News Briefs 

SAPD rape allegation, Minutemen protest, loud and proud, and the House Appropriations committee set to put Big Bird on the chopping block

Transexual rape allegation on SAPD back burner

Two weeks after a transgendered man was allegedly raped by a San Antonio Police Officer, SAPD's Community Liaison for GLBT issues hasn't investigated the complaint.

Captain Larry Birney, who with much fanfare was named to the post last fall as a sign SAPD was becoming sensitive to GLBT issues, told the Current he was unaware of the status of the case; nor had he seen the police report. "I really don't know," Birney said. "I probably should, but I don't."

According to an SAPD incident report, an officer approached the alleged victim at a bus stop at 10:30 p.m. on June 10, asking if he had any outstanding warrants. The man replied he had one warrant and the officer reportedly told him to "get in the car or go to jail." After the man got in the front seat, the officer allegedly took him to an abandoned parking lot and demanded that the man perform oral sex on him. The man told police the officer also punched him in the face, hit him with his duty stick, pulled his hair, and then raped him.

The report stated the officer drove the man to another location, ordered him out of the car, and then drove away. The man was examined and treated at a local hospital.

SAPD said the medical examiner was still evaluating evidence; the officer has been placed on desk duty pending the conclusion of the investigation. As for Birney, he said no one from the community has called his office about the alleged incident. "Sometimes they call me, sometimes they don't."

- Lisa Sorg


Minutemen to patrol Texas-Mexico border

"Hey Hey, Ho Ho. Racist Minutemen have got to go," chanted about 10 representatives from the Southwest Workers Union in front of the Federal Building. The SWU organized the June 21 protest in response to the Minutemen, a volunteer group that patrols the Mexico border to thwart the crossing of illegal immigrants. The group is setting up a post in Goliad, about an hour southeast of San Antonio.

Headquartered in Arizona, the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps caught the nation's attention in April for helping to apprehend 335 illegal immigrants by stationing volunteers along the Arizona-Mexico border, according to the group. But when the Minutemen arrived in Texas, they met opposition from local activists who dubbed them "racist KKK-like militants," adding that "like Hitler, they must be stopped."

At the protest, SWU members demanded that the Texas Legislature stop the "vigilante" Minutemen. Governor Rick Perry has stated he disapproves of the Minutemen, saying that border patrol is the responsibility of the federal government. But Perry noted that he cannot ban people from legal activity and refused to add his name to a resolution signed by 11 state senators to officially oppose the civilian patrol group.

The Minutemen are also calling for government aid.

"We demand that President Bush, members of Congress, and the Senate maintain an orderly queue of entry into our country," said Minutemen Project organizer Chris Simcox on the website minutemenhq.com. "We are three years post-September 11, 2001, and still our government is more concerned with securing the borders of foreign land than securing the borders of the United States."

The Minutemen, named after patriot fighters during the American Revolution, say they operate on a strict policy of alerting the border patrol of suspicious behavior rather than detaining persons crossing the border.

"If we are to send the message loud and clear to President Bush and Congress, it is imperative that we stay within the law," Simcox said. "If one single individual steps over the line for their personal gratification, we are all stained with that irresponsible behavior."

However, the SWU remains wary of the Minutemen's agenda, saying that the group's presence on the border only amplifies the possibility of violence.

"We're going to face them," said SWU member Ruben Solis. "We'll take care of them - with hand-to-hand-combat if necessary."

Protesters waved signs saying "Stop Migrant Lynching" and "Minutemen, Don't Mess with Texas." Robert Alvarado, a member of the Brown Berets, a late '60s and early '70s Chicano activist group, warned that while his group may not be active now, "all we need is a phone call. Hopefully, it won't come to that."

A Pew Hispanic Center study released this month revealed that Texas is the only traditional destination state to increase its illegal immigrant population since 1990. Percentages decreased or remained the same in California, New York, Florida, Illinois, and New Jersey. Texas, which has the second-largest illegal immigrant population next to California, showed a 3 percent increase.

The Minutemen are expected to start patrolling the Texas-Mexico border in October.

- Heather Holmes


Loud and proud

San Antonio's Gay Pride SA 2005 happens July 3 with a parade and block party. The parade runs north on Main Avenue from Maple Street to Dewey Place. At a recent planning meeting, We Are Alive President Fran Mendez pointed out that San Antonio is the eighth-largest city in the United States but has one of the smallest gay pride events in the nation.

The block party begins at 3 p.m. and is scheduled to end at 11 p.m. Booths selling food, games, beer, soft drinks, and offering information for the gay community will line Main Avenue. An outdoor show starts at 7 p.m. with live entertainment provided by the nearby clubs and music by DJ Live Wire.

Admission to the event is free, but prices will vary for food, beverages, and games. For more information on Gay Pride SA 2005, contact Alfonso Garcia at The Saint at 225-7330.

- Chris Perez


This program brought to you by the letters C, P, and B

Imagine the end of sunny days sweeping your clouds away. Imagine the demise of the Count von Count, the Cookie Monster, and Big Bird.

Children's educational shows such as Sesame Street, Reading Rainbow, and other public-broadcasting programs were on the chopping block last week, as the House Appropriations committee had proposed cutting $220 million from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which partially funds public radio and television. The funding cuts would have affected the Public Broadcasting System, National Public Radio, and local media affiliates including TV station KLRN.

Yet, on June 23, the House voted 284-140 to restore $100 million in federal funding; 87 Republicans joined 196 Democrats and one independent in fully funding the FY 2006 Corporation for Public Broadcasting budget at $400 million.

U.S. Representative Henry Cuellar (D-San Antonio) voted for the funding restoration. "This demonstrates the power of people coming forth to have their voices heard," said Cuellar. "It sends a strong message that people value the independent voices of public broadcasting."

U.S. Representative Lamar Smith (R-San Antonio) voted against the amendment. "The first vote concerning the CPB was on an amendment to the Labor/HHS appropriations bill to increase funds for the program," said Smith in an e-mail statement. "But in order to increase those funds, the same amount had to be cut from programs at the Departments of Education and Labor, which I felt were important."

The federal government spends about $1.30 a year per capita for public broadcasting.

Funding cuts could still be included as part of a larger spending bill for health, education, and labor programs that must be passed by the full House and Senate. The House also did not restore funding for the Ready To Learn program, which provides crucial support for PBS children's shows. The Senate vote on the spending bill is scheduled for July 14.

"It's unbelievable to me and unfortunate that some members in Congress support cutting $100 million - a full quarter of the annual budget - from the CPB," said U.S. Representative Charlie Gonzalez (D-San Antonio) in a prepared statement. "Eliminating funds for public television programs like Ready To Learn and Ready To Teach will hurt our nation's teachers and children the most."

- Nicole Chavez


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