In a pattern “reminiscent of the Stonewall days,” gay men are being targeted by federal undercover officers posing as consensual partners in public sex stings in D.C.’s Meridian Hill Park.
The Washington Blade reports: ‘Sgt. Eduardo Delgado, a Park Police public information officer, told the Washington Blade the 26 arrests made in the park since Aug. 7, 2018 involve charges of one or a combination of Disorderly Conduct, Lewd Acts, Unlawful Entry, and Simple Assault (Sexual). He said he couldn’t immediately determine if the arrests were made by plain clothes or uniformed officers, but said the arrests were prompted by complaints from the public about “lewd acts” in the park.’
D.C. defense attorney John Albanes told the Blade that discussion has been ongoing on a D.C. Superior Court trial lawyers association listserv (private online forum) about the pattern of arrests, which involve plainclothes undercover officers who “entice men in Meridian Hill Park for purportedly consensual sexual activity and then proceed to arrest their targets for a crime.”
Said Albanes: “I find this pattern extremely disturbing and reminiscent of the Stonewall days when gay men were often the target of police discrimination. The tactics used in these cases just fly in the face of proper police work and should be exposed. The officers are posing as willing participants in a consensual encounter between adults. The target is deceived into thinking that what he is about to do is wanted. This raises serious doubts about whether the government can prove criminal intent.”
The Blade adds: “Meridian Hill Park, also known as Malcolm X Park, has been known for at least 50 years as a cruising spot for mostly African-American gay men. In past years, men who go to the park to seek other men for sexual encounters have told the Washington Post and the Washington City Paper that the cruising often takes place late at night in secluded areas of the park covered by shrubs, bushes and trees. Similar to other cruising locations in the city, the men interviewed by the Post and City Paper have said they sometimes invited the person they met at the park to their homes or another private location and did not engage in sex in the park.”