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NYPD officers accused of assault, false arrests

Police say gay man urinated in public, resisted arrest



NYPD, New York Police Department, assault, gay news, Washington Blade
NYPD, New York Police Department, assault, gay news, Washington Blade

New York police officers, seen here in a screen shot of a video shot by one of the men arrested, allegedly beat a gay man on June 2.

Representatives of LGBT advocacy groups held a news conference outside New York City police (NYPD) headquarters on Tuesday to denounce what they called the unjustified arrest of three gay men and an assault against two of them by officers who reportedly shouted anti-gay names at the men.

Josh Williams, 26, and his roommates, Tony Maenza and Ben Collins, both 24, have accused the officers of falsely charging Williams with urinating on the grounds of the 79th Precinct police station in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn as they were walking home about 4 a.m. on Sunday, June 2.

The LGBT representatives and three members of the New York City Council who joined them at the news conference said they were especially troubled that the alleged police attack on the gay men came on the heels of a string of anti-gay hate crimes in New York over the past several months, including the murder of a gay man in Greenwich Village in May.

The three men “reported that they were walking past the 79th Precinct when an NYPD officer accused one of the men of public urination and attacked him, throwing him against a police car,” said a statement released by the New York Anti-Violence Project (AVP), an LGBT group that organized the news conference.

“The officer was joined by other officers who also attacked the man, throwing him to the ground and pepper spraying him while he was in handcuffs,” the statement says. “The survivor was handcuffed tightly, causing lacerations. The survivor’s injuries were treated at a hospital, where he was again restrained with wrist and ankle cuffs.”

The Village Voice reported it learned through an unnamed source that the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau opened an investigation into the incident “after someone apparently associated with the precinct filed a complaint.”

The AVP released a video of part of the incident that Maenza says he took with his cell phone, in which silhouettes of the police officers and the three gay men can been seen in the darkness shouting at one another.

Although the video is too dark to show anyone’s face, a cluster of officers can be seen holding down a person on the ground.

“He didn’t do anything,” one of the men shouted in the video. One of the officers shouted back, “Get the fuck out of here.”

The three or four-minute long video, which has been posted on YouTube, ends with Maenza demanding that the officers identify themselves with their badge numbers and telling them he filmed “the whole thing.” When the officers don’t respond to Maenza’s call for their identities the gay men and the officers can be heard exchanging insults, with both sides cursing at one another.

“He didn’t piss, he didn’t fucking piss on anything,” one of the gay men shouted. “You’re a fucking asshole,” one of the officers shouted back. “What a fucking bunch of pigs,” one of the gay men yelled.

In a statement emailed to the Washington Blade, Deputy New York Police Commissioner Paul J. Browne said the incident began when an officer “observed a male urinating on a dumpster in the precinct parking lot” near the precinct’s gasoline pumps.

“The same police officer approached the individual, who was uncooperative and refused to ID himself,” prompting the officer to attempt to arrest the individual, who was later identified as Josh Williams, Browne said in his statement.

“The individual, who appeared highly intoxicated, was combative and uncooperative,” Browne’s statement says. “He resisted arrest and force was employed to arrest him, during which he incurred a laceration to the cheek and bruising.”

Browne’s statement says police charged Williams with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and urinating in public. He said officers arrested Collins and Maenza on a charge of obstructing governmental administration.

According to Browne’s statement, officers filed that charge because Collins and Maenza allegedly interfered with Williams’ arrest by “getting in between the suspect and the officers, trying to pull the suspect away, and refusing to leave police department property when directed.”

Cynthia Conti-Cook, an attorney representing the three gay men, said in a statement released by the New York Anti-Violence Project that the arrests were unjustified and the officers rather than her clients should be charged with committing a crime.

“We call for all charges to be dropped,” she said. “We call for charges to be brought against the police who assaulted, verbally abused and arrested my clients. We will hold these officers accountable today, we all will feel safer in our communities tomorrow,” Conti-Cook said.

In an interview with the Village Voice, Williams said one of the officers started to assault him when Williams asked whether he and his roommates were being detained.

“He rolled his eyes and sort of snapped, twisting an arm behind my back and slamming me against a car,” the Voice quoted Williams as saying. “I was able to ask him what was going on, and he slammed me against the car and pepper-sprayed me. I was blinded and disoriented.”

Sharon Stapel, the Anti-Violence Project’s executive director, told the Blade that the three men were held overnight in a police holding cell and released following a court arraignment.

