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

Los Lobos tonight at the Winspear

Latin legends grace Dallas

After 34 years, the iconic three-time Grammy winners, Los Lobos continues to top the charts with inventive and inspiring hit music.

Los Lobos was formed in 1974 by David Hidalgo, Conrad Lozano, Louie Prez and Cesar Rosas, four friends from Garfield High School in East Los Angeles. Though they started out as a rock-and-roll band, they soon chose a more traditional Mexican acoustic style. In time, the band adopted music from Tex-Mex, country, folk, R&B and blues, as well as the traditional Mexican songs from their roots. The band has won Grammys for its 1988 Spanish-language album, and for its contribution to the film Desperado. They have collaborated with artists such as Dave Alvin, Ruben Blades, Elvis Costello, Little Willie G, Mavis Staples, Richard Thompson, Bobby Womack and Tom Waits.

Wildly popular, talented and fun, the Los Lobos invites you to the ultimate Deiz y Seis celebration.

(from TITAS.org)

DEETS: Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St. 8 p.m. $12–$125. TITAS.org.

—  Rich Lopez

Movie Monday: ‘Warrior’ in wide release

Here’s the beef

There are worse ways to spend two hours in a movie theater than watching hulking, half-naked man-meat wail on each other — in fact, it’s hard to imagine a better way. That’s at least part of the appeal of Warrior.

Set in the world of mixed martial arts, it’s a fiction film (it’s from Gavin O’Connor, the director of Miracle, about the real-life 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team) about two estranged brothers who face off for the ultimate glory: One (Joel Edgerton), a family man in financial straights, the other (Tom Hardy), a troubled Gulf War veteran with something to prove. If that sounds cliched, just try watching it.

No really, do — because, as predictable and manipulative as Warrior is, it’s also damned entertaining, in the way only the hokiest of sports movies can be. I grew up in a sports household, so have long held a soft spot for movies like Million Dollar Baby, Rocky III and The Fighter, all of which this resembles more than passingly.

Read the entire review here.

DEETS: Starring Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton. 139 minutes. PG-13. Three stars.

—  Rich Lopez

Mr. & Miss Round-Up crowned tonight

The ultimate urban cowboy and cowgirl

—  Rich Lopez

Guest column by David Mixner – DADT: The Ultimate American Tragedy

DADT: The Ultimate American Tragedy

by David Mixner, Live from Hell’s Kitchen

My policy generally is not to write or speak while angry. Anger has a tendency to blur my ability to think rationally. But quite honestly at this moment I have no desire to be rational. The failure of the United States Senate to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” yet again is an American tragedy. Yesterday, our elected officials continued their path of shame on this issue by failing to join the rest of the civilized world in allowing members of the LGBT community to serve their country honorably. What a disgrace.

Despite efforts to make this vote about procedures and politics, every one of us know this vote was about freedom and justice. Most importantly it was about the right of every American citizen to serve their country with honor and dignity.

Absolutely pay no attention to those who talk about procedures and the need for more debate. That is just total nonsense and doesn’t hold up no matter how you examine it. These senators have had nearly 18 years and over 14,000 discharges to figure out this policy. They have had their impact study. The Pentagon has signed off in favor of changing this policy. There have been numerous hearings and more information disseminated on this issue than any sane person can consume in a lifetime. Those who hold up the smoke screen of procedures are hiding behind a cloud of politics are simply cowards or homophobia – or both.

Make no mistake about it. Those are the only two options at this stage.

First the White House with support of our national organizations have made a horrible strategic mistake in not voting on this issue in the first year of the Presidency. They should be held accountable in some form. We would have not had Senator Kirk (R-Ill), Senator Manchin (D-WVa) or Senator Brown (R-Mass) voting “no” because all those votes would have been “yes” from the previous senators who held those seats. Those votes would have been Byrd (D-WVa), Burris (D-Illinois) and either Kennedy/Kirk (Democrats from Massachusetts). That would have given us sixty and maybe even an extra vote or so.

Second, thank you for Senator Susan Collins for being the sole vote from the Republican Party. You gave us a lot of grief in leading up to the vote but in the end you did the right thing. And despite my differences with Senator Lieberman, he deserves enormous thanks for fighting hard for the passage of DADT. He has not given up yet and there is still an outside shot we might succeed.

Third, there should be a special place in hell for Senator Brown of Massachusetts and Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine. Both represent states that are overwhelmingly for repeal of DADT. The LGBT community and our allies should throw everything we have to defeat them in the next election. Fight Back USA? Like Fight Back New York we should hand them their walking papers. No one should contribute any funds to any group that will contribute to Democratic Senator Manchin of West Virginia. We should never forget his betrayal. Finally Senator Lincoln was at the dentist. I guess every reason we challenged her in the primary proved to be true.

Fourth, the vote was a cloture vote and not one on DADT. Why don’t we add it as an amendment to the President’s compromise keeping the Bush Tax Cuts and let us filibuster until it is added and passed! Let the Republicans explain to the CEO’s why their hatred of the LGBT community is holding up their tax breaks. Let’s give them hell. Let’s fight back and not roll over one more time and take another blow to our dignity and honor.

America had another dark moment in its history yesterday. However, the LGBT community will never give up no matter what the odds, how dark and how many obstacles placed in our way. We will fight in the courts. We will fight in the streets. We will fight at the ballot box. We will fight in our neighborhoods, schools and religious institutions. This much is certain – we will fight and we will win. Nothing you can do will stop our inevitable march to freedom.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin