More than 20 men were arrested last week in Houston’s Memorial Park and, according to long-time lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activitist Ray Hill, each was allegedly charged with solicitation of prostitution.
Hill claims that eight to 10 male vice officers were along the jogging trail in daylight dressed in Speedos and suggestive T-shirts and trying to beckon male joggers and walkers into the bushes.
“[My source] tells me that one of their shirts had what resembled a chrome penis on the back, and some of the other T-shirts looked to be gay pride affiliated,” Hill said in a story in OutSmart.
According to Hill, individuals who responded to the officers’ calls and followed them into the bushes were automatically presumed to be looking for a sexual encounter and were arrested.
“This was definitely a sting operation," said Hill, who noted that a second group of officers was possibly located by the men’s restrooms. "I’ve called it worse than that. It was literally seducing people into arrest.”
Hill said his source, who was one of the men arrested, was then held in a city jail for a day and half.
“We have a lesbian mayor, a ‘gay friendly’ police chief and a SCOTUS decision [Lawrence v. Texas] finding the law against homosexual conduct unconstitutional, yet these men had to post bond, were held an illegally long period of time in Houston City Jail, they must hire lawyers, defend against the charges, some will lose their jobs and make their family lives confusing at best,” Hill said.
The Houston Police Department conducted two similar stings in Memorial Park in 2006 — both of which Hill claimed unfairly targeted gay men — netting more than 30 arrests, according to Houstonist.