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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, September 21

Jim Burroway

September 21st, 2013

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Bratislava, Slovakia; Brisbane, QLD; Enid, OK; Peterborough, ON; St. Cloud, MN.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Bay City, MI; Calgary, AB; Charlottetown, PE; Cranbrook, BC; Corner Brook, NL; Dryden, ON; Edmonton, AB; Flint, MI; Fredericton, NB; Grand Prairie, AB; Guelph, ON; Halifax, NS; Happy Valley/Goose Bay, NL; Kingston, ON; Kitchener/Waterloo, ON; Miramichi, NB; Mississauga, ON; Nanaimo, BC; Nelson, BC; New Glasgow, NS; Oklahoma City, OK; Oshawa, ON; Peace River, AB; Portland, OR; Red Deer, AB; St Catharines, ON; St. John, NB; St. Johns, NL; Saskatoon, SK;  Toronto, ON; Truro, NS; Vancouver, BC; Victoria, BC; Windsor, ON; Winnipeg, MB.

Other Events This Weekend: Best Buck in the Bay Rodeo, La Honda, CA; Queer Lisboa 17 Film Festival, Lisbon, Portugal; OctoBEARfest, Munich, Germany; Out on the Mountain at Six Flags (Friday only), Oakland, CA; International Queer Festival, St. Petersburg, Russia.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
San Francisco Police Raid the Alamo Club: 1956. The raid on the Alamo Club (also popularly known as Kelly’s) could have been just another raid by San Francisco’s police on just another gay or lesbian club. As raids go, it wasn’t particularly remarkable. Thirty-six women were arrested during the Friday night raid, hauled to the city jail, and booked on charges of frequenting a house of ill repute, which was a rather typical charge that was levied against gay bar patrons in the 1950s and 1960s. They were held over the weekend until the following Monday, when they were finally brought before a judge. All but four pleaded guilty. That, too, was typical. While the charge was frequenting a house of ill-repute, many of those arrested that night undoubtedly believed they were actually guilty of the anti-prostitution law simply because being a lesbian itself also held quite a lot of “ill-repute” in society. Pleading guilty also had its practical merits: it meant no trial and no jail sentence. Just pay a fine and you’re on your way.

If anything was different about this raid, it was made different because the Daughters of Bilitis had decided to begin publishing a newsletter in right around that time. The Ladder’s second issue in November included a very brief account of the raid — about as brief as what I just described — while lamenting that only four of those arrested chose to plead not guilty. “We feel that this was not due to actual guilt on the part of those so pleading but to an apalling (sic) lack of knowledge of the rights of a citizen in such a case.” The Ladder reported that the raid was the topic for the DoB’s October 23 discussion meeting where a local attorney, Benjamin Davis, volunteered to speak on “The Lesbian and the law,” with special emphasis on citizen’s rights in case of arrest. And in a separate article in that same newsletter, The Ladder urged “positive and constructive action” in response to the raid:

Certainly there is a marked reaction of fear and retrenchment among the Lesbian population of San Francisco after the recent raid… A paralyzing fear has been heaped puon an ever-present dread of detection. The persecuted are seeking cover once again. The innocent are convinced of their guilt. The tolerant became intolerant of their fellows. Growth is stultified by a sludge of misunderstanding.

Where will it lead? To a miserable half-existence of apprehension, self-pity, cynicism, hopelessness and paralysis? In some cases, perhaps.

BUT THIS NEED NOT BE! NOT IF REACTION IS REPLACED BY ACTION — POSITIVE AND CONSTRUCTIVE ACTION!

In the days before Miranda v Arizona, the 1966 Supreme Court case which required that arresting officers brief those under arrest of their rights (“You have the right to remain silent…), police often took advantage of suspects’ ignorance of the law. The next issue of The Ladder reported on the attorney’s talk with an article boldly titled “Citizen’s Rights,” highlighting many of those very same rights:

“DON’T PLEAD GUILTY” was the recurrent theme that was sounded by San Francisco attorney, Ben Davis at the first public discussion meeting held by this organization in October. Mr. Davis stresses three primary rules to remember if ever arrested: Don’t plead guilty; call your attorney; don’t volunteer information — in fact, don’t talk to anyone about anything.

