Human-rights giant Amnesty International has issued its second report this year on GLBT abuse, documenting torture and violence in 30 countries, including the United States.
Crimes of Hate, Conspiracy of Silence: Torture and Ill-Treatment Based on Sexual Identity is the first report of its kind to be released by a human-rights organization. It is the second time this year that Amnesty has documented allegations of anti-gay police misconduct in Chicago.
"It is a black eye, to put it mildly, on the city of Chicago" to be featured so extensively in the report, said Andy Thayer of the Chicago Anti-Bashing Network.
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Thayer, along with several staffers from Amnesty's Chicago office, spoke at a press conference announcing the release of the report.
In February, Amnesty released a report entitled Allegations of homophobic abuse by Chicago police officers.
The document detailed the cases of Freddie Mason and Jeffrey Lyons, two men who have accused police of anti-gay violence.
The new report details abuses such as the police's sexual assault of two lesbian detainees in Brazil to the violent fallout of the criminalization of homosexuality in Uganda.
In addition to documenting alleged abuses, the new report includes a 12-point proposal of improvements for all governments, including the city of Chicago.
For the city, the report calls for a "genuine, independent and effective oversight of police complaints that is citizen-inclusive and has the power to involve all complaints, subpoena witnesses and get the full cooperation of all police officers," said Adam Ortiz, deputy director of Amnesty's Midwest office.
Ortiz said that other cities, such as Pittsburgh and New York, have turned their complaint review process over to citizens.
"We're sure it can happen here," he said.
FORUM ADDRESSES ANTI-GAY VIOLENCE, POLICE ABUSE
by Karen Hawkins
Citing a handful of recent incidents of anti-gay police brutality and of capital cases in which defendants' sexuality was used against them, activists at a forum last week pushed to include the criminal justice system in the realm of gay rights.
"We are trying to get across the idea that police brutality and the death penalty should be seen as 'gay issues,'" said Bob Schwartz of the Chicago Anti-Bashing Network, one of the event's sponsors.
The forum, held June 19 at the Church of the Open Door, featured speakers from a variety of backgrounds, including Schwartz, a peer educator from Horizons named Chico, Robert Schultz of Amnesty International's death penalty abolition project, Lydia Taylor of the Justice Coalition of Greater Chicago, and Joey Mogul of Queer to the Left and People's Law Office. It was moderated by Deborah Benford of Affinity.
"This is a really auspicious day to have an event like this," Schultz said, noting that June 19 is Juneteenth, an African-American holiday that marks when the last of America's slaves learned that they'd been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation some two years before.
Schwartz discussed the cases of Jeffrey Lyons, Freddie Mason, Terry Phalen and Kentin Waits, all Chicago men who have accused police of anti-gay abuse in the last two years. He renewed CABN's call for Cook County State's Attorney Dick Devine to prosecute officers who have committed alleged wrongdoing.
In discussing the relevance of death penalty issues to the GLBT community, Schultz mentioned the case of Bernina Mata, a lesbian on death row in Illinois. Mata's attorneys believe racism and anti-gay bias played into her death sentence, which is being appealed.
Mogul offered tips on what to do during encounters with the police, including stops, arrests and incidents of brutality. She urged victims of brutality who have not been charged to call the Office of Professional Standards, the arm of the police that investigates misconduct allegations. She encouraged those who have been charged to call an attorney before calling OPS.
Other tips included making sure to get the names and badge numbers of any officers involved and not answering any questions until your attorney—and not the state's attorney—is present.
Sponsors of the event included: Affinity, Amnesty, Chicago Black Lesbians and Gays and Queer to the Left. Endorsers included Sangat, First Defense Legal Aid and Khuli Zaban.