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LA Gay Chorus member in hospital after altercation in Palm Springs

At this time, there is no reported information or evidence to suggest a hate crime occurred according to Palm Springs Police

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Graphic via Palm Springs Police Department

PALM SPRINGS – A Glendale marketing and advertising executive remains in critical condition Sunday at Desert Regional Hospital Centre, after suffering severe head and neck injuries as the result of an altercation in the early morning hours of July 9 according to the Palm Springs Police Department (PSPD).

The victim has been identified on social media accounts and a GoFundMe page as Justin Wicker, who is also a member of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles.

The PSPD released a statement detailing the incident saying that officers were dispatched to the 400 block of E. Arenas Rd. regarding a victim of a battery. Officers learned that the victim and a friend were walking from a local bar on E. Arenas Rd. and engaged in conversation with another male.

The victim told the male that he resembled the actor “Eddie Murphy.” It was reported that the male became angry at this comment and a physical confrontation occurred. The male began chasing the victim. While running away, the victim slipped and struck his head on the ground. The subject chasing the victim left the area.

The victim was transported to a local area hospital and is in critical condition. Because of the physical confrontation and fact that the male was chasing the victim when the victim fell and became injured, officers are investigating this incident as an assault and battery.

We have seen social media rumors indicating this incident was a targeted hate crime. At this time, there is no reported information or evidence to suggest a hate crime occurred. The investigation is still early and ongoing and investigators are looking for anyone who may have additional information about this incident to come forward and provide us with the additional details.

The suspect is described as a black male adult, approximately 5-08 wearing a light blue button up shirt, white shorts, and was last seen in a black convertible type vehicle. Investigators are looking through video evidence at this time to see if there are any images that can be released to assist identifying the suspect in this case.

If you do have information that would assist investigators, we ask that you call us at 760-327-1441. You can also report information anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 760-341-7867.

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Palm Springs

Palm Springs police release suspect’s photos in gay executive’s attack

At this time, there is no reported information or evidence to suggest a hate crime occurred Palm Springs Police said

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Palm Springs Police Department Patrol Unit (Photo Credit: City of Palm Springs, California)

PALM SPRINGS – Investigators have released photos of two suspects wanted for questioning in the altercation that left a Glendale marketing and advertising executive in critical condition at the Desert Regional Hospital Centre.

The Palm Springs Police Department also acknowledged that because the victim identified on social media as Justin Wicker is gay, this caused rumors to spread that this was a hate crime attack, however, PSPD detectives do not believe at this time that it is a hate crime.

“We have seen social media rumors indicating this incident was a targeted hate crime. At this time, there is no reported information or evidence to suggest a hate crime occurred,” PSPD officials said in a media statement.

Patrol units were dispatched to the 400 block of E. Arenas Rd. on Friday, July 9 at approximately 1:42 a.m regarding a victim of a battery. Officers learned that the victim and a friend were walking from a local bar on E. Arenas Rd. and engaged in conversation with another male.

The victim told the male, who was black, that he resembled the actor “Eddie Murphy.” It was reported that the male became angry at this comment and a physical confrontation occurred. The male began chasing the victim. While running away, the victim slipped and struck his head on the ground. The subject chasing the victim left the area with another man. The two suspects were seen fleeing the scene in a black convertible type vehicle.

Photo: Palm Springs Police Department

One of the suspects is described as a black male adult, approximately 5 feet, 8 inches tall. He was wearing a light blue button up shirt, and white shorts.

Photo: Palm Springs Police Department

Investigators are working to identify the two men involved in the attack.

Police are asking for anyone who may have more information, knows either of the two men involved, or may have taken pictures of the men as they fled the area to immediately call Detective Escallada at 760-323-8129 or report any information you have anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 760-341-7867.

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Palm Springs

White Party Palm Springs canceled, memorial for founder planned

White Party Palm Springs is scheduled to return in 2022. Anyone who’s purchased tickets for 2021 event will be carried over to the 2022 event.

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Photo via White Party Entertainment

PALM SPRINGS – The entertainment company founded by gay circuit party impresario Jeffrey Sanker announced that the Fall White Party Palm Springs event scheduled for Halloween weekend this year has been cancelled following the death of its founder.

Sanker, 65, had died at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles on May 28 with family members in attendance after a long battle with liver cancer.

In an statement released on the company’s social media platforms, Chris Diamond, of Jeffrey Sanker Productions wrote: “It is with heavy hearts that we inform you of the passing of beloved White Party founder Jeffrey Sanker. For more than four decades, Jeffrey’s zest for life and love of celebration drove him to create a safe haven for the LGBTQ+ community to come together and celebrate our unique individuality and collective magic.”

Diamond told KESQ-TV News Channel 3 that White Party Palm Springs event is scheduled to return in 2022, with proposed dates of April 28 to May 1. Anyone who has purchased tickets for the October event will be carried over to the 2022 event. Anyone with any questions about their tickets should email the company at [email protected]

Diamond added that there will be a small family funeral service for Sanker but the organization is planning a larger celebration of life for him. A date has not been established at this time.

In lieu of flowers, the organization is asking people to make a donation to:

LGBT Center of the Desert
1301 N Palm Canyon Dr. #301
Palm Springs CA 92262
Attention: Debra Pollock

You can also make a donation at: https://thecenterps.org/index.php/donate

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Coronavirus

“You’re nothing more than a plague rat,” social media users take on gay NYE parties

COVID isn’t causing businesses to suffer, it’s the actions of people. We are tired of it.

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Gay circuit party impresario Jeffrey Sanker and an unidentified male friend earlier this year via Sanker’s Instagram

PUERTO VALLARTA – The disgust, anger, and recriminations over gay New Year’s Eve parties in this seaside resort area of the Mexican state of Jalisco and neighboring Riviera Nayarit, continues to spread in gay online social media- particularly in numerous Twitter threads and on Instagram. One Instagram account, @gaysovercovid has repeatedly called out party goers and party organizers.

Local media outlets in Jalisco and many Mexican social media users are also outraged.

The @gaysovercovid Instagram account has faced a wave after wave of backlash from gay influencers many of who are now embroiled in the controversy after having their Instagram posts publicly disclosed and then shamed by the anonymous account holder. There have been financial rewards offered to anyone who can unmask the account owner’s identity.

The account used the built-in abilities for tracking the influencers’ Facebook locations and Venmo transactions in an effort to uncover where they were attending parties. That brought about severe condemnation from those exposed while many other people celebrated that the account exposed the bad behavior of gay men.

In one example, in response to a social media post that depicted a West Hollywood area ICU registered nurse as a participant, social media users tracked the pictures to an Instagram account (@legstrong) listed for 25 year old Armstrong Nworka. The Blade determined from online searches Tuesday, including Facebook using the handle ‘@legstrong’ and his surname, Nworka had profiled himself as gay, an RN, and employed at Cedars-Sinai in Beverly Hills.

Instagram post showing (@legstrong) via @gaysovercoid Instagram

One of the comments [left on his page] read; “Disgusting, you give us gay people a bad name. You’re truly nothing more than a plague rat.” Nworka has since taken his Instagram account private. Nworka did not respond to a Blade request for comment.

The Blade also reached out to Cedars-Sinai and was told that there would be no comment on personnel matters.

The ‘plague rat’ comment was mild in comparison to the thousands of other vitriolic responses to other party attendees and especially organizers- labeled by critics as ‘super-spreaders,’ who openly defied both U.S. and Mexican Public Health authorities mandates and restrictions to help stem the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Palm Springs resident and gay circuit party impresario Jeffrey Sanker held the largest New Year’s Eve weekend bash, which included several events. Originally set to take place in Puerto Vallarta, apparently ignoring the pleas from local health authorities, elected officials as well as residents, Sanker’s White Parity Entertainment company was forced to move the event to neighboring Riviera Nayarit after the Jalisco state government banned mass gatherings and implemented more restrictive coronavirus measures.

