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Old 30th May 2016, 10:56 PM
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LA Times article on Gay Entrapment....

An interesting article on the Los Angeles Vice Squads and how many cities have done away with them and a lot of arrests have been tossed out as entrapment because they target Gays.

The handsome undercover cop smiles. Is he entrapping gay men or cleaning up a park? - LA Times


Personally I understand the issues with people having sex in the open in parks and bathrooms - but I have never understood the vice busts of adult book stores or adult theaters. Everyone going there knows what the story is - no one got offended because Pee Wee Herman jacked off in the porn theater!

I don't think there is a character limit to posts here so I will copy the article in case the pulls down the story after a period of days.



The handsome undercover cop smiles. Is he entrapping gay men or cleaning up a park?


Undercover police stings targeting gay men
Rory Moroney is at the center of a Long Beach police lewd-conduct sting that a judge found to be discriminatory. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Hailey Branson-Potts and James QueallyContact Reporters


Sitting in cars along the edge of the park, four Long Beach police officers waited for the right time to pounce.

The innocuous signal that spurred them to action came when they saw a middle-aged man close his laptop and head toward a public restroom known in the area as a place where men have sex with each other. One of the undercover officers followed him inside.

Within moments, police were leading the man away in handcuffs. His crime: exposing himself to the officer.

The 2014 arrest in Recreation Park marked another successful sting for the city’s vice squad. But the undercover operation, which was sharply criticized recently by a judge, also exemplifies a controversial, age-old police tactic that many of California’s largest law enforcement agencies have quietly abandoned in recent years amid mounting criticism and changing sexual attitudes.

In Los Angeles, Long Beach and other areas where undercover lewd conduct stings endure, police defend them as an important tool for catching people who are violating the law and for deterring others from trying to have sex in parks and other public areas used by families and children.

Gay-rights activists do not condone public sex but have long condemned the busts as a form of entrapment, saying they unfairly single out gay men, with sometimes devastating consequences. The issue has been debated for decades. But in recent years, critics of the stings have gained traction as public attitudes about homosexuality and gay rights have shifted.

Undercover officers, critics contend, often exchange flirtatious signals and make arrests of men who think their advances are welcome, when no one else is nearby to be offended. They say that the stings can ensnare men who hadn't otherwise been seeking sex and that they rarely, if ever, target straight people.

Under state law, people who are convicted of indecent exposure must register as sex offenders and face possible jail time. Some have lost their jobs or committed suicide.

“Nobody is going to defend lewd conduct, but there is a qualitative difference between sexual predators and people who engage in boorish behavior,” said Los Angeles County Assessor Jeffrey Prang, who is gay and a former special assistant in the Sheriff's Department who worked with its LGBT advisory council. “Criminalizing them isn’t really justice. You just want them to stop.”

Courts also have raised questions about the stings, invalidating a number of prosecutions in various parts of the state. In some cases, judges found no crime had occurred because the undercover officer conveyed sexual interest to the target and no one else was present to be offended by the lewd conduct. Last month, a Los Angeles County judge threw out the charges in one case stemming from Long Beach's 2014 operation, saying police were discriminating against gay men.

Many law enforcement agencies have stopped in response to lawsuits or after political backlash. The Times contacted police officials in San Jose, Anaheim, Glendale, San Francisco, Bakersfield, Beverly Hills and Laguna Beach, among other agencies. Representatives for each said their departments had not used such undercover stings in years.

These officials said they came to view the stings as ineffective or unnecessary after noticing a sharp drop-off in complaints about public sex during an age when men can easily find sexual partners through the Internet and dating apps such as Grindr.

Some cities have found alternative ways to tackle the problem of cruising — the act of searching for anonymous public sex. Departments will now post uniformed officers near cruising hotspots or improve lighting and trim trees and bushes in areas known for public sex.

