Tag Archives: homophobic violence

A Black Gay Day In NYC: Black Lesbians Beaten By NYPD, RIP Octavia St. Laurent, Prop 8 Protest

The last few days have been strange.Perhaps it was not so strange, as it was a series of events that got me thinking alot about Black gay life in New York.

RIP! Octavia

Last week, we lost Octavia St. Laurent, singer and Ball scene legend and icon, who most would remember from the documentary Paris is Burning, and she also appeared in the 2003 film How Do I Look? Octavia was a really outspoken advocate for transgender and “third gender” people. In How Do I look? she describes herself as being third gender, and how she remembers seeing more third-gender people in the Black community years ago, but how violence and HIV/AIDS had taken many away from us. This is a really great interview of Octavia. Rest in Peace, Sweetie.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MM-wQi3Wlt0]

NYPD Beating of Two Black Lesbians in Brooklyn

On Saturday I got an email from my ex forwarded to him about the  NYPD beating and arresting two Black lesbians outside of a nightclub in Bed-Stuy–right down the street from me. Audre Lorde Project’s SOS Campaign is taking the lead on organizing a response–which includes a rally on June 6th. Here’s the email in its entirety:

Hey ya’ll…

I am writing today with a heavy heart. And for me no matter how much the world seems to dissappoint me I always want to bounce back. But this time is a little different.

I and another lesbian in the community were involved in a BRUTAL BEATING by ALL MALE COPS the 77th PRECINCT of the NYPD.

It took place at the IFE LOUNGE, corner of Nostrand & Atlantic in Brooklyn. I know for a fact there were at least 100-200 woman outside at the time and I am hearing rumors of video footage. LOOK LADIES… IF YOU FIND CAN FIND A PARTY SO F-IN IMPORTANT, THAT YOU HAVE THE TIME TO TELL A FRIEND TO TELL A FRIEND TO POST BULLETINS TO EMAIL FLYERS.  THEN I WOULD HOPE YOU WOULD HAVE THE TIME TO ASK A FRIEND TO ASK A FRIEND TO ASK A FRIEND TO FIND PICTURES VIDEOS, WRITTEN TESTIMONY TO SUPPORT THE FACT THAT TWO OF YOUR OWN WERE BEATEN IN THE STREET BY POLICE!!!

NOT ONLY WERE WE BEATEN, COPS HURLED ANTI-GAY STATEMENTS AS THEY RAISED THIER NIGHT STICKS IN THE AIR. LIKE “YOU FUCKIN BITCH ASS DYKE”… AND THEN HAD THE AUDACITY IN FRONT OF THEIR OWN SEARGENT AND THE REST OF THERE BROTHERS AND SISTERS SAY “WE ARE HAVIN SOME DYKE PUSSY IN HERE TONIGHT”

Really ladies… This crime wasn’t about me or about the other female involved. As I laid there and I felt the night sticks hit me, I thought of Martin Luther King, and what he had to endure just for us to have the freedoms we do today. I immediately relaxed my body, put my arms up where they can see I wasn’t resisting, and screamed at the top of my lungs for someone to hit record on there camera. As they pulled me into the car I knew then that they picked the wrong quote unquote “DYKE”, to mess with.

TODAY!!! ITS TIME FOR US TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!! I don’t know about you, but I am absolutely tired of the way police, club owners & bouncers treat us. If you didn’t know what they think about YOU. I hope you RECOGNIZE NOW, what it really is.

THIS IS WHAT WE NEED:

1. VIDEO FOOTAGE
2. PICTURE FOOTAGE
3. WRITTEN TESTIMONIES W/CONTACT INFORMATION

PLEASE EMAIL ME ASAP!!!

DON’T LET ANYONE TELL YOU IT ISN’T YOUR BUSINESS, IT IS. IF YOU HANG WITH US, PRAY WITH US, IF YOU PARTY WITH US, IF YOU SHOW YOUR PRIDE WITH US, THIS CRIME WAS COMMITTED AGAINST YOU AND MEMBERS OF YOUR FAMILY. Email me @ civilrights@LadiesLoveLadies.com

Prop 8

As many of you know, the California Supreme Court upheld Prop 8, which placed a state Constitutional ban on same-sex marriage but declared the 18000 same-sex marriages that occurred between May 15 and November 5 to be legal marriages. A mess. Anyhoo, I was passing the NYC protest and March that happened last night protesting the decision and got some photos. Some of the posters are, well, I’ll let you decide.

Prop 8 Protest May 26 2009

Prop 8 Protest May 26 2009 #2

Prop 8 Protest 3

Prop 8 NYC Protest 4

New Jersey 4 Update: Another Retrial, One Reduced Sentence

freethenj4The highest court in  New York State (the Court of Appeals) decided to give New Jersey 4 Defendent Venice Brown a new trial, and reduced the sentence of Patreese Johnson from 13 to 8 years.

For Brown, the court decided “The evidence of defendant Brown’s participation in the crime is substantially similar to the evidence received at the same trial against codefendant Renata Hill. Accordingly, for the reasons stated in our prior decision (People v Hill, 52 AD3d 380 [2008]), we conclude that the verdict as to Brown was based on legally sufficient evidence and was not against the weight of the evidence, but that Brown is entitled to a new trial on the gang assault charge because of the charging errors discussed in Hill.” Essentially the circumstances surrounding Renata Hill’s getting a new trial a few months back the court felt were applicable to Hill’s case.

