Award-Winning Stories on the
Jeffrey Dahmer Murder Case by Jamakaya

Jamakaya covered the Jeffrey Dahmer serial murder case for the Wisconsin Light, a newspaper aimed at the state's gay and lesbian community. She was part of the national press pool that covered Dahmer's trial, and her stories were syndicated to newspapers nationwide. As a native Milwaukeean and a reporter with extensive experience in the gay and lesbian community, her stories moved past the immediate sensationalism and explored the deeper issues of racism, homophobia and police-community relations that contributed to the tragedy. Her work was recognized with an award for Excellence in Ongoing Coverage of a News Event by the National Gay and Lesbian Press Association. Three of her stories are reproduced here.
Will Milwaukee Ever Respond to the Fire Bell in the Night?
The Hate Crime That Wasn't: Racism and Homophobia in the Dahmer Case
Compelling Tales of Police Abuse Dominate Commission Hearing


Will Milwaukee Ever Respond
to the Fire Bell in the Night?

(originally published in Wisconsin Light January 23, 1992)

The Jeffrey Dahmer murder case is a fire bell in the night in terms of racism and homophobia in the city of Milwaukee.

The racial divisions which have characterized this case from the beginning seemed in evidence again at the pretrial hearing January 13 [1992]. The judge, all of the many attorneys on both sides, the sheriff's deputies, the clerical personnel in the courtroom and the hundreds of media people crowding the halls and the press room were almost exclusively white.

The small band of victims' families who quietly filed into the reserved row of seats in the courtroom were exclusively Black and Hispanic. After the hearing they had to practically fight their way into the press room where they had to wait for some time as District Attorney E. Michael McCann and defense attorney Gerald Boyle held forth before the cameras.

Only when a frustrated cry of "Won't someone show some respect for the families?" was uttered by a conscience-stricken reporter did the D.A. beat a hasty retreat and allow the families to have their say.

They said a lot that day and in the days since. Their message needs to be heard.

They are incredibly frustrated with a system that they believe has given every advantage to Dahmer while ignoring their own needs. They are angry that Dahmer could end up in a state hospital where he could be eligible for release every six months.

They are angry at the media's depiction of their sons as streetwise hustlers, all Gay, all "flirting with danger." ["Flirting with Danger" was an exploitive news series produced by local WISN TV shortly after the murders.] And they are particularly angry that they have not been told the whole story about how their loved ones met their fates, and must first hear the gruesome details in a nationally televised media circus.

Listen to the Voices

"I want to know what happened to my brother from the time Jeffrey Dahmer met him to the time he killed him. I want to know every detail." said a tearful Carolyn Smith.

No remains of her brother Eddie (who was known to his friends as "The Sheik" for his exotic headgear) have ever been recovered. Dahmer identified Eddie as one of his victims after viewing a photo. Police have withheld any other information, reportedly telling his sister: "It was so gruesome. You don't want to know at this time."

"Why do I have to hear it in court in front of millions of people – what he did to my brother – before I actually know? It's my blood," Smith said of her brother.

The repeated claims of D.A. McCann and Boyle that they want to "spare the poor families" more pain don't sit well with Smith.

"I want Mr. Boyle, I want Jeffrey Dahmer, and I want E. Michael McCann to stop thinking for me because I know what I want and I know what I feel."

"From Day 1 they've been playing with our emotions, our feelings, and we're not going to take it anymore," said Smith. "Since Day 1 everything has been to protect Jeffrey Dahmer."

Dorothy Straughter, the mother of 17 year old Curtis Straughter, who was known to his friends in Gay Youth-Milwaukee as "Demetra," also wants more information. "It's not sparing me any not letting me know," she said. "The way I am now, my imagination can run away and it's probably going to drive me crazy."

"My Son Had a Life"

Catherine Lacy, the mother of Oliver Lacy, expressed another concern common among the families: "Everyone wants to talk about what kind of life Jeffrey Dahmer had. I don't give a damn what kind of life Jeffrey Dahmer had."

"My son had a life," she asserted. "There was people that cared about him, and we got robbed of my son. We got robbed of what my son could have given this community. It may not have been much, but it could have been a little bit and that little bit might have helped."

"What it all boils down to is it's the system's fault for not investigating these boys being missing," said Janie Hagen, sister of Richard Guerrero. "They were minorities so they didn't care. This is a very racist city."

Indeed, the layers upon layers of racism in this case boggle the mind.