“Bottom line is, there were much better things that the vice ... bureau should have been engaged in, namely sex trafficking and sexual exploitation,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Cmdr. Merrill Ladenheim, who heads the agency’s human trafficking task force. “We really refocused our efforts on those other crimes where we have a victim.”

LAPD officials say they have made a point of carrying out undercover operations less frequently in recent years. In 2007, the agency revamped its lewd conduct policy to tell officers that stings should be used only “as a last resort.”

But when alternative tactics fail, the department has no choice but to deploy decoy officers, said Capt. Andy Neiman, the LAPD’s chief spokesman. While lewd conduct complaints have dropped dramatically in recent years, Neiman said stings have been used to shut down persistent hotspots for gay cruising and lewd acts 11 times since 2014.

Complaints often come from people concerned about sex acts in public places, namely libraries and residential streets, where children could stumble upon people engaged in a lewd act, Neiman said.

“You still have to enforce the law when you get complaints,” he said.

The use of undercover cops to target gay men in Southern California stretches back to the early 20th century, when gay sex was illegal, said Lillian Faderman, a historian and author of “Gay L.A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, and Lipstick Lesbians.”

The pioneers were W.H. Warren and B.C. Brown, “vice specialists” who loitered in public restrooms and other areas while carrying out so-called “purity campaigns” aimed at gay men in Long Beach and Los Angeles, Faderman wrote, adding that their methods served as a model for stings throughout Southern California.

The pair had no prior police training but were given police badges in both cities. They were paid for each arrest and offered their services to other major cities, she said.

In 1914, The Times reported on an operation in which the two helped arrest 31 men accused of engaging in gay sex at private clubs in Long Beach. Long Beach’s mayor and police chief awarded Warren and Brown a proclamation that said their work “rid the city of a dangerous class which threatened the morals of the youth of the community.”

Soon after the arrests, one of the men, a prominent banker and church officer, committed suicide by ingesting cyanide. The fear that other men would follow suit led the city to temporarily ban the sale of toxic substances, The Times reported.

In more recent decades, police agencies that employed the stings defended them as an effective way of responding to complaints about areas well-known for public hook-ups. Decoy operations are necessary to make arrests, officials said, because the crime of lewd conduct is a misdemeanor that requires officers to witness the conduct to justify an arrest.

“These are public parks, and public parks attract kids and families,” said Bakersfield Sgt. Gary Carruesco, whose department stopped conducting stings after a judge found the practice to be discriminatory in 2005. “Obviously, they can walk into a bathroom and witness things.”

West Hollywood Councilman John Duran, an attorney who has represented men in cruising cases for 30 years, said a typical client was a “deeply closeted gay or bisexual man who had hidden rendezvous in public places.” Many, he said, had low self-esteem and turned to cruising because they thought they were undeserving of intimacy.

But the LGBT movement, said Duran, who is gay, “has produced new generations of out and proud people who believe they can have healthy sexual encounters.” Growing public support of gay rights and the presence of openly gay officers in police departments has put pressure on agencies to stop using stings, he said.

Recent decoy operations have drawn fierce criticism.

Palm Springs police sparked outrage in 2009 when officers arrested 19 men in an undercover sting in a neighborhood known for gay resorts. Audio recordings of the operation caught a detective and the police chief making derogatory comments about the men who were arrested. The chief later resigned, and the department has not employed the tactic again, a police spokesman said.

In 2012, Manhattan Beach police were blasted for releasing the mugshots of men swept up in a lewd conduct sting. Police said at the time that local lifeguards had found graffiti of graphic sexual images on restroom walls, and holes drilled through stall partitions.

One man sued the city, alleging that he was falsely arrested and that his photograph and name were released to the media. The department stopped using decoys soon afterward, said Sgt. Paul Ford, supervisor of the agency’s detective bureau.

In Long Beach, gay-rights activists said they were troubled — and surprised — to see stings still being deployed in a city with a vibrant LGBT community and an openly gay mayor.

