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NYPD Targeting Older Gay Men?

NYPD Targeting Older Gay Men?

A crowd gathered outside of New York Mayor Micheal R. Bloomberg’s East 79th Street residence on Saturday to draw attention to a worrying trend of prostitution arrests made against gay and bisexual men frequenting Manhattan’s adult Video stores dating back all the way to 2004, arrests that victims like 52-year-old Robert Pinter say are completely unlawful and are evidence that the NYPD are still targeting homosexuals.

What Happened in the Robert Pinter Case?
Robert Pinter, a massage therapist and one of many older gay men arrested in similar circumstances, was in an adult video store when he was approached by a younger, handsome Asian man who propositioned him. Pinter accepted the consensual encounter and the two started to make their way outside to have sex in a car when the young man attempted to give money to Pinter.

Understandably, Pinter became uncomfortable and after repeated attempts of the young man to hand over $50, Pinter decided to call off the liaison, only to be thrown against a metal link fence and arrested.

The NYPD’s account of the night puts a different spin on things, denying any rough or wrongful treatment and says that they had been reacting to complaints made by local citizens.

Pinter pled guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct, paid a small fine and attended classes that were prescribed as part of his penalty. Whilst there, however, he met many other gay mean, all with similar stories to his own and quickly became suspicious.

NYPD Targeting Adult Shops
The details of this case should be put into context of city-wide developments. The video store in question, Blue Door Video on First Avenue in the East Village has been under heavy scrutiny for some time, and sits in the firing line with six other stores that have already been sued by the city, subsequently closed and the property then sold. 

30 men were arrested in six adult shops during 2008 with 50 arrests since 2004. In contrast, the NYPD point out that only 3 out of the 100 cases investigated for prostitution charges were gay themed video stores.

These statistics seem to point to a problem blown out of proportion, but the Gay City News, a New York LGBT publication, has uncovered other cases of such arrests and during its search found that the amount of older gay men targeted in the operation was disproportionate compared to other areas of the city such as Manhattan South. Profiling the men, the case also throws up irregularities. Some of the men who were arrested were tourists, and all fell outside what would be considered a typical prostitute’s characteristics.

“If the City has some legal basis for closing down these stores if they think they’re a blight or a nuisance or there’s some illegal activity going on, surely they could find a legal means for pursuing these nuisance abatement suits rather than trampling on the civil rights of gay men in New York City,” Pinter remarked.  

When asked why he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of disorderly conduct, Pinter said that whilst being held in custody, he felt pressured to plead guilty in order to hopefully save his career as a massage therapist from ruin.

Reactions To The Arrests
Many gay politicians and gay groups have reacted angrily to the case, with Councilwoman Rosie Mendez calling for a full investigation and many LGBT groups throwing around words like “harassment” and “a return to a pre-Stonewall era”.

Mayor Mike Bloomberg, pictured, has yet to formally address the issue, but he has, in the past, been an advocate of LGBT rights and has taken part in past NYC Pride Parades. The Mayor’s statement to the accusations leveled at the NYPD will be heavily scrutinized by LGBT groups as this no-doubt decisive story unfolds.

 

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Photo used under the creative commons attribution license with thanks to Angela Radulescu.

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25 comments

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4:58AM PDT on Mar 27, 2009

I think some here have the wrong idea about what is actually happening here.
A visit a porn store, is not illegal.
What is happening is entrapment. These 'undercover' cops are saying "Hey want to go fool around?" I have been approached like this.
Then after the mark agrees the cop then offers money. Entrapment.
We are not talking special treatment.
As a friend in NYC explained it Bloomberg (who credible sources say is gay) wants to close these businesses so that the property sold to someone else who can pay more money for the locations.
I have had the same thing happen to me by a cop in a public restroom(and several other places, I used to be cute! Contrary to rpuke talking points, sex in bathrooms is almost always by a closet case. I am out now for 28 years, guys I know never do public, its low class. When the cop tried to arrest me I told him that I would make a huge stink because he was the one that pulled his ----out, not me, and I had several friends waiting outside for me who will testify, I had only been in there for about a minute. Ya know just long enough to do what restrooms are for and wash my hands.
I am sick of being equated with molesters and flashers.
Just because it comes from someone claiming to be a kreestian, the public believes the lies.
To tell the truth, I have known more kreestians way kinkier (and unfaithful) than S&M folks. I could tell such stories! Mike D what happened at Erotic City is very rare. Gay men like men not boys, it

3:31PM PST on Feb 25, 2009

I am tired of hearing about Gays being the target. We are all a target one day or another!

