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Think Gays Don’t Need Gun Rights? Check Your Privilege

A predictable response to the horrific massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, in which a gunman murdered 49 people and injured 53 others, mostly Latino, is to restrict gun ownership to police only.

But this response ignores the real relationship gay and ethnic minority populations have had with police. It’s a history of violence, targeted specifically at queer and brown bodies.

When we discuss privilege in America, we rightly point out that straight, white, cisgendered, male Americans have the tremendous advantage of not being directly negatively impacted by institutional, systemic racism, sexism, transphobia and homophobia.

But what we don’t discuss often enough is how American law enforcement privileges the lives of straight, white, cisgendered, male Americans over the lives of others.

Those who dream of a utopia in which only the police have guns must reckon with the reality that to disarm everyone but the police puts marginalized communities at the utter mercy of American police departments who have proven themselves to be more than happy to violate black and queer bodies, and court systems which have proven themselves unwilling to hold them accountable.

A history of racial violence

Despite what you’ve been taught, the fight for equality under the law for black Americans did not start with boycotts and marches. It started with black guys with guns.

Most Americans immediately connect Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks to the civil rights movement. You probably also know Emmett Till. But you may not know Dr. T. R. M. Howard.

Emmett Till was the third black male to be murdered in Mississippi in a three-month span 1955.

After trying to vote in Belzoni, Reverend George Lee was shot and killed at point blank range while driving. Weeks later Lamar Smith succeeded in casting his ballot in Brookhaven before he was shot and killed in broad daylight, before witnesses in front of the county courthouse.

Police made no arrests in connection to either murder. Witnesses rightly feared for their lives and did not come forward to testify.

Then on August 28, 1955 three men kidnapped 14-year-old Emmett Till at gunpoint around 2 a.m. They put Till in the bed of a pickup truck and drove him to various places to pistol whip him and decide what to do. Finally they shot him dead. Before dumping his body, the murderers showed his mutilated corpse to a black man saying, “That’s what happens to smart niggers.”

Till’s crime wasn’t voting, but whistling. A habit he picked up to alleviate his stuttering, a few white men thought it was directed at a white girl.

Till’s mother, Mamie Till Bradley, insisted on an open-casket viewing of Till’s mutilated body and tens of thousands of people showed up to see it. Till’s murder and the sight of his body enraged and activated civil rights leaders at the state and national levels of the NAACP. But everyone still feared for their lives too much to come forward and testify.

That’s when wealthy physician and civil rights leader Dr. T. R. M. Howard came forward. Howard used his considerable wealth to hire armed bodyguards to protect himself, his family, and anyone else willing to come forward to testify against Till’s murderers.

These witnesses made the trial possible, and the trial was “The first great media event of the civil rights movement,” according to the New York Times.

While Till’s murderers were acquitted, the tide had turned. Armed black people were no longer too afraid to stand up about injustice. Howard made sure Mose Wright, the first man to ever testify against a white man in court and live, was able to escape to Chicago after the trial.

Two months after Till’s murder, Montgomery civil rights activists held a meeting to discuss Till’s case and other recent murders of civil right activists. Rosa Parks attended this meeting, and then one month later she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery city bus.

Police violence against queer Americans

The story of the struggle for gay rights has been similarly sanitized.

Black Americans in the south could not rely on law enforcement for help. In the leadup to the Till trial, Tallahatchie County Sheriff Clarence Strider told the media he believed Till’s body was not Till’s but was a decoy planted by the NAACP. He confined two witnesses to jail to prevent them from testifying. And during the trial he said to black spectators coming back from lunch, “Hello, Niggers!”

The relationship between queer Americans and law enforcement is even worse.

Rampant homophobia and transphobia in the 1960’s meant out queers were unwelcome in most bars and restaurants. That made the places they were allowed extremely important. But it also made them a target for police raids. States adopted anti-sodomy legislation for the purpose of giving police a pretext for mass arrests of queers. By 1960, every state had an anti-sodomy law.

In New York, the gay bars were mostly controlled by organized crime who paid off police to prevent frequent raids. Yet the raids were still pretty frequent, happening once per month for each bar on average. San Francisco gays had it no better. When police showed up to Compton’s Cafeteria to arrest men dressed as women in 1966. This time, the patrons rioted, slinging cups and plates and breaking the plexiglass windows.

When police conducted an unannounced raid at the Stonewall Inn, a mafia-owned gay bar in Greenwich Village, patrons and supporters rioted violently for days. This inspired organized meeting and marches for gay rights. Before two years had passed after the Stonewall riots every major American city had a gay rights group.

