Last edited: May 31, 2004


The Verdict is In: Police Wrong in Decoy Operation

Final Judgment in Triangle Lawsuit Against Detroit Police

Triangle Foundation, July 25, 2002

Detroit—Triangle Foundation, et. al. v Detroit was settled on 17 July 2002 when Federal District Judge Arthur Tarnow approved the Consent Judgment in favor of Triangle Foundation and six other Plaintiffs.

The judgment is a vindication of the longstanding contention made by Triangle Foundation that Detroit police were profiling and targeting gay men for crimes they did not commit. The complaint alleged that the plaintiffs were falsely charged with violating city ordinances that were also unconstitutional al. The lawsuit was filed in December 2001.

"Dozens of men and Triangle have been vindicated!" said Jeffrey Montgomery, Executive Director of Triangle Foundation. "For years we have been fighting illegal police harassment in Detroit and other communities. This settlement is solid evidence that Detroit admits it was wrong, and has to change its ways. Triangle Foundation is one of the most visible gay rights organizations in America fighting police misconduct. This lawsuit paves the way for others to demand justice from the court system when overzealous police target people they don’t like and try pushing their own ‘moral’ agenda by persecuting innocent people."

"All citizens should enjoy equal protection under the law, and equal due process rights," said Sean Kosofsky, Director of Victim Services for Triangle Foundation. "And no group should be targeted for arrest, prosecution and harassment."

The terms of the Judgment include $170,000 to be paid to the five individual Plaintiffs; repeal of the "Annoying Persons" ordinance (Detroit City Code 38-3-1); amendment "to remedy the constitutional concerns raised by Plaintiffs," of City Code 38-9-5 (the Solicitation ordinance); arrest records relating to the arrests of the individual plaintiffs shall be purged from the records and computer system of the DPD; and the Sixth Precinct must undergo sensitivity training on GLTB issues.

Triangle is a national leader in combating so-called "Bag A Fag" operations, which are at issue in this lawsuit. In Detroit and other communities police agencies get some of their most physically attractive officers to dress as decoys to play gay for the day, and to entice gay men to break the law. This practice is known as entrapment and it is illegal. Yet hundreds of men had similar stories of police approaching them and making sexually suggestive gestures and remarks in order to "sting" them.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan agreed to file the federal lawsuit on behalf of Triangle Foundation and six individual plaintiffs. This is the first lawsuit of its kind in Michigan and one of only a very few around the country.

According to city figures, between February and July of 2001, nearly 800 individuals were arrested in Rouge Park alone. That park is a known gathering place for gay men.

The birth of the modern gay and lesbian civil rights movement began in June of 1969 when GLBT activists stood up to police abuse in New York City. After years of harassment by police, patrons of the Stonewall Inn (popular gay bar in New York) fought back by rioting and forcing police to stop their harassment. Triangle is proud to continue the struggle against anti-gay police abuse, which still persists to this day.

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