8:33PM PST on Feb 17, 2009

I have mixed feelings about this, but you have to understand what happened here in Kansas City, where I live. There was a large sex club called Erotic City, where gay men congregated and fornicated in the parking lot for years without major incident.

Sure, a few drug related murders happened in the parking lot, but mostly the gays were there to party and have a good time.

Then, last summer, a ten year old boy was gang raped and murdered. Understandably the community was outraged, and the Jackson County Sheriff finally got involved.

Now the public sex has stopped, and the hours of operation are restricted. I don't think that ALL older gay men participated in murder, drug crimes or pedophilic rape. However, one bad group of apples ruined the reputations of a lot of benign bunch of hearty gay apples, who'd been doing their own thing for years.

I'm glad they restricted the hours of the club and stopped the public indecency. It just went too far. I also think of myself as a liberal.

7:25PM PST on Feb 17, 2009

I am not gay but I value my gay friends and they should not have to be harassed this way. The less freedom granted to minority groups the more the majority is oppressed. There are those who find freedom within even when incarcerated because they embrace all of humanity while their guards are prisoners within their own narrow prejudices. I am a New Yorker who is angered by this and I want to see nuisance abatement of police harassment.

2:39PM PST on Feb 17, 2009

PROSTITUTION of all kinds is illegal.
a)was this anohter hooker sting operation gone wrong. or
B)why wasn't he out of there after the first $ offer?
what was the end result?
ALSO :
want o meet someone and go on a date, even a one night stand if its in private OK !
WANT TO SCREW A STRANGER in the ROAD (PUBLIC) not ok.
THe ISSUE SEEMS TO BE PUBLIC SEX and/OR PROSTITUtION.
NOT GAY, BI, OR STRAIGHT .

12:55PM PST on Feb 17, 2009

I'm confused. The story said "Understandably, Pinter became uncomfortable and after repeated attempts of the young man to hand over $50, Pinter decided to call off the liaison, only to be thrown against a metal link fence and arrested." So Pinter WAS NOT a prostitute and DID NOT accept the money. So why was he charged with anything? Why is no one asking this question? Wanting to get laid is not a crime...

11:12AM PST on Feb 17, 2009

I don't think that the sting operations are bad. Sorry but, I don't think that anyone.....man on man or woman on woman or man on woman should be having sex in a car in a public place where there are families & children.........doesn't this act of Pinter give Gay men every where a bad image?!
You want the same rights as everyone else and to be treated equally well......that's what you got equal treatment!
The sting operations that police conduct help a lot of prostitutes help...young men, young women and children!
To say that these means by police are wrong are hypocritical! If it was anyone out heres son or daughter on the street you would want the polices help......if sex shops were allowing for open sex of any kind in a car in your neighbourhood you would be protesting that!
Seriously people I am open to a lot of things but I draw the line at sticking up for an ADULT that knows or should know right from wrong!
I think Robert Pinter was wrong and we were NOT in the car or store to see what happend. Anyone in a situation that puts their character at risk can lie like you wouldn't believe to save face!

So let's let these men (just like straight men) know that if you are propositioned by someone to have sex for money "JUST SAY NO!" Not to mention how high risk a position you put yourself & partner in!

9:24AM PST on Feb 17, 2009

I think any type of sting is lowlife, most, if don't go as planed, will crossed over to entrapment, coming out of 8 years of a police state mentality, entrapment is a meanness word!!!

9:04AM PST on Feb 17, 2009

I also agree that this is entrapment!

However, New York is not the only place this has happened. I know of a couple of similar cases of "entrapment" that has taken place in Washington, DC.

The gay man was propositioned in a bathroom in a shopping center. When they got outside, the man doing the propositioning offered to pay the gay man some money. The gay man refused and became suspicious and tried to walk away - only to be arrested, placed in jail and had to go to court.

The judge ruled out "entrapment" and the gay man had to pay a hefty fine. Because of the publicity in the newspaper, one of the men eventually moved out of the area in order to escape the negative publicity.

Why is the judicial system JUSTIFYING this type of entrapment and harassment?!?!

8:14AM PST on Feb 17, 2009

Thanks for all your views on this blog post so far. It's great to receive your thoughts! For those that have raised concerns that the poll question was, at first, hard to read, I will swap out the word "inappropriately" for the word "wrongly" hopefully making the question clearer and avoiding any future problems without affecting the answers already given. Thanks again for your input, Steve.

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