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Equality California launches political organization in Nevada

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This is breaking the old mold of LGBTQ organizations arguing over who gets what cut of an ever-dwindling funding pie. Instead, Equality California is baking a bigger pie.

On Aug. 29, Equality California announced the launch of Silver State Equality, a new Las Vegas-based statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization, just as political season is heating up in that early primary state.

“Equality California is proud to launch Silver State Equality, Nevada’s LGBTQ civil rights organization,” Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur told the Los Angeles Blade. “Together, California and Nevada are leading the nation on LGBTQ civil rights and social justice, united by our shared commitment to create a world that is healthy, just and fully equal for all LGBTQ people. Defeating Donald Trump and protecting the pro-equality majority in the U.S. House of Representatives is one of Equality California’s top priorities in 2020, and Silver State Equality hopes to play a key role in doing just that in a pivotal battleground state.”

Since Silver State Equality is so closely affiliated with Equality California, the new organization has access to the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization, including staff, resources and some funding.

André C. Wade, former executive director of the LGBTQ Community Center of Southern Nevada, is Silver State Equality’s director overseeing politics, including the upcoming 2020 elections; lobbying to pass pro-LGBTQ equality legislation in the state legislature, as well as through Congress; advancing LGBTQ and social justice legal rights in the courts; and taking on a myriad of other LGBTQ-related issues.

Equality California already worked quietly behind the scenes during the 2019 Nevada legislative term to help bipartisan passage of Senate Bill 97, sponsored by the Nevada Youth Legislature, banning the so-called “gay and trans panic defense” since the bill was modeled on the California legislation. Equality California also helped pass State Senator David Parks’ SB Bill 284, creating an Advisory Task Force on HIV Exposure Modernization that will look for ways to update laws on HIV transmission.

“Our goal is to make Nevada an even more equitable and inclusive place to live. A lot of progress has been made over the years to protect LGBTQ Nevadans from discrimination, but we have much more work to do to achieve full, lived equality,” State Director André Wade said in a press release. “We want Nevada to lead the rest of the country as we build a world that is healthy, just and fully equal for all LGBTQ people. And with the 2020 election — perhaps the most consequential in our lifetime — right around the corner, we’re ready to get to work.”

“Together with the team at Silver State Equality, we are making Nevada a better place to live for everyone,” said Sen. Parks. “In the late 1980s, more than 50 laws were enacted across the country to criminalize and prosecute people living with HIV, something Nevada simply cannot tolerate or accept in 2019.  I am extremely pleased with the passage of SB 284 and look forward to continuing to work with Silver State Equality, as well as healthcare professionals and public health officials to create policies and laws more supportive of those with HIV and update archaic statutes, regulations and policies that remain in place.”

This new, more formal LGBTQ association between California and Nevada is a logical, almost natural one. Aside from Las Vegas serving as a nearby quick mini-vacation spot, Angelinos have been helping Nevada politically since 2008 when presidential candidate Barack Obama and his surrogates asked California Democrats to trek into the state and volunteer door knocking or get out their cell phones at red carpet and grassroots events and do remote phone banking.  Angelinos cared about the early Nevada Democratic primary way before it became politically fashionable.

Right now Wade is the only paid Nevada staff. But, aside from advice and help from the Equality California, Silver State Equality has a roster of advisors that indicate its intention to develop into a full-throttle LGBTQ advocacy organization. The advisory board includes: Nevada State Senator David Parks (D-Las Vegas); Nevada State Senator Melanie Scheible, Esq. (D-Las Vegas), Consumer Advocate Attorney at Legal Aid of Southern Nevada; Nevada State Senator Dallas Harris, Esq. (D-Las Vegas),  administrative attorney for Clark County; Shaun Swanger, Sr. Vice President of attractions, retail and leasing for Caesars Entertainment; Ed Chansky, Esq.,  shareholder of Greenberg Traurig, LLP in Las Vegas; Ruben Murillo, Jr., retired special education teacher and former president of the Nevada State Education Association; Amy Hill, Reno- based senior director of public affairs and government relations at Walmart; Rachel Anderson, Esq., general counsel for the office of the Nevada Attorney General and professor of law at UNLV’s William S. Boyd School of Law; Ann McGinley, Esq., William S. Boyd professor of law at UNLV’s William S. Boyd School of Law; and Jonathan Lee, Esq.,  Richard Harris Law Firm in Las Vegas.

Silver State Equality is holding its first fundraiser—the 2019 Nevada Equality Awards —on Nov. 6 at Jimmy Kimmel’s Comedy Club at The LINQ Promenade in Las Vegas. Honorees and special guests will be announced in the coming weeks. For information visit SilverStateEquality.org.