The disturbing reality

It would be lovely if equality under the law were a reality in America today. But you only have to look as far as the murders of Freddie Gray or Eric Garner to see that we are not there yet.

Here’s what the Baltimore Police Department tweeted after one of their officers was acquitted in the death of Freddie Gray.

They raised a toast to the fact that the officer who decided not to put a seatbelt on the handcuffed Freddie Gray and drove him around the city, every twist and turn throwing his body against the metal walls, whose actions are directly responsible for his untimely, violent death, would face no criminal penalties.

Gun control puts marginalized Americans at the utter mercy of a police force that has perpetrated thousands of violent raids of gay nightclubs, yet could do absolutely nothing to stop the massacre in Orlando. Gays need guns, not only to protect themselves from cops, but also to protect themselves from being targeted by civilians like the Orlando shooter and the homophobes who threatened Tom Palmer.

The people who posit gun control for the purpose of protecting gays in the wake of the Orlando massacre benefit from tremendous privilege. They get to live in ignorance of the role police have played in hurting gay Americans, and in ignorance of the role guns have played in fomenting the movement for civil rights. And in particular, white, straight pro-gun control liberals can safely advocate for disarming the marginalized while they enjoy the privilege of not being heavily targeted by violent bigots, including cops.

Perhaps it’s within the realm of possibility that disarming people will protect the marginalized. But only if we disarm the police.

Cathy Reisenwitz

Cathy Reisenwitz

Cathy Reisenwitz is a D.C.-based writer. She is Editor-in-Chief of Sex and the State and her writing has appeared in The Week, Forbes, the Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, VICE Motherboard, Reason magazine, Talking Points Memo and other publications.

Terrorism in Florida: A Timeline From 2003 to 2016

We provide context for Sunday’s horrific massacre in Orlando by tracing a timeline of terrorism in Florida back more than ten years.

2003: Federal prosecutors indict University of South Florida professor Sami al-Arian as a leader of the Islamist terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad. He eventually accepts a plea bargain and is deported to Turkey.

2009: CAIR Florida Director Hassan Shibly calls homosexuality “evil” and a “quick way to earn God’s wrath.”

2013: Cleric Sheikh Sekaleshfar gives a televised sermon at the Husseini Islamic Center Mosque of Sanford, FL. He says about homosexuality: “Death is the sentence. We know there’s nothing to be embarrassed about this, death is the sentence…We have to have that compassion for people, with homosexuals, it’s the same, out of compassion, let’s get rid of them now.”

February 2015: Vandals set fire to a Church in Melbourne, Florida, spray paint “Allahu Ackbar” and a swastika.

May 2015: Boca West Country Club cancels a Palm Beach Republican Party dinner because controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who is an outspoken opponent of Islam, had been invited to speak. They cited “safety concerns.”

September 2015: Police arrest 20-year old Joshua Goldberg in Jacksonville for a plot to bomb a 9/11 memorial. According to court documents Goldberg claimed to be in Australia and supporting ISIS, despite living in his mother’s basement in Florida.

April 2016: A 14-foot high billboard reading “Islam Bloody Islam, Doomed by its Doctrine!” is unveiled prompting criticism for blatant anti-Muslim bigotry and an international petition to take the sign down.

May 2016: A 40-year old Muslim man is arrested for an alleged plot to bomb a Florida synagogue on the Passover holiday. The court alleged he wanted to leave a note attributing the attack to ISIS.

Sunday June 12, 2016, 2 am: An Islamic State terrorist murders 49 people at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando Florida.

Sunday June 12, 2016: CAIR-Florida Director Hassan Shibly offers “Overwhelming love and support and unity” to the LGBT community in the wake of the Orlando Shooting.

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EDITORS NOTE: Eleven of the nineteen hijackers on 9/11/2001 lived in Florida. Florida is mention over 50 times in the 9/11 Commission Report. Terrorist and terrorism is part of the Sunshine State.

The Obscene Narrative: ACLU Staff Attorney blames ‘Christian right,’ GOP for Orlando massacre

“You know what is gross — your thoughts and prayers and Islamophobia after you created this anti-queer climate,” ACLU staff attorney Chase Strangio tweeted on Sunday morning. Does the illustrious Strangio actually believe that Omar Mateen was incited to commit mass murder in the gay nightclub in Orlando by an “anti-queer climate” created by Christian conservatives? He probably does, since, as a Leftist, he knows that non-Muslims are always and everywhere to blame for atrocities that Muslims commit.