Long Beach police took more than two dozen men into custody during decoy operations from 2012 to 2014, according to Bruce Nickerson, a civil rights attorney.

One of those men was Rory Moroney, who was arrested in the Recreation Park sting in 2014.

On the day he was arrested, Moroney said he was using his laptop in the park to search for jobs. He knew the reputation of the men’s room, but he hadn’t gone there to cruise, he said. Moroney, 50, said he was washing his hands when he saw a man standing in a stall, thumbs hooked over his belt, smiling and nodding. He believed the undercover officer was flirting.

“They were targeting. That’s not right,” Moroney said. “They baited me. They trapped me.”

On April 29, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Halim Dhanidina sided with Moroney and tossed out the charges. The judge noted that the Long Beach police vice unit had conducted a series of stings spanning two years that used only male officers to arrest male suspects seeking sex with other men.

Dhanidina found that the stings were “indicative of animus toward homosexuals.” The judge also ruled that “the presence and tactics of the decoy officers actually caused the crimes to occur.”

Long Beach police said they conduct decoy operations only in response to public complaints. Cmdr. Paul Lebaron, who oversees the city’s detective division, including the vice unit, said the department exhausts other tactics first before using stings as a last resort. Lebaron, who was not running vice operations when Moroney was arrested, said the agency has conducted only one lewd conduct sting since January 2015.

The city prosecutor’s office has not said if it will appeal the judge’s decision. Nickerson said he plans to argue in court that the charges against the 27 other men caught in the stings in 2013 and 2014 should be invalidated.

Mayor Robert Garcia said he hadn’t been aware of the stings and that the city is now reviewing its policies.

“I view Long Beach as a progressive place that believes in justice and dignity for everybody,” Garcia said. “So when I hear that something occurs that could be contrary to that, I’m alarmed.”
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Old 30th May 2016, 11:42 PM
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I agree that most people see the wisdom of somehow protecting the general public from lewd behavior. Now, singling out gay men alone is hardly in public interest.

People are only people. Once you send in someone on a sting op, he'll do anything to be successful. He would want to show to his boss that he is has accomplished the task, he made an arrest or several of those. Hence, he qualifies to stay in the force, and possibly be on a speed track for promotion, too. If that involves a bit of flirting that no one will see anyway, so be it. You cannot make an omelet without breaking some eggs, can you?

John rightly points out that busting adult bookstores and theaters simply does not make any sense. You do not want them - ban them if you can. But do not expect people to go there to read their bible?

KD
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Old 31st May 2016, 07:02 AM
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jonn, thanks so much for sharing this. I've actually bookmarked it to mention on the CFS Home Page and may adapt it into an update for Keith's pages about public cruising

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Originally Posted by jonn3 View Post
I don't think there is a character limit to posts here so I will copy the article in case the pulls down the story after a period of days.
I think the LA Times keeps most stories in an online archive, though I don't know if they stay free to access or move behind a paywall after some time. And of course, they might change their policies at any future point.

~ Bob
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Old 2nd June 2016, 07:51 AM
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Following up on the Long Beach case: Long Beach won't appeal a ruling that said police stings unfairly targeted gay men
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Old 7th June 2016, 09:42 AM
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That is great about Long Beach -

I understand that there is an issue with some of places where guys have gone at it right in the public bathroom or the like -

But to send police out to act interested and see if the other guy responds - or to go into adult bookstores and theaters and arrest guys for indecent exposure is just wrong.

And the worst part is the publicity those stings receive - names and often pictures printed in the paper when it is a "victim less crime" where no one gets hurt - except the poor guy whose life was just ruined by them printing it in the paper!
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Old 7th June 2016, 11:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonn3 View Post
That is great about Long Beach -

I understand that there is an issue with some of places where guys have gone at it right in the public bathroom or the like -

But to send police out to act interested and see if the other guy responds - or to go into adult bookstores and theaters and arrest guys for indecent exposure is just wrong.

