Letters from the week of July 23

Feature: “Where the Boys Are,” July 9

Vice on Vice

If you’ve ever talked to one of the arrestees of these park patrols, you’ve heard a dramatically different version of the routine than what Nadia Pflaum reported in “Where the Boys Are.” When the cops don’t have to play nice and show off for the press, a completely different collective persona emerges. Many of the vice cops seem to be raging homophobes, and the career vice cops enjoy giving the decoy-for-a-day guys a bite on the arrestees, delighting as the decoys get in the busted guys’ faces and humiliate them. It’s not some lighthearted banter associated with a difficult job. It’s a sick unit unleashed once a month or so to show off for new guys. It should be mandatory that the vice cops rotate every six months. These cops are barely protecting and they certainly aren’t serving, except their own egos.

John Humphrey
Kansas City, Missouri

Eyewitness Report

I was disappointed that The Pitch didn’t tell the story of why these guys take the risk they do to have sex in public. The Pitch chose instead to glorify the actions of the police. Once or twice a year, in cities all across America, similar police actions occur that make headline news right about the time of rating sweeps. I expect more from The Pitch.

The majority of guys who use the park to meet other guys are law-abiding citizens who use the park as a social meeting place, just like African-Americans use Swope Park and Hispanics use Case Park. Your article makes it seem like it’s just a sex free-for-all at Penn Valley Park, and nothing could be further from the truth. Public sex occurs in all areas of this city daily, but public sex between heterosexuals is often viewed as romantic, with only a warning from the police to move on. But sex between homosexuals is viewed as sick and disgusting and subject to arrest. What a double standard.

As a park patron for more than 25 years and a gay male, I have seen police abuse, harassment and intimidation firsthand from homophobic cops who would like nothing better than to arrest every guy sitting in his car, even if no sexual activity is occurring. The KCPD has gone to great lengths to restrict access to the park by gay males. We are taxpayers as well and have every right to be in the park during normal park hours when not engaging in indecent conduct. The KCPD doesn’t understand that concept.

Name withheld by request
Kansas City, Missouri

Editor’s Note:

It’s our policy not to run letters to the editor when they arrive unsigned. Predictably, though, we received more unsigned letters than usual in response to “Where the Boys Are.”

One letter writer argued: “The taxpayers of Kansas City ought to be outraged by this jocular band of civil rights violators who profess to be enforcing the law. If enforcement is their goal, then the myriad squad cars that pass by Penn Valley Park could occasionally swing through the parking lot with greater effect on illegal activity. (For the record, I don’t condone the illegal activity, but what goes on between two consenting adults should be left alone.) … The Prosecutor’s Office knows and counts on the fact that we can’t stand up to them. How sad is that? Got rights? Not in KC!”

We understand these readers’ hesitation to be identified. But we also know that staying hidden doesn’t help the cause. Anonymous letters only reinforce the stereotype. Next time you guys want something noted “for the record,” sign your names, OK?

— C.J. Janovy

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