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Lewd or immoral acts in Michigan

A Commentary

Timothy Kincaid

December 14th, 2011

Laws are funny things. Generally created out of some panicky necessity (usually the necessity of a politician to appear to be statesmanlike), they linger on long after the need has passed and often to the point of absurdity.

But sometimes rather than amusing and fairly harmless laws that reflect a cultural reality that has long passed, they become tools for abuse by police or other authorities who seek to achieve their own personal goals based in their own prejudices or ill intent. And that appears to be happening in Kent County, Michigan. Sheriff Larry Stelma is using a law written to address prostitution to “clean up” county parks.

750.448 Soliciting, accosting, or inviting to commit prostitution or immoral act; crime.

Sec. 448.

A person 16 years of age or older who accosts, solicits, or invites another person in a public place or in or from a building or vehicle, by word, gesture, or any other means, to commit prostitution or to do any other lewd or immoral act, is guilty of a crime punishable as provided in section 451.

Sec. 451.

(1) Except as otherwise provided in this section, a person convicted of violating section 448, 449, 449a, 450, or 462 is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days or a fine of not more than $500.00, or both.

Stelma has decided that this is his justification for ridding the parks of gay men. And he’s taking a very broad interpretation of the code to do so.

He has decided that “accosts, solicits, or invites another person” includes responding to solicitation by an undercover police officer. And “commit prostitution or to do any other lewd or immoral act” includes flirting, holding hands, or inviting another person home or to another private location to pursue sexual activities. Or rather, it does if the target is a gay man.

And Stelma acknowledges that his officers are not interested in following the letter of the law, and especially not the spirit of the law, but in harassing targets that he knows full well are not committing a crime: (Mlive.com)

“There is a range of discernment there, but whatever that act or suggestion was has to be considered by a judge or jury as being lewd or immoral,” Stelma said. “Our community has invested heavily in the parks and they expect us to keep them safe, family-friendly places and that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”

So Sheriff Stelma will arrest those whom he deems not to be “family-friendly” and parade them in front of the community for public shaming and condemnation. Oh, and if it was unwarranted, well then a judge can let them off the $500 penalty.

At Box Turtle Bulletin we do not endorse or defend sex in public or suggest that such acts should not be discouraged or punished when they occur. Half of the arrests reviewed by the ACLU were for activities that were criminal and that is appropriate.

But we also do not accept the assumption that being gay is a crime or that there is anything “family-friendly” about targeting gay people. And if an officer or police force is arresting gay people for things for which one would never arrest a heterosexual, they are engaging in criminal behavior themselves and are violating the civil rights of citizens.

Such tactics are not uncommon and the reason is clear. There is very little disincentive for police to engage in this form of selective and creative enforcement. Seldom are police chiefs reprimanded, much less fired. And there is little social cost resulting from their abuse of power.

Those who are hateful or fearful are happy that “that element” is remove from a “family park” and those who object are smirked at as being soft on crime and a seedy element themselves. And, of course, there is the internal reward of harming people whom the officer or leader considers inferior or less human. Truly, bigots love a good “round up the homos” police sting.

But the cost to their victims can be huge.

Often those who resort to meeting in a park are men who are closeted and afraid to go to a bar or look online. They will do anything, say anything, to avoid having their secrets become public. And it is on just such a fear that corrupt officers and police forces rely; the sheriff can hold the threat of being listed as a sex offender over their head to keep them from any public objection.

I’m really sick of this.

It has reached the point now that when I hear of any dispute between an officer and a civilian, I assume that the officer is simply engaging in police brutality. And sadly, I’m very seldom wrong.

And even more frustrating is the mindset that is universally shared by the police community: protection of their own before protection of the community. Even in the most extreme of cases. (OC Register)

Earlier this month, six Fullerton cops surrounded and savagely attacked an unarmed, 37-year-old Kelly Thomas until he was dead. By the time the cops were done, Thomas’ face looked like it had been put through a meat grinder.

