I truly believe that had this case not involved a pair of lesbians, I probably would have heard about long before now. But because it did, and the Black community still continues to ignore the heinous crimes committed against us just because we are gay, I only found out about this yesterday. Such a shame, but happens more often than not.
Below is an excerpt from an article in last week’s Southern Voice, Atlanta’s gay newspaper, regarding some shady dealing with the police department and Black lesbian women.
The article reads:
Torry Reid’s face slammed into the pavement, she says she still had no idea why DeKalb County Police Officer Derrick Asberry had pulled her over, let alone why he had cursed at her, handcuffed her and slammed her to the ground.
It wasn’t until after her teeth were damaged and her face began to swell that Reid said she was told that she had been driving without her taillights on.
Reid and her partner, Elizabeth Toledo, said they are convinced that the August 2005 traffic stop escalated into a case of anti-lesbian police brutality because of Reid’s masculine appearance, and because Asberry is a cop with a history of conduct complaints.
“He thought [Reid] was a man at first,” Toledo said of Asberry initially stopping the car. “But when he saw it was a lesbian, his whole attitude seemed to change. It was like, he was going to prove a point.”
I experienced a similar incident several years ago when my then girlfriend and her cousin were mistaken for rival gang members in Los Angeles near Normandie Avenue and Century Boulevard. Half way through the ass whooping that they were receiving courtesy of two young Black gang affiliate Black men, they realized that were hitting women and that only seemed to make them more upset.
I’ve heard it repeated over and over again that Driving While Black doesn’t exclude gays and lesbians, and it’s true. Black is Black.
Up in Da Club While Black, Lesbian, and Butch
In the same article, Sharif Williams recounts how during her 24th birthday celebration at Club Miami on her way out of the club she and her friends stopped in the women’s restroom. While inside, Williams said she was accosted by several bouncers who said people were complaining about men in the women’s bathroom.
Williams said she pointed at her “Super Dyke” baseball cap and offered to show the bouncers her ID, but one of the bouncers continued pushing her out of the door, including a thrust that forced her to the ground.
Two bouncers jumped on Williams and “began to beat me on the floor mercilessly while my roommate repeatedly screamed, ‘Stop, this is a girl!’”
“The men continued to beat me about my head, neck, arms, back and legs,” said Williams, who, along with her roommate, was dragged outside to the parking lot where DeKalb County Police Officer L. Pierre was patrolling.
“I asked the officer why weren’t the men who beat me being arrested and he replied he did not see anything,” said Williams, who added that she had witnesses who saw the incident that left her with bruises and lacerations on her face.
When Pierre refused to take her statement for a police report, Williams filed an internal investigation complaint against him for neglecting his duty.
“Just because I look a certain way, I felt like [the police] felt like I should’ve got a beat down like I did,” said Williams, who identifies as a butch lesbian and transgender individual.
In a Nov. 6 letter to Williams, the internal affairs department exonerated Pierre of the complaint against him.
Both women would like for Georgia’s DeKalb County Police Department to hire a LGBT liaison to help gay and lesbian victims navigate the system. The only liaison that the department has to date is for Hispanics.
So what gives? These two women aren’t the only lesbians in Georgia to go through something like this and yet from the article it would seem that not only is there no support from the Black community in general regarding their mistreatment but nothing from the other gays as well.
Georgia may not be California, but we do have some things in common. Both states have a high population of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender residents. It’s just that one state choose to acknowledge their LGBT constituents (and really they had no choice, we don’t play out here) and the other is still living in denial, i.e. The Bible Belt.
Now I’m not going to sit up here and tell you that all is well within the notorious Los Angeles Police Department, but it’s definitely improved and one of those improvements was the addition of LGBT liaison’s. We’re fortunate enough to have a Black lesbian police officer who is out and serving proudly as one of the L.A.P.D.’s liaison’s to the gay community. You may remember Officer Carol Davis from my “Lesbians I Love” series.
Officer Davis has been a valuable addition to the department and also helped to shatter the notion that all gays are white.
And Los Angeles isn’t the only large city with such positions. It seems to me that perhaps some of the cities with gay liaison’s in their police department could offer some friendly advice to their brothers and sisters in DeKalb County. Hint, hint.
As for the two sisters in Georgia, keep ya head up and fight the good fight. I know it’s never easy to go up against the System, but if you can stop one more Black person from being harassed or brutalized at the hands of the police for being Black or Black and gay, it’s worth it, even if you have to do it without the support of your folks.
It’s sad to say, but had what happened to these two sista’s happened to some affluent gay in the community, I’m sure the circumstances and outcome would be much different.