Believe It or Not

19720901-07As you may have read in Gay News No. 4, and have possibly noticed in this edition of the paper, I (Denis Lemon) have been arrested, and remanded twice, on a charge of ‘wilful obstruction’. Of course, at present I can make no comment on the case as it is sub judice.

But what I can comment on is the fact that on the Sunday evening of 27th August (at approximately 10.45 p.m.) I was taken into custody for suspected possession of a stolen camera.

Earlier that evening I had been selling copies of Gay News in The Colherne public house in Old Brompton Road, London SW5. After ‘closing time’ I crossed to the opposite side of the road to the pub, where, after seeing a group of four uniformed police officers moving people on outside the pub in an unnecessarily rude manner, I took a photograph of them.

No sooner had the flash of my camera died than the police officers came bounding across the road, as if there was an armed robbery taking place behind me. Incidentally the policemen had left their own ‘manor’ because The Colherne side of the road is under the jurisdiction of Chelsea Police, whilst the opposite side is under the control of Kensington Police. Undeterred by this minor legality I was questioned about why I had taken the photograph, and had the camera snatched from my hands in a way which could hardly be described as polite. I explained that it was my job at present, to take pictures in the vicinity, and of any police action outside The Colherne, as there have been many allegations of unnecessary harassment received at the Gay News office. This apparently was of no interest to the four policemen who then immediately started questioning me about my camera and whether I could prove, there and then, that it was mine. I told them that I couldn’t, but possibly could, if they cared to come either to my home or to the paper’s office. They weren’t particularly interested in this and told me that I would have to go to the Police Station with them.

Having recently enjoyed the delights of a cell at Chelsea Police Station, I insisted that as they were taking me into custody in Kensington that they should take me to Kensington Station.

After some discussion they finally agreed to my request with which I was bundled into the police van they had arrived in and was driven off into the wilds of Kensington.

On arriving I was searched thoroughly (even the pockets of my jacket were well sniffed for God knows what). Then I was questioned about my activities and the remote chance that I might not have committed a felony to obtain the camera. To cut a long story short, after two hours I was taken to my home where I produced the box that came with the camera when it was bought, which finally convinced the police that it had come into my possession legally. But I was severely warned that it was highly dangerous to walk about in the streets with property that I couldn’t prove was mine.

“People have gone to prison before now”, was a parting comment they left me with.

What might interest you is some of the comments the police made whilst I was their guest: “It’s bad enough that there are places (The Colherne) like that”; “Piss Off is a term used by everybody nowadays so it is unlikely to cause offence to anybody”; “Soon all you homosexuals will be driven out of sight again”; “The public has had enough of hearing about your sort”; “Papers like yours and the underground press will soon be stopped”; “If you took a picture of me I’d knock your head off”; “There are 195,000 people in Kensington who would like to see homosexuality stopped”; “The crime rate is going down so we are not wasting our time there (The Colherne)”.

Most of these comments came from the Station Sergeant at Kensington Police Station, who on various occasions throughout my two hour stay with them, informed me that I was a “pervert”, “a queer”, and “an abnormality that had to be stamped out.” He also said that he did and always would refer to black people as “wogs”, and that they didn’t mind and it was “too bad if they did”.

But what did make the whole fiasco almost worth while was the one constable who came into the room whilst the others were busy elsewhere, who said, “I’ve got nothing against homosexuals, I just get sent there (The Colherne)”. Thanks to that one police officer I still retain a little respect for the police, who are in my opinion doing in Kensington and Chelsea, one of the best anti-public relations campaigns in the history of the police force in this country.

Prejudice hinders Law

Manchester Police Victimize Gay Robbery Victim

05-197208xx-3In the early hours of July 16th, 23-year-old John Ash left his two lesbian friends outside the Picador, a gay club in Manchester. He began to walk through town to catch his bus home. In Sackville Street he was approached by five youths who suddenly surrounded him and demanded his wallet. The street was deserted and they began to push and kick him. John was carrying £7, which he gave them. They then ran off.

John reported the incident to the police shortly afterwards, and was interviewed by a member of the C.I.D. The policeman asked where he had been and who with. John replied and when the police asked the names of the girls he had been with earlier, John gave them.

The policeman then asked, “Are either of those ladies your girlfriend?” When John replied that they were not, the policeman said, “Mr. Ash, are you a homosexual?”