Multiple witness say the cops repeatedly beat the 135-pound homeless man with their weapons, fired multiple Taser shots into his body, kicked his face and head with their boots and then, long after the man was subdued and on the ground, slammed their knees into his throat, apparently crushing it.

Thomas had committed no crime and it appears that the murder was for sport. Not one officer in the police force objected. The six were not put on suspension or reprimanded or even frowned at as a consequence of their action. In fact, it was not until the man’s father went to the internet and got the support of local radio hosts John and Ken that anyone knew about it or the department took up an investigation. And when John and Ken began reporting, the families of other police officers actually called up and tried to make excuses.

This was a murder committed on police time, in uniform, with police recorders running, and people watching. The victim was threatened and taunted and then beaten to death. And they didn’t care that they would be turning in “reports” or that their department would have access to the recordings. They already knew that they were protected from any consequence to any action – even murder – because they were police officers.

And when the Fullerton community erupted in anger and a few officers were finally arrested, guess who bailed out the primary murderer? Yep, his fellow officers.

This infuriates me.

The thing is that my instinct runs to ‘law and order’. I like having a police force to protect me. I like knowing that if someone breaks into my home or threatens me on the street or otherwise harms or endangers me, that there is someone to look out for me. And when people like Kent County Sheriff Larry Stelma abuse their office and bring shame to the process, it hurts those honest officers who try to do their job and protect the citizens.

But honest officers seem to be in short supply. And their honesty seems to come secondary to their loyalty to power and corruption. The “thin blue line” appears to have become an impenetrable boundary that breaks the world into two classes: “good guys” who murder citizens, and “perps” like you and me and homeless schizophrenics and closeted men in Michigan.

And I know that I’ll be told that “there are a lot of good officers”. Bull. Being a good officer means not only avoiding abuse yourself, but stopping it when others do it. And that simply doesn’t occur.

But this only happens because we allow it. We are afraid that if we stop police abuse that it will empower criminals and crooks. Unfortunately, we now are seeing that our fear has already empowered criminals and crooks – the ones wearing the uniform.

It needs to stop. We need to make it stop.

Perhaps it is time to implement a tool that police bullies use against the citizens. Perhaps it’s time to create a Police Brutality Offenders Registry and when an officer has been accused of abusing his power he goes on the registry. If you are surly or arrogant or dismissive of a citizen, it goes into the Registry. If someone dies at your hands, it goes into the Registry. If you are on a police board that excuses an officer or finds “justifiable” something that would result in jail time for anyone else, then your name goes into the Registry.

And people seeking to move into a new city or precinct can look up the Police Brutality Offenders Registry, just like they can the Sex Offenders Registry, to see just how safe their new community might be. “Great schools and few sex offenders, but the police are corrupt so we’ll not buy here.”

And perhaps it is time for society to withhold the respect afforded police until they have proven themselves worthy. They need to decide if they are peace officers or a police force, if they answer to the community first or to their loyalty to the uniform first. It isn’t enough, any more, to be honest officers themselves, it’s now time for them to insist that others in their ranks be honest or get out. And if their sergeant doesn’t like it, go the newspapers.

Until officers and police forces identify themselves as protectors of the citizenry, we must assume that they are not good people. If they cannot condemn the horrific acts in Fullerton in clear and unequivocal terms, if they cannot demonstrate that your civil rights are more important than ‘rousting the objectionables’, if they think that they are an exception and exempt from laws that prohibit murder, then we must assume that they are the enemies of law and order no different from a street gang.

I hate to assume guilt and corruption… but it seems that few police are willing or able to show otherwise.

Comments

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elaygee
December 14th, 2011 | LINK

Psychological testing of police recruits would weed out the psychopaths but few would be left to actually become cops.

Rick Brentlinger
December 14th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy, the illicit police activity you describe only survives with the willing cooperation of judges, attorneys, mayors, county commissioners and civic leaders. I have personally observed the same thing in Pensacola, FL.

