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Readers React: Long Beach’s sad history of targeting gay men for arrest

To the editor: Your article about the reversal of the conviction of a man arrested in a sting operation by a Long Beach police vice squad awakened memories of the same tactics used by that police department several decades ago. (“Judge slams gay sex stings by Long Beach police, calling them discriminatory,” April 29)

As a young lawyer, I defended a man who was a well-respected English teacher in Long Beach. He was arrested for soliciting a lewd act with a young, handsome member of the vice squad who was assigned to ensnare and apprehend homosexual men.

My client could not deny the truth of the charge, and he entered a plea of guilty, which the judge reduced to a misdemeanor by sentence, imposed a minimum fine and ordered the conviction set aside. The school district terminated the man, who left the area. I never heard from him again.

It is with regret that I read that the Long Beach Police Department is continuing to engage in the same reprehensible and unconstitutional conduct. My thanks go out to attorney Bruce Nickerson for obtaining the dismissal of the conviction of his client, and to Superior Court Judge Halim Dhanidina for his courage in invalidating that conviction.

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Samuel Salmon, Long Beach

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To the editor: The city of Long Beach has one of the largest gay populations in the state, so I was shocked to read that its police department has apparently been engaging in discriminatory conduct toward gay men by employing vice officers to entrap them in restroom sting operations.

As a longtime resident of the city, I strongly object to the waste of taxpayer funds in the pursuit of this victimless “crime.” The fact that those convicted are required to register as sex offenders is particularly appalling.

Mayor Robert Garcia should have made himself available for comment for this article. His failure to do so is unacceptable.

Marcia Goodman, Long Beach

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