She said Collins and Maenza agreed to an offer by prosecutors known as an “adjournment in contemplation of a dismissal,” or ACD, plea in which the case against them will be dismissed in six months if they are not arrested again.

Stapel said the three men came to AVP for assistance following their arrests. She said the group waited a little over a week to publicly announce the arrests and what she called the improper action by the police officers to give the men a chance to think about whether to go public with what happened to them.

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CDC echoes call for MSM to limit sex partners in monkeypox guidance

Controversial guidance also issued by WHO



CDC is calling on men who have sex with men to limit their sexual partners.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention is now echoing the controversial call for men who have sex with men to limit their sexual partners amid the monkeypox outbreak.

The agency made the call as part of new comprehensive monkeypox guidance issued on Friday, which lists “limit your number of sex partners to reduce your likelihood of exposure” as among several ways to reduce risk, with vaccination at the top of the list.

Vaccination is an important tool in preventing the spread of monkeypox,” the guidance says. “But given the current limited supply of vaccine, consider temporarily changing some behaviors that may increase your risk of being exposed. These temporary changes will help slow the spread of monkeypox until vaccine supply is adequate.”

The call to limit partners was previously made by the World Health Organization and has been controversial as observers say it may stigmatize sex among gay and bisexual men, who are disproportionately affected by monkeypox.

Demetre Daskalakis, deputy director of the White House task force on monkeypox, outlined the new guidance on Friday in a conference call with reporters.

Asked by the Washington Blade whether the Biden administration agrees with WHO about the need for men who have sex with men to limit their sexual partners, Daskalakis alluded to the multi-faceted aspects of the CDC guidance.

“It mentions that folks should consider reducing multiple partners and anonymous new partners as one strategy to prevent exposure to monkeypox,” Daskalakis said. “So I think really, there’s a broad range, and I think one of the things that’s really important about the CDC guidance is it’s designed to really meet people where they are and see what we can do to have individuals to create their own prevention plans, understanding that there’s not one answer for preventing monkeypox, that it requires a lot of domains to really achieve the goal of preventing new infections.”

Vaccinations for monkeypox are a key component of the CDC guidance, even though the limited availability has not kept up with the growing demand for the shots as the outbreak continues. Daskalakis conceded on the call there is “supply and demand mismatch” for vaccines, but maintained the Department of Health & Human Services announcement declaring monkeypox a public health crisis would be a tool to address the shortage.

A key concern among reporters on the call was the Biden administration not emphasizing the disease is almost exclusively at this point affecting gay and bisexual men, as well as concerns about stigma and misinformation about monkeypox.

Daskalakis, drawing on his experience as a medical expert during the HIV/AIDS crisis, emphasized stigma should play no part in messaging.

“I know from my own experience in public health and personally that stigma is actually what drives so much of infection and really creates false starts and false information that really gets people to go down paths that end up really vilifying people’s lives and behavior,” Daskalakis said. “And so, coming from the experience, both professionally and personally, it is my mission, to not allow stigma to be a part of this or any response that I work on.”

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University of Alabama allows students to use “chosen names” on student ID

“Having something that accurately reflects who you are as a person and how you want to make sure that the world sees and respects you is obviously monumentally important, right?”



Students, faculty and campus members at University of Alabama are now able to put their preferred names on mobile Action Cards, which are the official campus ID cards, for free.

The university’s assistant director of communications Shane Dorrill wrote in email that this option, available on physical cards for several years, will be available online as well after a software update.

ACT Card communications specialist Courtney Petrizzi said the ACT Card office recognized the importance of having the feature, which was previously available on physical cards, on mobile ACT Cards. 

“This change is an update that we created to reflect our campus community’s needs,” Petrizzi said. 

The Action Card office announced this change on May 19. They updated the policy in partnership with UA Safe Zone, a resource center for LGBTQIA+ individuals and their allies on campus. 

Eli Strong, one co-founder of UA Safe Zone said during an interview with AL, “Having something that accurately reflects who you are as a person and how you want to make sure that the world sees and respects you is obviously monumentally important, right?” 

Strong is a transgender man who graduated from University of Alabama. He believed that this change is important because it’s a safety issue. It’s a way for the university to acknowledge people and a way for people to feel affirmed by the documentation they carry around each day.

“It’s an exploratory time where you should be focused on learning and not be focused on the fear of being misgendered or harassed because of who you are,” Will Thomas, one of the co-founders of the University of Alabama LGBTQ+ Alumni Association, claimed that affirming documentation can help students have a positive experience.

This policy change comes after a series of anti-gay lesigilations passed in Alabama, including the Don’t Say Gay amendment and transgender bathroom restrictions.

Campus members can use Action Cards for various daily needs, such as meal plans and dining dollars, building access, sporting and entertainment events and health center access.

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U.S. declares monkeypox a public health emergency

Number of cases of disease among MSM climbs



Secretary of Health & Human Service Xavier Becerra declared on public health emergency on monkeypox.

The United States has designated monkeypox a public health emergency as the number of cases of the disease, which has primarily affected men who have sex with men, continues to climb.

The news was first reported by the New York Times. Secretary of Health & Human Services Xavier Becerra announced he’d declare monkeypox a public health emergency in a conference call on Thursday with reporters.

“I will be declaring a public health emergency on monkeypox,” Becerra said. “We’re prepared to take our response to the next level in addressing this virus, and we urge every American to take monkeypox seriously and to take responsibility to help us tackle this virus.”

Robert Fenton, the recently appointed White House National Monkeypox Response Coordinator, said amid criticism the Biden administration has been too slow in responding to monkeypox the new declaration would open up opportunities in confronting the outbreak.

“The public health emergency will allow us to explore additional strategies to get vaccines and treatments more quickly out in the affected communities, and it will allow us to get more data from jurisdictions so we can effectively track the suffering,” Fenton said.

During the call, Becerra said an estimated 6,600 cases of monkeypox have been reported throughout the country, and more than 600,000 vaccines have been delivered to localities. The United States, Becerra said, now has the capacity to administer 60,000 tests for monkeypox each week.

The Biden administration has faced criticism for not moving quickly enough to collect and distribute and for not more explicitly naming gay and bisexual men as being primarily affected by the disease. The New York Times reported this week the Department of Health & Human Services failed to act early on bulk stocks of vaccine.

“The government is now distributing about 1.1 million doses, less than a third of the 3.5 million that health officials now estimate are needed to fight the outbreak,” the Times reported. “It does not expect the next delivery, of half a million doses, until October. Most of the other 5.5 million doses the United States has ordered are not scheduled to be delivered until next year, according to the federal health agency.”

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), top Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, has been among the critics of the Biden administration’s approach to the outbreak.

Although the Biden administration has issued a rudimentary plan on monkeypox, Burr said in a statement the Department of Health & Human Services hasn’t laid out an effective plan to Congress.

“I have asked HHS repeatedly for their strategic plan to combat monkeypox and have yet to receive an answer,” Burr said. “On July 13, I sent a letter to Secretary Becerra asking detailed questions about the outbreak and the Biden administration’s response. In the three weeks since that letter was sent, monkeypox cases have increased by more than 470 percent to 6,617 reported cases today. Still, the administration continues to stonewall Congress.”

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre defended the Biden administration’s early approach to the monkeypox Thursday under questioning from CNN during the regular briefing with reporters.

“Within two days of the first confirmed case of monkeypox in the U.S., we began deploying vaccine to states and jurisdictions and prepositioning tens of thousands of additional doses in the Strategic National Stockpile,” Jean-Pierre said. “The initial science led us to believe…based on recent past monkeypox outbreaks, that those doses would be sufficient to meet the needs of the country as what we knew at that time.”

Jean-Pierre added, however, infections diseases are dynamics and inherently predictable and the Biden administration “quickly moved” to order tens of thousands of new doses when officials saw that happening with monkeypox.

Asked by CNN whether President Biden think his administration acted urgently in its approach to monkeypox, Jean-Pierre replied, “What we’re saying to you is that I laid out how dynamic and how rapidly changing this virus has been.”

“So yes, the President has confidence in HHS, and let’s not forget, we just brought on the monkeypox coordinators, the response team, which is also going to make a difference,” Jean-Pierre added.

Jennifer Kates, director of global health & HIV policy for the Kaiser Family Foundation, was among those praising the announcement from the Biden administration.

“Monkeypox is quickly spreading throughout the United States, with significant health implications for those it impacts most – so far, primarily gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men – and limited supplies of treatments and vaccines,” Kates said. “This latest move by the federal government is an important one for providing new flexibilities and allowing federal, state, and local health officials to take additional actions to address the outbreak. “

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