The cops are betting that the gay men they arrest will plead no contest and accept a fine and/or probation. There are two ways the gay community can begin to win these cases.

1. Hire a pit bull lawyer and fight them in court. This only works part of the time because so many closeted gay men refuse to come out and refuse to fight in court.

2. Perform due diligence by checking the background of every judge and police officer in jurisdictions where these corrupt tactics are used. If the leaders of these gay pogroms are closeted gays, out them. If they are having heterosexual affairs, out them.

Often the arresting officer does not show up for court because he assumes the gay man will plead out. When the arresting officer does not show up to testify, any honest judge will, at that point, dismiss the case. Dishonest judges continue the case and whisper an admonition to make sure the officer is in court for the rescheduled hearing.

David S.
December 14th, 2011 | LINK

(1) Is there any actual evidence that the police force was discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation?

(2) Does Mr. Kincaid actually believe that it is a horrible injustice if people who want to solicit others for random sexual encounters, paid or otherwise, are forbidden from doing so in public parks?

jutta
December 14th, 2011 | LINK

@David: 1. Have you read the article in mlive?

2. Your question implies that people should be forbidden to “solicit” others in public parks. Why? As a European I am really amazed at some discussions going on in the US.

Erin
December 15th, 2011 | LINK

@ David S. Question 2 was answered in the article. Read it again.

Erin
December 15th, 2011 | LINK

Thank you thank you thank you for this article, Timothy. This is one of the things about this country that continues to peeve me off. And so many naive / ignorant citizens cheer it on, as long as it was someone they look down on being abused, like a homeless bum, or a homosexual, or an OWS protester. I’ll be reposting this.

DN
December 15th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy, you’ve put into words what I’ve been feeling about cops for well over a decade. Ever since the cops in Calgary closed ranks around a drunk-driving-on-the-wrong-side-of-a-highway cop who smashed at a combined speed of about 200kph into a car with a couple of teenagers, killing them.

The worst part? The drunk cop was leaving a police force barbecue hosted at the chief’s house. The way the cops closed ranks sickened me. I actually found myself glaring at a table of cops at a pizza restaurant a week later. I had no respect for them anymore.

And the thing about respect is that once it’s lost, it’s extremely difficult to rebuild it.

Priya Lynn
December 15th, 2011 | LINK

David said “Does Mr. Kincaid actually believe that it is a horrible injustice if people who want to solicit others for random sexual encounters, paid or otherwise, are forbidden from doing so in public parks?”.

Obviously you didn’t completely read what Timothy wrote, no he does not think that would be a horrible injustice, what he said was the horrible injustice is gay couples holding hands or displaying affection in any of the ways heterosexual couples do and getting arrested for it.

Do you believe gay couples deserve to be arrested, fined and/or imprisoned and put on sex offender registries for the same innocent acts heteroesexual couples do with no possibility of police harrasment?

Blake
December 15th, 2011 | LINK

Let’s do it! If it weren’t for N.O.’s terrible police ATL would have the worst in the country. Especially out in the ‘burbs. Its shocking what Marietta, Sandy Springs, Alpharetta, Fayetteville, & Peachtree City Police get away with. In Atlanta in the past 5 years the police killed an octogenarian great-grandmother while executing a no-knock warrant based on an informant who was pressured by the police unit to lie, groped multiple people at traffic stops to the point that the department is facing sexual harassment suits, and raided the Eagle for no-f’in reason.

Out in the burbs its entrapment like you mentioned in your article and constantly pulling over people for “driving-while-minority” and for having out-of-county tags (on the Southside).

This idea is going to resonate in Atlanta. The police are so bad here that ONLY AS PART OF A SETTLEMENT did the force even entertain the idea about educating the force about the perps’ constitutional rights. So it takes a lawsuit to ensure that police officers know what the 4th Amendment means.

