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A Question Of Safety, The 'Ugly Mug' prom Saturday July 17th

queer bashing and police neglect and the compromies of 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 with physical 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.
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.
Safety Now...

--April Anthony
pinkishxpoiple (at) hotmail.com
age 21, UC Santa Cruz undergraduate Senior, Modern Literature Major
 
 


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Comments

Re: A Question Of Safety, The 'Ugly Mug' prom Saturday July 17th

i definetly agree, thats horrible what those people did. Change is hard to come by these days with so many people scared of so many potential consequenses. Slowly but surely, we will all be free...
 

Re: A Question Of Safety, The 'Ugly Mug' prom Saturday July 17th

Perhaps you should approach the Ugly Mug and ask if they would allow a facilitated discussion on the subject and allow people who were there (and all) to voice their experience like you have. It might be the beginning of a stronger and more aware community that can stand together even better. It could be the small beginning of something really productive. If you hadn't posted this I would not have known it happened. There are probably thousands more in our community who have similar experiences and would like to discuss it. Maybe invite a panel of people with experience in this issue(s).
 

Re: A Question Of Safety, The 'Ugly Mug' prom Saturday July 17th

comment response
heyy, i think that makes alot of sense Dave. Also i wanted to clarify that the two of my friends that were pepper sprayed were sprayed by someone from a passing car and not the police. And that it seemed as though it took about 20 for the police to show up when the surrounding neighbroohds around the Ugly Mug seemed extremely quiet and inactive.
 

Re: A Question Of Safety, The 'Ugly Mug' prom Saturday July 17th

Why were your friends pepper sprayed? Maliciously? or were the ppl in the car frightened by someone approaching them at night?
 

Re: A Question Of Safety, The 'Ugly Mug' prom Saturday July 17th

comment
it seemed to be the drivers first reaction accordig to my friend, i don't believe it was out of fear it seemed more malicious than anything else...
 

Re: A Question Of Safety, The 'Ugly Mug' prom Saturday July 17th

Perhaps something else was up at the time, I somehow doubt the police decided to delay their response because it was a queer event the disturbance was occuring at.

Odds are the police are too slow to respond to all calls, or they were merely overtaxed at that specific moment...
 

Re: A Question Of Safety, The 'Ugly Mug' prom Saturday July 17th

I'm also glad that you posted this article, Helen, else I wouldn't have been aware of this incident, either. I suggest that when people are subjected to this kind of abuse, it's especially important to bring it to the attention of the community in public, open forums and outlets such as IMC-SC.
Everyone has the right to be safe from this kind of harrassment and threat, regardless of identity.
 

Re: A Question Of Safety, The 'Ugly Mug' prom Saturday July 17th

I am the proprietor of the Ugly Mug and I was there the night of the Ugly Prom. I am really glad that no one was seriously hurt -- I was glad that there were many people to help subdue the two men (and that there was only two of them) -- I felt that the situation was handled as best as we could do. After the fight and the pepper spray I was really bummed about our ‘accepting community.’

I believe that the pepper spraying was, at first, a response from a passing car to subdue the "drunken brawl" in the street, as it might have looked like that to someone in the safety of their car. But then the person sprayed at least 3 women who were asking them to STOP SPRAYING. This person might have thought they were helping at first, and then got in way over their head too quickly, leading to panic. Think of the type of person pepper spray is marketed to.

The police seemed overtaxed. When they did finally arrive on scene they showed up 6 cars strong. They Immediately cuffed the 2 drunken men, then tried to figure out what went on. They left with the intent of booking them as drunk and disorderly. The police left saying that no one wanted to press charges. Whether it was from lack of asking or from shock that no one pressed charges, I do not know. The police did not ask me if I wanted to press charges.

I would be open to a discussion on some night as those present need to talk about it and as it happened in our community. The Mug would be an appropriate place.
 

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