And the worst part is the publicity those stings receive - names and often pictures printed in the paper when it is a "victim less crime" where no one gets hurt - except the poor guy whose life was just ruined by them printing it in the paper!
Most European jurisdictions do not allow sting operations for all the obvious reasons.

You are sending a law enforcement officer to lure other men into lewd behavior. Even if the other men do not respond, the officer may be prone to insisting that they did because he has a vested interest in accomplishing his mission. The dude has got to pay his bills, too, and a promotion would not hurt him either. We would not call it a shining example of perfect integrity but the legal system cannot purely rely on the individuals and their sense of integrity alone.

We have all been witnessing the end of many of the old, tried and tested cruising areas. We have seen so many ABSs, adult theaters, gay bars, clubs and spas close within the past several years. No doubt, the things are changing. Your average Joe Gay is really not picking up his NSA ONS at the neighboring public facilities or less and less so in any of the usually cruisy venues. The apps & Co. are easier, faster, cheaper.

Hence, the gay-related 'lewd behavior' as a somewhat 'massive' problem is largely a matter of the past. No one wants to send in 3 cops to work for 10 hrs each to make one dubious arrest if any.

Sure, printing the names and the pictures of people accused of lewd behavior led to many suicides, serious professional and family ruptures, etc. To some extent, things are changing here, too. Many men ARE very openly gay. 'Outing' them is really not possible any more. And quite a few gay men are self-employed. Bad as this may be, I do not see them firing themselves on those charges.

If it does not pay off, why do it?

KD
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Old 8th June 2016, 11:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KewlDewd66 View Post
We have all been witnessing the end of many of the old, tried and tested cruising areas. We have seen so many ABSs, adult theaters, gay bars, clubs and spas close within the past several years. No doubt, the things are changing. Your average Joe Gay is really not picking up his NSA ONS at the neighboring public facilities or less and less so in any of the usually cruisy venues. The apps & Co. are easier, faster, cheaper.

Hence, the gay-related 'lewd behavior' as a somewhat 'massive' problem is largely a matter of the past. No one wants to send in 3 cops to work for 10 hrs each to make one dubious arrest if any.
From what I see in the Sex Listings, there's still a lot of what you might call "opportunistic cruising," especially by men who simply like the experience of having sex with anonymous strangers in a public or semi-public place. Some of them pre-arrange meetings using Apps or Craigslist, some simply go to well-known beaches, parks (there's one in Hemet, California that seems like the only place in town to get off), ABSs (this one by the Interstate in Kentucky is especially busy), and some of the Korean- or other Asian-style "mens' spas," bathhouses, and sexclubs in medium-sized and big cities, too. Of course, the Sex Listings Reviews reflect just a fraction of the activity that happens in a place but I see reports every day.

There's also the thing with men who might be married to women and/or who identify as straight or as some other label. Many can't meet at home, don't want to reveal their true identity, etc., etc. They might make a connection online or they might be in a cruisy location, but either way it's compartmentalized from other parts of life. I see this also in the Escort Reviews where many clients are married men of some means who hire men.

It's not really that different from straight men, married or not, having opposite-six hook-ups (or affairs or sex-work engagements, too) that they don't want to keep in a special part of their private life, unrevealed to spouses, partners, close friends, or whoever. This has been going on for thousands of years. It's simply human behavior, except that men who have sex with men may have more opportunities and less inhibitions.
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Old 9th June 2016, 01:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by infopop View Post
From what I see in the Sex Listings, there's still a lot of what you might call "opportunistic cruising," especially by men who simply like the experience of having sex with anonymous strangers in a public or semi-public place. Some of them pre-arrange meetings using Apps or Craigslist, some simply go to well-known beaches, parks (there's one in Hemet, California that seems like the only place in town to get off), ABSs (this one by the Interstate in Kentucky is especially busy), and some of the Korean- or other Asian-style "mens' spas," bathhouses, and sexclubs in medium-sized and big cities, too. Of course, the Sex Listings Reviews reflect just a fraction of the activity that happens in a place but I see reports every day.