On top of the terrible Atlanta City Police, the MARTA Police just shot a teenager in the back 4 times after a high-school football game. Also, there has been a lot of discussion about Justice, Unity and cross-cultural exchanges between activists in the Atlanta gay community recently. The Gay Activists in Atlanta seem really keen on breaking down cultural racial barriers; this might can be the issue where we can reach across prejudices and find common ground. I can imagine even the more anti-gay but still social-justice-conscious ministers teaming-up in a broad coalition to hold the police accountable.

Let’s start a database of Police behaving badly! But how do we protect those who are going to operate, research, and investigate the claims from Police Harassment themselves?

Also Atlanta is a very proud city. And the business leaders, historically, go out of their way to make sure the city is not portrayed negatively (why do think the Olympic Bribing Scandal broke after SLC rather than ATL?). Either the Business community will line up the police or they will line up with the activists. So far they’ve stayed publicly natural, but I have to imagine they are supportive of the police. Do people outside of Atlanta even know who Kathryn Johnston was?

I’m going to make some calls & do some research. I’ll keep you posted.

StraightGrandmother
December 16th, 2011 | LINK

Tim, I know you are right. But I have to honestly say what I am thinking also. And although 50% of the arrests according to the ACLU were wrongly arrested, 50% were correctly arrested.

One thing I really really really hate is this business of gay men having sex in our public parks. I just hate that. I see the communities point of view of not wanting that in their parks, they want to take their children to the public parks and not have them sexualized beyond their years, and in some parks you apparently only have a 50/50 chance of keeping your children away from that. Now what parent would take 50/0 as good odd? Would you take your children to parks where you know that a lot of MSM goes on? Seriously would you take your children there?

I don’t know what the solution is, but we do know that if the cops do nothing the parks end up being not safe for our children and grandchildren. Tim if 50% of the arrests were legitimate there is a problem park there. Actually the park is not the problem, it is the gay men who are the problem. And NOT ALL gay men, repeat not ALL gay men. We don’t want sex acts out on our public streets and parks, whether it is paid or unpaid. Get a room like decent people do. What is the solution here? We don’t have the budget to put a police officer acting as a monitor in every single one of the public parks. You should not fear arrest for holding hands or sitting on a picnic table and talking to someone and I hope they are not arresting those people. I know I will take heat for saying what I am about to say but be honest. When the cops are not there don’t some of those hand holding couples proceed into the bushes? Apparently they do because 50% of the arrest were legit. If you live around that park and want to use that park what are you supposed to do? We don’t develop and fund our public parks to be hook up places. We design them and plan for them to be a place to get back to nature, take a walk, ride your bike, have a picnic. I have no sympathy at all for gay married men to go to parks for sex in the park. I hope they all get busted.

I would feel the exact same way, exactly the same, if a public park became a hook up place for heterosexuals. I don’t want to walk down a nature trail and find a guy and a girl doing it in the bushes either. It is not the sexual orientation that bothers me, it is having outdoor sex in our public parks that bothers me. Holding hands and kissing fine, this is not unique to sexual minorities, you should not fear arrest for that. If we arrest the gays for hand holding then we need to arrest the hetro teenaged couple as well. I don’t share your distrust of the police but that makes sense as I am a WASP. I don’t think there is a systemic problem with our police officers but I am open minded enough to look at your evidence.

Priya Lynn
December 16th, 2011 | LINK

Straightgrandmother said “I know I will take heat for saying what I am about to say but be honest. When the cops are not there don’t some of those hand holding couples proceed into the bushes?”.

Yes, I’m sure they do and it would be appropriate to arrest them at that time, but certainly not when they are just holding hands. A just police force can’t just assume every hand-holding gay couple is going to have sex in the bushes, that’s no better than arresting black people and planting drugs on them under the assumption that they’re all doing it anyway.

You seem to be under the mistaken impression that Timothy’s defending gay couples having sex in the park, that’s certainly not the case. No one’s suggesting that gays having sex in parks shouldn’t be arrested, the problem is the arresting of people just for being gay.

