Most LGBT people would think twice about travelling to vacation spots known to be unsafe for gay people. These would include the Island of Jamaica which has all but told gays not to think about visiting, many Muslim countries where gay men are arrested for being "flamboyant" or found in gay clubs and even now Russia, where anti-gay hostility in Moscow has lead to riots and arrest of gay visitors. But should Provincetown, Massachusetts, once known as the gay Mecca and land of tolerance be added to the list of destinations unsafe for gays?
Think about it, you are a middle aged gay man visiting Provincetown. You decide to end your evening by buying a pizza at Spiritus on Commercial Street. You leave this well-known pizza parlor around 12:30 AM and as you walk down the street, you come face to face with three men, one of whom calls you a "faggot." You react, as many of us would, especially since you are in a town where this is not supposed to happen, with a "smart" comeback. In this case, something to the like of, "shut up pencil dick." Thinking, "I sure told them," you continue your walk and within seconds you feel a blow to your right temple and hear a hollow echo as the world around you begins to close in on you. The last thing you think to yourself before you lose consciousness is "this is it, it's over..."
About an hour later you are awakened by the Provincetown Police on the beach as they were responding to an anonymous phone call to the station. Your face covered with abrasions which gives the impression that you were forcefully dragged. Your cargo shorts have pockets full of sand. Your wallet is intact with over $200 still in it. You try to recount for Officer Joudrey, who took the report, what happened. You are able to remember coming out of Spiritus Pizza, being called a faggot and the horrific blow to the side of your head. Your face is covered in blood and you tell the officer that you cannot, for the life of you, remember how you got to the beach. The police take your report (listed as an assault on the formal police report), do not call medical help for you even though you are clearly exhibiting signs of head trauma but release you to drive your car back home to New Bedford.
Around 12 noon the next day, you admit yourself to St. Luke's Hospital in New Bedford. At immediate sight, the orderly puts you in a wheelchair, administers an IV, and puts a neck collar around you in response to the obvious head trauma. You are asked when this happened to you. You respond, "around 12 hours ago." You are told by the doctor "that is when you should have gone to the hospital, 12 hours ago."
What the HELL is going on in Provincetown? We want to know. KnowThyNeighbor has a call into Sgt. Lopes who is "handling the case" and will provide a follow-up when we hear. The Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project also is demanding to know if an investigation is active and if the perpetrators are being sought. The victim asked the officer who found him what the police are going to do about this in a telephone call and was allegedly told, "there is nothing we can do because you told us that you couldn't identify the three men that did this, so it is best to leave it alone."
Up until yesterday at around 2pm, the brother of the owner of Spiritus Pizza, Carl Yingling, was unaware of any incident near his establishment. So it seems that the police did not contact Spiritus or check out its webcam to see if any of this was recorded that evening.
So if a bonifide gay bashing and hate crime doesn't get the Provincetown Police's attention, what does? Let's see, in July 2006, when anti-gay marriage petition signer and Provincetown Trolley owner, Yvonne Cabral gets called a "bigot" by Rick Hines in the local supermarket, that prompts an international press frenzy, the then Chief Ted Meyer to call a meeting of the "No Place For Hate" Committee and a criminal complaint and trial against Mr. Hines. And in July 2007, when the same Yvonne Cabral calls the police to complain twice about a party being held a mile away from her house, the police certainly responded. As you might remember this incident last July when the police arrested celebrity DJ Barry Scott, threw him up against a wall and charged him with inciting a riot because he announced to party goers that the police want the party shut down and want to wreck their time. Multiple complaints against the Provincetown police were filed.
Hate crimes, gay bashing, police brutality, overly zealous harassment of gays by local trouble makers, biases, preferential treatment, possible cover-ups?? Forget the "No Place For Hate" bumper stickers, if Provincetown doesn't get its act together, the bumper stickers will read, "No Place for Gays."
Tom Lang, Director
To Contact Provincetown Manager,
Sharon Lynn firstname.lastname@example.org
To Contact Provincetown Police Chief,
Warren Tobias email@example.com