowd spil nto the street such that it is unsafe for the rally participants of drivers on the street. A group smaller than 250 can gather, but they must keep moving on the sidewalk and not block other pedestrian traffic.

The police explained calming and completly a number of times that the crowd would have to start walking or move to an area that didn’t block traffic such as Friendship Park. For some, this seemed like a reasonable request/suggestion and part of the crowd moved to the park. Others seemed defiant to stay there o the street corner.

It wasn’t apparant this this rally was very organized. I don’t say that as a criticism- it isn’t meant as one. As an activist, it is thrilling to see the willingness of people to come out and support someone on short notice. I appluad everyone who was there for this. I am glad to ee a willingness to stand up and speak out. Unfortunately, that spontenaity also carried with it a lack of awareness of what could or couldn’t be done by the rally participants or by the police. It looks to me like we need to do a lot more work within the community so that peoople are armed with the knowledge of what they can and can not do. Otherwise the point of the rally can get lost in the shuffle.

What happened to Lauren could happen to any of us. Homophobes are out there, and when they are carrying guns it gets even scarier. It is essential that we are all willing to stand up and demand that this type of behaviour does not belong in our neighborhoods. We have every right to live and enjoy our lives no matter if we are gay, lesbian, bi, trans, queer, straight or any other way people self identify.

As some people moved to the park, the focus seemed to turn from the violence toward Lauren to treating the three cops there as if they were the enemy. I will write more about what I saw and experienced in terms of that next.

 

18 Comments

  1. The fact that someone pulled a gun and put it in anyones face for any reason is ridiculous. And the fact that someone does it because they are insecure about seeing someone express their sexuality in a loving way is definitely unacceptable. Our society should be so far past judging people on who they are sexuality attracted to, our society should be so far past people judging other people. If your going to judge keep it to yourself.

  2. A point of clarification. “A group smaller than 250 can gather, but they must keep moving on the sidewalk and not block other pedestrian traffic.” This is not legally true. The police are often confused about this but they can not order people to “keep moving” That only involves specific labor law around union pickets. Please get your facts straight if you are going to cite the law. There was legal disputes around this same issue at protests in Oakland and the police can not order people to keep moving simply for holding a sign. Same goes for anti-abortion protesters at planned parenthood.

    • Thx for adding this comment.  

      • No diss meant though. People are often confused about this. I was at a protest for old growth trees one time in Shadyside and the police pulled this same line. We had to stand there continually asking the police to call supervisors who eventually said yes, that only applies to certain labor picket situations. When you think about it though it makes sense. Many free speech and protest events require remaining static or standing still and it would be impossible if you had to be continually moving. Standing still by itself is not obstruction of the sidewalk as long as a path is clear. This is an area the police need more training on, or ligitation, so they don’t continually lie in order to punish people they don’t like.

      • Yes. I think one if the things I’m learning through my involvement in this case is the amount of info the officers don’t know. They need more or different training. I really appreciate your adding this to the dialogue here.

  3. Strigiform says:

    WERE YOU EVEN THERE? What is your obsession with defending the police? Talking about them as if they were victims? They were never calm. They started shoving people almost immediately after they asked people to move. I was the first person they shoved before they told the person next to me who was already on the sidewalk that they were gonna take her to jail and take her kid to cys. And The person talking about police brutality prompted the violence, because cops don’t want people to talk about their assaults of people, their abuse of people. So they tried to clear the place once they were being exposed and used for immediately. After that the arrested people without any dispersal orders. Stop being the spokesperson for this shit. You obviously have an agenda to defend the police, not your fellow queers, and to bait radicals as people to blame for the cops’ ridiculous, violent, business-as-usual gay bashing behavior. Quit white knighting for the police and take a look around you. This is ridiculous.

    • Well,l we were at the same event and had 2 extremely different views of it.  I have plenty of video footage of the police being quite calm and professional prior to when the crowd moved to the park. 

      I do have an agenda, and that is to have a truthful account of what happened including where the police were out of line and there were lots of parts where I believe they were.

      FWIW, I do not think the police were victims, and I don’t know what I said to suggest that. Please let me know. It is their job to be able to deal with tense and/or passionate situations. The police were in a place of power and folks who have power are never victims. That doesn’t mean that they were not treated wrongly by some. But they certainly weren’t victims. Either cite where I said that or stop putting words in my mouth.

      • Strigiform says:

        OK I’ll bite, who treated the poor cops wrongly? The people who told them to stop shoving, hurting, threatening, sicking dogs on, and yelling at people? The people who were telling cops about the assaults they suffered while the cops told them to stop? Your focus on how the cops were treated is exactly the problem. You’re taking all of the focus off of the assaults, the bashings, the arrests, and putting it on how we can kiss the cops’ asses better.

      • I don’t think you have really read my blog if you honestly think my focus has been on the cops. I wrote well over 900 words and you take 1 sentence in a reply and label that as my focus? Get a grip.

  4. has there been any response from the Pleasure Bar? Do they know who these folks were? Are they regulars there? Were they caught and arrested for what they did? 

    • There’s about as much chance of an arrest as the police catching the the dudes responsible for the last gay bashing outside this bar…. close to zero. The guy who spoke in the one video said the police have had a picture of his assailents for weeks and nothings happened.

      • Jimmy, same thing applies to that situation. Verucca never filed a police report. If there is no report then the police don’t have a crime and if there is no crime they can’t investigate it. If they don’t investigate it, they can’t catch someone(s).

      • I’m not 100% sure, but I don’t believe this is the case. In practice they may not investigate a case without a report but I don’t believe they are legally unable to investigate lawbreaking without a report. As a correction though we’re referencing two different cases. The guy who spoke in the park was not Veruca and was gaybashed a couple weeks ago because people saw them leaving a known gay bar.

      • How can anyone know that there has been lawbreaking unless a report is filed?

      • If you can get any information about this, I will see where this case is at.  But I am not sure what you are disagreeing with here. If someone was gaybashed and they contacted the police, then a report was filed I believe. I’m not sure what “nothing has hgappened” means. It could mean that the guilty persons haven’t been caught yet. It could mean that the police aren’t actively pursuing this case. I’d be very interested in following up on this. Who contacted the police? How did they do that/ who did they talk to? Do they have any information on what happened after that?

    • I did not see them personably but I was told that the owner and manager of the Pleasure Bar was there at the rally or at least outside during it. I was told by Lauren, the woman who had a gun held in her face the night before, that the Pleasure Bar was being extremely helpful to her.

      In terms of the gun holding homophobe, he can not be found and arrested until Lauren files a police report. At least as of this afternoon, this hadn’t happened to the best of my knowledge.

      In my opinion, it is insane that the focus of this for so many has become the police as bad guys when the real bad guy is a drunk homophobe who has a gun in Bloomfield, and unless a police report is filed nothing can be done about that.

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