Marching with Mrs. Costanza

I went to the demonstration last night in West Hollywood, to protest Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley’s refusal to institute Hate Crimes charges against the trio of defendants who last month attacked several gay men — the most seriously injured being actor Treve Broudy. It was a nice, orderly affair, not at all in keeping with what I’ve been used to in political activism over the last three decades. A crowd of a few hundred heard speeches from various officials, pledging to keep up the pressure on Cooley — whose reluctance to prosecute pedophile priests or Cardinal Roger Mahoney, who aided and abetted their pedophilia and other forms of freelance clerical molestation — is well-known. His unwillingness to do his job stands in marked contrast to the professionals of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s department, who captured Torwin Sessions, Larry Walker and Vincent Dotson in relatively short order.

As someone who can remember when the police authorities were anything but friendly to the gay and lesbian community it was a refreshing shock to hear them praised at this mini-rally. Having closed off the streets for us, the sheriff’s department allowed the crowd to march about Santa Monica boulevard in a neat, well-mannered circle chanting “Hey, hey, Ho Ho — Steve Cooley had got to go!” and that old standby “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!” In our number I noticed a small, white-haired woman whose face was unmistakable. It was Estelle Harris — known to television-viewers everywhere as “Mrs. Costanza” — the shrill, perpetually upset mother of “George” (Jason Alexander). But tonight she was just another WeHo resident, marching along with her pet dog in her arms and her husband at her side. No other “celebrities” were present, but telegrams of support from Madonna, k.d. lang, and Morgan Fairchild were read. Reassuring I suppose. And we were also reassured that Cooley’s inaction would be countered by the actions of others in authority. Meanwhile, as reported by the Los Angeels Times (October 5, 2002) the perps in question have clearly taken a cue from Cooley in regard to their defense.

Torwin Sessions, 19, of Watts said he was driving a stolen car on Cynthia Street just off Santa Monica Boulevard the night of Sept. 2 when his two companions suddenly jumped out of the vehicle with a baseball bat.

“I heard the car doors slam … then I saw the dude fall down,” he said. “The two guys I was with got back in the car and just said, ‘Go!’ Everybody in the car was just hysterical and panicking.”

Sessions said he “didn’t know they were gay. That’s not why everything happened.”

He refused to elaborate.

In other words the “card” was “played” — he was just a “victim.” And so he will remain insofar as he’s disinclined to “elaborate.” The next “elaboration” you’ll hear will doubtless come from the Hate Crimes opposition, which always has the media floor.

Treve Broudy, meanwhile is reportedly in good spirits though the extent of the brain damage he has suffered has yet to be . . . elaborated.

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