Please: No more ‘us vs. them’

justiceLast night (Monday, Nov. 24), officials announced that the grand jury had decided not to indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson on any criminal charges in connection with the August shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. As expected, protests, riots and looting exploded in the streets of Ferguson and elsewhere in response.

And of course, the Internet exploded, too. Journalists on location in Ferguson and at the sites of other protests were Tweeting minute-by-minute updates. News outlets were posting articles examining the issue from every angle and op-ed pieces from all sides. And on social media sites like Facebook everybody with access to the Internet was posting their own personal opinions. Television news was also swamped with stories.

And with every word I heard or read, I felt myself growing a little more sick to my stomach. I am sick to think that another young man has died needlessly. I am sick to think a police officer will carry the weight of that death for the rest of his life. I am sick to think that some people think stealing from the Family Dollar Store or setting a car sales lot on fire is an appropriate or helpful way to respond to injustice. I am sick to think that others believe the protestors are all a bunch of thugs who need to just get over themselves.

And I am sick to death of the whole idea of “us vs. them” and all the hyperbole and name-calling.

Not every police officer is a jack-booted, power-hungry racist Nazi in disguise, just waiting for a chance to hurt or kill somebody they don’t like. But neither is every cop one of the good guys. There are very good cops, and there are very bad cops.

And not every person — regardless of gender or color — who ends up hurt or killed in a confrontation with police was some sweet saint just minding their own business and unfairly targeted by the brutish cops. But neither were all of them “thugs” who “deserved what they got.”

And you know what else I am tired of hearing? I’m tired of hearing that the protesters and rioters and looters — and those are very distinct groups, because not all of the protesters are violent and none of those taking advantage of the unrest to loot are protesters — are “hurting their own cause.” What is “their own cause”? Civil rights? Equality? Justice? Well you know what, none of those things are “their cause.” Those things should ALL be OUR cause. We should ALL be dedicated to making sure that every person is treated equally and that justice prevails (justice, not necessarily the law, since we all know of some unjust laws) in every situation.

Justice should be the end goal for everyone. But I don’t believe we will ever reach that goal as long as we continue in our “us vs. them” mentality: Blacks vs. Whites. Cops vs. Thugs. Rich vs. Poor. Native vs. Alien. Gay vs. Straight.

In the LGBT community, every October we celebrate National Coming Out Day, because we know that even though “society” may hate us as a group — the faceless “them” — it is much harder for an individual to hate another individual once they get to know each other. We know that people who know an openly gay person — as  a relative, a friend, a coworker, etc. — are less likely to oppose equality for LGBT people as a whole.

The same principle holds true in every facet of life and society, I think: It is harder to hate a group of people for being different from you when you actually know someone in that group.

In other words, we have to start looking at people as individuals, not as part of some larger group. Michael Brown not just a black teenager. Darren Wilson is not just a white cop.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying we don’t have racial problems in America. We most certainly do. “Walking while black,” “driving while brown” — that most definitely happens. Yes, there are bad cops. We cannot ignore that. But neither can we find a way to fix the problems, to reach our goal of justice unless we put aside the “us vs. them” way of doing things and start to see each other as individuals and each situation as unique.

They say that Justice is blind. Maybe it is. But if we truly expect to find Justice, then we have to start looking with our own eyes wide open, seeing all sides and not just our own.

—  Tammye Nash

Update on Ray Hill’s arrest

Ray Hill

Ray Hill

As previously reported by Houstini, longtime Houston LGBT activist Ray Hill was arrested last night after a confrontation with police outside Treasures, a gentlemen’s club on Westhiemer Rd. Hill has been released from jail and posted the following message to his Facebook page:

I was arrested trying to stop power arrogant cops from bullying frightened and vulnerable people (this is not my first rodeo) There will be a trial; they will lie under oath; I will show the video of the whole incident; I will win and then sue and win that case. The system works if you have the tools to use it properly. My lawyer and I will make money off the city in this process. The cycle will end when the City of Houston stops trying to treat adults like they were children…


—  admin

WATCH: ‘The Variants,’ episode 2 of season 2

It’s Wednesday, so that means The Variants — the locally produced web series about the fictionalized goings-on at Zeus Comics on Lemmon — has hit the ether. And now that season 2 is underway, the makers are fooling around a bit.

The episode begins with a Cops-like arrest, and then proceeds, through flashbacks, full of drag and kissing and saucy Barry working as a waiter, to tell what happened.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

James Cain’s bad day

Ok, I freely admit that there is nothing “gay” about this blog post. But, well, it is such an interesting story that I couldn’t help but post it here on Instant Tea.

It’s about a guy named James Cain who had a really bad day. And it all started when he decided — allegedly — that he was going to rob a house in Arlington.

From my perspective, robbing a house is never a good idea, so that was his first mistake. His second mistake was deciding to pull a “Santa Claus” and shimmy down the chimney to get inside.

Apparently, Cain didn’t have any of Santa’s magic shrinking dust, because Cain got stuck on the way down. His only recourse at that point was to start hollering for help. Somebody heard him and called the cops, who called the fire department to come cut out a section of the wall to get Cain loose.

