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by April Anthony
Monday, Jul. 19, 2004 at 1:23 PM
queer bashing police neglect and the right to safety
Every year the "Ugly Mug" (a queer friendly coffee shop in Santa Cruz County California) throws a 'prom' fundraiser. This year the "under the sea" themed 'prom' complete with party goers decked in their own renditions of the theme were dancing and singing kareoke to raise money for chest reconstruction surgery for a few of my friends who are currently transitioning. One minute we were dancing and it seemed like a split second later that the front of the coffee shop had imploded.
Two extremely drunk white men decided to show up to this queer friendly event and demand to get in for free. And when they were told that that had to pay the cover of 5 dollars a semi brawl began, breaking bottles screams and people being shoved replaced the dancing. While trying to get these individuals to leave verbally, with a fire extinguisher, and withphysical restraint two more biolgoical females were pepper sprayed while attempting to ask passing cars for help. Meanwhile the police had been called several times and the confusion and lack of resources turned the party into a queer bashing scene.
Eventually the police showed up and the party goers made their separate ways and thankfully no one was severly hurt and hopefully everyone made it to their destinations safely.
In a state like California and in a county renowned for it's 'liberalism', 'openmindedness', and as a queer 'friendly' space I feel that often times the very visible queer population here in Santa Cruz, myself included, are often made easily targeted for acts of homophobia. It has been my experience that the police in the area would rather give parking tickets or bust people for smoking pot or drinking openly with their friends then attempt to even address the queer bashing that is sadly common to the area and to the UC university here.
What do we do about this?
I for one believe that it seems that often people feel like they can approach you as well say say or do whatever they want to you when it is perceived that your idenity, actions, or appearance deviates from the norm; and that these advances can be done largely without consequence.
Where does all the aggression come and how can we navigate between and past privledged identities without compromising the safety of everyone?
and where would one even begin to answer that question?
Does knowing that the police are on their way or their physical pressence felt make you feel reassured and or safe?
and if not, then why not?
what to do next?
I suggest to keep asking these questions until collectively as a community that is larger than we can imagine can work on solving the question of safety and the right to feel safe together.
I'd like to thank the 'UglyMug" for being a wonderfully queer supportive coffee shop and all the party goers last night that were braver than maybe they have recognized.
I'd like to feel safe and I know I'm not the only oe and I think now more than ever we need to figure out what that would look like.
age 21, UC Santa Cruz undergraduate Senior, Modern Literature Major
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