There's also the thing with men who might be married to women and/or who identify as straight or as some other label. Many can't meet at home, don't want to reveal their true identity, etc., etc. They might make a connection online or they might be in a cruisy location, but either way it's compartmentalized from other parts of life. I see this also in the Escort Reviews where many clients are married men of some means who hire men.

It's not really that different from straight men, married or not, having opposite-six hook-ups (or affairs or sex-work engagements, too) that they don't want to keep in a special part of their private life, unrevealed to spouses, partners, close friends, or whoever. This has been going on for thousands of years. It's simply human behavior, except that men who have sex with men may have more opportunities and less inhibitions.

I very much agree with you that 'opportunistic cruising' continues to exist, and that it even may be going on pretty strong at specific locations across the country. Yet, I am afraid that the gay mainstream, as in your 'out and about' metro gay guy hooking up for sex now relies mostly on online resources for his daily hookup needs. No doubt, some of these hook ups may then physically take place at one of the known cruising areas, too.

I also agree that a number of people of whatever sexual orientation may be using some of the cruising spots for their DL encounters, too. The fact that some bars, spas and clubs survive confirms that they, too, must be having some sort of public, too.

I have been traveling on both business and pleasure throughout Europe extensively over the past several decades. Both the public and the commercial based cruising continue to exist. Yet, I have seen a very significant reduction on at least three levels.

First off, many even relatively popular bars and clubs have closed, mostly because they stopped being financially viable. Formerly very popular public parks are now largely empty with one or two guys looking around, where we used to have dozens of folks cruising on the popular nights.

Second off, the surviving clubs, bars, etc., are mostly barely making it. You go there, see three guys sitting and talking; you have a drink and you move on. The three dudes are still sitting there... I guess. You need numbers in order to get the game going.

Third off, many sites are now open for everyone, and frankly are not really that gay anymore. Cruising at such spots is a very different animal altogether.

KD
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Old 9th June 2016, 09:49 AM
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KD, agreed on all points for the USA too.

It's hard to quantify how much the action has changed at public places, and I still see reviews from parks, public toilets, even department store fitting rooms from coast to coast. Many do say they arrange to meet online, some just show up at, say, Prospect Park in Brooklyn - documented with photos in the 2015 book In the Vale of Cashmere - or in Meridian Hill Park in DC, known as "Malcolm X Park."

It's interesting that both of these places seem to be frequented primarily by men of color, but I see others that attract a wider demographic, such as Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. A report in XTRA: Do gay guys still cruise for public sex? had a reporter in this park. He seemed to think things didn't live up to his hopes (the men were "boring") but then again, he'd visited the City for Dore Alley, the Folsom Street Fair. A park just doesn't compete. Still, his conclusion was "public cruising is still alive and well in San Francisco."

What I get from all this is it depends on the city, the people, the time, and especially one's expectations. Given that, the overall amount, context, and methods associated with public cruising have evolved - just as society has evolved.
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Old 9th June 2016, 11:35 AM
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Recently I was in Phoenix for a few days and my hotel was not in the best area - right across the street was an adult bookstore with "preview booths and theater" (according to the sign) - and there were always cars in and out of the parking lot and on Friday and Saturday the lot was totally filled!

I could not believe the traffic this place had!

Unfortunately I was not alone so I had no chance to check it out - but I guess in some places the old school cruising is not dead.
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Old 10th June 2016, 12:56 AM
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I, too, am sure that the 'old style cruising' will never really disappear. Think of a city like San Francisco, as pointed out by Bob here. There are very many openly gay men in the city. Quite a few people are, well, 'open minded' and tourists and visitors flock the city, too. It is really hard to imagine that no one will ever try to cruise the GG park, the dunes, the area around the mill close to the Ocean Beach, etc. Or the Buena Vista Park or whatever other cruising area there may be.

