Op-ed: How Many Black Boys Must Die Before We Prosecute Ed Buck?

Ed Buck

The death of yet another Black man in the West Hollywood home of LGBTQ activist and prominent Democratic donor Ed Buck is on the hands of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department and District Attorney because it didn’t have to happen. Ed Buck should have been behind bars for the death of the first man who died in his house of an overdose.

In July 2017, 26-year-old Gemmel Moore died of a crystal meth overdose in Ed Buck’s apartment.  Moore was Black, gay, homeless and sometimes worked as a sex worker — so of course the police immediately deemed it an open and shut case of an accidental overdose.

But after Moore’s personal journal was published and other young men stepped forward recounting similar stories about Ed Buck. They've said he has a Tuskegee Experiment-like fetish which includes shooting drugs into young Black men who he picks up off the street or via dating hookup websites. Their warnings forced the sheriff’s department to finally open a homicide investigation.

You’d think this was the plot to the sequel of Jordan Peele’s film Get Out if it wasn’t true.
In his journal, Moore wrote, “I honestly don’t know what to do. I’ve become addicted to drugs and the worst one at that,” a December 2016 entry reads. “Ed Buck is the one to thank. He gave me my first injection of crystal meth it was very painful, but after all the troubles, I became addicted to the pain and fetish/fantasy.”

“My life is at an alltime [sic] high right now & I mean that from all ways. I ended up back at Buck [sic] house again and got munipulated [sic] into slamming again. I even went to the point where I was forced to doing 4 within a 2day [sic] period. This man is crazy and its [sic] sad. Will I ever get help?”

His last entry, dated December 3, 2016, reads: “If it didn’t hurt so bad, I’d kill myself but I’ll let Ed Buck do it for now.”

A coroner’s report described that there were, “24 syringes with brown residue, five glass pipes with white residue and burn marks, a plastic straw with possible white residue, clear plastic bags with white powdery residue and a clear plastic bag with a ‘piece of crystal-like substance,” on the night that Moore died.

Buck has since been accused by numerous young Black gay men of being a sexual predator, kidnapping, forced drug use, injecting them while unconscious with crystal meth, filing false police reports to cover his crimes, coercion, and pimping and pandering by multiple victims.

For two years we worked to bring forth witness after witness who told authorities about Ed Buck and how he uses the internet to stalk and prey on young, Black gay men who are usually homeless, HIV-positive, and often work as male escorts.

No one listened to them.

We repeatedly told the Sheriff’s Department and the District Attorney’s office that if Buck wasn’t stopped, that another man was going to end up dead in his apartment. Now, in the light of another death in Buck's apartment, a lieutenant finally told reporters the deaths are "suspicious." 

Regrettably, six months later almost to the day and just days before what would have been Gemmel Moore’s 28th birthday, another body of a Black man has been removed from Buck’s apartment under equally suspicious circumstances.

And just like in 2017, Buck has not been detained, arrested or has criminal charges filed against him opening up the possibility that there could be a third dead body in the near future.

Had Buck been arrested, prosecuted, and sentenced for Moore's death, chances are he would not have been around for anyone else to “die” in his apartment.

Dr. Conrad Murray (Michael Jackson) and Cathy Smith (John Belushi) are proof that there’s a precedent in fairly similar circumstances.

The exploitation and manipulation of vulnerable young Black gay, bisexual, trans, and queer men who are largely seen as expendable by privileged, white male predators must stop.  

And while the white LGBTQ+ community was quick to come for Kevin Hart’s Oscar hosting job over his past homophobic comments, the reaction hasn’t been the same in condemning one of their own and his dead Black body problem.

As a Black woman, I know that if the roles were reversed, Gemmel Moore would not have benefited from the color of his skin, his years of political donations and relationships with politicians. His word on what happened would not have been enough for the police. Gemmel or any other Black man who had a dead white man who overdosed on drugs in his apartment would have been met with: do not pass go, do not collect $200, go straight to jail.

Criminal justice reform isn’t only about police killing unarmed Black men and women.  It’s about changing an entire system that doesn’t value the lives of Blacks whether we’re the suspect or the victim.

Arrest Ed Buck.  Prosecute Ed Buck. Let a jury convict Ed Buck.


JASMYNE CANNICK is a political strategist and journalist.  Follow her on Twitter @Jasmyne and Facebook @JasmyneCannick.

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