In response to recent Anti-Gay Violence that has occurred at Cleveland gay bar, Cocktails, resulting in severe beatings and the throwing of rocks onto its patio, Cleveland's Director of Public Safety, Martin L. Flask, wrote a letter to bar owner, Brian Lyons, saying that he needs to come up with an Action Plan within ten days to address the nine calls within a year that the police responded to because the hate crimes perpetrated against the bar were becoming an expensive nuisance. Seriously?
The proper response should have been that the police department, not the bar owner, should come up with an "Action Plan" to "protect and serve" the LGBT community from hate crimes.
[UPDATE: Safety Director Flask has since rescinded the letter, calling it an "unfortunate coincidence" and that the calls from the bar did not include the recent hate crimes. Two people have been arrested in connection with the hate crimes.]
Text of the petition:
"Mayor Jackson, City Council and Safety Director Flask:
Show your solidarity with Cleveland's LGBT Community by installing the position of LGBT Police Liaison at the Cleveland Police Department, as well as an LGBT Liaison in the Mayor’s office. Make the LGBT Police Liaison a functioning position that respond to hate crimes against Cleveland's LGBT community, as well as educates and trains both police officers and the general public.
Also, create the position of LGBT Liaison in the Mayor’s office who will act as the emissary between the mayor’s office and the LGBT community, providing information, referral services, guidance, coordination, and technical assistance to the city and its residents on initiatives intended to serve the LGBT community. The LGBT Liaison could also work to eliminate prejudice and discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression in the city of Cleveland, the focus perhaps being on LGBT youth and LGBT older adults.
Big progressive cities like San Francisco, Chicago and Atlanta have had LGBT Liaisons for years. New York City even has a whole LGBT Unit run by two active duty police officers. But even smaller cities like Boise, Idaho have them as well. In Ohio, the cities of Columbus and Cincinnati already have them.
The Human Rights Campaign has recently put out its Municipal Quality Index Scorecard for cities throughout the country that measures Non-Discrimination Laws, Relationship Recognition, Municipality as Employer, Municipal Services, Law Enforcement, and Relationship with the LGBT Community. The HRC has given Cleveland a score of 83 out of a possible 100 which is a great score, since Cleveland has made great progress throughout the years. It scored much better than Akron and Toledo, but not as well as Cincinnati which scored 90 and Columbus which scored a perfect 100. One thing that both Cincinnati and Columbus have in common is that they both have an LGBT Police Liaison at their police departments, as well as an LGBT Liaison in the mayor’s office.
In light of the recent horrific hate crimes directed against the LGBT community, including at least two murders of transgender women, the office of LGBT Liaison inside the Cleveland Police Department would not be symbolic, but a practical response to hate crimes. This could even be done by elevating a current, active duty Cleveland police officer, preferably one who is LGBT. In fact, Cleveland LGBT Center Executive Director Phyllis Seven Harris has reported that current Cleveland police officers have expressed interest in serving in the role of LGBT Police Liaison.
The imperative for the appointment of an LGBT Police Liaison and LGBT Liaison in the Mayor’s office, besides the ongoing hate crimes against the LGBT community, is made even greater by the fact that the Gay Games 2014, where 10,000 LGBT athletes from around the world are competing, will be held in Cleveland in August, less than a year from now. The city should be prepared by then and both the LGBT Police Liaison as well as an LGBT Liaison in the Mayor’s office would be instrumental in these preparations, mapping out various logistical strategies, as well as handling public relations.
Mayor Jackson, as well as Cleveland Council President Martin Sweeney, Cleveland Councilmen Jay Westbrook, Joe Cimperman, Matt Zone, Mike Polensek and others have been great friends to Cleveland’s LGBT Community. Among other things Mayor Jackson is ever present at the annual LGBT Heritage Awards. Jay Westbrook walks with us in the annual Gay Pride parade, and Joe Cimperman takes part in issues that are important to the LGBT community such as hosting the "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" press conference at city hall. We truly are grateful for the support you have shown throughout the years.
Now, we only ask that you take your support and advocacy a couple of steps further. Please consider installing an LGBT Police Liaison at the Cleveland Department, as well as an LGBT Liaison at the Mayor’s office.
Cleveland LGBT Center Executive Director Phyllis Seven Harris is ready to meet with you, along with Angela Vance, the LGBT Police Liaison in Cincinnati, as well as potential candidates for the LGBT Police Liaison to discuss what these positions are, their duties and responsibilities, and their importance to the LGBT community.
Thank you all very much for your time and kind consideration.