Cy Vance: Don't Blame Me for Raid

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Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. | DONNA ACETO
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. at June's annual Pride Garden Party hosted by the LGBT Community Center. | DONNA ACETO

The Manhattan district attorney’s office had its name removed from the press release issued by the Brooklyn-based Office of the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York that announced the raid on and the arrests of the gay escort site’s chief executive and six of its employees.

Cy Vance is understandably distancing his office from the nightmarish raid on an important safety tool for people in the sex trades,” wrote Rico Stone, a spokesperson for The #Hook Up Collective, a coalition of advertisers, lawyers, and community members, in an email. “Whether or not his office contributed to the raid itself, it happened under his watch.”

The Collective organized an August 26 meeting of lawyers, the escorts who advertised on, and others at Judson Memorial Church to inform escorts about their rights and protections. The US Department of Homeland Security, which ran the investigation and conducted the raid with help from the NYPD, may have seized records on escorts and customers.

In surprise move, Manhattan DA's office asked its name to be taken off press release announcing arrests of escort website's owner, employees

The press office for Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance first notified Gay City News that it had been removed from the release via email on August 26. That office sent a second email and left a phone message about the edited press release on August 27. The press office otherwise declined to comment.

The August 25 raid was covered in New York City media, by some national and international press, and received extensive reporting in the LGBT press and blogs. It has been widely criticized by the LGBT grassroots.

In separate statements, the Transgender Law Center, the National LGBTQ Task Force, the Harm Reduction Coalition, the Global Forum on MSM & HIV, and the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance condemned the raid.

On August 25, Lambda Legal, the LGBT rights law firm, retweeted a statement it issued on August 20 calling for the decriminalization of prostitution. Also signing that earlier statement were the Transgender Law Center, the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the National Center for Transgender Equality. The statement came after Amnesty International, earlier in the month, called for the decriminalization of prostitution worldwide.

In an August 25 article on the raid, Hayley Gorenberg, Lambda’s deputy legal director, was quoted telling the San Francisco Weekly, “We do not support the criminal prosecution of people for prostitution… Criminal prosecution, in turn, victimizes people who are often vulnerable and marginalized by society.”

Activists are divided as to what these actions indicate about Vance’s role, if any, in the investigation and raid.

“I commend the district attorney for his desire to not be involved or associated with this ongoing war against gay consensual sex,” said Allen Roskoff, president of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, an LGBT political group.

William Dobbs, a gay civil libertarian, was more skeptical.

“This very curious development raises questions about Cy Vance’s involvement before his office’s name was removed,” Dobbs said. “Vance’s office, of course, and the other district attorneys in this city prosecute prostitute and john arrests, thousands of them every year, exact number unknown.”