Chase Strangio

Chase Strangio

“ACLU lawyers blame ‘Christian right,’ GOP for Orlando terrorist attack,” by Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, June 12, 2016:

Christian conservatives are responsible for the mass shooting at a gay bar in Orlando because they “created this anti-queer climate,” according to American Civil Liberties Union attorneys.

“You know what is gross — your thoughts and prayers and Islamophobia after you created this anti-queer climate,” ACLU staff attorney Chase Strangio tweeted on Sunday morning.

About 50 people were killed last night by Omar Mateen, a U.S. citizen born to Afghan parents suspected to have “leanings toward extreme Islamic ideologies.” The FBI is investigating the attack as a “domestic terror incident.”

But Strangio — who “spend[s his] life fighting Christian homophobia while being loved & supported by [his] Muslim family” — and his colleagues connected the shooting back to Christians and Republican politicians who oppose gay marriage. “The Christian Right has introduced 200 anti-LGBT bills in the last six months and people blaming Islam for this,” Strangio tweeted. “No.”

Another ACLU attorney who specializes in religious liberty issues scolded Republican lawmakers who tweeted out their condolences. “Remember when you co-sponsored extreme, anti-LGBT First Amendment Defense Act?” the ACLU’s Eunice Rho tweetedat Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and other Republicans,

House Speaker Paul Ryan was careful not to jump to conclusions about the attacker on Sunday morning. “We pray for those brutally attacked in Orlando,” Ryan tweeted. “While we must learn more about the attacker, the victims & families will not be forgotten.”…

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Donald J. Trump statement regarding tragic terrorist attack in Orlando, Florida

Donald Trump posted the following statement on Facebook:

Last night, our nation was attacked by a radical Islamic terrorist. It was the worst terrorist attack on our soil since 9/11, and the second of its kind in 6 months. My deepest sympathy and support goes out to the victims, the wounded, and their families.

In his remarks today, President Obama disgracefully refused to even say the words ‘Radical Islam’. For that reason alone, he should step down. If Hillary Clinton, after this attack, still cannot say the two words ‘Radical Islam’ she should get out of this race for the Presidency.

If we do not get tough and smart real fast, we are not going to have a country anymore. Because our leaders are weak, I said this was going to happen – and it is only going to get worse. I am trying to save lives and prevent the next terrorist attack. We can’t afford to be politically correct anymore.

The terrorist, Omar Mir Saddique Mateen, is the son of an immigrant from Afghanistan who openly published his support for the Afghanistani Taliban and even tried to run for President of Afghanistan. According to Pew, 99% of people in Afghanistan support oppressive Sharia Law.

We admit more than 100,000 lifetime migrants from the Middle East each year. Since 9/11, hundreds of migrants and their children have been implicated in terrorism in the United States.

Hillary Clinton wants to dramatically increase admissions from the Middle East, bringing in many hundreds of thousands during a first term – and we will have no way to screen them, pay for them, or prevent the second generation from radicalizing.

We need to protect all Americans, of all backgrounds and all beliefs, from Radical Islamic Terrorism – which has no place in an open and tolerant society. Radical Islam advocates hate for women, gays, Jews, Christians and all Americans. I am going to be a President for all Americans, and I am going to protect and defend all Americans. We are going to make America safe again and great again for everyone.

– Donald J. Trump

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Horowitz: Donald Trump’s Speech Is a Game Changer

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Obama: ‘We’ are to blame, not Islamic terrorism, for massacre

Newt Gingrich to Gay Movement: Islamic Supremacy Is Your ‘Mortal Enemy’

Meet the Clinton insiders who attended Bilderberg this weekend

If you aren’t an Islamophobe today you are very naive

Has ISIS Infiltrated Homeland Security? Orlando Terrorist Worked for Major DHS Contractor

GAO Revelations: Our Open Door For Terrorists

EDITORS NOTE: The Counter Jihad Report published the following:

Officials say Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, an Afghan-American who held two firearms licenses and a security officer license, was employed by the security firm G4S Secure Solutions USA Inc. since Sept. 10, 2007. The Jupiter, Fla.-based company merged with the Wackenhut Corp. after 9/11 and assumed federal contracts.

“G4S supports the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (CPB), with its operations at the U.S. ­ Mexico border and with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to transport illegal immigrants in selected urban areas,” the company says in a brochure, titled “Providing Manpower Solutions for Government Services.”