Each Friday, LA Progressive presents a comment we editors find to be most profound, insightful, unusual, or even annoying-- we then highlight the comment in an effort to bring attention to the broad range of positions taken by our readers.
This week, Steve Lam comments on Dick & Sharon's article, "A Changing Culture at the Los Angeles Police Department," which looks at the police department's ground-breaking work with the LGBT community.
Steve Lamb comments: Gee golly its swell that the LAPD are being nicer to gay bi trans people. But they are still disproportionately stopping, searching without cause, arresting, beating HETEROSEXUAL BLACK MEN. Still. So why is the fact that they are nice to gay people cause for celebration? All this means is that HETEROSEXUAL BLACK MEN are the last people its still OK to whip on. Things are better for even illegal Latino's than HETEROSEXUAL BLACK MEN. I cap that because thats where white fear has always been. Gay men were never someone the white power structure feared....Lets get real.
Sharon Kyle responds:
While I agree that Black men are unfairly, unjustifiably and disproportionately targeted by the police, and that we should never let abuses go unreported, I think it is also important to point out when police practices improve.
I strongly disagree with your statement that gay men were never someone the white power structure feared. Homophobia which includes the illegal often brutal act known as "gay bashing", and a host of other ills was both tolerated and sometimes practiced by police across this nation. I have personal, first hand knowledge of this as a woman who was raised with/by a gay man. You are wrong here. There is fear of gay men -- albeit for different reasons -- across the board in this country, even by the power structure and yes, even or perhaps I should say especially within the police departments of this nation. That fear is often acted out in our society, cruelly, in the form assaulting, bullying, battering, -- and sometimes killing LGBTQ people just because of who they are. The gay men I was raised around would never have called the police when they were accosted (notice I say "when", not "if") -- they knew from experience that the police would not protect them.
What I found hopeful about my interview with Officer Moura is that the LAPD is putting policy in place that will support the LGBT community instead of furthering the victimization that this community has too long endured.
Regarding the mistreatment of Black men and boys -- Focusing on how our nation treats Black men and boys IS my life's work. I never shy away from it and never will. You can be sure that in the future as in the past - the LA Progressive will tell it like it is. More often than not, when we report on these issues, the news is bad but sometimes it is good. This is one of those times.
Anyone seeking to learn more about LAPD's evolution she read Connie Rice's "Power Concedes Nothing". This should be required reading for all social justice activists.