Frankie Brown, 47, claims that Markham police allegedly broke into his home, harassed him and publicly humiliated him while making anti-gay comments and revealing his HIV status to his neighbors.
According to the suit, on May 31, several plain-clothed cops forced their way into Brown’s home, guns drawn. Brown was allegedly forced onto his stomach, handcuffed and “slammed” into a chair.
Police had a warrant to search Brown’s home for drugs.
The suit claims officers made anti-gay statements towards Brown, such as “I’ll sleep better tonight knowing there is one less fag on the street.”
The handcuffed Brown was eventually placed on a chair in his front doorway, according to the suit.
“I saw all my neighbors looking at me from the sidewalk,” Brown told Windy City Times.
Officers allegedly rummaged through Brown’s home and found a photograph of his family and friend, as well as pornographic videos, both of which they displayed to his neighbors outside.
Brown said he became embarrassed and tried to turn his head, so cops allegedly placed him in front of his home and shined a spotlight on him. The suit claims Brown was kept outside in this manner for “well over an hour.”
Brown’s 19-year-old nephew and legal ward came home, and was immediately harassed by the police, the suit claims. Brown said that the police allegedly harassed his nephew, and insinuated that the two had a sexual relationship.
“He’s shocked, hurt [ and ] embarrassed,” Brown said. Brown, now retired, has been caring for his nephew since he was an infant.
Having discovered HIV medications in Brown’s home during their search, police allegedly told neighbors and Brown’s nephew that he is HIV positive. Brown said that he has never revealed this fact to anyone before. He also added that he was not out prior to the alleged bashing.
“I lived a nice, quiet life,” Brown said. “Now, it’s not a nice and quiet life. Anything but quiet.”
Brown said he has become withdrawn since the incident, particularly because he frequently sees Markham officers in his neighborhood. “I’m a prisoner in my own home,” he said.
According to the suit, Brown was eventually taken to the police station. It claims that officers also stole $150 from Brown’s home. Brown said he was forced to sign a statement that he would cooperate with police as an informant. After 17 hours, he was released without being charged.
When asked how his neighbors have responded, Brown said that they have been very supportive. “They are still mad,” Brown said.
Brown told Windy City Times that his experience is just one example of a pattern of harassment by Markham police throughout the years, adding that his sister, a Markham resident, has also been harassed.
“They weren’t breaking me down,” he said. “They were making me sicker and sicker and sicker with every word.”
“It’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said Gay Liberation Network’s Andy Thayer, who also works for Brown’s attorneys. “They took the opportunity to say anything they wanted. … This was a prolonged thing; an incessant campaign where they were trying to break him down and humiliate him in front of all of his neighbors.”
Attorneys Jon Loevy and Matt Jenkins, of the civil-rights firm Loevy and Loevy, are representing Brown.