Policing Gay LA

How Los Angeles′ queer communities, as well as communities of color living in Echo Park were divided over the issue of Policing Gay LA.

Los Angeles is one of the most populous cities in the US. Within the City, South Los Angeles is the home to many low-income earners. Therefore, this makes it a hot crime hot point and there have been several efforts of trying to curb the rising cases of unrests especially among the youth of the African and Latin Americans. Nonetheless, the issue of policing and within this area has always raised differing views. Police brutality and frequent entrapments in the control of gay activities had led to increased frictions between the police, the straight people and the gay people. Apparently, in the Homophile era of between 1950 and 1967, there was a strong resistance to same-sex relationships from the police.

However, the most sensitive issue arose from the police’s way of handling the cases and brutality combined with racial prejudice. In addition, while the brutality occurred unselectively to anyone the police suspected of the homosexuality, the rights organizations defending their gay rights ceased to acknowledge that brutality was in all ways bad, whether the person abused by police was gay or not.

For that matter, the frequent attacks on the Mexican-Americans underlined racial policing that was increasingly taking over. The apparent evidence is that the police were increasingly targeting the people of the Latin decent, but the astonishing point was even the groups like Mattachine responsible for police brutality against the gay people could not stand against the police injustices. It was obvious that, for them, what mattered most was the end to the police entrapments and brutality against the gay people, who were mainly white.

For instance, according to (Hobson, 2014), in 1952, Horace Martinez was a victim of entrapment, when he and some of his friends had gone out passing time in the Echo Park. And when the boy went to use the restrooms after having a cup of coffee in the boathouse with his friends, a police attacked and brutally arrested him. He tried to resist running away but the undercover police named Ted Porter was all over him hitting him with fists in his face. When the friends arrived, they were also arrested and charged with robbery charges. Their Parents decided to seek help from CRC- Civil Rights Congress, a leftist organization in the Echo Park neighborhood. Four of the boys were of the Mexican-American descent while one of them from Italian roots.

When the Mattachine group learned of the Echo Park case, they condemned the act and released the statement outlining that the police were not supposed to do such an act on any person whether gay or not. After several weeks, another entrapment arrest occurred and this involved a white gay, named Jennings, who was an active member of the group.

Jennings’s case was dismissed and this led to rapid growth in strength of the Mattachine group. However, their tone and goals started changing and they totally ceased mentioning the Horace Martinez’s case. The group ignored other similar cases and said less and less about racialized policing but only advocating for their homosexual rights. The group’s members were mainly white and middle-class in their thirties and forties, who had declared themselves homosexual. On the contrary, the Mexican-American youths arrested at the echo park were presumably straight and even being anti-gay. The glaring differences between these two groups created a sharp division over policing as the lack of common goal regarding policing has not aided the course for fair policing in Los Angeles.


Hobson, E. K. (2014). Policing Gay LA: Mapping Racial Divides in the Homophile Era, 1950-1967. In M.-H. Jung, The Rising Tide of Color: Race State Violence and Radical Movements Across the Pacific (pp. 188-212). Washington: University of Washington Press.