Last edited: February 14, 2005


ACLU Sues Detroit Police Over Gay Arrests

Detroit News, December 18, 2001
615 W. Lafayette, Detroit, MI 48226
Fax: 313-222-6417

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 rights organization.

"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 July.

"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 prostitution.

Charges against the men usually were dropped, Montgomery said, but they had to pay fees to recover their vehicles.

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