[Press release: Gays, lesbians protest Rodney King verdict] Page: 2 of 2
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For Immediate Release Contact: Kevin Berrill or Robert
May 1, 1992 Bray, (202)332-6483
NGLTF STATEMENT ON RODNEY KING VERDICT
The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force is outraged by the acquittal of four
Los Angeles police officers accused of assaulting Rodney King, an African-
American motorist. To watch the videotape of King's beating is to witness
extraordinary, inexcusable, and criminal brutality. In the face of
overwhelming documented evidence of abuse, we are appalled that the
criminal justice system set the defendants free.
The only conceivable explanation for the "not guilty" verdict is that the
jury viewed the videotape through the lens of racism. From its brutal
beginning, this case, like so many other cases of police abuse, has been
infused with racism. It reflects a pattern of hate crimes perpetrated by
police against African-Americans and other minorities, including lesbians
and gay men.
The gay and lesbian community knows all too well the bitter reality of
abuse by both the police and the courts. In eleven studies of anti-gay
violence, a median proportion of 20% of lesbians and gay men report having
been victimized by the police because of their sexual orientation.
Examples of such abuse in recent years include the vicious beating of a Los
Angeles gay motorist, and a brutal police raid on a Manhattan bar
patronized by African-American and Latino gay men. In the courts, the gay
and lesbian community has faced shocking acquittals of gay bashers, and gay
victims have been called "homos," "queers," and other slurs by judges.
The verdict in the Rodney King further undermines public faith in the
criminal justice system and increases the likelihood of violence by police
and by citizens angered by injustice. The violence we see in Los Angeles
and around the nation is the tragic legacy of centuries of officially
sanctioned racism. It is also profoundly destructive, especially to the
communities that are hit hardest by racism and poverty. We appeal for an
end to the violence, which has resulted in so much death, injury, and
NGLTF stands in solidarity with the African-American community at what is
one of most shameful and depressing moments in race relations since the
murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. In that spirit, we call on lesbian and
gay individuals and organizations to (1) issue statements condemning the
verdict; (2) join as allies in peaceful actions to protest the verdict; (3)
join in coalition with organizations working to counter police abuse; (4)
write U.S. Attorney General William Barr urging federal prosecution of the
defendants and a federal investigation of racism and anti-gay bigotry
within law enforcement agencies; and (5) commit themselves to fighting
racism within the gay/lesbian community and the larger society.
# # #
1734 Fourteenth Street, NW + Washington, DC 20009-4309 + 202-332-6483
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National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (U.S.). [Press release: Gays, lesbians protest Rodney King verdict], text, May 4, 1992; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc916362/m1/2/: accessed January 21, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.