Timothy Kincaid
December 16th, 2011 | LINK

SG

… and in some parks you apparently only have a 50/50 chance of keeping your children away from that.

I understand and share your concern. But I believe you are misreading the situation.

It is not the case that half of the time there is inappropriate situations. There were a total of 33 arrests, only half of which were valid.

So clearly visiting the park is very unlikely to result in being exposed to sexual behavior. Even if all of these situations were blatant, it would be a 1 in 20 chance, not a 50/50 chance.

Nor is there any indication that there are any inappropriate situations that remain. There may be none.

And also consider that quite often when there is a police sting, they don’t catch people don’t bad things. Instead, they entice people to do bad things and then arrest them for yielding to temptation.

So my commentary addresses not the legitimate arrests, but rather, the that the sheriff has arrested as many innocent people as guilty people.

I don’t support sex in parks. I also don’t support murder. But suppose that half of all murder arrests were not related to murder at all but were instead arrests based on a person’s ethnic heritage. Suppose that being, say, Armenian was enough to get you arrested for murder (Cher beware).

We can simultaneously oppose murder AND oppose false murder arrests of Armenians. To come to the defense of Armenians would not equate to defending murderers. Even if some Armenians were guilty of murder.

Similarly, coming to the defense of gay men arrested for just being gay does not equate to defending sex in parks.

StraightGrandmother
December 16th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy = “Similarly, coming to the defense of gay men arrested for just being gay does not equate to defending sex in parks.”
StraightGrandmother = I told you at the top of my comment that I knew that you were right. But then you said, “And also consider that quite often when there is a police sting, they don’t catch people don’t bad things. Instead, they entice people to do bad things and then arrest them for yielding to temptation.”

I guess the devil is in the details of what the law and you consider enticement to be. I feel safe in saying that they were at the park to have sex if they were able to be enticed. AND if it wasn’t a sting then most certainly they would have had sex in the park, thereby polluting that park.

I cannot express to you how strongly I detest gay men having sex in our public parks. Pretty soon there will be an app for that, which park has the most hookup potential. You did not answer my question of if you would take YOUR children for an outing in parks that are known for men having sex with men? Would you take your children there?

As strongly as you come out swinging against the police you should come out swinging against men who have sex with men in our public parks.

StraightGrandmother
December 16th, 2011 | LINK

Why does it have to be Parks Timothy? Why don’t men who are looking for a quick hook-up with other men go to abandoned industrial sites to gather and congregate for hook-ups? I HATE this polluting of our public parks!I really hate it.

Priya Lynn
December 16th, 2011 | LINK

Straightgrandmother said “As strongly as you come out swinging against the police you should come out swinging against men who have sex with men in our public parks.”.

I see police killing a homeless man for sport as a much more serious crime than men having sex in a park.

Timothy Kincaid
December 16th, 2011 | LINK

StraightGrandmother,

I don’t know that it is parks. I really am not hooked into the ‘closeted guys looking for sex’ network. And from what news reports I read, the GAY MEN HAVING SEX IN PARKS!!!! scares seem to exist primarily in the imagination of police captains.

Obviously it does happen. To some extent. Somewhere. But I don’t know that it’s the issue you fear it is.

I’ve heard that some gay men have sex off the trails in Griffith Park in LA at night. I don’t know if that still goes on or not, but the odds of a family having a picnic in the underbrush off of Griffith Park’s mountain trails at night are zero. That doesn’t make it ok, but it doesn’t exactly threaten any families either.

Have you ever encountered someone having sex in a park?

StraightGrandmother
December 16th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy, no I have never witnessed men having sex in the park but I sure avoided a local park, and it was quite a nice park, because it was well known in the community that men had sex over there.

I personally did not get to enjoy and take my children to a park because of this. It was the same thing as this article, where I lived they would periodically have police round ups to clean out the park. The reason for the round up is because it WAS happening.

