WEST HOLLYWOOD — Activists and supporters demanding a deeper inquiry into the death of Gemmel Moore gathered at a public meeting at Plummer Park Oct. 21, to receive a briefing on the ongoing investigation.
Moore, 26, was found dead July 27 of a methamphetamine overdose at the West Hollywood home of Ed Buck, 63, a wealthy white businessman and prominent Democratic Party donor. The coroner ruled Moore’s death was an accidental overdose.
At the time of his death, Moore worked as a gay male escort. Since his death, many gay black men have come forward with allegations that Buck coerced them into taking the highly addictive methamphetamine and at times injecting them with the drug without their consent.
According to Buck’s accusers, he specifically targets young black gay men who he feels are vulnerable to experiment with drug use. Some of the alleged victims said that they would pass out from the drugs and wake up with needle injections.
Based on excerpts from Moore’s journal, which stated Buck’s role in his addiction to methamphetamine and the statements from other black men who knew Buck, the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station launched an investigation, but have yet to bring any formal charges against Buck.
Civil rights attorney Nana Gyamfi compared the slow progress of the Moore investigation to the immediate repercussion received from the sexual assault allegations made by actresses against movie producer Harvey Weinstein.
“We’re asking them to treat Gemmel Moore like he is a rich white heterosexual woman,” Gyamfi said. “If they do what they do for the white women, we know that we will get justice.”
Unlike Weinstein’s accusers, Gyamfi says the men making accusations against Buck have not only provided verbal testimonies, but evidence such as text messages, photos and emails. Many of these men are gay escorts and Buck was their client.
After a recent meeting with law enforcement officials, Gyamfi concluded that the investigation is at a standstill. “They are dragging their feet,” Gyamfi said. “We have no idea what they’re waiting on.”
Social and political activist Jasmyne Cannick has been working with Moore’s mother, LaTisha Nixon to bring public attention to Buck’s connection with Moore’s death. She provided an update on the media’s treatment of the investigation.
Cannick also referred to the Weinstein scenario, contrasting the media coverage of sexual assault allegations against him with the coverage of allegations against Buck.
“The story isn’t more high profile because the media is scared Ed Buck is going to sue them,” Cannick said. “They’re scared in a way that they’re not scared of Harvey Weinstein suing them.”
She also pointed to the media’s double standard when it comes to reporting on the Moore’s overdose. Some former gay escorts or sex workers accusing Buck of injecting them with meth would rather not have their identities revealed.
Cannick complained that while some of Weinstein’s accusers have been able to remain anonymous, mainstream media outlets interviewing Buck’s alleged victims have shelved recorded interview segments where their identities are hidden.
“Ed Buck’s victims have to be willing to out themselves,” Cannick said. “Say who they are, what they engaged in for those editors and producers to take them seriously. It’s not right and it’s not fair.”
Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors and Hussein Turk, attorney for the Los Angeles HIV Law Policy Project, spoke about the role being a young gay black escort has played in the lack of progress in the investigation of Moore’s death.
“It has everything to do with the person that died,” Cullors said. “Gemmel being a black man. If the tables were turned — if a young white man was found dead in the home of an older black man and there were drugs involved — trust and believe someone would have been arrested. It’s our work as a community to bring this story to light.”
Turk described himself as “HIV positive, queer, Muslim and Pakistani.” He was also a former sex worker addicted to meth.
Turk recalled many of his clients as “older wealthy professional attractive white men.” He stated that the “politics of respectability” was untrue and unjust.
“All black lives matter,” Turk said. “Not just the respectable ones.”
At the end of the briefing, LaTisha Nixon thanked the supporters and urged everyone to spread the word about Gemmel’s death.
“The reason I’m coming forward is I don’t want any more Gemmels,” Nixon said. “Ed Buck is a predator and he needs to be exposed.”
For updates and more information on the Gemmel Moore investigation, visit justice4gemmel.com.