By Advocate Contributors

Originally published on Advocate.com January 13 2010 11:00 AM ET

Gay Chicago is presenting a united front in a battle against a police officer accused of targeting gays.

There are 37 plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Richard Fiorito, an officer whose district includes Chicago’s gayest neighborhood, Lakeview. The suit alleges Fiorito pulled over motorists near gay bars and arrested them for drunk driving and other violations they didn’t commit, meanwhile subjecting them to physical and verbal abuse, often including slurs like “faggot” and “dyke.”

In the wake of what local activist Andy Thayer calls “a ton of community pressure,” late last year Fiorito was placed on desk duty pending the suit’s outcome, and the Cook County state’s attorney quit using him as a witness. Among his motivations in making arrests, according to the suit, is the overtime he received for testifying in court. He made 313 DUI arrests between January 2007 and June 2008.

In addition to complaints from those arrested, evidence of false charges has come from the officer’s dashboard video camera, which recorded field sobriety tests that differed from Fiorito’s written reports. Lawyers for Fiorito and the city of Chicago, which is also named in the suit, did not return The Advocate’s calls seeking comment.