ACLU Sues Detroit Police Over Gay Arrests
December 18, 2001
615 W. Lafayette, Detroit, MI 48226
Email: Letters@detnews.com http://www.detnews.com/2001/metro/0112/18/d02-369570.htm
By Ronald J. Hansen, The Detroit News
DETROITóPolice officers unfairly arrested gay men
who discussed consensual sex with undercover officers during former Chief
Benny Napoleonís tenure, a civil liberties group contends.
The American Civil Liberties Union sued the Detroit Police Department in
federal court Monday, claiming it enforced an "annoying person"
ordinance thatís too vague. At least 300 men were arrested in Rouge Park
this year and many paid $900 to retrieve impounded vehicles seized in the
stings, which ended in July when Charles Wilson became chief.
Police reports indicated the men discussed sex with undercover officers
from the morality unit, but did not exchange money or have trysts in the park,
said Jeffrey Montgomery, executive director of the Triangle Foundation, a gay
"This is just another example of profiling," Montgomery said.
"This has destroyed lives and families and careers."
The suit asks a judge to declare two 1964 city ordinances invalid because
they are too broad, and award damages for men swept up from February until
"How do you decide whatís annoying?" asked Jay Kaplan, a staff
attorney for the ACLU. He noted that "ogling" someone can lead to an
arrest. "You can go to jail for staring at someone."
The Police Department declined to comment about the lawsuit.
The City Council has held two hearings on the fairness of the annoyance
ordinance and another banning solicitation, a charge normally associated with
Charges against the men usually were dropped, Montgomery said, but they had
to pay fees to recover their vehicles.
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