Op-Ed: Ed Buck Is A Product Of The Systems That Enabled Him

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Late Tuesday (Sept. 17) evening, news broke that Ed Buck, a prominent donor to the Democratic Party, had been arrested on charges including “battery causing serious injury, administering methamphetamine, and maintaining a drug house” following the near overdose of a man currently called Joe Doe. 

Had this man died, it would have been the third death in the home of Buck, who has avoided prosecution following the deaths of two Black gay men, one in 2017 and one in early 2019

Buck has become a shining example of how anti-Blackness, vulnerable victims, homophobia and whiteness meet at a dangerous intersection.

Buck first made headlines in July of 2017 when a 26-year-old Black gay man named Gemmel Moore was found dead in his home of a meth-induced overdose. The story started out as local news before activist and journalist Jasmyne Cannick fought to make the story national news. 

Following pressure from social media, LA prosecutors finally opened an investigation into Buck, eventually not charging him with a crime. 

Nearly 18 months later, a second Black gay man named Timothy Dean was also found dead in his home of a meth overdose. Once again, LA prosecutors refused to investigate despite growing media attention, leaving many in the Black LGBTQ community wondering what it would take for Buck to ever be held accountable.

Although Buck has finally been arrested, many are still skeptical, with just cause, as to whether this will lead to actual jail time. We have seen those who harm the Black body never face consequences for their actions long after the time they should have been held accountable.

Look no further than the death of Eric Garner, killed on camera by Officer Panteleo, who was able to keep his job for nearly five years before finally being removed from the police force. 

Buck’s whiteness, wealth and proximity to power has protected him thus far, and there is no indication that it will not continue to work in his favor. 

A system can’t fail people it was never meant to protect, and the case of Ed Buck is proof that there is no justice for Black victims. 

Although many will write off this story as simple fetishization of the Black gay body from a gay White man with power, there are several systems at play to create this perfect storm that allows Buck to not only find these victims, but harm them with impunity. 

Many of Buck’s victims experienced poverty, homelessness and addiction — circumstances that made them vulnerable to Buck. Buck was known for fetishizing Black gay men and picking them up around the Hollywood area, bringing them to his home and injecting them with methamphetamines, then having his way with them for sexual gratification. 

It was easy to attack the victim in these cases because many associate homosexuality with sexual deviance and hypersexuality, lessening the public outrage at the loss of gay Black lives. 

Ed Buck doesn’t just exist in a vacuum. The system is just as accountable for creating men like Ed Buck. 

Although Buck is considered to be part of the marginalized LGBTQ community as a whole, his Whiteness allows him to navigate spaces and wield power over those in the Black LGBTQ community — as racism and anti-Blackness exists in our shared “safe spaces.”

Buck’s ties to powerful political candidates and prominence in the community allowed him to not be seen as a predator, but more as a conduit for bad actions that these victims would have done whether Buck was present or not. Victim blaming is a tool used often by those in power in an effort to show how people bring harm unto themselves and absolve accountability. 

The root causes that create Black victims must be addressed. Black LGBTQ people experience homelessness and face poverty at very high rates. This makes people from this community targets for those with power and money. 

These victims are trying to find a way out of no way and are more inclined to participate in the use if it provides money and a place to stay. It’s easy to look at the symptoms, but it’s hard to look at the set of conditions created by White others that place us in vulnerable spaces from the start.

There isn’t a doubt in anyone’s mind that had the victims been White gay men, this story would look much different. White victims are who the justice system serves. 

White predators like Buck receive the benefit of the doubt from the police to the prosecutor to the judge. Buck has been afforded a courtesy of due process that was never afforded to his first two victims. 

If Buck is found guilty, he could face a maximum of nearly six years in state jail. Black LGBTQ lives are not disposable, and we must stay fervent to push this system to hold Buck accountable, with a system that will never be in our favor.

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