John said that he was, but could not see why that was relevant to the robbery. The interview went on, and the policeman eventually told John that his story was not consistant. The policeman brusquely asked him why he had not cried out or ran away.

John was by this time not only shaken by the robbery but also bewildered by the aggressive and antagonistic police questioning. John explained that there was no time to cry out, and that the street was deserted anyway. As for running away – he was encircled by the heavily-booted boys.

The police would not accept this, despite the obvious evidence of John’s cuts and grazes. John left the police station convinced that they had no intention of trying to find the robbers.

He wrote to Gerald Kaufmann, his M.P., who has said that he will take the matter up directly with the Chief Constable.

The implications of this are grim. Although the police ask for public cooperation in this sort of robbery, the fact that you are homosexual obviously affects the police attitude.

Suffice to say that none of John Ash’s gay friends in Manchester would now appeal to the police for any assistance whatsoever.

Crabs and The Law

05-197208xx-3Might I suggest you have a feature (if you haven’t already) on How to Get Rid Of Crabs. They seem to be on too many people these days, and a lot of guys don’t even know they’ve got them. Quickest method is a spray of Pestroy or Vamoose (dog powder) and a bath half an hour afterwards, but there may be better ways.

Oh, the cops have been acting very suspiciously in Hyde Park, just north of that bandstand where the cruising goes on. I was going through there the other night with a friend and we saw two figures up against a tree – turned out to be a couple of young cops (one of whom was gorgeous) with their helmets off, obviously out for some quick promotion. With a readymade story no doubt cooked up already so that each could corroborate the other, what could be easier than to nab some innocent gay. Panda cars were also much in evidence, so to hell with all the robbery and violence everywhere else – just a short spell in Hyde Park and you are a detective constable in no time. Please warn your readers!

Fulham

Fulham police are smarting from the defeat they suffered in the gay dance queer bashing case at West London Court.

05-197208xx-3Tony Reynolds, 21, one of the organisers of GLF’s Youth and Education Group and of Gay Pride Week, was charged with using threatening behaviour outside Fulham Town Hall.

With the court’s public gallery packed to capacity with GLF members, some of them in full drag, the magistrates were told of how a gay left the GLF dance on July 7 and was beaten up – needing four stitches in the cuts in his face (reported in GN3).

Sgt Mervyn Sault said Tony shouted obscenities and raised his arm, with his fist clenched, at a group of youths standing on the other side of the road.

Tony told the magistrates he had shouted: “Look there’s one of them. He’s laughing and joking with them – British justice!” But he’d said nothing obscene – in fact, he rarely swore. He didn’t clench his fist.

Three witnesses appeared to corroborate Tony’s evidence.

The police did not attempt to deny that they had been laughing and joking with the queer bashers, and had to withdraw a charge of using threatening words.

The final egg on the law’s lace came when a well-wisher handed Tony the £5 from the public gallery to pay his derisory fine.

Constables in Leather

04-197208XX 03I thought you might be interested to hear of intense police harassment in this city. We have just got a new Chief Constable, who is reputed to have pledged himself to “clean up” the city.

Police are keeping an almost continuous watch on ‘gay’ toilets in Glasgow. They have young police constables in jeans and leather jackets ‘trolling’ around. After dark they have police hiding among the bushes in Maxwell Park. If two chaps as much as sit down on a park bench together they are questioned. If you park your car in certain places your number is taken.

As everyone knows this is a city which is notorious for crimes of violence, no doubt the police find it easier to persecute the persecuted, rather than doing their proper job of preventing the serious crimes, which take place all the time now. It’s no wonder that true criminals never get caught when the police are ‘not available’.

DANGER! POLICE AT WORK

04-197208XX 09DANGER — please beware of the cottage at Marylebone Station, there is a minimum of four arrests a day there at present.

The cottages on Shepherds Bush Green are being watched and often raided by the police. A Gay News reader, on his way home from work at night, sees the police lying in wait quite frequently.

Be careful at the cottage on Charing Cross Station, another reader has pointed out to us that either BR police or the Met. police are busy there at the moment.

Please don’t forget that we have warned you that the cottages in Battersea Park are under continual surveillance this Summer.

Also remember our warning about the cottage at Baker Street Underground Station. Police and Transport Police have their eyes on what goes on there. And you may be in for a beating if caught or suspected by those gentlemen in blue!

All the above information has been supplied by Gay News readers who have witnessed something unpleasant at the mentioned cottages.