The judge felt that Johnson–as the person accused of stabbing that dude– did not present a solid legal argument for a new trial:

“Defendant Johnson, who personally stabbed the victim, challenges the sufficiency of the evidence establishing the element of serious physical injury. That claim is unpreserved and we decline to review it in the interest of justice. As an alternative holding, we also reject it on the merits. Even without the aid of expert testimony, the jury could have readily inferred from the victim’s testimony and medical records that his stab wounds to his liver and stomach were life-threatening (see e.g. People v Jones, 38 AD3d 352 [2007], lv denied 9 NY3d 846 [2007]). Johnson’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim relating to this issue is likewise without merit.

We find Johnson’s sentence excessive to the extent indicated.”

WHO ARE THE NEW JERSEY 4???

In the summer of 2006, seven young Black lesbians from New Jersey—Patreese Johnson, Renata Hill, Venice Brown, Terrain Dandridge, Chenese Loyal, Lania Daniels, and Khamysha Coates—were hanging out on the pier in New York City’s West Village when Dwayne Buckle, a man selling DVDs on the street, sexually propositioned Patreese. Refusing to take no for an answer, he followed them down the street, insulting and threatening them: “I’ll **** you straight, sweetheart!”

It is important to understand that all seven women knew of another young woman named Sakia Gunn, who had been stabbed to death under very similar circumstances—by a pair of highly aggressive, verbally abusive male strangers. At least some of the seven had known Sakia personally.

During the resulting confrontation, Buckle first spat in Renata’s face and threw his lit cigarette at her, then he yanked another’s hair, pulling her towards him, and then began strangling Renata. A fight broke out, during which Patreese Johnson, 4 feet 11 inches tall and 95 pounds, produced a small knife from her bag to stop Buckle from choking her friend—a knife she carried to protect herself when she came home alone from her late-night job.

Two male onlookers, one of whom had a knife, ran over to physically deal with Buckle in order to help the women. Buckle, who ended up hospitalized for five days with stomach and liver lacerations, initially reported on at least two occasions that the men—not the women—had attacked him. What’s more, Patreese’s knife was never tested for DNA, the men who beat Buckle were never questioned by police, and the whole incident was captured on surveillance video. Yet the women ended up on trial for attempted murder. Dwayne Buckle testified against them.

The media coverage was savage, calling the women such things as a “wolf pack of lesbians.” The pro bono lawyers for the young lesbians would later have to buy the public record of the case since the judge, Edward J. McLaughlin (who openly taunted and expressed contempt for the women in front of the jury all throughout the trial), would not release it. As of late August 2007, the defense team still didn’t have a copy of the security camera video footage. And after the better part of one year spent sitting in jail, four of the seven women were sentenced in June 2007—reportedly by an all-white jury of mostly women—to jail terms ranging from 3 1/2 to 11 years. The oldest of the women was 24, and two of them are mothers of small children.

To find out how to donate money to their legal defense or send  money or books to Johnson, visit Free The New Jersey 4!

Tecumseh Roberts: Gay Murder and Nation-making in Liberia

I have this theory–nationalism is bad for queers. Why? It seems to me that many nationalist movements are framed around an idea of nationhood that equates resistance with (hetero) masculinity. The idea of building a nation then means that the heterosexual family becomes the initial “seed” of the nation. All other people who fall outside of those terms of “reproducing” the nation, vis-a-vis the family, are expendable, and are often written off as socially dead, murdered, or suffer the brunt of infectious diseases or chronic illnesses (AIDS or breast cancer, to name a few specifics) Queer and non-normative sex, gender expression and identity become seen as counterrevolutionary in the nationalist politic.

I am not taking sides about “revolutionary”–I mean any organized group trying to overthrow a political/ideological government or regime. In the most recent case, Liberia. That West African nation “founded” by the U.S., using former U.S. slaves as the “colonizers,” is recovering from the throes of a very brutal period of violence and political instability which lasted, in various forms, for more than 20 years.To address the most recent conflict (1999-2003), the country has established a “Truth & Reconciliation” Commission to, according to the website, create “an independent and accurate record of the rights violations and abuses as a result of the conflict.”

Last week, Prince Johnson, a state senator and former guerilla leader was testifying about the death of Tecumseh Roberts, a Liberian popular musician. He testified that another member of his former militia killed Roberts because he was gay. Apparently Roberts was in charge of delivering rice to people in the territory that Johnson controlled, but read this synopsis from the Liberian Journal of Johnson’s discovery that Roberts was gay:

Mr. Johnson said following the discovery of musician Roberts, a stream of blood flowed down his pants leading to the confirmation of suspicion by Gen. Varnii that the musician was a “homosexual.”
“Gen. Varnii ordered Tecumseh Roberts to take off his trouser and when he (latter) took off his trouser, it was discovered that his butt [anal] was rotten. The man whole anus was rotten,” the senator told commissioners.
Following the discovery that he was a homosexual, Johnson said, Gen. Varnii shot and killed Mr. Roberts.
The suggestion by Prince Johnson in his testimony is that Roberts had been fucked so much and so hard that his anus was “rotten”–in a state of decomposing, no longer alive or viable. It was in fact, dying,and therefore Roberts’ whole body, and the idea of a gay Liberian, also had to die, and therefore he was shot (Nevermind the thought that if the man was in fact bleeding he may have been raped). One need not look to West Africa to find similar examples of non-heteronormative sex/sexuality is tantamount to social, political and cultural death. It is the reason why, I continue to blog about all the murders of Black queer folks here in the U.S.