Wednesday, February 20, 2013

DC Police: No Files on Gay Pioneer Frank Kameny

My friend Deacon Maccubbin, the founder of DC's now-defunct gay bookstore Lambda Rising, suggested I make a FOIA request to the Metropolitan Police Department for any records on the late gay icon and pioneer Frank Kameny.

I was getting nowhere with the FBI and potential Kameny papers in their archive, when Deacon reminded me the MPD worked closely with federal agencies when Kameny protested at the White House, Pentagon and State Department.

The MPD's public information officer Lisa Archie-Mills yesterday replied to my request, informing me a search had proved basically fruitless. MPD's full response is here.

Please be advised a comprehensive search for records conducted by the Corporate Support Bureau, Records Branch of the MPD, yielded negative results. In addition, a comprehensive search for records conducted by the Investigative Services Bureau, Special Liaison Division, located a one-page document consisting of an email which is attached. An Incident-Based Event Report, is also attached to correspond with the information contained in the attached e-mail.

That email is worth quoting:

The complainant, 86 year old Frank Kameny, was found by his house mate to be unconscious and not breathing. The board responded and found no signs consistent with life. Nothing appeared to be suspicious regarding his death and he was transported to the OCME to be pronounced.

Knowing first-hand how Kameny was a master logical thinker, I believe he would note the impossibility of a dead person being a complainant, considering they're not breathing. When Kerry Elevald was a reporter for the Advocate and Kameny was very much alive and still kicking, she claimed he had died and of AIDS. Neither was true, and I'm paraphrasing here, Kameny good-naturedly asked if there was a date given for his alleged death!
(Kameny delivering a letter to the White House in 1965. Credit: Kay Tobin Lahusen, New York Public Library.)

I find it beyond comprehension that the FBI contends it has no records whatsoever on Kameny, a proud gay activist who stood up to government homophobia countless times from the Cold War up to his death. Recently, I submitted new details to the FBI regarding Kameny's interactions with the agency and requested further searching.

We now have the MPD in the same company as the FBI, maintaining there's nothing of relevance in the archive. Either record-keeping at the FBI and MPD was incredibly shoddy regarding Kameny's public activism, or files have been misplaced or destroyed.

Do you really believe there are no surveillance records on Kameny?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds virtually impossible to me. Unless they shredded them. Frank was on so many picket lines, signed so many petitions, and was generally so visible in movement activities in D.C. that it strains the imagination to think that neither D.C. nor federal law enforcement would have anything on him in their files.