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P-town’s not-so-secret vice

Beating up gay guys appears to be all the rage ,  and   police and the DA are part of the problem
By EDITORIAL  |  October 3, 2007


Something went seriously awry in Provincetown this summer, where several attacks with possible homophobic overtones were ignored by, and in one case was committed by, the town’s own law-enforcement officials.

The problem appears to stem from the use of temporary “summer police” — an understandable arrangement, considering the seasonal swelling of population and activity in the Cape Cod hot spot.

But those literal hired guns need to be sensitive to Provincetown’s gay population and its constant fear of anti-homosexual assaults. Instead, the town provided no special training for their summer police, setting up a disaster waiting to happen.

It did happen, in fact, on July 14, when several of those summer police broke up a back-yard party attended mostly by gay men. Well-known Boston DJ Barry Scott informed partygoers over a sound system that the event was being shut down, and allegedly added that “we hate” the Provincetown police.

Witnesses dispute that he said those words, but it hardly matters; it’s no justifiable provocation for what happened next. According to Scott’s account, a police officer smashed Scott’s head into a wall and into a propane tank and kicked him in the leg, in the process of arresting and handcuffing him. Scott remains charged with disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest.

Did the summer cop beat up Scott out of homophobia or just ordinary brutality? We’d like to know. Provincetown residents and visitors need to know.

Unfortunately, Provincetown’s acting police chief, Warren Tobias, and the Cape’s district attorney (DA), Michael O’Keefe, deny that any misconduct even happened. Tobias has refused to investigate the incident internally. After town manager Sharon Lynn officially requested a DA review, O’Keefe — whose office is prosecuting Scott — concluded this past week that there was no wrongdoing by the officer, despite more than a dozen witnesses stacked against a farcical police report, which claims Scott’s injuries occurred when “his nose inadvertently came in contact with the external window frame.”

It is time for the Provincetown police to wake up and join the 21st century. If they can not muster a sense of common decency, they must at least recognize that their community hosts a diverse population that makes a huge economic contribution to local well-being. The DA has an even greater responsibility to guarantee that public safety is maintained fairly and humanely. The conduct of the DA’s office has been a disgrace.

The Scott saga is only one piece of Provincetown’s “see no evil” approach. The latest evidence is a September 10 incident, in which a gay man was allegedly called “faggot” before being bashed on the head and left bloodied and unconscious on the beach.

Police failed to get him medical attention and did not take down critical information about the attack and possible attackers, as Tobias has conceded to Bay Windows.

According to the Cape Cod Times, Provincetown’s police force is currently investigating at least two other homophobic attacks that occurred this summer: an assault in late June in which attackers allegedly called a group of men “faggots” while pushing them, threatening them, and throwing rocks at them; and a late-August incident in which two gay men were allegedly hit with bicycles by a group of youths.

Oddly, the Provincetown police are insisting that all these assaults are being investigated as potential “hate incidents” rather than “hate crimes.” The legal distinction, simply, is that a hate incident of “bigotry, bias, animus, or prejudice” becomes a hate crime under Massachusetts law when it involves an underlying criminal act, such as assault or battery.

Last we checked, throwing rocks at people, hitting them with bicycles, and bashing them on the head are criminal acts. If Provincetown authorities think otherwise, that calls into question the town’s claim that there have been no hate crimes there since 2004. They should be more concerned with the truth than with maintaining their spotless statistics.

Town officials and District Attorney O’Keefe need to take the threat of hate crimes and the training of summer police far more seriously if they expect people to return to the Cape’s most vibrant community next summer.

  Topics: The Editorial Page , Hate Crimes , Crime , GLBT Issues ,  More more >
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P-town’s not-so-secret vice
It is bizarre that Barry Scott is being prosecuted for the crime of allegedly saying he hates the police, while throwing projectiles at gay men is being treated as something less than a crime by the Provincetown Acting Chief. It is all too apparent that the Provincetown Police Department is in crisis; without significant improvements by next summer at the latest there will be more victims who don't get justice.
By tudor586 on 10/03/2007 at 8:44:04
P-town’s not-so-secret vice
I used to go to Provincetown all the time. It used to be a nice place to spend a week's vacation or even a weekend. I will no longer do so as long as this kind of behavior continues. It's a shame that this acting police chief and this District Attorney continue a vendetta against this guy when they obviously have so many problems in Provincetown to attend to. I will boycott them until the charges are dropped and I see real change.
By redsoxfan on 10/04/2007 at 4:39:16
P-town’s not-so-secret vice
Amen. The Phoenix always tells it like it is. Boycott Provincetown is the best answer while they have their heads up their collective asses. Free Barry Scott now!
By redsoxfan on 10/04/2007 at 4:59:14
P-town’s not-so-secret vice
Amen. The Phoenix always gets it right. I saw Boycott Provincetown until they get their heads our of their collective butts. Free Barry Scott!
By redsoxfan on 10/04/2007 at 5:00:35
P-town’s not-so-secret vice
amen. Boycott Provincetown until they get their heads out of their butts down there. Free Barry Scott!
By redsoxfan on 10/04/2007 at 5:02:40
P-town’s not-so-secret vice
If they hate gays, they must hate gay money. So take that money somewhere that likes Amsterdam, Canada, England, or wherever there are LBGT rights.
By LCL on 10/05/2007 at 11:00:00
P-town’s not-so-secret vice
These incidents deserve investigation, but please, there are many scenarios other than the "either Scott was beaten up by homophobic police or he was just beaten up the way the police, you know, just do all the the time." I've been a gay resident in Provincetown on and off for years and I've even attended several parties broken up by the police. They have never been anything but courteous and professional. Especially the summer officers, many of whom are gay. They aren't perfect, and they seem to have made errors in these cases that require a full investigation, but to claim that they are homophobic brutalists is ridiculously hyperbolic.
By alan miles on 10/07/2007 at 12:46:41
P-town’s not-so-secret vice
It's all fine and dandy to say "boycott" Provincetown. However, remember there are many of US living year-round in this great town. I agree there are some serious issues with law enforcement and the protection of our rights. Are we going to run away from the problem or get a spine and stand up for what is right. And a final note. Though I don't condone the behavior of the police, I do agree that loud music at all hours of the morning is annoying when one has to work to make a living. I say: have a wonderful time here in our town. It is a great place despite it's flaws. You tell me any place on earth that doesn't. Except maybe Disneyland. This is NOT Disneyland.
By ptownmrc on 10/07/2007 at 1:49:06
P-town’s not-so-secret vice
As I understand it, this party was from 6pm to 10:30pm on a Saturday night and was not loud by all witness accounts. The facts are clear. They beat up the DJ for complying with them. Can you think of any reason to hit a DJ in a private backyard? I can't. The Prvincetown Boycott IS gaining steam all over New England. It will be a sad summer of 2008 there if they don't make changes now. More artiles are probably coming.
By capecodboi on 10/09/2007 at 9:29:24
P-town’s not-so-secret vice
Barry Scott is Gay??? I did not know this even though he does have that gay "sound" to his voice & kinda does fit the gay "look" far as profiling goes. Either way, after listening to him for so many years I find it hard to belive he'd say something "wrong" in public. He's smarter than that.
By B_N on 11/28/2007 at 5:42:14

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