First, there was the racist and predatory way in which Dahmer chose his victims. An acquaintance of mine who saw Dahmer occasionally in downtown Milwaukee in the 1980's described him, in retrospect, as "a Nazi stalking the Grand Avenue Mall."

Colossal Bungling by Cops

Then there was the colossal bungling of the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) which, somehow, after at least a dozen young men of color disappeared – some of them from similar locations – could not manage to detect a pattern and failed to follow up on missing person reports.

The callousness with which the families of the missing men were treated by authorities has become legendary. When the family of Errol Lindsey reported him missing in April of last year, they were greeted by skeptical cops who said, incredulously: "Well, he's grown."

When Carolyn Smith reported her brother missing and informed the investigating officer Eddie was Gay, "You could see his whole attitude change," said Smith. She believes that when the cop left he tore up the report.

Something happened to it, because when she called the police several months after Eddie disappeared to report anonymous phone calls in which the caller claimed to have killed her brother, the MPD could not find the initial report.

After filing a missing person report, Janie Hagen called every few months to see if the police had any leads on her brother. At one point, she was told the case had been closed because they thought Richard had been found. "You thought wrong," Hagen told the cops.

The failure of police to assist 14-year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone and to heed the pleas of diligent citizen Samaritan Glenda Cleveland has been widely publicized. This single incident epitomized the negligence, racism and homophobia that contributed to this terrible tragedy.

Continued Victimization

The families now feel further victimized by a legal system that ignores their rights, social service professionals who have offered little assistance, a media that continues to exploit their tragedy (they are especially upset with Court TV), and politicians and community leaders who, they feel, have abandoned them. "Where are all the aldermen and senators and ministers who were out there at the beginning?" asked Stanley Miller, uncle to Ernest Miller.

"Where is the Hispanic community?" asked Janie Hagen, who has found support primarily from the Black families whose sons were lost.

The only person all the families credit with unstinting support is veteran community activist Jeannetta Robinson, who sponsors a "Survivors of Homicide" support group at the Career Youth Development agency. Robinson has been with them through the worst of times. She knows what they're going through because her own daughter and granddaughter were murdered.

Revolution?

The anger the victims' families feel is often most forcefully expressed by Janie Hagen, who says of the murders: "It's changed my life – completely." When asked what goes through her mind when she sees Jeffrey Dahmer, Hagen replied "I just want to kill him myself."

Hagen has also warned: "If nothing gets resolved [the families' grievances], there will be a revolution here in Milwaukee, because there's a lot of things they're [the authorities] hiding."

Just days after Hagen said that, another voice in Milwaukee raised the spectre of revolution – Alderman Michael McGee. Now, Hagen and McGee are two very different people. But I was haunted by the fact that two such disparate voices coming from two very different places were expressing, almost word for word, the same sentiments.

Another bizarre coincidence occurred. Or was it a coincidence?

At one press conference, Dorothy Straughter pleaded: "How many more people have to die before this community wakes up?"

Her words seemed strangely familiar to me. Then I realized why.

In covering the School Board debate about services for Gay teens last November [1991], Lesbian activist Miriam Ben-Shalom cried out: "How many more children are going to have to die before they do something?"

The same week that Janie Hagen and Alderman McGee warned of revolution, another extraordinary person gave up the fight, at least, temporarily. On January 10, Queen Hyler, founder and driving force behind the "Stop the Violence" group, announced she was taking a break. Expressing despair over the record homicide rate in Milwaukee, which is disproportionately taking the lives of young Black men, including her godson, Hyler told the Milwaukee Journal: "I don't seem to be making a difference. I feel helpless."

The pain and despair of many people and groups in Milwaukee who feel excluded and denied has reached the boiling point. Will this city ever respond to the fire bell in the night?

Postscript

The anguish of the victims' families was lifted for just a few moments in the courtroom before the pre-trial hearing began.

Some of the survivors wear photos of their loved ones clipped to their clothes. When reporters admired the photo of Tony Hughes clipped to his mother's blouse, she smiled and pulled another photo from her purse.

"Little Toni, with an 'i'," Mrs. Hughes explained proudly as she passed the photo around. It was her new granddaughter, named in memory of her son and born on Christmas Day.

"A gift from God," she mused and nodded to herself, "a new beginning."

© 1992 and 2011 by Jamakaya. All Rights Reserved.