Prya Lynn you said, “I see police killing a homeless man for sport as a much more serious crime than men having sex in a park.”

Why this is true however police are not out murdering people every day. On the other hand if you live near a park that has been polluted by men cruising and having sex in the park, you are denied every day the use of that park. And not only that, you have to train your kids NOT to go into that park. Is that a way to live? So it is no big deal unless you live by one of those parks. Or there is a nice park in your community that you would like to use and you can’t. There is nothing good about it.

Your home value goes down and it does go down as trust me, all the parents in that city know about that problem park. What should be a valuable property with an asset of being located across the street from a beautiful park now has less value because nobody wants to raise kids and live across the street from that park. Seriously realtors will not advertise that it is across the street from that park. What should be an asset being across the street from a nice park becomes a liability.

It would be the exact same thing if drug dealers took over a park, or gang members. It is not something we want our children to be around. It is just so disgusting. If all they did was hold hands I wouldn’t care. But that is not the way it is Timothy and Pyre.

Timothy for the 3rd time, would you take your children to a public park that you knew, verifiable knew, was a hook up place where men have sex with men in the bushes and in the public bathrooms. Would you take your children there or not?

StraightGrandmother
December 16th, 2011 | LINK

Here-
http://www.gayuniverse.com/cgi/cruise_state.cgi?state=Wisconsin
I rest my case.

Priya Lynn
December 16th, 2011 | LINK

Straightgrandmother said “Why this is true however police are not out murdering people every day. On the other hand if you live near a park that has been polluted by men cruising and having sex in the park, you are denied every day the use of that park.”.

Police killing for sport on occaision is a much more serious crime than men having sex in the park every day. It demonstates the dangerous attitude that’s infiltrated them that influences everything they do every day. I’m far more concerned about a police force that thinks they are above the law and free to abuse as they see fit than I am about men having sex in parks.

You admit you’ve never encountered men having sex in a park and you say “I sure avoided a local park, and it was quite a nice park, because it was well known in the community that men had sex over there.”.

I’ve frequently encountered people who said a certain thing was “well known” only to demonstrate to them that their claim was false. Just because someone asserts something is going on or is common doesn’t mean it is. You’re merely guessing that this is true and that is not in any way an assurance that it is.

If I had children I wouldn’t let rumours keep me from taking them to a park and when and if I encountered men having sex there then I’d do something about it then rather than get in a tizzy about something I don’t even know is happening.

StraightGrandmother
December 17th, 2011 | LINK

Here Priya just in case you missed it the first time

http://www.gayuniverse.com/cgi/cruise_state.cgi?state=Wisconsin

You want to focus on the cops who murdered a man and take the discussion in that direction I want to stay on topic and what brought up this whole discussion and police action is Men having Sex with Men in the parks.
I rest my case. It IS a big DEAL.

Priya Lynn
December 17th, 2011 | LINK

Straightgrandmother, you say its a big deal, but you’ve never encountered any men having sex in the park. I saw your link the first time, I’m not sure what to make of it. I personally have never encountered anyone having sex in a park or any public place. Based on both our experiences I don’t think its a big deal.

StraightGrandmother
December 17th, 2011 | LINK

Pryia-
My you are determined to have the last word aren’t you. You said,
“If I had children I wouldn’t let rumours keep me from taking them to a park and when and if I encountered men having sex there then I’d do something about it then rather than get in a tizzy about something I don’t even know is happening.”

So let me challenge this statement, do you have children?

Because I do and I have grandchildren. and once you are a parent or grandparent you protect those children to the nines. You don’t know me, you can’t tell me that I am over reacting. I am not over reacting. Where I lived one park was really really bad with men having sex with men and I was denied taking my children there in order to protect them. Do you have children Pyriya? You are not sure what to make of the link? I think you are playing stupid. It is right there for you to see, posting after posting after posting, let’s hook up at a public park. My God man at least be honest.

