The NYPD has a gross history of entrapping gay men in what it considers to be sexual situations only to slap them with charges of public lewdness.
We reported an account of the disgusting practice in May, when the department settled with a man who came forward claiming that he had falsely arrested for — as the NYPD claims — trying to engage a plainclothes officer in a sex act. The man, like many others, claimed he did no such thing.
This week, the Times consulted three of at least 12 victims of the NYPD’s homophobic practices who are now suing the department over their “aggressive and intrusive police tactics.” Represented by the Legal Aid Society, they all claim they were accused of masturbating while peeing at urinals in the second-floor bathroom at the Port Authority bus terminal.
Though Port Authority police commander Capt. John Fitzpatrick says “the bathroom is hardly a hotbed of sexual activity” and that sexual complaints are “few and far between,” the NYPD has arrested at least 60 men for allegedly masturbating there this year alone.
According to the report, at least two arrests are made each week.
Cornell Holden, a 28-year-old baker, describes his experience being arrested in one of the regular stings:
Mr. Holden, a 28-year-old baker, said he noticed that a bald man at the urinal next to him — who he later learned was a plainclothes police officer — was looking at him. A privacy divider, as well as a duffel bag slung over Mr. Holden’s shoulder, separated them.
“While I’m using the bathroom, he stepped back and kind of looks at me and then walks off,” Mr. Holden recalled. As he left, two officers approached him, asking what he had just been doing. “I said: ‘Nothing. I was using the bathroom,’ ” Mr. Holden said. “They pulled me aside, asked for my ID and then put handcuffs on me.”
Holden suspects officers target men who “fit the description of a homosexual male,” and even says he heard a police officer refer to the plainclothes officer who arrested him as “the gay whisperer” during his arrest.
Another victim, identified as Miguel, also shared his account:
“You know how when you have a feeling someone is looking at you?” Miguel, 43, said of the episode, on July 9. “So I look over and see someone is smiling at me. It was like a smirk.” He described the man as stocky and wearing blue shorts.
Miguel said he “paid it no mind,” washed his hands and left the men’s room. Walking toward his bus to New Jersey, he was arrested. The officer kept saying, “Oh, you know what you did,” when Miguel asked why he had been arrested.
Miguel said he was not sure whether he had been targeted. “Anyone who would have gone next to that man, who would have stood in that particular urinal, would have gotten the rap that I got,” he said.
The fine, upstanding officers of the NYPD: protecting and serving New Yorkers since… well, we’ll let you know when that starts happening.