The Hate Crime That Wasn't:
Racism and Homophobia in the Dahmer Case

(originally published in Wisconsin Light February 20, 1992)

One of the major unresolved issues of the Jeffrey L. Dahmer case, in my opinion, was the failure – no – refusal by all parties involved to recognize the killings as hate crimes. I know I hold a minority opinion on this, but hear me out.

I believe that downplaying the possibility that the murders were hate crimes is part of the larger collective denial by the powers that be in the City of Milwaukee that racism and homophobia had anything to do with the case.

Denial

In his opening statement at the trial, Defense Attorney Gerald P. Boyle asserted: "This is not a case about homosexuality... This was not racial." On several occasions District Attorney E. Michael McCann also said that the crimes were not motivated by hate.

Dahmer himself indicated in his confession to police and in his statement before Judge Laurence C. Gram Jr.: "I did what I did, but not for reasons of hate. I hated no one... These were not hate crimes." Dahmer seemed particularly concerned that this message be received by the public at large.

Some of my more cynical colleagues in the press suggested that Dahmer's insistence that the crimes weren't racist was meant for "some of the brothers at Waupun or Portage" eagerly awaiting the arrival of the "white devil."

Whatever Dahmer's motives, I hardly think we should take his word for anything. The "smart con artist," as one juror called him, has been lying and covering his ass for years. On the topic of hate crimes, methinks he doth protest too much.

In opening remarks, Boyle said that Dahmer "accepted his homosexuality at age 14 when he had his first consensual homosexual contact" with another teen. A good deal of evidence – not introduced into the court record – contradicts that contention.

While being sentenced for sexual assault in May, 1989, Judge William Gardner asked Dahmer if he had a sexual problem. Dahmer replied: "Definitely." "Is it a matter of preference – sexual preference?" asked the judge. "Yes, I am a homosexual. I admit that. It's not easy to admit," said Dahmer.

Guilt and Repression

After Dahmer was convicted of the sexual assault, probation agent Donna Chester was assigned to his case. On June 11, 1990, she wrote of her visit with Dahmer: "Client still appears to be very depressed. Client states he knows he prefers male partners but client feels very guilty about this."

After a meeting with Dahmer on January 22, 1991, six months before his arrest, Chester observed: "Client has admitted to self he is gay. Told agent that's the way he is so 'fuck it.' Client appears to still be struggling with this."

Several people who talked to Dahmer in Milwaukee's gay bars over the years said he expressed both racist and "extremely homophobic" attitudes. He was very defensive about his own homosexuality and expressed contempt for queens, especially black queens. Several of the victims fit that description.

The issue of homosexuality everyone was doing their best to downplay came into sharp focus during the testimony of court-appointed psychiatrist George Palermo. In clear, matter-of-fact tones, Dr. Palermo stated: "I believe Jeffrey Dahmer killed his victims because he hated his homosexuality."

Palermo said Dahmer repressed his homosexuality because he feared the disapproval of his family. This repression, in Palermo's view, ultimately turned to hatred and led to the killings.

Dr. Palermo's view was reinforced later by Judge Gram, who commented after Dahmer's sentencing: "I believe what we had was a homosexual who could not accept the fact that he was a homosexual." He killed the men he invited home, said Judge Gram, to "destroy the evidence."

I understand that the comments by Dr. Palermo and Judge Gram can be twisted and utilized by homophobes. But each man's tone was compassionate and their remarks came in the context of an honest, non-judgmental search for some rational basis on which to understand Dahmer's tortured psyche and anti-social behavior. Their observations cut through the psychobabble which dominated the trial and came closer to the truth than many of us might like to admit.

Hate Crime? What Hate Crime?

Another angle of the case relating to hate crimes completely ignored by the mainstream press is that both District Attorney McCann and Gerald Boyle have troubling histories with litigation regarding hate crimes.

Despite the fact that the majority of Dahmer's victims were gays and men of color, McCann did not charge him under Wisconsin's hate crimes statute, which adds a "penalty enhancer" for crimes based on race, national origin or ancestry, sexual orientation, religion or disability.

In the cases of several men murdered by gay bashers in the last few years in Milwaukee, hate crimes charges were not filed. The assistant district attorneys handling the cases of Dennis Owens and Ricky Roundtree admitted their ignorance of the statute or cited the "extraneous" nature of such charges when larger felonies were involved.

The feeling among gay activists who monitored these cases is that D.A. McCann is not educating his staff members about the hate crimes law, so the statute is not being enforced.

