A moment of silence.
That’s what usually is requested when one wants to memorialize someone who has died.
But as of today, it has been six months of silence since Gemmel Moore, a young black man struggling with issues of poverty and addiction, was found dead of a drug overdose in the apartment of Ed Buck, a relatively affluent, older and prominent West Hollywood Democratic Party activist. An activist who is gay and white.
So what happened? Apparently God only knows. If the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department or the L.A. County District Attorney know, they aren’t saying. Our moment of silence drags on.
After discovering Moore in Buck’s Laurel Avenue apartment on July 27, the L.A. County Coroner’s Office ruled that his death was an accident attributed to an overdose of methamphetamine. Meth is an incredibly dangerous and addictive drug. Given the destruction it has caused in the gay community, it could be considered the modern day equivalent of the HIV epidemic of the early 1980s. Sadly, while groups like ACT-UP organized back then to fight HIV, today most gay men are reluctant to talk about meth or condemn it. But that’s a subject for another day.
It took an outcry from Moore’s family and friends and pressure from L.A. City Councilmember Mike Bonin and WeHo Councilmember Lindsey Horvath to get the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department to announce in August that its Homicide Division would look into Moore’s death. Since then detectives reportedly have interviewed a number of young black men who claim Buck paid them to party with him.
Buck isn’t talking. But his lawyer has said his 63-year-old client was just a caring man who didn’t in any way exploit the 26-year-old Moore. In November, the Los Angeles Times got access to the full coroner’s report, which painted a more disturbing picture of Buck’s supposed beneficence.
When paramedics walked into Buck’s living room, a porn film was playing. Nearby was a cabinet filled with sex toys, syringes and what the paramedics described as “suspected methamphetamine.” In the middle of all that, Moore lay naked and dead on a mattress.
The outcry by Moore’s family and friends apparently hasn’t halted Buck’s beneficence. On Sept. 11, he seemed to have created a new profile on a gay sex site where he met a young black man in South Los Angeles who he paid to have transported to his Laurel Avenue apartment. WEHOville published screenshots of text messages between a cellphone with Buck’s telephone number and that young man, which were furnished by Jasmyne Cannick, a communications strategist working with Moore’s family. The messages invited the young man to Buck’s apartment building on Laurel and expressed an interest in “blowing clouds,” a euphemism for smoking meth, and other behavior.
Earlier this month, a neighbor in Buck’s apartment building texted WEHOville to say that yet another young black man was headed into Buck’s apartment, apparently seeking the older man’s support.
As I wrote in an editorial last month, it would be difficult if not impossible to substantiate allegations by Moore’s friends and family that Ed Buck killed Moore by injecting him with meth or even that he provided the drug to him (both allegations denied by Buck’s lawyer). After all, no witnesses were present.
But what we do know is that a very vulnerable young man, a young black man without a regular place to sleep and without much money, a young black man who admitted to working as an escort for the money, is dead. And we know that he is not the only young black man who Ed Buck has paid to stop by his Laurel Avenue apartment.
So, the question is why hasn’t the Los Angeles County District Attorney charged Buck with possession of methamphetamine, which the coroner’s report appears to document? Why hasn’t the West Hollywood City Council, several of whose members have been criticized for taking campaign contributions from Buck, more aggressively pushed for an answer to what continues to be going on?
For some who wish the Ed Buck mess would go away, the silence may be golden. However, as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”