LA Gay and Lesbian Center Upset Over Mugshots

The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center are outraged over CBS2/KCAL9’s decision to post and broadcast names and mug shots of the 18 men that were arrested during an undercover sex sting operation in Manhattan Beach.

“It’s shocking that any news operation, but especially an affiliate of a major network like CBS, would choose to publish the mug shots, names and birthdates of people charged with victimless crimes, simply because the charges are salacious or related to gay sex,” chief of staff Darrel Cummings said in the statement. “Publishing their photos serves no purpose other than to humiliate and destroy their lives. We call on KCBS/KCAL to immediately remove the images and names from their website.”

In addition to CBS2/KCAL9, the Daily News, ABC7, and LA Weekly also decided to run the mugshots.

One would think the outrage would be directed towards the Manhattan Beach Police Department for creating a PDF of the 18 men that were booked on charges ranging from utilizing a peephole in a restroom to soliciting/engaging in lewd conduct in a public place.

LA Weekly‘s Simone Wilson received an email from communications manager Stevie St. John on that very topic:

“Although we’re told it is the Manhattan Beach Police Department’s standard practice to include mug shots any time they issue a news release about an arrest, it is not standard practice or acceptable for media to share photos of people who are charged with victimless crimes such as loitering or engaging in lewd conduct in a public place.

The Center called out KCBS/KCAL specifically because we would expect them, as an otherwise responsible news station, to adhere to professional standards. The consequences of being ‘outed’ or perceived as gay in such a homophobic society are very real. The publication of these photos serves no purpose other than to embarrass them, and has the potential to destroy their lives. It’s not even clear from the KCBS/KCAL website what specific charges have been leveled against each and none have yet to be proven guilty.”

I understand both arguments in this situation. Something tells me of the 18 men that were arrested, one-two just happened to be in the wrong bathroom at the wrong time.

If I were in their shoes, I wouldn’t exactly want that mug shot to be the first thing that comes up in Google Images.