“Know Your Rights” Direct Action Teach-In At Site of Anti-Queer Assault in Middletown, CT, Jan. 30th, Noon

Queer Liberation Front recently received the following message [read below the cut] from the mother of a gay 18-year-old in Middletown, CT. In late December, her son was physically and verbally assaulted at a local coffeeshop by the owner and kicked out of the establishment. He’s not completely out of the closet and wishes to remain anonymous, so their names have been omitted from the letter she sent us.

We’re doing a direct action on Sunday January 30th @ 12PM where a group of at least 20 queers and allies will go into Javapalooza with rainbow flags, queer shirts, etc and all immediately buy coffee. We’d proceed to have a “teach-in”, a kind of ”know your rights” discussion, and at the end present the owner with a letter signed by all of us, demanding a public apology and a show of good will towards the queer/LGBT community.

We are also contacting local bloggers and media for this event, using that to put pressure on the police to further investigate these allegations.

If interested in learning more about this or participating in the action, please contact Al Riccio at (860) 388-7499.

It was Saturday, December 18, 2010, 6:00pm-ish and my son went into Javapalooza with his two friends, a male and female. He and his friends go into Javapalooza often and hang out. He is eighteen years old, a mellow kid and so are his friends – a really good group.

My son had the end of a Dunkin Donuts drink with him and the three of them were sitting at a table. This is when the owner, Neil Dinerman, yelled over to them from behind the counter, because he knew ****’s friend. He said “doesn’t your friend know about our policy?” The kids thought that he was joking. He then told **** that he couldn’t have a Dunkin Donuts’ drink in his establishment and that he would have to either put it in another cup or throw it away. So, **** finished the last sip, threw it away and sat back down at the table.

This is when the owner came out from behind the counter and walked over to the table. **** and his two friends were in shock because they thought that he was joking. The owner then grabbed **** by the shirt and said something similar to “don’t you listen” or “are you some kind of wise ass” and told him to get out. **** grabbed his coat that was next to him and proceeded to leave, all
while the owner, who was following him out, was calling him a dick-sucking faggot.

****’s friends followed and this continued outside. He called him a faggot more times and I know that at one point, **** told him to “take his fucking hands off of him”. When they got to the sidewalk outside, they were exchanging words, and ****’s friends were in between them, telling **** to walk away.

**** called me to tell me what happened, wondering if he should go to the police (he was so angry). I told him to wait until we came home and told him that we would talk about what action we should take. We decided that he should go to the police, so it would be on record, and I thought that his actions were illegal.

**** and his dad went the next a.m. to the Middletown Police and told them what happened. They told me that the police officer was very nice, listened to everything that **** had to say, and asked him to re-inact what happened and **** told them in detail what happened. As soon as they told the officer where this happened and who it was, they were not surprised because they had other complaints regarding this man. The officer said that they would go talk to the owner, see what his side of the story was and tell him that this wasn’t the first complaint that they had on him.

Since then, I’ve called the Middletown Chamber of Commerce to get something on record and they referred me to the head of Consumer Protection at the Middletown Town Hall. I don’t have his name in front of me but he was very nice, took all of the information and asked me if he could call the Middletown Police to see what actions they had taken. He also told me that he was concerned because the police had other complaints on file and that the Dept. of Consumer Protection didn’t know of any. He took my name and address so I am expecting a letter from him, following up.

I also called the CCHRO [CT Commission on Human Rights & Opportunities] to file a complaint and they were terrible. I was told “well, you know how teenagers are”, “you only know one side of the story”, “well, if he was asked to leave, then he should have left”, “it’s like going into Macdonald’s with a Burger King Bag”,”what are you looking for, a year’s worth of free coffee”? I
will not be contacting them again.

So, that is where we’re at. It’s a little tough because **** doesn’t want his name out there – he’s not quite ready for that yet, but he’s legally an adult, etc., etc., etc.

Is there any oversight when it comes to a public establishment? Or is it trying to get the word out so people don’t step foot in Java? The Middletown Press would have done an article but they couldn’t without using ****’s name, which I understood. It was the editor who suggested that I call the CCHRO, thinking that there would be consequences for the owner and my son’s name
wouldn’t be out there for everyone to see.

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3 Responses to “Know Your Rights” Direct Action Teach-In At Site of Anti-Queer Assault in Middletown, CT, Jan. 30th, Noon

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