Updated 5:17 pm, July 20, 2018
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Simon says:
There's a war against consensual gay sex going on in NYC as well. Below, I copy/paste the text of an email containing my witness report of a recent NYPD raid in Prospect Park. I have sent out the email to numerous organizations/individuals among them the Gay City News (which, unfortunately, hasn't yet acknowledged the message). Please note that I have to split the report up and post it in more than one comment because it's too long for one comment box. I would like to preface this message, which contains a witness report, by mentioning that I'm a gay man from Brooklyn who has for many years been going to the specific areas of Prospect Park where men who like other men go to meet/cruise. I'm pointing this out because I believe it's important to understand that I have a rather comprehensive long-term knowledge/perspective of the cruising area in Prospect Park and the NYPD activity in and around the area targeting gay activity. Without any hesitation I can say that the NYPD raid I recently witnessed -- and during the course of which I, like numerous others, have received a summons for "disobeying a park sign" -- is quite unprecedented in its scope, vehemence, intimidation, and hours-long duration. Interestingly enough, the NYPD targeting seems to be escalating under this administration; at least, I have never witnessed a raid of such magnitude under the previous mayor/commissioner. Please note that even though similar NYPD targeting has been witnessed by me during the last couple of months (for example on Thursday, August 13 around 11pm), this report will focus on one incident in order to make things easier and also because the incident shadows other targeting/raids in terms of scope.
Aug. 27, 2015, 4:44 pm
Simon says:
Witness Report: Date: Tuesday, August 25, 2015 Time: Between 10pm and midnight (note: when I arrived operation was already in progress and when I left it was ongoing) Location: Prospect Park. Willink Hill and vicinity (Willink Hill is a small wooded stretch adjacent Ocean Ave between the Lincoln Rd entrance to Prospect Park and the Willink entrance to Prospect Park at Flatbush Ave and Ocean Ave Agency: NYPD 78th Precinct 5 policemen hiding in the dark playground by the Lincoln Rd. entrance to Prospect Park waiting for people to exit the Willink Hill area which is on the other side of the playground. Once somebody would exit the Willink Hill area, cops, who were hiding in the dark of the playground, would emerge with their flashlights shining and stop people -- essentially like a trap. Then they would escort the people into the playground, demand ID, and have them to sit on a bench while they issue a summons. It seemed like they were essentially using the playground as a processing center as I witnessed this for a long period of time. This is also how I got my ticket. I witnessed several other guys being entrapped and processed like this at this specific location. Occasionally, some of the cops hiding in the dark playground would venture into the Willink Hill area with their flashlights turned off and sneak up the hill until they came across somebody. At that point they would suddenly turn on their flashlights, scream, and escort the person out into the "processing center" in the playground. After I got my ticket at 10:55pm I was asked to leave the park (note that the park, except wooded areas, officially closes at 1am). I subsequently sat down on a bench on Ocean Av, which is adjacent to Willink Hill but outside of the park, in order to observe the operation and possibly talk to some guys about their experience (at that point I had already decided to write this report). While I turned onto Ocean Av after leaving the park, I noticed that the benches along Ocean Av between Lincoln Rd and Flatbush Av were strangely empty (usually, many of them are occupied). There was only one guy sitting by himself on a bench with 4 cops standing around him shining their flashlights into his face. I walked past them and sat down on a bench a short distance away in order to observe. After the cops left him, he came over and told me that they had harassed him for about 10 minutes about what he was doing there and claiming that he was doing drugs before they finally left him alone (he wasn't doing drugs). They shined their flashlights into his face during the entire time. He also told me that earlier there were other people sitting on benches but that the cops went from bench to bench intimidating people to the point that they just left. The guy was quite agitated and after telling me what happened to him and what he has observed he told me to be careful and rode away on his bike. I remained on the bench for some time in order to observe. During that time I witnessed several raids of the Willink Hill area with cops walking with their flashlights suddenly turned on and occasionally running after people. Even though I was sitting on a bench on Ocean Av outside of the park, I was able to witness some of the activity inside the adjacent wooded Willink Hill area because of the cops' flashlights and the sounds of yelling and running (both cops and scared guys trying to avoid getting caught). I later briefly spoke with another guy who was inside during one of the numerous raids and he told me that he saw one guy getting caught, but that he himself managed to escape by running away and out of the park (he hurt himself falling and lost his wallet in the process). I also briefly went over to the Willink entry to Prospect Park at Ocean Ave and Flatbush Ave because there's usually a number of guys socializing right outside of the entry along the benches. The Willink entry is basically on the opposite side of the Lincoln Rd entry with the Willink Hill area in-between the two entries. There were about 10 to 15 guys hanging out there and it turned out that many of them were simply waiting for the storm to pass. There were two NYPD patrol cars positioned by the entry and cops lingering in an intimidating fashion. One of the guys told me that he once witnessed a guy getting seriously hurt during a raid (broken leg, open fracture). All in all, I would estimate that there were about 15 cops involved during this hours-long, extensive raid which specifically focused on a particular area known for gay cruising.
Aug. 27, 2015, 4:48 pm
Christopher Lynn says:
where the tickets issued for violating a curfew? IS there a posted curfew notice? On the pink summons what section of the Penal Cite did they cite, or so they check Park regulations? To be valid the time of arrest must be after the curfew and Notice must be conspicuous posted.
Aug. 28, 2015, 9:14 pm
Simon says:
Christopher: The summons mentions section 103c(z). Title of offense: "Disobey Park Sign." Also, "Park Rules" box is checked. My ticket was issued at 2255 hours (10:55pm). Prospect Park is open between 5am and 1am. Only the "wooded areas" allegedly close at dusk. However, this is not conspicuously posted -- at least not in the Willink Hill area -- and I only found out about that rule online. I would like to stress that I would find it futile and apolitical to complain about the rules not being posted and cruisers therefore not being aware that they're not supposed to be there; in that case, the cops and their allies (unelected and undemocratic Prospect Park Alliance) would probably just post some signs. Nothing would be achieved. The question is, why that rule exists in the first place (it doesn't exist in The Ramble, for example). Also, it didn't exist a few years ago or at least was not enforced by the NYPD at all. The most important question is why de Blasio's NYPD is prioritizing this, investing so much manpower and hours to round up gay cruisers? Who gave the order to do so? What's the goal? I don't remember the last time I felt so oppressed like that night walking home with a ticket in my pocket because I was singled out and hunted down because of my sexuality and because I'm enjoying a centuries old aspect of gay culture. It was a very scary police operation, like a gotcha or catch game. It has the potential for serious injuries and more. And considering the recent raid, I find the timing quite "interesting." By no means is the NYPost a paper I enjoy, but an article I just came across about the raid is mentioning the raids in Prospect Park as well and making a connection between the two. Here is a link to the article:
Aug. 29, 2015, 11:35 am
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Sept. 5, 2015, 6:38 am
skateboard park says:
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June 18, 2016, 7:28 am

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