1/27/2009

A Return to the 50's?

Once upon a time it was common practice for police to raid gay bars. It was meant to keep gays in their place and remind them of their status as people with absolutely no rights. The bars would be raided, people arrested and forced into jail for a day or two and then eventually the charges would be dropped.

The idea back then wasn't prosecution of homosexuality but rather reminding gays who was in charge and letting them know that their lives were subject to the whims of straights.

Suddenly here in my own neighborhood it looks like the 50's all over again.

From the Tucson Observer:


Woody's, located at 3710 North Oracle Road is in an area zoned by the City of Tucson as C-2, a commercial zone in which one finds food and beverage services. C-2 zoning does not allow for Apartments, Traveler accommodations yes, but not Apartments. No record exists showing that the Laurence Court Apartments, owned by Laurence W. and Mary Vicks Currie of Sedona for the past 15 years, were ever grandfathered nor given any variance which would allow them to continue operation of this very low rent apartment property at its address.

3 years ago, Laurence Court Apartments, directly North of Woody's, brought in a new manager, Linda Diane Howeth. Prior to this Woody's had had not one problem. Upon Mrs. Howeth's arrival noise complaints started being made to Tucson Police. Prior to this neither Joe and Vicky's (directly to the South of Woody's) nor Woody's itself had ANY noise complaints. Several patrons of Woody's who lived at Laurence Court Apartments have stated that Linda Howeth has questioned them about hanging out with "those kinds of people" (gays and lesbians) and made several off color comments both about Woody's and it's customers. After Mrs. Howeth took over management, beer bottles, rocks and firecrackers started, at times to fly over the roof or the Apartments and into Woody's parking lot (no damage being done). During these incidents, TPD refused to act on attempts to file complaints and manager Linda Howeth has denied the events have happened.

Earlier this year, following another noise complaint made by the swell manager at Laurence Court, a TPD officer by the name of Pena showed up at Woody's and ARRESTED Dave Huff. On a noise violation. Charges were dismissed and Dave released the next day. A week later Officer Pena again showed up at Woody's and this time arrested the entire staff (minus Dave). Again charges were dismissed. Begin vendetta.

This brings us up to the present. About 5 months ago, during an early evening wine tasting, two Tucson Police officers (one being Officer Pena) showed up due to another noise complaint (wine tastings being loud and rowdy events) from Laurence Court Apts. The bar manager was called, Jeff, who, minutes later arrived at the bar for his regular shift. Upon arriving Jeff was cited for an "unruly event" despite the fact that he had not even been there. The lead Officer then charged Woody's separately with unruly gathering and Officer Pena informed this officer that she recommended red tagging and told him how to go about doing it. Now, an interesting thing. Only one other bar has been red tagged in Tucson in the past 15 years. The bar which was red tagged was in the middle of a residential neighborhood in the U of A area. Red tagging is reserved for bars which have a long history of trouble and a serious list of offenses, something that Woody's had not. Woody's had no criminal or trouble complaints and was yet "red tagged". Officer Pena was quoted as saying that she was not the call officer but simply the back up.

Currently, there is a hearing pending for the bar's continued existence. It is a sorry state of affairs when an illegally constructed apartment complex staffed by a homophobic woman is allowed to shut down a neighborhood bar, have patrons and staff arrested, and even engage in vandalism and terrorist acts against peaceable people.

If you're in the Tucson area and would like to lend your support please be at the Tucson City Court at 103 E. Alameda Room 9 at 8:30 am on January 29.

Note: In the photo above that's a TPD Officer shutting down a peaceful and lawful protest for the group "Food Not Bombs". Our tax dollars at work... well at work for certain special interest conservatives.
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