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Miami Beach Settles Gay Arrest Case

Miami Beach Settles Gay Arrest Case


The city of Miami Beach, Fla., has settled a federal lawsuit brought by a gay man arrested for calling 911 after he observed two police officers beating a man on the ground near Flamingo Park.

In 2009, Harold Strickland was arrested after he had called to report two undercover officers kicking a handcuffed Hispanic man in a parking lot adjacent to the park. The officers used antigay epithets toward Strickland, according to state attorney's documents, after he was arrested on unfounded charges of loitering and prowling.

"For years, the ACLU has received reports about two systemic problems with the Miami Beach police: the harassment of gay men in and around Flamingo Park, and the retaliation against persons reporting police misconduct," American Civil Liberties Union of Florida LGBT staff attorney Shelbi Day said in a Monday statement. "We are hopeful that this settlement marks a turning point for the city of Miami Beach in seriously addressing these chronic problems."

As a result of the $75,000 settlement with Strickland, the Miami Beach Police Department will also expressly forbid "improperly prohibiting or punishing a citizen from observing, documenting, or reporting a police officer's conduct [that] violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution" as part of its training instructions.

The two officers involved in the arrest were fired last week. Their attorney, Gene Gibbons, toldTheMiami Herald that his clients had been "railroaded" by the city and that they had been dispatched to the park following neighbors' complaints of public sex.

Read more here.

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