CruisingGay.com's Blog

September 20, 2009

Responding to Complaints, Police Step Up Park Patrols

Filed under: Gay Cruising — Tags: , , , , , , — cruisinggay.com @ 3:55 pm

BY STEPHEN BROPHY @ fenwaynews.blogspot.com

Residents of the West Fens have noticed an increased police presence in the Victory Gardens recently, mostly because they frequently saw a car sitting just inside the park with blue lights flashing. The police presence hasn’t so much increased as it has changed its form, according to Officer Joe Zanoli of the Boston Police Department’s District 4 Media Office.

IMG_0151“When the mounted patrols were discontinued earlier this year, some residents worried that their absence in the park might lead to an increase in some of the illegal activities that go on after dark,” he told The Fenway News. “I sat in on several meetings with concerned residents in which we assured them that we would use foot patrols, bikes and police cars to continue our surveillance of the area.”

The Victory Gardens have been a meeting place for gay men for many decades, and from time to time complaints about the public sex and the detritus left behind has risen to a crescendo. Given the widespread knowledge of the Gardens as a gay cruising site, the area has also been a magnet for anti-gay violence, especially during the summer months. Fenway Health has been tracking this violence for several years now. When contacted about the increased police presence, Fenway Health released the following statement:

“‘Fenway Health’s Violence Recovery Program is in regular contact with the Boston Police Department around issues that affect the LGBT community,’ said Kelcie Cooke, Coordinator of the Violence Recovery Program. ‘It is our understanding that the recent uptick in police activity in the Back Bay Fens is the result of increased reports of violence and vandalism and is intended to enhance the safety of those who use the park. We continue to maintain open communications with the police to help ensure that everyone who uses our public parks can do so without the fear of harassment or assault.”

In a possibly related development, more than 40 gardens were vandalized on August 23, with their gates being bashed in, fence posts uprooted, and fence wiring destroyed with wire cutters. While no one has yet been identifed or charged with this destruction, some gardeners theorize that it might be a sort of retaliation for the increased police visibility.

A version of this article was published in the September 2009 Fenway News.

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