In recent years there have been substantially fewer undercover sting operations targeting gay men. But recently the Michigan State Police (MSP) partnered with the Grand Traverse County Sheriff's Department to do stings in two public parks near Traverse City, a northern Michigan resort town.
Triangle Foundation has been a leader in fighting police entrapment. You can also read our groundbreaking "Bag a Fag" report.
Here is the story of the recent police operation. Originally police charged these men with felonies (Solicitation of Gross Indecency between Males) but later dropped them to misdemeanors. There is no need for felony charges for any crime that does not involve a victim. This would have required lifetime registration on the sex offender registry. Triangle Foundation has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to get the names of the men arrested so we can find them effective legal counsel.
I was very excited to see recently that the ACLU has come to the aid of Sen. Larry Craig. In what has to be the boldest statement ever by the ACLU about the constitutionality of sex sting operations, it has given me and many sex-positive activists added ammunition and resolve to tackle these operations when they are performed.
In the case of the MSP, they actually put out a press release bragging about busting perverts and made it sound like they were being so "tough on crime." You would have thought that they had uncovered a house full of kiddie porn. But no. All they were able to do was prove that adults sometimes ask other adults to have sex outside of the home. So much for the war on terror. Instead, police stings like these terrorize gay men.
Too often our community has sat back and cringed when they read about these cases. But rarely do we have a real call to action. We have pickets and protests over Eminem or Dr. Laura, but we barely write a terse letter to the editor when members of our community are threatened with 5 years in jail for basically nothing. That has to end.
Our tax dollars are being used to subsidize profiling against our own community and because many of us are too nervous to take a stand on matters that deal with sexual freedom, police get away with harassment, entrapment and other misconduct.
Encourage your local GLBT organizations to challenge these operations. Demand that local media not run the names of anyone caught in these operations until they are convicted. It helps no one to know the names of these individuals. Publicizing these arrests are about grandstanding and punishing and marginalizing gays. I believe that the Senator Craig situation has emboldened police to re-initiate these operations. And we must be on guard to stop them.