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New York

Cops bash gay anti-Giuliani protesters

By Imani Henry and Sarah Sloan

New York

On Aug. 28, a peaceful protest by lesbian and gay activists at a right-wing event where New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was the keynote speaker erupted into bloody violence when police and private security thugs attacked and beat the protesters.

The vicious gay-bashing frenzy was caught live on video camera by the New York 1 cable-television station.

Fed-Up Queers, a lesbian/gay/bi/trans group, had called for the protest at the annual convention of the Log Cabin Republicans. The conservative gay group had invited Giuliani to be the keynote speaker.

The protest was set not only against the anti-gay mayor. Protesters also came because of continuing outrage at how the Log Cabin Club and Giuliani crashed the people of color contingent at New York's Pride march in June, ousting several lesbian, gay, bi, and trans people of color from the parade.

The Log Cabin Club had invited Giuliani and other city officials to march with them at the parade. Two members of Fed-Up Queers were arrested there when they chanted down the mayor along the route.

In its call for the protest, FUQ also denounced Giuliani as responsible for the police brutality at the Mathew Shepard Funeral March last October, when cops arrested scores of marchers, and for the police killing of Amadou Diallou.

On Aug. 28, some 30 protesters picketed and chanted outside the Roosevelt Hotel, where the Log Cabin event was taking place. When demonstrators entered the hotel and sat down outside the room where Giuliani was speaking, hotel security started grabbing them. They dragged them--by the throat, by the hair, by the legs upside down in some cases--through the hallways and down the stairs.

"The security guards never asked us to leave," said Michelle Crunk of Fed-Up Queers said afterward. "At one point, there were six security guards on one protester. People were dragged head first down the stairs. At the landing, we began chanting, `No violence.' The security guards then dragged us down the second flight of stairs. The whole time the NYPD did nothing to intervene."

TV cameras captured guards dragging a young man of color down the stairs headfirst--and a security guard punching a lesbian activist in the face before dragging her across the floor. Blood streamed down her face.

Once outside the hotel, protesters demanded that police call an ambulance, take statements, and hold the security guards accountable for their actions. The cops did nothing--instead arresting five of the protesters.

One was even handcuffed as she finally received medical assistance by paramedics.

Pledge support

The five protesters are facing charges. One has been charged with a Class B misdemeanor of criminal trespass. More charges could be added.

Anti-Violence Project Executive Director Richard Haymes said: "The message that's currently being sent to the community is that police officers in New York City will literally stand by as lesbians and gay men are viciously beaten. ... Too many people in this community remember that less than a year ago police officers violently disrupted a peaceful march honoring the life of Matthew Shepard."

Most in the lesbian/gay/bi/trans community do not consider the Log Cabin Club a legitimate grouping. Now, with its behavior at the Pride march, its alliance with the racist, reactionary Giuliani, and its sponsorship of actual gay-bashing violence on Aug. 28, this grouping has further isolated itself.

For its part, Fed Up Queers is beginning to discuss the community response to the brutality. Though FUQ is a new group in the New York lesbian and gay community, many of the individuals involved are longtime anti-police-brutality and AIDS activists, and fighters for the freedom of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. They are well known to the mayor.

Activists are asking people to send pledges of support to New York District Attorney Morgenthau. To sign on to the pledge, readers can email Jennifer Flynn at [email protected] or fax (212) 870-3334.

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