For his part, Gerald Boyle served as defense attorney for Brian G. Brown Jr., the police cadet who was accused of assaulting a gay man after allegedly calling him "faggot" in Appleton Wisconsin in 1990.

Boyle argued that the case had nothing to do with sexual orientation and challenged the constitutionality of the state's hate crime law. The law was upheld by a judge, but Boyle's client was later acquitted.

An attorney familiar with both McCann and Boyle, who wished to remain anonymous, offered this candid opinion: "Jerry and Mike wouldn't acknowledge a hate crime if it came up and bit 'em in the behind." He said he thought neither McCann nor Boyle believe the hate crime statute is "good law."

[Wisconsin's hate crime law was upheld by a unanimous decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1993 in the case of Wisconsin v. Todd Mitchell.]

Truth and Confusion

The most keen observations about the hate crime aspect of the Dahmer case that I heard came from photojournalist Cheryl Franklin who covered the trial daily. About the denial by the principal players in the trial that race or homosexuality were factors in Dahmer's crimes, Franklin said: "Their own racism lies in their denial." She then added in a wry tone: "They want the truth, but they don't want to be confused with the facts."

The facts are that of the fifteen homicides Dahmer was charged with, ten of the victims were African American, two were Hispanic, one was Asian, one was Native American and one was white. Many, though not all, were gay.

The failure to acknowledge the racism and homophobia in Dahmer's murders is just one aspect of the broader denial of these evils surrounding the whole case. While Dahmer is certainly responsible for his criminal acts, to a lesser extent, everyone is implicated in this. The City of Milwaukee, its institutions, its people – including its gay and black communities – have blood on their hands.

Blood on Our Hands

What of the racism and incompetence of the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) which failed to follow up on missing person reports?

What of the insensitivity of police officers who turned young Konerak Sinthasomphone back into Dahmer's clutches, threatened to arrest witnesses who had summoned help, and dismissed the wrenching pleas of Glenda Cleveland?

What of the priorities of the MPD which was launching raids on strip shows at gay bars while gay men were disappearing from those bars one by one?

What of the historic repression of the gay and black communities by the MPD?

What of the disgraceful retreat of the Milwaukee School Board which, in the wake of a "holocaust" of gay and minority youth, turned its back on comprehensive services for gay teens?

What of the silence of most political and religious leaders who failed to condemn the crimes?

What of the homophobic response of the black and Hispanic communities which, with a few noble exceptions, failed to rally behind the victims' families?

What of the racism of the gay community which failed to recognize a pattern in the slow disappearances of men of color, some fairly well known like Eddie "The Sheik" Smith, "Demetra" Straughter, Tony Hughes?

What of some gay bars' practices of raising the cover or asking multiple IDs of people of color when they patronize the predominantly white bars?

We are all implicated. And denying the racism and homophobia surrounding this case in a desperate attempt to salvage the "image" of Milwaukee contributes nothing to the healing process everyone is now touting.

Fire Bell in the Night

In an earlier commentary on the Dahmer case, I called it a "fire bell in the night" in terms of racism and homophobia in the city of Milwaukee. The phrase is Thomas Jefferson's.

In 1820, after passage of the Missouri Compromise, Jefferson said of slavery:

"But this momentous question, like a fire-bell in the night, awakened and filled me with terror... lt is hushed, indeed, for the moment. But this is a reprieve only, not a final sentence... [E]very new irritation will mark it deeper and deeper."

The challenge for Milwaukee is not "to put the Dahmer case behind us" but to learn its awful lessons and to redress the many grievances it so dramatically exposed.

Is Milwaukee up to that challenge? Will Milwaukee ever respond to the fire bell in the night?

© 1992 and 2011 by Jamakaya. All Rights Reserved.


Compelling Tales of Police Abuse
Dominate Commission Hearing

(originally published in Wisconsin Light September 19, 1991)

Milwaukee – "If a society's police do not adhere to the rules, we can easily and quickly move from a free society, a democratic society, to a police state. And I submit to you that today, right here in Milwaukee, for some people in certain parts of the city, a police state exists."

That was the stark conclusion of Kitty Barber, of the Lesbian Alliance of Metro Milwaukee, as she gave testimony before Mayor John Norquist's Blue Ribbon Commission on police-community relations at the United Community Center September 17.

The Commission was established in the wake of allegations of police negligence in the Jeffrey Dahmer serial murder case.

Litany of Abuse

Speaker after speaker presented compelling testimony about police harassment and abuse of gays and lesbians and of arbitrary and inconsistent enforcement of the law by the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD). Some of these charges came from police officers themselves.