In a text to ticket holders, Sanker’s company told attendees to not reveal the location of the party.  Nor could they take any photos or videos of the event.  The text said the steps were necessary because they “do not want this getting out and causing any issues with the public.”

That text was screenshot and then posted by @gaysovercovid as well as other accounts which prompted one local news outlet in Puerto Vallarta, the Puerto Vallarta News, to editorialize on its social media accounts prior to the events;

“If you are interested in still visiting the COVID Superspreader New Years Eve Celebration where foreigners come to our community and throw big parties and leave COVID while causing our businesses to close and people lose their jobs- […] COVID isn’t causing businesses to suffer, it’s the actions of people. We are tired of it. We have supported this event in past years and given it positive coverage, but this year it’s irresponsible and should be canceled.​”​

In a phone call with an editor at PVN on Tuesday, the Blade was told that the area’s main healthcare facility, Puerto Vallarta Hospital was at 100% occupancy with COVID-19 patients – and that the state of Jalisco had reached 65% positivity rate.

Officials in Jalisco uniformly condemned the fact that so many had traveled from the United States just to party without seeming to care about the consequences to the local residents, many of who are employed as staff in the restaurants, bars, hotels and transportation systems.

“They came to have sex- to dance it seems and to make party without regard to spread of COVID,” one government source told the Blade. “They have no sense of responsibility- don’t care about peoples here,” he added.

As part of the weekend long event​ the PV Delice, a catamaran boat that featured a live band and open bar, began taking on water and sank off the coast of Puerto Vallarta on December 31, 2020 around 5 p.m. while crew frantically called for help to rescue passengers.  Video posted on Instagram, Tik-Tok and Facebook documented at least 10 other boats rushing to aid the sinking vessel and plucking 60 victims out of the choppy water. 

Witnesses to the sinking told local news outlets that the boat was filled with White Party celebrants and was overcrowded. The boat sank to the bottom of the bay and there were no reports of injuries.

Screenshot from @gaysovercoid Instagram

One passenger, a gay man from Chicago, Illinois, Emilio Blanco told the local LGBTQ news outlet, Out and About PV, “It was like the Titanic, it went all down slowly. I think the crew just didn’t know how to maneuver the catamaran very well, the sea was not very rough nor was it too windy. We were about to sail back to Puerto Vallarta, but the catamaran barely moved. I saw at least 10 small boats coming to help, I jumped in a private boat whose owners were graceful enough to send their captain help out. It was quite a scary situation.”

A spokesperson for Adrián Bobadilla García, head of the municipal agency, of Puerto Vallarta told the Blade Tuesday that the municipal government had made numerous notifications to the public regarding mandatory use of masks and maintaining social distance in public. He said that the boardwalk during the holiday however, wasn’t closed nor were the beaches. He conceded that enforcement was not as stringent as it should have been.

A majority of gay parties attendees reportedly stayed in Puerto Vallarta.  As a result, beaches were jammed wall to wall mostly with maskless celebrants.  One local resident who provided pictures and video to NBC Palm Springs said it was a “superspreader nightmare.”

Beaches of of Puerto Vallarta Saturday. (Screenshot via NBC Palm Springs)

“It is with sadness and anger that we have Americans at the height of a pandemic surge travel to Mexico to participate in New Year’s Eve parties knowing that people of color are disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19,” said City of Huntington Park, California Councilman Eddie Martinez who also heads the  Latino Equality Alliance.

“The action of these travelers has now put hotel workers, servers, janitors, and drivers at risk for the disease as well as to possibly put an additional strain on the hospital system in both Mexico and the United States. Party promoters and sponsors need to be held accountable if their actions result in more deaths for families, especially within the LGBTQ community,” Martinez added.

Washington D. C. based journalist Zack Ford documented a majority of Twitter responses to the controversy in a thread he published Sunday. (Link)

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