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NYC Cops Keep Arresting Gay Men For Cruising. But Cruising Isn’t Illegal!

Chelsea_Pride_NYC

The rationale the NYPD has been using to arrest gay men cruising in adult book shops? It’s unconstitutional. So how come the police continue to intimidate these men, and courts continue to hear cases and issue punishments for a crime that is, in fact, not a crime at all?

It’s a great question, and Slate‘s Daniel Redman tries answering it. “In 1983,” he reminds us, “New York’s high court struck down as unconstitutional a 1960s-era provision that made it illegal to cruise—that is, to hit on someone in a public place. And yet in the 26 years since, on thousands of occasions, the New York Police Department has continued to enforce the defunct law, historically used to target gay people.”

Like here. And here. (And, unrelated by completely prescient, is this example of the police choosing not to involve itself with the gays when it means helping them.

The NYPD’s luck may have finally run out: One man arrested on prostitution charges isn’t letting the cops railroad him. He’s filed a civil liberties lawsuit. (Yes, there’s a difference between cruising and prostitution, but in this example, both are trumped up charges.)

But still, that doesn’t answer the question about how the NYPD continues going after gay men for something that isn’t illegal. “How did this miscarriage of justice, involving thousands, evade notice all this time?,” asks Redman. “One possible answer lies in the combination of intimidation and minimum deprivation of rights, at least in the short-run, which enforcement has entailed. People who were issued citations may have feared being exposed as gay or as out of line with the norms of sexual propriety. Many of these people paid the ticket, pled guilty by doing so, and—without a judge or defense lawyer to raise a question—tried to leave the whole thing behind them. Also, as the judge in the class action acknowledged, many of them probably pled guilty or accepted plea bargains without even knowing that the anti-cruising statute had been ruled unconstitutional.”

But here’s a very real reason why these prosecutions move forward: New York City wants them to. By issuing citations and arresting men in the city’s “seedy” shops, officials can build a case to revoke their business permits and, effectively, shut them down for being nuisances to the community.

It just happens to be unconstitutional.

By:           editor editor
On:           Oct 21, 2009
Tagged: , , ,

  • 13 Comments
    • bearerfriend
      bearerfriend

      Why hasn’t the NYT covered this yet!?

      Oct 21, 2009 at 1:51 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • PopSnap
      PopSnap

      Better question, why are the guys being arrested such pussies? If some cop dared arrest ME for being gay, it’d be allllll over CNN, NBC, ABC, and whatever combination of letters you could choose.

      I mean, it’d be declared unconstitutional the moment it hits court, so why be afraid? Are people seriously still scared to be outed as gay in NEW YORK CITY of all places?? wtf.

      Oct 21, 2009 at 3:04 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Robert, NYC
      Robert, NYC

      What about arresting straight men hounding women on the street, construction site workers are the biggest offenders, yet the cops do nothing about it. You should hear some of the things they say to women as they pass by. Clearly a double standard here.

      Oct 21, 2009 at 3:09 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Robert, NYC
      Robert, NYC

      odd why the cops never go after straight guys on construction sites harrassing women as they pass by. Clearly a double standard here.

      Oct 21, 2009 at 3:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • dlpca
      dlpca

      Newsflash!

      This is happening all over the country, in places such as California, Atlanta, Dallas. There is a specific targeting of Gay lifestyle activity ranging from set-ups to false arrests to employment sabotage. Law enforcement is out to further demonize Gays, making Gay rights legislation difficult in gaining popularity and voting support.

      Take this incident and place it to any major city in the US and you will find horrific parallels.

      Oct 21, 2009 at 4:05 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • PopSnap
      PopSnap

      Actually, it isn’t?? If gays really were being arrested for being at bars, it would be all over the news and be a number 1 gay rights priority, but alas it’s not because it isn’t really happening. I won’t say it never happens, but it doesn’t happen often- because, as was pointed out, they simply do not HAVE any law with which to slap us with.

      And gay rights are gaining in popularity. Remember, 49% of people voted AGAINST Prop 8 and for gay marriage. just several years prior, 24% voted against gay marriage.

      Oct 21, 2009 at 6:04 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • merkin
      merkin

      Aw, c’mon you guys. Put down the PC glasses and admit these guys aren’t just chatting each other up in the back of bookstores. Theyre jacking each other off or f-cking. That’s where the crime is, whether you think its harmless or not. And there’s tons of hustlers doing business there too.

      Oct 22, 2009 at 8:17 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • terrwill
      terrwill

      Want more of this bullshit??? Re-elect Mayor Boomberg!!

      Oct 22, 2009 at 9:27 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • PopSnap
      PopSnap

      Mayour Bloomberg has done more for us than any other Republican besides for Cindy McCain, so I dont know where you’re talking about this.

      And I agree, these guys probably are doing much more than talking. Or else they wouldn’t be stupid enough to plead guilty- who the hell thinks talking is a crime?!?!

      Oct 22, 2009 at 3:00 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • extrabatteries
      extrabatteries

      eww, people do this? not illegal, but definitely gross.

      Oct 22, 2009 at 4:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • McShane
      McShane

      No. 9 · PopSnap : I came out in New York City when the Town had more class than any . Due to proimarily the Republican brain dead, and people dense enough to believe that they ghave improved anything, the city has nearly died as a gay , intelectual city or a city with character.
      Go back to Guliani and his rezoning farce. I’m glad I didn’t stay there to see it’s demise. It’s as sad as watching Bush tear up the U.S.

      Oct 24, 2009 at 3:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      PopSnap wrote, “Better question, why are the guys being arrested such pussies? If some cop dared arrest ME for being gay, it’d be allllll over CNN, NBC, ABC, and whatever combination of letters you could choose. I mean, it’d be declared unconstitutional the moment it hits court, so why be afraid? Are people seriously still scared to be outed as gay in NEW YORK CITY of all places??”

      More likely it is being scared that one’s employer or co-workers, or one’s church-going mother, will find out that the person was arrested in an “adult” shop, and thus either viewing or buying pornography, sex toys, or what have you. It would be like the scene in John Waters’ film _Pecker_, where the middle class, very proper parents of a Black go-go boy find him at work. One says, “I knew it – he’s gay”. He replies that he isn’t gay – he gets blow jobs but doesn’t give them, at which point the audience invariably cracks up laughing: any transparent excuse in a storm.

      Oct 25, 2009 at 6:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Lou
      Lou

      Of course people are afraid to be outed haven’t you noticed how homophobia is still very rampant in this city??? what city do u live in??? There’s still plenty of gay bashing in this city. Hey dude is someone there??? homosexuality is still a social stigma; society is not evolving that fast dude.
      NY is not that sophisticated, all round, when it comes to gay issues. Believe me, I know people being harassed as we speak for being gay. NYC is not only Chelsea and Christopher street. You have Bklyn, Queens anbd thee rest of the boroughs so fuck yeah there’re a lot of ignoramus homophobes-including cops who are on the ready and on the prey to destroy ur life for being simply gay; forget about cruising: you’re out. you’re a target. I’m not saying: stay in the closet by all means but there are risks attached to be open about your sexuality so wake up and smell the coffee the world is real and the American Establishment is chock full of biases; being a fag included

      Aug 5, 2012 at 2:59 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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