PHOTO: From left: Silver State Equality State Director André Wade, Nevada Youth Legislature Chair Olivia Yamamoto, Williams Institute Founding Executive Director Brad Sears, Nevada Youth Legislature Co-Chair Rachel Rush after a legislative hearing on Senate Bill 97, which banned use of the “gay and trans panic defense” in Nevada.(Photo courtesy Equality California)

 

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Los Angeles

BNT: Buck case highlights intersection of race & sexual orientation

Journalist Jasmyne Cannick, said that the case “intersected race.” She joins “Black News Tonight” to discuss the case and its impact.

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Screen shot via Black News Tonight

PHILADELPHIA – Appearing on BNC’s Black News Tonight anchored by journalist Marc Lamont Hill Wednesday, Los Angeles based political strategist and journalist Jasmyne Cannick, who has covered the Ed Buck case, told Hill that the case intersected race and sexual orientation.

“As much as this case is about Ed Buck, it’s also about our housing crisis, and what it makes people feel they have to do — play Russian roulette with their lives just to have a roof over their heads,” Cannick stressed.

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Los Angeles

LA City Council votes to prevent sidewalk camping, Garcetti says he’ll sign

The homeless crisis in California and in the greater Los Angeles region in particular has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic

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Former Echo Park homeless encampment prior to clearing (Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles)

LOS ANGELES – In a 13-2 vote Wednesday, the Los Angeles City Council voted to stop people from camping in public spaces including the areas around parks, schools, homeless shelters, bridges and overpasses, and other similar structures, as well as any encampment that would block sidewalks in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A spokesperson for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that he will sign the ordinance.  Once signed, the measure will go into effect 30 days later. The ordinance bans encampments on sidewalks and driveways, freeway overpasses and on-ramps, and near libraries, parks, schools and homeless shelters.

It specifically bans homeless encampments from within 500 feet of schools, day care facilities, parks and libraries. Under the ordinance people who don’t move would be fined, not arrested, and only after they are given two-weeks notice and offered shelter.

The homeless crisis in California and in the greater Los Angeles region in particular has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic which saw thousands losing their jobs and some being evicted although moratoriums implemented by state and local officials have greatly reduced the evictions numbers.

Opponents of this ordinance are decrying it as another effort to criminalise the homeless population. Councilman Paul Krekorian who represents Council District 2, North Hollywood, Studio City, Sun Valley, Valley Glen, Valley Village, and Van Nuys, takes issue with that characterization saying;

“This ordinance, first of all, does not make homelessness illegal. It does not criminalize homelessness. It does not make any conduct that is fundamental to being human illegal. What it does do is it guarantees that we will reestablish passable sidewalks. It protects the users of our public infrastructure and the unhoused residents of our city from being put into positions of interaction with automobiles, around loading docks, driveways and so forth. It guarantees access to our fire hydrants, entrances to buildings.”

Homeless and civil rights activist Eddie Cruz told KTLA, “this ordinance is targeting a specific group of people in the unhoused community. We believe that this is an irresponsible attack from the City Council and an irresponsible way to deal with the homelessness crisis that is occurring in Los Angeles,” Cruz said.

Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, whose Council District encompasses Echo Park, scene of a series of confrontations over the homeless encampment that ultimately was cleared in part with the Los Angeles Police Department assisting, said in a statement that the ordinance “helps regulate shared public spaces while acting with compassion and purpose to help put people experiencing homelessness on a path to wellness.”

“This ordinance establishes fair and clearly defined rules for how sidewalks in Los Angeles are regulated — while linking those rules to a comprehensive, compassionate strategy for street engagement that will establish reasonable pathways to positive outcomes and, ultimately, permanent homes,” O’Farrell said.

L.A. City Council approves measure to bar homeless encampments:

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Los Angeles

Testimony in first week of Buck trial paints a portrait of pure evil

Buck can be heard in the background; “Go one more time,” encouraging Moore to smoke more meth while Buck films him.

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United States Court House in downtown Los Angeles (Photo by Jasmyne Cannick)

LOS ANGELES – Disturbed by the graphic nature of the video evidence that was presented in court last week as the trial of Ed Buck got underway, U. S. District Court Judge Christina A. Snyder cautioned Assistant United States Attorney Lindsay Bailey and the prosecution team to be careful “how aggressively they present evidence that could traumatize jurors,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

“It may well be that we offer counseling to them at the end of the case,” Snyder said.

Buck, who has been charged on multiple Federal counts of distribution of controlled substances resulting in death, had solicited dozens of young Black men over the years to engage in deviant sexual acts as he forcibly injected them with methamphetamine.

In USA v. Edward Buck, Buck is charged in a nine-count first superseding indictment with distribution of methamphetamine resulting in death, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C) (Counts 1 and 2); distribution of methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C) (Counts 2 through 6); maintaining a drug premises, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 856(a)(1) (Count 7); and enticement to travel for purposes of prostitution, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2422(a) (Counts 8 and 9).

Buck was also charged with one count of using his West Hollywood residence, described in court by prosecutors as the “gates of hell” for the purpose of distributing narcotics such as methamphetamine, and the sedatives gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) and clonazepam.

