A Manhattan gay
man's conviction on lewd behavior was overturned by a New
Jersey appeals court Monday, prompting a gay rights advocate
to call for an investigation of police procedure.
himself to a plainclothes officer, Joseph Mamone was
arrested on June 9, 2004, at New Jersey's Palisades
Interstate Park. Mamone claimed he went to the
park--which is known as a heavy cruising
area--simply to have lunch but that park officer
Thomas Rossi made his interest in Mamone
clear and suggested they walk to a shaded area.
Mamone testified that Rossi asked him, "What are you
into?" and told him "to take it out" before Rossi
exposed himself and was subsequently arrested.
The gay rights
organization Garden State Equality has complained that the
park unfairly targets "men they perceive to be gay" in their
"The issue is not
lewd behavior, which we positively do not condone,"
Garden State Equality's Steven Goldstein told The
[Newark] Star-Ledger. "The issue here is disparate
treatment. The problem is that the Palisades Park police
have gone out of their way to bait gay people in a way
they have not baited straight people. Without doubt,
my organization is going to call for a public inquiry
and possible charges with regard to the police officer."
Rossi was not
allowed to speak to the press, but Det. Nelson Pagan, a
spokesman for the Palisades Interstate Park Police, told the
Star-Ledger, "We do not pick on gays. We go up
there and enforce the law on deviant acts."
conviction was upheld by two courts before the appeals court
ruled in his favor. (The Advocate)