Mary Thoreson was pulled over by Milwaukee police officers on Locust Street in 1978. "I was yanked out of my car and slammed up against the side of it. I was thoroughly searched by two male officers. They both roughly handled my breasts and one grabbed my crotch and told me, while laughing, that I wasn't a boy but a 'fucking dyke.'"

The police, who were looking for a boy in a stolen vehicle, let her go.

In January of this year, Thoreson was the victim of a gay bashing. Though she reported it to police, she never heard anything afterward. Said Thoreson: "The police are paid to protect and serve all of us – no matter who or what we are. As a resident of Milwaukee, I demand equal protection and service now."

Scott Gunkel reported that after leaving Club 219 on S. Second Street one night in 1989, he and his friends heard officers in a squad car, using their vehicle microphone, yell out: "Hickory-dickory dock, some young blond is sucking my cock" and "You're all sick fucking faggots!" The slurs were made while the police held their high-powered spotlight on the victims.

Gunkel filed a formal complaint and was given the run-around for 13 months. When he inquired about the status of the complaint at the Second District, he says police there tried to "intimidate him," making him repeat the epithets out loud. Ultimately, the officer involved received a reprimand.

Evidence by many who testified suggests that shining police spotlights is a common tactic of harassment. One woman reported that while leaving a gay bar one night, she was greeted by a "blinding light" as she emerged from the door. Ironically, she had been attending a seminar on crime prevention led by a Milwaukee police sergeant who remained in the bar. She wondered what his reaction might have been had he emerged to find himself in the spotlight.

Dennis Bunch was arrested in 1989 and, shortly after being placed in a holding cell, was asked by the inmate across the hall whether he had AIDS. Bunch asked why, and the other man told him an officer had placed a card on his cell door indicating that Bunch had the disease.

Several individuals testified that, as either victims of or witnesses to gay bashings in the south side gay bar district, when they sought assistance from the police they were dismissed and even threatened with arrest. A man named Richard, desperately seeking assistance for a friend in trouble, was told: "Get the hell out of here or we're going to arrest you." Another witness trying to supply information was told: "Shut the fuck up and get out of here or I'll arrest you."

In a chilling episode similar to that of Konerak Sinthasomphone, one woman spoke about her 15-year-old brother out biking late one night, who found himself being stalked by a stranger. He was able to flag down a squad car, told the officers of his plight and asked for a ride home. The police not only did not help the boy, but issued $100 worth of citations to the boy for having no light or license for his bicycle.

Scott Gunkel, who is a bartender at Club 219, related the story of the now infamous March 28 police raid there in which 35-40 officers in fifteen squad cars and one paddy wagon rousted a total of 40 customers and seven contestants who were participating in a "Hot Buns" contest – an example, he said, of excessive force and manpower.

One contestant's arm was broken by police and officers taped the wrists of a female impersonator to her ankles and left her that way for 20 minutes. She was later thrown into the police holding tank where she was made the subject of ridicule.

Stephanie Hume talked about a friend who was severely injured in a gay bashing. Hume tried to follow up with police but was stymied when she found that they had written "almost nothing in their books" about it.

The litany of traumatic stories went on for more than two hours. Some of the most damning evidence was submitted by police officers themselves.

Cops Speak Out

One ten year veteran of the MPD wrote an anonymous letter to Wisconsin In Step last year in which he reviewed some of the tactics of harassment apparently used by Milwaukee police.

"Why are officers still allowed to flash floodlights into gay bars, yet do not subject straight businesses to the same harassment?" he asked.

"I suggest you have someone statistically examine the amount of parking tickets issued within several blocks of the gay bars and businesses as opposed to all the other bars in Walker's Point and the Third Ward to see if the parking meters in front of those addresses are enforced more regularly."

"I suggest Chief Arreola ask why officers carrying paperwork with gloved hands are allowed to tell other workers and prisoners that a prisoner is gay or that he has AIDS... Or why District 2 officers are allowed to park in front of 219 S. Second or in the block of 100 E. National Avenue for the legendary pedestrian violation activity, while not subjecting patrons of the straight bars and restaurants to the same..."

"Why do officers write down all the license plate numbers in parking lots of such establishments, obtaining listings and filing them in various illegal files that are still kept, from the Internal Affairs Division on down?"

This officer also wrote that sexual harassment is "rampant" within the MPD. "At least ten different desks within the Department have signs on them reading: 'Sexual harassment will not be tolerated – it will be graded.'"

Another officer, a lesbian, who has since left the Department, wrote: "My eyes were opened my first day of training. My training officer's opening comments were strewn with sexist and anti-gay remarks. Men who had difficulty with the physical regimen were called 'faggots' or 'fairies.' I was sure that racist remarks weren't far behind. I was right. Even though racist jokes and remarks weren't made in front of cadets of color, they were prevalent in private conversations."

"On the street," she commented, "the stereotypical behavior continued. Officers did not hesitate displaying their disgust towards homosexuals. And their prejudice affected their enforcement of the law."

Knowing "I would never be able to reveal my sexual orientation to anyone in the Department for fear of discrimination and harassment," she left the MPD.

The Madison Story

Detective Alix Olson, an openly lesbian officer with the Madison Police Department, testified that she was "really appalled" at the "horror stories" that were unfolding at the hearing. "It just seems unreal to me that this is going on."

Olson joined the Madison force ten years ago as an open lesbian and could recall only one "mild" incident of harassment by fellow officers. She said that of Madison's sworn force of 300 officers, about one sixth of those were openly gay.

Olson said that she and several other Madison officers had taken upon themselves the task of establishing a police liaison to the gay and lesbian community and that the results have been very "beneficial." She recommended that the Milwaukee Department establish its own.

"It shows the Police Department is ready and willing to work with the gay community. I've heard people say here tonight 'We'll work with you, just don't bash us. We want to work with you. We want to cooperate.' If you're having people in the gay and lesbian community saying that to you – that's terrific! Don't lose that! It's really important. Because, as an officer, I know I can't be everywhere. I can't see everything. I need to have people out there helping me out in my investigations. And if they're willing to do that, even after all the crap they've taken, I think you ought to help them get to that point."

Detective Olson urged ongoing sensitivity training. "You need some sort of ongoing training, not only in the academy, but also for people who are already in the Department. because a lot of times they're the ones who are major problems. They've been there forever. They're like dinosaurs."

"You may not change all of them, but you're going to get through to some of them. And if you can do that, hopefully, they're going to have an influence on their peers. Among police officers, peer pressure is really strong. Even if one person can say to another officer, 'Hey, you really shouldn't do that,' or 'Hey, don't call them queers,' then you've made a start."

Olson also made a strong pitch for the establishment of a special hate crimes unit to focus specifically on bias motivated crimes. Madison has one detective specializing in that area, but Olson suggested that a city the size of Milwaukee should have an entire unit.

Ron Geiman of Wisconsin In Step, said that "never" in the seven years he had published the magazine had police ever sought him out as a source of information about hate crimes or missing persons in the gay community. He reinforced the request for a police liaison to the gay community and said: "The community is here to work with them if they [the police] ever bother to approach us."

Geiman suggested that police launch sting operations like the one in Houston, in which undercover cops posing as gay couples were able to arrest many gay bashers.

In reference to the harassment of gay men in particular, Geiman said: "Officers have to be informed that there is a difference between cruising and hustling ... there is a distinct difference – money does not always change hands."

Geiman, echoing many other speakers, also strongly encouraged the MPD to begin actively recruiting gay and lesbian officers: "Gay and lesbian officers working in the gay and lesbian areas are going to get more cooperation from our community. Our people would feel more open with gay and lesbian officers."

Margaret Snow of the Police Proposal Task Force of the Milwaukee Lavender Network, a coalition of gay and lesbian groups, presented preliminary findings of a survey about police performance distributed in the gay community.

Ninety-five percent of those surveyed said they did not believe the MPD provided the same services to gay, lesbian and bisexual people as they did to heterosexuals. Six out of seven people who actually reported a hate crime to the MPD characterized the Department's response to their victimization as "homophobic."

The Lavender Network Task Force is in the process of drafting a proposal for reforms in the MPD which encompasses many of the suggestions made at the hearing: comprehensive sensitivity training at all levels of police personnel; a liaison to the gay and lesbian community; the immediate cessation of racist and homophobic slurs by police officers; and the recruitment of openly gay and lesbian officers.

At the end of the lengthy hearing, Blue Ribbon Commission Chair Father Albert DiUlio told the audience that the Commission would be sending its final report and recommendations to the Mayor's Office and the Police and Fire Commission by October 15. It is then up to those institutions to take action on the findings.

© 1991 and 2013 by Jamakaya. All Rights Reserved.


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