And if that’s not trouble enought, Cain made one more mistake. He left his marijuana in his vehicle, which he parked down the street from the house he was — allegedly — trying to rob.

Now Cain is being held in jail, in lieu of an $11,500 bond, facing charges of burglary of a habitation and possession of marijuana.

—  admin

Atlanta Cops Were Drunk During Bar Raid

ATLANTA EAGLE 02 X390 (EAGLE) | ADVOCATE.COMPrior to the raid on the Atlanta Eagle bar, two undercover police officers downed several shots of Jägermeister, according to information provided in a lawsuit against the city.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  David Taffet

Cops Find Photos Of AZ Shooter Posing With Gun While Wearing Red G-String

Investigators today said that they’ve received a bizarre series of photos of mass murderer Jared Lee Loughner. The photos show Loughner wearing a red g-string with a Glock pistol next to his naked buttocks.

The photos were turned over to the police by Walgreens, where Mr. Loughner had taken the 35-mm film to be developed on Jan. 7, the day before the shooting. In some of the photos he is holding the gun near his crotch, and in others, presumably shot in a mirror, he is holding the gun next to his buttocks, the police said. It was not yet clear when the photos were taken. According to a detailed timeline released by the Pima County Sherriff’s Department on Friday, Mr. Loughner posted one of the photos and a bulletin saying, “Goodbye friends,” on MySpace early Saturday morning.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Bigots accidentally strip health benefits from retired cops & firemen in El Paso

Oops.

A group of conservative Christians set out to block El Paso, Texas, from granting health-care benefits to same-sex partners of city-government employees. But the ballot measure they helped pass in November may also end up stripping benefits from others, including retired policemen and firefighters.

The measure was aimed at gay workers and their partners. The wording of the proposal, however, was vague, asking El Paso residents to endorse “traditional family values” by limiting benefits to “city employees and their legal spouse and dependent children.”

So when 55% of the voters approved the measure on Election Day, they eliminated coverage for some 200 people who don’t fit that description—among them elected officials, who aren’t technically city employees, and many former city workers, the city says.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

FLORIDA: Cops Capture Suspect In Murders Of Wilton Manors Gay Couple

Florida police have captured a man driving the stolen vehicle of the Wilton Manors gay couple they suspect he murdered on Christmas weekend.

Peter Serge Avsenew, 26, was captured near Dundee, Fl., miles away from where police said he murdered Kevin Mark Powell and Stephen Adams on Sunday. The couple was found dead in their home by police. Avsenew, who is from Hollywood, was spotted by cops in Powell’s black 2003 Saturn Vue.

Police have not yet revealed how the victims died and have not speculated publicly on what relationship the suspect may have had with them. The victims had been together for 29 years.

UPDATE: Avsenew has an extensive criminal history. At the time of his capture, he was already wanted on a probation violation in the Keys.

Across the state, Avsenew has been taken into custody more than a dozen times since 2003, state records show. He has been convicted of vehicle theft, robbery, grand theft and engaging in fraud through bounced checks. He also has pleaded no contest to marijuana possession, loitering, possession of drug paraphernalia, criminal mischief and resisting an officer without violence. Avsenew also relies on about eight different aliases, including the name Peter Avsenen, according to the state Department of Corrections.

According to Avsenew’s Facebook page, he has a newborn son. Below a recent posting of the boy’s photo, a woman with the same last name (probably the suspect’s mother) warns: “Peter, Look at these pictures does this baby deserve anything but the best? then think before you do anything stupid.”

(Tipped by JMG reader Greg)

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Cops Have ‘Person Of Interest’ In Atlanta Black Pride Organizer Durand Robinson’s Murder

The August murder of Durand Robinson, the Atlanta Black Pride organizer and Traxx bar co-owner who was shot to death in the middle of a downtown street, has thus far gone unsolved, with only theories about a carjacking gone bad. But Atlanta police announced they have identified a person of interest — somebody Robinson had helped out in the past — although the person is not in custody. That, and they have a cooperating witness, who's suddenly dropped out of contact, and who the police would like to reconnect with. [video via]


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Queerty

—  admin

Houston cops should brush up on city ordinances

On Monday we told you about a transgender woman in Houston who was arrested last week for using the women’s restroom at a city library. The woman, who identifies as female but has not had sexual reassignment surgery, was charged with entering a restroom of the opposite sex.

Again, the woman’s arrest goes against a comprehensive nondiscrimination policy enacted by Mayor Annise Parker that allows people to use restrooms at city facilities based on their gender identity. But as it turns out, regardless of the nondiscrimination policy, this appears to have been a false arrest. That’s because the city ordinance on which the arrest was based clearly states that it’s only a violation if the person enters a restroom of the opposite sex “in a manner calculated to cause a disturbance.” According to TransGriot, a cisgender woman successfully sued the city in 1990 after she was arrested for using a men’s restroom because she didn’t want to wait in the long women’s line. Here’s the city ordinance, taken directly from Municicode, with the relevant portion bolded:

Sec. 28-20. – Entering restrooms of opposite sex.

It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly and intentionally enter any public restroom designated for the exclusive use of the sex opposite to such person’s sex without the permission of the owner, tenant, manager, lessee or other person in charge of the premises, in a manner calculated to cause a disturbance.


—  John Wright