Banks Appointed to Citizen Police Oversight Board

Kris Banks

Kris Banks

On Wednesday the Houston City Council confirmed Mayor Annise Parker’s appointment of Former Houston GLBT Political Caucus President Kris Banks to the Independent Police Oversight Board.  The Oversight Board provides a way for Houstonians to have input into allegations against police officers involving use of excessive force, discharge of firearms, serious bodily injury or death or mistreatment of citizens.  The Board also makes recommendations on recruitment, training and evaluation of police officers; and considers community concerns regarding the Department.  Houstini talked with Banks about his new role:

[Houstini] Why have you agreed to serve on the Oversight Board?

[Banks] I believe the Oversight Board performs an important and vital function that benefits all involved. Police officers are granted extraordinary powers over their fellow Houstonians. They can, under legally sufficient circumstances, detain people against their will, walk into other people’s homes without their permission, and even use physical force to make people comply. We grant police officers these powers because they are necessary for the officers to do their jobs. However, with these great powers come great responsibility, and the Oversight Board exists as a check on those powers, thereby protecting the public against the very rare officer who uses her or his powers irresponsibility or excessively. It also benefits the police department. With the assurance that the Board is providing oversight, members of the public can be more confident of the police department, and form a better working relationship with officers.

[Houstini] What do LGBT Houstonians who have concerns about police behavior need to know about the mission of the Oversight Board?

[Banks] Historically, the LGBT community has had concerns about very broad and obvious police harassment, like bar raids. Incidents like these still occur (see Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth), but they tend to not be the focus of issues that exists between the LGBT community and the police department. Concerns between the community and the police department now tend to be over specific incidents that sometimes come to light and sometimes do not. That being said, the IPOB will review internal police investigations for complaints of excessive force, any discharge of a firearm, any time there is a death or serious injury, or any matter the police chief refers to us. We make recommendations, and the chief has ultimate discretion. What I want to highlight here is that a complaint has to be made for the IPOB to have any role. Complaints have to be sworn, either by the complainant, or, if the complaint is anonymous, by the person taking the complaint.

LGBT Houstonians should also know that I take my role as a community representative very seriously. I will not only take my perspective as an LGBT Houstonian to the police department, I will also take the knowledge I gain back of police procedure back to the community. For instance, I mentioned anonymous complaints above. In the training I have received so far, I learned that organizations can be deputized to take anonymous complaints (LULAC and the NAACP are both deputized). Anonymous complaints are, unfortunately, a big concern for our community. Whether because our congress has failed to pass job protections, family concerns, or any other personal reason, there are still many, many people in the closet. But being in the closet does not mean that a person is not protected. I will learn more about the deputizing community groups and take that back to organizations in our community like the Caucus, Community Center and Transgender Foundation so they can begin that process (as a caveat, I do not have a full list of deputized organizations and any of these organizations may already be deputized).

—  admin

We appreciate your heart, Maggie. Now stop messing with people’s minds/rights/marriages/shared nations!

Maggie just left this comment on the NOM Blog:

Screen Shot 2010-10-01 At 1.23.39 Pm

[SOURCE]

First and foremost: I totally believe her. I think the vast majority of us know that Maggie Gallagher does not wish harm, much less death, on anyone. In fact, I don’t believe that she even wishes mental anguish on anyone, having truly bought into the talking points from her movement which detach the actions from any kind of hurtful intent.

But here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter what Maggie personally thinks about what will or will not resolve tragedies like the ones we’ve seen this week. It doesn’t matter how heartfelt her personal condolences may be. What matters is the body of her professional work with NOM and elsewhere, and the fallout that we gay folk all-too-well know can stem from these “culture war” activities! Because it is this bias cultivation that changes the molecules in the air. It’s this anti-civil rights work that puts heterosexism into everyone’s psyches. It’s this fear-fostering that foments a world where LGBT people are viewed as different, wrong, or in some extreme cases – unworthy of life.

The thing about loose lips: They can sink ships. So too, loose interpretations of who was and was not born into the right sexuality!

The reality is that none of us have ever grown up in a world where the full population is free to live as they were formed. A very big and undeniable reason for this is the far-right’s “culture war” against gay people’s lives and loves. A “culture war” that Maggie Gallagher has been a part of for decades now. This writer knows: I’ve read through her archives more than just about anyone. I’ve seen the stigmatizing comments, like in 2001 when she referred to homosexuality as a “sexual dysfunction” whose reparative therapy deserves research dollars:

5/14/2001, Maggie uses Dr. Robert Spitzer’s study in a way that goes against his own wishes and findings:I believe there is rather powerful evidence that human beings are a two-sex species, designed for sexual rather than asexual reproduction. If this is true, then the absence of desire for the opposite sex represents, at a minimum, a sexual dysfunction much as impotence or infertility. Human beings seeking help in overcoming sexual dysfunctions deserve our respect and support (and may I mention, President Bush, more research dollars?).” [Source]

Or in ’00, when she presented gays as abnormal members of the species:

3/20/2000, Maggie defends Dr. Laura:In a simple biological framework abstracted from all religion and morality, homosexuality is like infertility. It is a sexual disability preventing certain individuals from participating in the normal reproductive patterns of the human species.” [Source]

And of course there’s all the modern day stuff with NOM, where she’s pointedly told gay people that they “can always control” their “unfortunate” behavior:

8/9/10:



*AUDIO SOURCE: In The Market with Janet Parshall — 8/9/10 [Moody Radio]

Or there’s the pure callousness that comes with “humorously” likening gay people to castrated domestic cocks:

(click to play audio clip)

[*SOURCE: Iowa's WHO radio, Jan Mickelson's show]

I’ve heard and seen so much from Ms. Gallagher. Much more than I’ve ever even published. Did Tyler Clementi also experience it? Did Raymond Chase? Did Seth Walsh? Did Asher Brown? Did Billy Lucas?

