Recently, the WeHo Times reported the tragic death of Gemmel Moore, killed a crystal meth overdose in late July.
Moore was found at the home of Ed Buck, a wealthy, high-profile Democratic Party donor and political activist. The police report filed on the incident reported the death as an "accident." However, Moore's mother LaTisha Nixon wasn't so sure that that was the case.
Nixon found out through one of Moore's friends that Moore had engaged in sex work before his death, and that Buck was a client of both men.
“I called one of my son’s friends and was like, ‘who the hell is Edward Buck?’" Nixon said. "And my son’s friend was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s that white guy, that wealthy white politician guy … he was like, ‘Oh my God …’"
The reason for the friend's horror was what he told Nixon next.
“[Buck] would have my son to go out to … Santa Monica Boulevard looking for young gay black guys so he could inject them with drugs, see their reaction and how [they] would react and take pictures of them,” Nixon said the friend told her.
John Bice, a friend of Moore's, told LA Weekly a similar story.
"Basically this guy would find young struggling black guys around town, pick them up and say he was going to help them out — make sure they had clothes and food. ... He wanted to see them get high, first with weed. Then one day, the guy wanted him to shoot up," Bice said.
Nixon believes Buck was basically conducting a psycho-sexual version of the Tuskegee experiments on the young black men.
“[Buck] would supply heroin, meth and other drugs to him to smoke or use with a needle,” Nixon said. “Buck would pleasure himself at the sight of my son using drugs.”
Moore's mother added that her son's friends told her that Buck would reward young men for taking big hits.
“The bigger the cloud of smoke,” the more money Buck would give the men. Nixon said Buck “would excitedly encourage [Moore] to increase his dosage by saying, ‘More, more, and I’ll give you $500 more.’”
Buck himself hasn't spoken out about these accusations, but his lawyer, Seymour Amster, has.
Amster said that Moore injected himself with the meth, that Buck was Moore's friend and “did not witness it being injected” and that, “This was an accidental death. This was an unfortunate death … but that doesn’t mean we can make spurious accusations and spin something out of control.”
However, Moore's journals, which were discovered after his death, tell a different story.
Social critic and political commentator Jasmyne Cannick has made it her mission to broadcast Moore's story, and posted screenshots of Moore's journal entries on her site, which gave a more personal and gruesome look to his tragic death.
"I've become addicted to drugs, and the worst one at that," Moore wrote in his diary. "Ed Buck is the one to thank, he gave me my first injection of chrystal [sic] meth, it was very painful, but after all the troubles I became addicted to the pain and fetish/fantasy."
A police report found that the coroner's investigators interviewed an unnamed woman who said Moore told her that "over a year ago" a person (whose name is redacted in the report) tied him up and “held him against his will at the residence in West Hollywood.”
Nixon said that she heard from her son after this event, and that he filed a police report about it. Although that report has not turned up, she vividly recalls what he told her.
"He filed a police report because he said that Buck had held him in his apartment or whatever and had shot him up with a needle with something he didn’t know what it was," Nixon said. "He called me crying. Three minutes on the phone hollering and I’m like, ‘What the hell is going on?’ He said, ‘This man, he shot me up with something I don’t even know what it is,’ and I’m like, My son is having a breakdown or episode. But he sent me pictures of his arm, his arm was red.”
Following the allegations, U.S. Representative Karen Bass donated the campaign contribution Buck gave her to Moore's family.
Other Democrats have yet to follow her lead, and Democratic Party official Kimberly Ellis told the Weekly that that is a very telling thing.
"It suggests money and power can oftentimes have a greater influence over our elected officials than doing what's right," Ellis said. "This is a test in many ways for the Democratic Party and our elected officials to really stand up and speak out and make it very clear whose side they're on — justice and LGBTQs or special interests and big-dollar donors."
This week, the Sacramento Observer reports that The Justice 4 Gemmel + All of Ed Buck’s Victim’s group announced that Chair of the African American Caucus of the California Democratic Party, Darren Parker, will pen a resolution calling on the entire Democratic party to return all funds donated by Buck.
“Too often there are ills in the African American community that we just don’t discuss,” noted Parker. “These issues that we don’t bring to the surface are starting to define what happens to our people. So I thought it was important – one, as a chair who believes in transparency, who believes in education even in adversity that we have to talk about the things that we’re uncomfortable with or even hearing about.”
Cannick agrees with Parker.
“As Democrats we shouldn’t be in the business of protecting predators with our silence,” Cannick said. “If we can condemn those who hurt women, we can certainly condemn those who hurt the most vulnerable in our community. As a Democrat that’s what I expect from my party’s leadership.”
The Stonewall Democratic Club Los Angeles made a similar statement, calling for a "thorough investigation."
Club board member Ashlee Marie Preston said that Moore's case is a chance for Democrats to prove that they actually care about society's oppressed, stressing that Moore was not only black, but also gay, HIV-positive and sometimes homeless.
"This is an opportunity for politicians to draw a clear line as to what their values are, what they want to prioritize and where they stand on social issues," Preston said. "What would we say if this involved a prominent GOP figure? People would be busting down the door to make a statement."
Chair of the California Young Democrats’ Black Caucus, Devin T. Murphy, put it even more simply.
“We have a responsibility not only to Gemmel’s family and friends but to African Americans, African American Democrats and Democrats period to not only talk the talk when it comes to our Party’s values but to also walk the walk," Murphy said. "All black lives matter.”
Update, July 31, 2018:
The Los Angeles Times reports Buck will face no charges in connection to Moore's death.
Police officials submitted the results of their investigation into Buck to the district attorney's office on July 10. The DA found the gathered evidence to be insufficient and declined to charge Buck with murder, voluntary manslaughter, furnishing illegal drugs or possession of illegal drugs.
In a statement, the DA's office said the “admissible evidence is insufficient to prove [guilt] beyond a reasonable doubt,” and also claimed some of the submitted evidence had been obtained through inadmissible search and seizure.
According to WEHOville, Moore's mother, LaTisha Nixon, said she wasn't surprised by the DA's decision. At a memorial for Moore following the announcement, Nixon pledged to continue fighting for her son and for other young men and women like him.
“No more Gemmel Moores,” Nixon said. “I’m definitely not going to go away. Ed Buck needs to be stopped.”
City council member Lindsey Horvath, who is white, slammed the decision. In a statement read at the memorial, Horvath wrote, "if Gemmel looked like me – there would be mass outrage.”
Councilwoman Horvath added, “The life of a thoughtful, caring and giving 26-year-old young man was cut short due to unthinkable circumstances. More young men have since come forward, sharing their concerns of similar encounters. Yet our justice system has said that their stories don’t matter, that their truth is irrelevant. It has told the members of our community that possessing narcotics, using narcotics, luring impressionable young LGBT people without resources into sex – that all of these acts are none of their concern. That anyone facing these issues is on their own. Without support. Alone."
Now, check these out: