Gay Teacher Sues City Alleging Police Intimidation & Harassment

View of a police officer's hand on holstered gun

View of a police officer's hand on holstered gun
(image via Depositphotos)

A California teacher has filed a lawsuit against the city of Ceres, Ceres’s police department, officer Lorenzo Beltran, and several unnamed individuals in federal court.

According to the teacher, David Cole, a school resource officer visited his home and harassed him after Cole had reported incidents of anti-gay bullying at his school.

From the Modesto Bee:

David Cole made the accusations against school resource officer Lorenzo Beltran in a federal complaint, and last week told The Bee he struggles to feel safe after the incident two years ago. Cole added he has lost 75 pounds while dealing with insomnia and gastrointestinal issues from the distress.

The lawsuit claims Beltran and a plainclothes officer entered Cole’s gated community when school was closed for a holiday in February 2019 and ordered Cole to exit his home. Outside, Beltran allegedly questioned Cole about his reports of anti-gay student bullying, repeatedly gestured toward his gun and pressured the teacher to quit his job or go to the closed school with them.

Cole begged Beltran to leave, but the officer allegedly refused. The now 54-year-old teacher eventually ran into his home when his partner of 30 years opened the door after listening to the exchange, the lawsuit claims.

Ceres Unified School District paid Cole a $50,000 settlement in 2020 after firing him in 2019.

The city maintains Beltran only visited Cole as a ‘welfare check’ at the request of the school saying Cole had missed scheduled meetings.

Cole says he and his partner are now very concerned about their personal well-being when outside their home.

“Now we’re scared to even be who we are,” Cole said. “That complete turnaround in my life to go from starting Rainbow Generation, the first queer club in the Central Valley at a school, to being terrified and not wanting the police to know it’s me or know that I’m gay. That’s where I’m at: just terrified of being outside in Ceres and at home.”

Read the full details of the court case here.

Video Of Officer Playing Music To Avoid Being Posted To Internet Goes Viral

Sgt. David Shelby (screen capture)
Sgt. David Shelby (screen capture)

From the Washington Post:

When James Burch and several activists began filming a sheriff’s deputy during a confrontation on the Alameda County courthouse steps in Oakland, Calif., this week, the officer caught the group by surprise. He pulled out his phone and started blaring Taylor Swift’s 2014 hit single “Blank Space.”

Confused, Burch asked: “Are we having a dance party?”

After he and the other activists pressed the officer about what he was doing, the deputy — identified by local media as Sgt. David Shelby — said, “You can record all you want, I just know it can’t be posted on YouTube.”

He was referring to YouTube’s automated copyright system, which detects and removes unauthorized protected material — such as a popular song — from being uploaded to the Internet.

Things didn’t quite go according to the officer’s plan as the clip has amassed over more than 848,000 views on Twitter at this writing. Plus, a version did indeed make its way to YouTube that has garnered more than 573,000 views so far.

I saw the original tweet when it happened and wondered, “What is it the officer didn’t want recorded?” He didn’t seem to be doing anything wrong, so…why the digital confrontation? He made himself look shady when it’s not clear he was. #fail

“The officer was trying to be a little smart, and it kind of backfired,” Sgt. Ray Kelly, a spokesman for the Alameda County sheriff’s office, told the Washington Post. “Instead of censoring it, it made it go viral.”

According to Kelly, Shelby still works for the sheriff’s department but the issue has been referred to internal affairs for review.

While there’s no policy prohibiting an officer from doing what Shelby did in the video, “there is a code of conduct on how we should carry ourselves in public,” Kelly said. The spokesman added that the sheriff’s office does not “condone” the deputy’s behavior.

“This is not a good look for law enforcement,” Kelly said. There is a “serious lesson learned here.”

NYC Pride Bans Gay Police Officers From Marching In Uniform

LGBTQ police officers will not be allowed to participate as a group in the annual Pride march, and organizers said they will rely on private security for their events.

I’m not quite down with this decision. I understand the politics, but I think when you want to to be the ‘good guys,’ you have to be the ‘good guys.’

From the New York Times:

New York City’s annual Pride celebration, which began 51 years ago as a defiant commemoration of an anti-police uprising and has evolved into a city-sanctioned equality jamboree, will take steps to reduce the presence of law enforcement at its events.

Starting this year, police and corrections officers will also not be allowed to participate as a group in the annual Pride march until at least 2025. The ban includes the Gay Officers Action League, an organization of L.G.B.T.Q. police, which announced the news in a statement on Friday night.

The New York Police Department will also be asked to stay a block away from the edge of all in-person events, including the march. Heritage of Pride, which organizes events, will instead turn to private companies for security and safety, calling police officers in emergencies only when necessary, they said.

Data Breach Shows Police Donated To Kyle Rittenhouse

Data breach shows police officers making donations to accused vigilante Kyle Rittenhouse
Kyle Rittenhouse (image via Twitter)

A recent data breach at the Christian crowdfunding website GiveSendGo reveals several police officers and other public officials have opened their wallets for accused vigilantes accused of shooting Black Americans like Kyle Rittenhouse.

The Guardian reports the transparency group Distributed Denial of Secrets shared the data breach listing donations which showed some were made using official email accounts.

The beneficiaries of donations from public officials include Kyle Rittenhouse, who stands accused of murdering two leftwing protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last August. Rittenhouse traveled from neighboring Illinois to, by his own account, offer armed protection to businesses during protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

Rittenhouse, who became a cause célèbre across conservative media throughout late 2020, and was even supported by then president Donald Trump, held a fundraiser on GiveSendGo billed as a contribution to his legal defense. According to data from the site, he raised $586,940 between 27 August last year and 7 January .

One donation for $25, made on 3 September last year, was made anonymously, but associated with the official email address for Sgt William Kelly, who currently serves as the executive officer of internal affairs in the Norfolk police department in Virginia.

Kelly’s donation reportedly included a message to Rittenhouse: “God bless. Thank you for your courage. Keep your head up. You’ve done nothing wrong. Every rank and file police officer supports you. Don’t be discouraged by actions of the political class of law enforcement leadership.”

It won’t surprise you to know that ‘Sgt. William Kelly’ was trending on Twitter this morning. In addition to his status as a police officer, folks noted that he’s the guy who is supposed to oversee internal affairs for his department.

Drunk Homophobe Threatens Gay Couple Outside Their Home [Video]

Clifford Hammel shouts homophobic slurs outside the home of a gay couple on Staten Island
Drunk homophobe shouts anti-gay slurs outside the home of a gay couple on Staten Island
(image via screencapture)

A gay couple living on Staten Island, New York, were terrorized by a drunk homophobe who yelled anti-gay slurs outside their home, kicked their front door, and promised to “get you wherever you go.”

Joe Canale and Raymond Gamarra were home on Saturday, January 23, when they heard loud noises coming from a neighbor’s late night house party.

According to Gay City News, they went to the neighbors to ask to them to keep the noise down, but a man attending the party became enraged.

The next thing the couple knew, a man identified as Clifford Hammel walked over to their front yard and began harassing them.

In the video obtained by Gay City News, Hammel can clearly be heard shouting, “I see you, f*cking fa**ot. You little b*tch. F*ck you. You fucking fa**ot.”

At one point, Hammel qualified his language as he repeated the slurs, yelling, “You f*cking fa**ot — and that’s not a homosexual. I don’t give a f*ck if you suck d*ck.”

Along the way, Hammel reportedly named the gym the couple go to as well as the school where Canale is the principal.

After attempting to kick the couple’s front door in, Hammel added, “Wherever you go, I will get to you.”

Canale called the police but were told officers were already on their way to the location as someone attending the party apparently needed medical attention having passed out.The couple say the police officers who arrived, Lieutenant Rosago and Officer Vincent of the NYPD, seemed “dismissive” of their situation after explaining the disturbing visits from Hammel. Canale said the officers were “reluctant” to even view the video footage of the man threatening them

The officers explained they thought Hammel was the man being taken to the hospital, so they “don’t have to worry or be afraid.”

But when Canale followed up with police at the 121st Precinct, it seems the officers had written Hammel’s name down incorrectly. AND, Hammel wasn’t the partygoer transported to the hospital.

L-R Raymond Gamarra and Joe Canale
L-R Raymond Gamarra and Joe Canale (photo via Canale)

Disturbed by the nonchalant handling of the incident, the couple reached out to Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon.

In a statement, McMahon said, “Any time a serious allegation is brought to our attention, we work in tandem to thoroughly investigate and bring criminal charges when appropriate under the law.”

He added, “We are committed to securing the right of every person to live their lives free from bias and hate on Staten Island.”

But Gamarra and Canale are unconvinced as to how seriously their concerns were treated.

“Staten Island is not a bastion of tolerance,” Canale told GCN. “There are so many things that are disturbing about this that I don’t even know where to begin.”

“I understand there’s COVID, but justice delayed is justice denied as far as I’m concerned.”

DC Police Officer: They Were Screaming ‘Kill Him With His Own Gun’

Capitol Police officer Michael Fanone
Capitol Police officer Michael Fanone
DC Metropolitan Police officer Michael Fanone (screen capture)

DC Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone spoke to CNN about his frightening ordeal being dragged from the U.S. Capitol building and beaten by pro-Trump insurrectionists last week.

According to CNN, Fanone is a narcotics detective who works in plain clothes. But when he heard the commotion at the Capitol, he grabbed his still brand-new police uniform that had been hanging in his locker and put it on for the first time. He raced to the building with his partner and helped officers who were being pushed back by rioters.

But he was soon overwhelmed by the insurrectionists and tasered several times as he was pulled down the steps of the Capitol building.

“I was just, you know, trying to fight as best I could,” Fanone told CNN. “I remember guys were stripping me of my gear, these rioters pulling my badge off my chest. They ripped my radio off my vest, started pulling ammunition magazines from their holder on my belt.”

“Some guys started getting ahold of my gun and they were screaming out ‘Kill him with his own gun.’ At that point it was, you know, self-preservation – how do I survive this situation?”

“I thought about using deadly force, I thought about shooting people. And then I came to the conclusion that if I was to do that I’d hit a few but I’m not going to take everybody. They’d probably take my gun away from me and that would definitely give them the justification they were looking for to kill me.”

“The only option I came up with was to appeal to somebody’s humanity. I just remember yelling out that I have kids. It seemed to work, some people in the crowd started to encircle me and offer me some kind of protection.”

“A lot of people have asked me my thoughts on the individuals in the crowd that helped me or tried to offer some assistance, and I think kind of the conclusion I’ve come to is like, you know, ‘Thank you, but fuck you for being there.’”

Watch below as Fanone describes the scene in his own words.

Remember – Trump supporters believe they are the ‘party of law and order…’

Twitter: Gay Pride Parade Or Shirtless Police Cadets Graduating From Academy?

(screen capture)

Video footage of shirtless Egyptian police cadets graduating from the Police Academy in New Cairo raised more than eyebrows on Twitter.

George Takei highlighted the video clip on Twitter writing, “For a terrifyingly homophobic and dangerously anti-LGBT government in Egypt, this screams pretty gay.”

In the video, the shirtless buff graduates are shown riding on military vehicles appearing to be flexing for their lives.

The Daily Star reports over 1,500 cadets took part in the event.

Several of the comments on Twitter compared the event to a Pride parade.

Another clip showed the graduates performing a series of stunts including jumping through rings of fire, breaking cement blocks on each other’s chests with sledgehammers, and climbing up the side of a building.

At one point, the graduates even dive through the air over a set of sharp spikes.

While the spectacle was visually impressive, the sad irony in all this, as Takei points out, is Egypt continues to be a virulently homophobic country.

The Human Rights Watch reported this past spring that Egypt rejected recommendations by several members of the United Nations Human Rights Council to end arrests and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Egypt responded by denying the existence of sexual orientation and gender identity saying the country “does not recognize the terms mentioned” in the recommendation.

But an LGBTQ rights organization in Cairo reported 92 arrests in 2019 for so-called ‘same-sex conduct.’ Included in the report were incidents of “entrapment through dating apps, random arrests off the street and hotel/house arrests.”

Rights Africa notes that 69 percent of the cases were street arrests “with no legal basis for the arrest other than the individual discretion of the police officers.”

As there is no explicit law banning same-sex conduct, the majority of LGBTQ prosecutions are based on “debauchery” laws insinuating prostitution.

While under arrest, gay men and transgender women have been subjected to torture, assaults, and degrading forced anal examinations.

(source: Daily Star)

Sheriff’s Racist Rant Results In His Resignation

Former Arkansas County Sheriff Todd Wright (photo:

Arkansas County Sheriff Todd Wright resigned from his position after a recording of him repeatedly using the n-word began circulating on social media.

In the clip, Wright goes on an ugly rant yelling at a woman who had spoken to a Black employee at a Piggly Wiggly grocery store in Dewitt. He was apparently embarrassed she had spoken to someone Black.

Here’s the transcript:

“Shut up you f**king n***er lover! … Every motherf**ker in this store and you gotta talk to the f**king (inaudible) n***er. Right there in front of me, like y’all f**king best buddies. It is a big f**king deal. People f**king see me and see you talking to f**king n***ers.”