Certain parks in certain communities ARE a magnet for men seeking to find men to have sex in the park. Why don’t you just be honest and admit that. A breath of honesty would certainly be appreciated. AND I only showed one link. I never saw men having sex in the park because I never took my kids to that magnet park which is very well known. I have given evidence of my story and you are poo-pooing it. You would do better to simply admit it is a problem as evidenced by the facts. You loose credibility when you refuse to address the facts that you can print out for yourself. Listing after listing after listing after listing of men looking to hook up at a public park which I provided, IS EVIDENCE! This is not my imagination or some urban myth. it is the God’s truth, deny it at the peril of your credibility.

Timothy Kincaid
December 17th, 2011 | LINK

StraightGrandmother

Are you really sure that you want to compare you not being able to go to a park with people being denied their civil rights? Do you really want to suggest that false arrests are not as important as your picnic?

Because to me that is one of the most selfish notions I’ve come across recently.

And to answer your question: no I would not take children to a park where cruising is going on.

But in return answer this: would you take children to a park where they would watch you get arrested for holding hands? And which do you think would be more traumatizing?

Because I don’t have the luxury of only caring about what effects straight people. So I cant just dismiss it like you have.

Priya Lynn
December 17th, 2011 | LINK

Straightgrandmother, people who have children don’t say “If I had children…”. No children, got it?

I am also a woman, not a man.

I’m sure some cruising does go on in some parks, however you are missing the entire point of this post – innocent people are being arrested simply for being gay and the prostitution law is merely an excuse to do so.

You’re freaking out over something you’ve never encountered and using this as an excuse to ignore police abusing their powers.

Now you’ve promised to rest your case twice, so how about actually doing so this time? We’ve heard you, we agree people having sex in parks deserve to be arrested however you have no concern about gay couples being arrested for the same innocent acts of affection heterosexual couples perform in public all the time without incident. Got it.

StraightGrandmother
December 18th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy = And to answer your question: no I would not take children to a park where cruising is going on.

StraightGrandmother= And neither would I. Which is why the cops go in to clean out the parks of behavior not acceptable to the community. And again I have nothing against hand holding, but if you look at those listings I posted, those men are not going to our parks to hold hands. This is a fact. And imagine all the neighbors who live around that park the anger and resentment they feel over what goes on in that park and now they can’t safely use and enjoy it with their children. Instead of being able to take a nice bike ride with your child on a bike path in the park, you are now on an urban sidewalk.

I am satisfied Timothy that you have answered honestly that you would not take your children to a park that was polluted with men having sex with men in the bushes. Now imagine if it is your only park within walking distance.

And here one more time I’ll give you what you want. No person should be falsely arrested. The courts will sort it out.

I don’t know Tim. I think I see an equal injustice. We are not talking about ONE picnic here.I feel it is horribly unjust to deny all the neighborhood children the right to safely use a park, to not be able to use a local park they can walk to throughout their entire childhood, to play baseball in the unsafe streets instead and never being able to have the wide open spaces to fly a kite, as equal to the injustice of a gay man being improperly arrested for lewd behavior in a park. What I am saying here is BOTH are unfair and BOTH are wrong. And from my point of view each are harmed severely.

Tim = Because I don’t have the luxury of only caring about what effects straight people.

StraightGrandother= It is not just straight couples and their families who live around those parks. The children of gay and lesbian couples suffer equally as much as the kids from heterosexually headed homes. So this is not just caring about straight people as you say. It is caring about children gay/straight/black/white no matter their parents sexual orientation.

Tim = “would you take children to a park where they would watch you get arrested for holding hands? And which do you think would be more traumatizing?”

StraightGrandmother= I would not be in that park in the first place. A park where the cops are conducting sweeps for men having sex with men in the park. So my kids would never see me get arrested in a park for holding hands. I do not believe that cops randomly arrest people for holding hands in non problem parks. I don’t believe that. And in problem parks you should not get arrested for holding hands. However where those two hands are located on a person’s body when they are holding them may constitute lewd behavior. You would have to look at it case by case. I would feel the exact same way and want the cops to sweep if it was heterosexual prostitutes taking over a park.