And to drive the point home, The Ladder reprinted a list of specific rights that are guaranteed to everyone under arrest. Because most people in the 1950s were probably unaware of them, The Mattachine Review had published an identical list eight months earlier for its mostly male gay readers, who were targets for police entrapment. The list, formulated by “the National Association for Sex Research, Inc., Hollywood, Calif.”, included these thirteen points:

CITIZEN’S RIGHTS IN CASE OF ARREST

1. An officer cannot arrest you without a warrant unless you have committed a crime in his presence or he has reasonable grounds to believe that you have committed a felony. (Calif. PC 836)

2. If he has a warrant, ask to see it and read it carefully. If you are arrested without a warrant, ask what the charge is.

3. You are not required to answer any questions. You may, but do not have to give your name and address. If you are accused of a crime of which you are innocent, deny the charge. Go along, but under protest. Do not resist physically.

4. Do not sign anything. Take the badge numbers of the arresting officers.

5. If you are taken to jail, ask when you are booked what the charges are and whether they are misdemeanor or felony charges.

6. Insist on using the telephone to contact your lawyer or family.

7. You have the right to be released on bail for most offenses. Have your attorney make the arrangements or ask for a bail bondsman.

8. After an arrest without a warrant, a person must without unnecessary delay, be taken before the most accessible magistrate in the area where the arrest is made. The magistrate must hear the complaint and set bail. (Calif. PC 849)

9. Report any instances of police brutality which you observe to your attorney.

10. If you do not have an attorney by the time you are brought before a judge to plead, ask for additional time to obtain an attorney; or if this is not possible, plead not guilty and demand a jury trial.

11. You are entitled to a written statement of the charges against you before you are required to enter a plea.

12. You are not required to testify againat yourself in any trial or hearing. (5th Amendment, U.S. Constitution)

13. If you are questioned by any law enforcement officer including the FBI, remember that you are not required to answer any questions concerning yourself or others. (5th Amendment, U.S. Constitution)

[Sources: Unsigned articles, The Ladder 1, no. 2 (November 1956): 5, 8.

Unsigned. “Citizen’s Rights.” The Ladder 1, no. 3 (December 1956): 2-3.

Unsigned. “A Citizen’s Rights In Case of Arrest.” Mattachine Review 2, no 2 (April 1956): 51.]

20 YEARS AGO: Amanda Bearse Comes Out Of the Closet: 1993. The Married… With Children star made headlines across the country when she became the first prime time actress to come out of the closet. Rumors about her sexuality had been floating around in the tabloids since 1991, but she wasn’t ready to deal with it. “The day I was outed was the anniversary of my brother’s death. I had woken up that morning thinking about my brother, and in the grand scheme of things, being outed didn’t matter.”

She came out under her own steam two years later in an interview with The Advocate. “I would love this interview to be the impetus for someone else to come forward,” she told reporter Steve Greenberg. “There are numerous celebrities, gay and straight, who contribute to our community. That buys us a lot of political power. I have friends who are more active who have… respected my pace. I guess with this interview I’ve stepped on the gas.”

Older, and presumably with more insurance.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Fannie Flagg: 1944. Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, Patricia Neal quickly discovered when she began her acting career that she would’t be able to use her perfectly good birth name — the other already famous Patricia Neal had won an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1963. So at her grandfather’s and best friend’s suggestions, she became Fannie Flagg. She broke into doing local commercials and then became the host for a local morning television program.

Acting quickly gave way to comedy and writing, and in 1964 she joined Alan Funt’s Candid Camera as a staff writer. Her southern charm and sharp wit soon landed her spots on Password and the Match Game. She performed on Broadway and in a few mobies, but perhaps her most interesting acting gig was as the beard for then-closeted Bewitched star Dick Sargent (see Apr 19); they were supposedly engaged to be married and were even introduced on the game show Tattletales by host Bert Convey as “Dick Sargent and his lady, Fannie Flagg.” Fannie herself was outed by her longtime lover, Rita Mae Brown, after the couple split in the late 1970s.

When the 1980s rolled around, Flagg turned more seriously to writing, which she describes as her first love. But that meant that she had to confront a huge hurdle — her severe dyslexia. She gave up her public appearances to focus on writing, and she very nearly became financially destitute in the process. The result was worth it though; her best-known novel, 1987’s Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe: A Novel, became a critically acclaimed movie in 1991. Flagg drew an important lesson from that experience because, despite the severe hardships, “I found out I was happier than I’d ever been because my priorities were straight and I was doing something I loved.” She currently divides her time between homes in Los Angeles and Birmingham.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?

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