Here’s the video which appears to have been captured by a friend of the woman.

The video was initially shared on social media back in May but began circulating again this week.

At a special session of the Arkansas County Quorum Court on Friday, August 28, Wright acknowledged that it was him in the recording and offered an apology for any offense his comments caused adding that his remarks were made ‘in the heat of the moment.’

During a rambling statement, he added he was “disturbed my career was in shambles because of something I said.”

He also – wait for it – insisted he’s not racist.

Initially, Wright refused to resign, but the court (which doesn’t have the power to remove Wright from office) unanimously approved a resolution asking for his resignation.

Following comments from the public demanding he step down, Wright offered to leave his position in a month as he wanted time to find another job.

But Bobby Webb, a longtime friend of Wright, told the sheriff he needed to resign immediately.

“I’ve known you all my life,” said Webb according to the Stuttgart Daily Leader. “You need to take that badge and you need to lay it on that table and you need to walk out of here. You know I love you.”

After a brief recess, Wright submitted his official resignation, which the court voted unanimously to accept.

Out of ‘compassion,’ the court also unanimously decided to allow Wright to be paid through September 30, although he will not be an active law enforcement officer.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of the county Wright has been serving for years is 25 percent Black.

After listening to the repeated use of the n-word in this recording (nine times he uses the slur), it’s not hard to imagine what Wright thought of the local Black citizens he encountered in the line of duty.

I’m going to close this post by saying I believe the vast, vast majority of law enforcement officers are good people. But people like Wright make their jobs much, much harder.

If you ever wonder why football players kneel, and Black Lives Matter protests are happening, this is part of the reason why.

Poll: Large Majorities Of Americans Support Police Reforms

(image via Unsplash/Spenser)

Democratic lawmakers, Republican lawmakers, and the White House are all preparing proposals to address reforms in policing amid the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.

According to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Thursday, large majorities of Americans support the Democratic proposals released this week:

• 82% of Americans want to ban police from using chokeholds (including 7 in 10 Republicans)

• 83% want to ban racial profiling (including 7 in 10 Republicans)

• 92% want federal police to be required to wear body cameras (including 9 in 10 Republicans)

• 89% of Americans want to require police to give the people they stop their name, badge number and reason for the stop

• 91% support allowing independent investigations of police departments that show patterns of misconduct (including 9 in 10 Republicans)

• 75% support allowing victims of police misconduct to sue police departments for damages. (including 6 in 10 Republicans)

• 76% support reallocating police budgets into better officer training, local programs for homelessness, mental health assistance and domestic violence

Read more at Reuters.

Uber Driver Calls Police After Telling Gay Dads Crying Infant “Needed His Mother”

In a recent Twitter thread, gay dad James Moed shared a disturbing incident where an Uber driver apparently called the police after telling Moed and his husband their crying baby “needed his mother.”

Moed and his husband were staying at the Marriott Marina while traveling in San Diego last week. The couple, who live in the UK, was awakened by a knock at their hotel room door at 1:30 a.m.

At the door were police officers who demanded to see the men’s identification.

According to the Twitter thread, Moed shared “It turns out the @Uber driver who had taken us back to the hotel had called the cops – accusing us of…child trafficking? Endangerment?”

Apparently, during their Uber ride to the hotel, their driver told the couple their crying infant “needed his mother.” Even though the men explained the child has two dads, the driver “didn’t back down.”

The police departed peacefully after the couple showed their identification including their son’s passport to prove they weren’t ‘child trafficking.’

But even after the officers left the hotel, the men were shaken.

“Stayed awake freaking out,” wrote Moed. “What if we hadn’t had his passport? The cops had been less agreeable? Where can my #queerfamily travel safely?”

The father shared that he had contacted Uber about their driver’s behavior and the app’s algorithm replied with a form letter and a refund.

Insisting he didn’t want a refund, he says he pressed on asking for “proof that you keep #LGBTQ riders safe from homophobic drivers.”

A few hours later, Moed added that he had spoken to Uber support requesting an “apology from the driver (not his dismissal)” as well as evidence of LGBTQ sensitivity training.

So far, the couple hasn’t indicated if they’d heard back from Uber.

We’d like to hear from you, readers – have any of you had a homophobic experience while using Uber?

Let us know in the comments below.

(Image by why kei on Unsplash)