Testimony by a former Los Angeles resident Carlos, a homeless man who was living on the streets and paid by Buck to do errands and clean Buck’s apartment painted a graphic picture of the overwhelming amount of depravity Buck engaged in.

Buck would solicit his victims on social media platforms, including Grinder, and on Adam4Adam, a gay hook-up site. Buck’s profile solicited men who shared his underwear fetish and wanted to “party and play.” His profile also contained a ‘Rose’ emoji which symbolized that he was generous or in plain terms, willing to pay cash for his “party and play.”

PnP or party and play — also called “chemsex”— is a subculture of drug use that occurs while having sex. PnP has been widely associated with gay men and with men who have sex with other men, although it spans sexual preferences.

Jurors heard testimony from Carlos the Times noted and others that Buck’s preference was to personally inject victims, and he pressured or incentivized victims to let him do so, sometimes offering large cash bonuses to coerce a victim to agree to an injection or additional injections. At other times, Buck simply injected victims while they were unconscious.

While the testimony of Buck’s accusers and victims was shocking, prosecutor’s use of the videos offered jurors a disturbingly graphic look at the chilling indifference displayed by Buck as he victimized those unfortunate to enter his flat.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department veteran homicide detective, Sergeant Paul Cardella, testified that the LASD seized approximately eight of Buck’s digital devices and Buck’s iCloud account, which upon execution of a search warrant the investigators discovered messages, photographs, and about 2,400 videos with roughly 1,500 documenting his party-and-play sessions.

The LASD investigation was aided by investigators from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The videos included sessions with Gemmel Moore, the 26 year old declared dead after a drug overdose in Buck’s Laurel Avenue flat in July of 2017. Moore was the first death to occur prosecutors said.

Veteran Black community activist and writer Jasmyne Cannick summarized the details:

“Gemmel was nearly naked except for the white underwear he is wearing.  Ed Buck is filming him.

Gemmel tells Ed Buck that he doesn’t want his face in the video.  Buck clearly ignores Gemmel’s request because we can see Gemmel’s face.

He tells Gemmel not to worry because he’s going to erase the video and that he’s only recording to let Gemmel see what he looks like.

In the video, you can see Ed Buck smoking crystal meth and blowing the smoke into a rubber tube of which the end is inside of the white underwear.  Ed Buck is being sexually aroused watching the smoke from the meth come out of the underwear Gemmel has on.

In another video, Gemmel is shown smoking meth from a pipe and Ed Buck has the camera focused on Gemmel’s erect penis in white underwear with a rubber tube and smoke coming out of it.

Buck can be heard in the background saying, “Go one more time,” encouraging Moore to smoke more meth.

We were shown a screenshot from a video taken July 31, 2016, of naked Gemmel Moore with Ed Buck being seen through a mirror in the background filming.

There were multiple videos shown to the jury of Gemmel Moore smoking meth in white underwear with Ed Buck.

In one video Gemmel tells Ed Buck that he doesn’t know if he can handle another slam and that he’s high.

Ed Buck responds that he’s there to make Gemmel “offers and indecent proposals.”

Slamming’ is the term used to describe the action of injecting meth, typically in relation to gay and bisexual men.

Gemmel tells Ed Buck in the video that he doesn’t like tweaking.

Tweaking is a slang term that means to be under the influence of methamphetamine. Tweaking is also defined as “to malfunction or to react with extreme emotion.” The odd actions and behaviors that can take place after meth use are known as tweaking, while the user is called a tweaker.

Ed Buck is injecting Gemmel Moore with meth in his arm and tells him that he’ll get over it.

One particularly disturbing video–and they were all disturbing–Gemmel Moore is unconscious and Ed Buck is playing with his penis.  Buck is seen grabbing, twisting, and posing Gemmel’s penis for the camera.

A video from September 6, 2016, shows Gemmel Moore telling Ed Buck that’s he’s high AF and him asking Buck to remove the dozens of socks tied tight around his penis.  In this video, Gemmel is almost completely buried under a pile of mostly white-colored underwear.

GEMMEL MOORE: I need to take this thing off my dick and stroke it.

ED BUCK: No, you don’t. Only I get to touch your dick.

GEMMEL MOORE: I am so vulnerable.

ED BUCK: Yes, you are. Yes, you are.”

For Carlos, who has moved to Las Vegas to be near his toddler and ex-wife, it was a painful ordeal to take the witness stand he tells the Los Angeles Times. “I fight every day not to commit suicide,” he testified. “It’s really hard.”

Carlos started to cry. “I thought I put Ed Buck behind me.”

Christopher Darden, a lawyer for Buck, told the jury his client was on trial “for conduct that millions of people engage in.” He dismissed the witnesses against Buck as manipulative escorts and drug abusers who used Buck for his money, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“The evidence is going to show that these grown men made a conscious decision to go to Ed Buck’s apartment for whatever reason,” Darden said in his opening statement.

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