And again, the cops have to catch you in the act, I do NOT support falsely arresting people for crimes they have not committed. So please stop saying “you have no concern about gay couples being arrested for the same innocent acts of affection heterosexual couples perform in public all the time without incident. Got it.” It is not true. I do NOT want people falsely arrested. I also DO understand and SUPPORT the police sweeps of parks to arrest people for lewd behavior and I insist they do it according to the law. Is that strong enough for you? They should probably use hidden cameras rather than entrapment, it is more fair and more just. Then they could catch those lewd heterosexual acts as well. Sweet :) if they prosecute one and not the other then that is bias and discrimination.

I am satisfied knowing that Tim also would not take his children to parks that are polluted with men having sex with men. Like me, I am sure he would not take them to parks that were polluted with heterosexual prostitutes doing tricks in the public bathrooms and bushes. That is an honest answer and I concur. We would want that swept out of our parks.

Priya Lynn
December 18th, 2011 | LINK

Straightgrandmother said “And here one more time I’ll give you what you want. No person should be falsely arrested. The courts will sort it out.”.

Cold comfort to those who’ve been falsely arrested and as Timothy said been paraded in front of the community for public shaming and condemnation. The abuse has already been committed by the time the person is arrested and having the court dismiss the case doesn’t undo the punishment that has already occurred. Plus to a degree the police are de facto judge and jury when they make an arrest and that arrest tilts the system against defendents as courts tend to assume whatever the officer alleges is correct and innocent people often are convicted by the court anyway on that basis. You don’t just get to say its no problem if cops falsely arrest gay men in parks because the courts will sort it out, it is a problem and there’s no guarentee the courts won’t simply go along with whatever the cop portrays the situation to have been and we’ve seen time and time again they sometimes grossly distort or outright lie about what has gone on – look at how the police handled themselves in that police murder of the homeless man.

Straightgrandmother said “I do not believe that cops randomly arrest people for holding hands in non problem parks. I don’t believe that.”.

Well, you’re naive and understandably so. If you were an LGBT person all your life and interacted regularly with LGBT people and followed the news of our community you’ve have seen this sort of police abuse over and over:

http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2009/06/28/12635

Priya Lynn
December 18th, 2011 | LINK

Straightgrandmother, rather than making your judgement based on rumours or stuff you read on the internet, why don’t you go down to this park sometime by yourself, spend a couple hours there and see if what you are “certain” is true really is?

Timothy Kincaid
December 18th, 2011 | LINK

StraightGrandmother,

No I do not share your support for the police “sweeping” parks. My views are as stated in the commentary. Your views appear to be the opposite.

You are, of course, entitled to believe that the men whom the ACLU found to have been baselessly arrested really were guilty. You may think that the minister who appeared to protest the false arrests is just a liar. You can plug your ears to the evidence of police abuse we’ve raised over and over at BTB. Believe anything you like.

But, no, we do not concur.

StraightGrandmother
December 18th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy, if you condemn men having sex with men in public parks, and I do believe you condemn that, and you are against sweeps, what do you offer as a solution?

Donny D.
December 19th, 2011 | LINK

I’m having a little trouble with claims of obtrusive gay male sex in parks that straight people seem to always be running into. Even when i WANT to find it, it’s tough to do. So what are all these straight people doing right that I’m doing wrong?

I think what’s going on is that it’s by and large not happening at times and places where children or straight families are.

To follow on generally with what Timothy is talking about, one of the big ploys of cops is to claim “complaints from citizens” when they want to do enforcement of just about any kind of community morals (for instance supposedly too explicit displays in store windows). Incredibly often, the complaints turn out to be made up. So just because some cops, who are very, very often hangup machos, SAY something is going on doesn’t make it true. Based on their past behavior, the police don’t deserve to be automatically trusted and believed in matters like this.

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