Well, I of course don’t know how familiar any of these five young men were with Ms. Gallagher or NOM. But again: Their personal familiarity with this one “culture war” person doesn’t matter! Because what I do know without a shred of doubt is that all five were familiar with the ol’ fashioned mental torture that the “pro-family” community so aggressively fosters (sometimes unwittingly, sometimes not so much). And I know that when given the choice of fostering civil peace, Ms. Gallagher instead chose to defend exclusion. That certainly didn’t help matters.




Good As You

—  John Wright

“The Better Person” Standard For Marginalized Peoples

Teaching moments are wonderful, but I think that no marginalized person is obligated to swallow justified hurt and anger to better “teach” the privileged or “squash” the mess or racism. That people of color are nearly always asked to do so in the face of prejudice is spiritually wearying and a tyranny.

I wrote this over on Love Isn’t Enough in response to a parent who wondered how to address the impact of his aunt’s racism on his mixed-race family. But, you know, it’s not just people of color who are constantly expected to show extraordinary compassion when faced with bias. It is women, gays, lesbians and transgendered persons. It is the disabled, the obese, immigrants and the poor. Ask any marginalized person and it is a safe bet that they have been told “have a sense a humor,” “don’t be so PC,” “that’s just how so-and-so was raised,” “here’s a great teaching moment, “you have to understand some people won’t be comfortable with x, y, z,” “he didn’t really mean it.”

Today, when an “ism” shows its face, too much public sympathy rests with the offender and not the offended. As I’ve written before, in these times, hearing someone branded a racist is likely to upset more folks than encountered racism. Stick any bias in there-sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia…and the result is the same. It is, I think, the way the status quo defends itself when it gets tired of treating certain people equally.

That’s how Tami at Feministe began Marginalized Folks Shouldn’t Always Have To Be “The Bigger Persons”. It’s a smart piece that’s well worth the read.

How many of us have experienced the arguments that in essence are designed to silence or derail. The Derailing For Dummies website lists several ways that marginalized people experience silencing and derailment:

If You Won’t Educate Me How Can I Learn

If You Cared About These Matters You’d Be Willing To Educate Me

You’re Being Hostile

But That Happens To Me Too!

You’re Being Overemotional

You’re Just Oversensitive

You Just Enjoy Being Offended

Don’t You Have More Important Issues To Think About

You’re Taking Things Too Personally

You’re Not Being Intellectual Enough/You’re Being Overly Intellectual

You’re Interrogating From The Wrong Perspective

You’re Arguing With Opinions Not Fact

Your Experience Is Not Representative Of Everyone

Unless You Can Prove Your Experience Is Widespread I Won’t Believe It

I Don’t Think You’re As Marginalised As You Claim

Aren’t You Treating Each Other Worse Anyway

But You’re Different To The Others

Well I Know Another Person From Your Group Who Disagrees!

A In B Situation Is Not Equivalent To X In Y Situation

Who Wins Gold in the Oppression Olympics?

You Have A False Consciousness

You’re Not Being A Team Player

You’ve Lost Your Temper So I Don’t Have To Listen To You Anymore

You Are Damaging Your Cause By Being Angry

You’re As Bad As They Are

Surprise! I Was Playing “Devil’s Advocate” All Along!

Tami ended her piece this way:

I am all for humor and compassion, but I reject the notion that, as a woman and a black person, I need be extra compassionate and jovial in a society that often affords people like me neither of those things. I reject the notion that we ought to spare more empathy for the homophobe than the gay men and women her bias hurts. I believe in using the most effective means to change, but I also believe in calling “isms” for what they are and not coating them in equivocations and wishy-washy language that lets oppressors feel good about themselves.

Sometimes, someone else needs to be the “bigger person.”

Image: Bayard Rustin; Link: Bayard Rustin's Book 'Time On Two Crosses'Which leads me back to the Bayard Rustin quote from From Montgomery To Stonewall I’m so fond of quoting:

[T]he job of the gay community is not to deal with extremists who would castigate us or put us on an island and drop an H-bomb on us. The fact of the matter is that there is a small percentage of people in America who understand the true nature of the homosexual community. There is another small percentage who will never understand us. Our job is not to get those people who dislike us to love us. Nor was our aim in the civil rights movement to get prejudiced white people to love us. Our aim was to try to create the kind of America, legislatively, morally, and psychologically, such that even though some whites continued to hate us, they could not openly manifest that hate. That’s our job today: to control the extent to which people can publicly manifest antigay sentiment.

To which I’d add another Bayard Rustin quote:

When an individual is protesting society’s refusal to acknowledge his dignity as a human being, his very act of protest confers dignity on him.

Sometimes being the better person doesn’t mean being stolid and unemotional; unwilling to point out inequalities and injustices in a tone-filled voice. Sometimes being the better person does mean standing up and being emotional about freedom, justice, and equality.

And, not just for one’s own freedom, equality, and justice, but for the freedom, equality and justice of a community of one’s peers, and for the future generations of that community of one’s peers as well.  
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright