Guest Post By The Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project
The Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project has growing concerns about the safety of GLBT visitors to Provincetown. There have been several recent cases of anti-GLBT violence, and the Provincetown Police are part of the problem rather than the solution. The Cape Cod Times reported on October 12, 2007 that the police are refusing to prosecute the perpetrator of an attack in which rocks were thrown at a group of gay men, who were also shoved while threats and homophobic epithets were shouted. The perpetrator has been identified, and there seems to be no dispute about the hateful words and his actions. But he won’t get so much as a slap on the wrist for his crimes.
On September 10th, a New Bedford gay man was brutally attacked with a blunt object from behind, just after he had been called a “faggot” by a group of 3 young men. He was unconscious for a period of time, but there are indications from his injuries that he was dragged over rocks and sand by his assailants. The police failed to conduct a timely search for potential witnesses to the attack, and apparently have no leads in the case. The crime may well go unsolved, with the bashers remaining on the loose to strike again. At least one additional summer hate crime is under investigation, while advocates have concerns that the police have failed to recognize other potential gaybashings.
Finally, the Provincetown Police are coming under fire for unprofessional conduct. In the most egregious instance, police themselves perpetrated a brutal attack on Boston DJ Barry Scott in July. Scott was targeted because he briefly criticized the police after they shut down a birthday party at 10:30 on a Saturday evening. Scott was beaten up and is being prosecuted for his alleged words. Repeated complaints about the party were phoned in by one of Provincetown’s most notorious homophobes, whose motives are suspect.
Meanwhile, the police are understaffed and undertrained, but resistant to change and actively hostile to GLBT victim advocates. Instead of hunting for other witnesses in the wake of the September 10th gaybashing, the Acting Chief of Police spent time on a press offensive to impugn the victim for allegedly having been drinking before he was attacked, and to assail advocates telling the victim’s story for spreading “inaccuracies.” The siege mentality is reflected in the recently announced plans of the Provincetown Police Union to go to court to stop the Town from hiring a permanent chief of police unless one is chosen from within their own ranks. The only hope for reform lies in bringing in a police chief from outside who is committed to respect for civil rights, an end to hate crimes, and sensitivity to the public safety needs of GLBT visitors.