Yet, if you contrast the numbers of the guys, and the relative intensity of the cruising at such places these days with the pre-net times when we were all reading the ads at the Sentinel or at the the Bay Area Guardian in order to get ourselves a suitable date, and when most of us flocked to either the SoMa bars or clubs or to the Market/Castro locations for the NSA hookups, you do see a tectonic change that the modernity has brought about.

I, too, see this as an evolutionary process. Think of the AOL m2m chat rooms, IRCs across the country, etc., all the way to the apps of these days.

On some level, and at some locations, at least one more factor worked against the 'old style cruising' - the drugs. I know of quite a few popular bars and clubs across Europe that used to be your prime cruising spots. The places were kept reasonably nice, clean and inviting. Their business used to be good, probably because they had loyal regulars who would be bringing in good cashflow. These guys saw cruising as a bit of a social interaction with other like-minded guys, too.

Only too soon, the dealers discovered the convenience of such, well, dark, limited access places, and started running their business along. A formerly good neighborhood bar with an active backroom degenerated into something very different. Many regulars left, and soon enough, the place closed down...

KD
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Old 13th June 2016, 10:44 AM
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I have always found it interesting that bath houses were legal but adult theaters or activity in a ABS is not.

In both cases you have to be over the legal age to enter so why can one get away with it and the other still gets busted?

As I have said I understand why the cities do not want guys fucking in the bushes in the parks - not everyone in the park is there for sex (that does not say I condone entrapment) but if you are not in a public setting - and you are in a place (ABS) where everyone knows what goes on - why do the police care?
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Old 15th June 2016, 11:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KewlDewd66 View Post
I, too, see this as an evolutionary process. Think of the AOL m2m chat rooms, IRCs across the country, etc., all the way to the apps of these days.

It's funny - I found those old chat room very liberating. It was the first place I "publicly" (yeah right - no one knew who you were) talked with other guys about the fact I liked guys -

It was very freeing to be able to openly discuss the fact that I liked sex with men - it was not just "there are no girls around" like my buddies and I used to say as an excuse for why we were doing it - I could actually admit liking it.
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Old 15th June 2016, 11:31 PM
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Wow, the AOL m2m used to be functioning like the proximity apps in San Francisco in their time and day. I doubt that anyone of us ever envisioned the apps per se...

I used to live on Pacific Heights, so I was mostly looking in the PacHeights & Nob Hill Room. Sure, we all explored all the way to the Ocean Beach, too! Yet, most of us were after a FB in the hood. You wanted it easy, simple and regular. The less footwork the better...

The pix were being exchanged. Dudes not sporting the latest fashion of the day or showing themselves in their fishing gear or whatever used to be seen as possible fakes even in those days...

No doubt, quite a few people were out and about. Many were more on the DL side. Some were cheating on their partners... But everything went nonetheless...

KD
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Old 27th June 2016, 09:46 AM
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Class-action suit filed against Long Beach over stings targeting gay men

Here's a follow-up, Class-action suit filed against Long Beach over stings targeting gay men.
Quote:
...[Rory]Moroney is now named as the lead plaintiff in the class-action suit. At least two dozen other men were arrested by Long Beach police under similar circumstances in 2013 and 2014, court records show. In the suit, [Attorney Bruce] Nickerson said the plaintiff class could grow to include “hundreds of men who have been illegally arrested for violations of California law by the LBPD.

Calls to the Long Beach city attorney’s office seeking comment were not immediately returned.

The suit asks the court to declare the conduct of Long Beach’s vice unit to be a violation of the 4th Amendment, which protects people against unreasonable searches and seizures, and the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection. The suit also seeks monetary damages...
You can click through to read the story. I'm also attaching it as a PDF if you'd rather read it without ads, cookies, tracking, etc.

~ Bob S.
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