Opinion: WeHo City Council Denounces Donald Trump, but What About Ed Buck?

Gemmel “Juelz” Moore (left) and Ed Buck (Facebook)

The West Hollywood City Council voted “unanimously” Monday to approve a resolution urging the Los Angeles City Council and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce to permanently remove Donald Trump’s Hollywood Walk of Fame star.

Led by West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tem John D’Amico, the council cited Trump’s “disturbing treatment of women and other actions” as the impotence for their action.

D’Amico went a step further and said in news media reports that Trump’s star sends the wrong message to men coming to Hollywood on how they can treat women.

So let’s talk about disturbing.

West Hollywood resident Ed Buck’s treatment of Gemmel Moore and other vulnerable young Black gay men in his apartment was and continues to be disturbing to say the least and only seemed to bother one Council member enough to try and do anything about it. And it didn’t come without a cost as Councilmember Lindsey Horvath was attacked by her fellow council members–one, in particular, Councilmember John Duran, who even warned potential witnesses and victims with a threat that they might be arrested if they came forward about his client and resident Ed Buck.

26-year-old Gemmel Moore was found dead of a crystal meth overdose in Ed Buck’s West Hollywood apartment on July 27, 2017. His death was immediately classified as an “accidental methamphetamine overdose” by the coroner, but the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department’s homicide bureau was forced to open a homicide investigation after Moore’s personal journal was published and other young men stepped forward recounting similar stories about a man who they say has a Tuskegee Experiment like fetish which includes shooting drugs into young Black men that he picks up off the street or via dating hookup websites just to see how they react to it while he makes them dress up and pose in white underwear.

Just prior to Moore’s body being removed from Buck’s apartment, images showed another young man headed up to Buck’s apartment who had to be stopped by sheriff’s deputies.

A coroner’s report confirmed that at the time of Moore’s death, Buck’s apartment was littered with drug paraphernalia including 24 syringes with brown residue, five glass pipes with white residue and burn marks, a plastic straw with possible white residue, clear plastic bags with white powdery residue and a clear plastic bag with a “piece of crystal-like substance.”

In online ads soliciting young Black gay men, Buck has referred to the Black men he solicits as being a “6-foot” n-word. On his Facebook page, he joked with friends using the n-word.

Over the past year numerous young, Black gay men have come forward, including some who were engaged by Ed Buck during the alleged homicide investigation–showing a pattern of behavior and brazen display of white privilege that even while under investigation by law enforcement, Buck continued to enjoy his lifestyle of preying on young Black men and luring them to his West Hollywood apartment with promises of money and drugs.

Not once in all this time did the West Hollywood City Council ever offer a resolution denouncing the disturbing treatment of vulnerable, young, Black gay men by a resident in their own city.

Not once did the West Hollywood City Council say with one voice that calling Black people the n-word and soliciting homeless, HIV positive, vulnerable young Black gay men “do[es] not meet the shared values of the City of West Hollywood.”

As far as political finance reports show, neither Mayor D’Amico nor his colleagues, with the exception of Councilmember Lindsey Horvath who never took any money from Buck, ever returned any of the money that Ed Buck contributed to their campaigns. D’Amico did contribute $25 towards Gemmel Moore’s funeral. $25.

As much as one might not like Trump, this seems like more of a publicity stunt for most of the council. A ride on the wave of discontentment Americans have with President Trump.

Let’s call it for what it is and the news media is only too willing to capitalize on it without ever asking any of the hard and in my opinion obvious questions.

Because if the West Hollywood City Council was really concerned about the “disturbing treatment of women” by Trump and their city’s shared values they would have been just as concerned, outrages and spurred in action about the treatment of young Black gay men by Ed Buck in the city where they actually wield some power.

The messenger matter as much as the message and all I see with the exception of Councilwoman Lindsey Horvath is a bunch of hypocrites.

Sometimes we allow ourselves to get so caught up in our disdain for Trump we don’t stop to look at who we’re following or cheering on. I won’t cheer on or follow behind a man or city council more concerned with the lives of white women than the lost lives of Black gay men in their very own city.

As it’s said, all that glitter ain’t gold.

Political Donations from Ed Buck to West Hollywood City Councilmembers

John Duran for LA County Supervisor
Amount Recv’d: $13,000
Dates: 1/6/2014, 2/11/2014, 4/21/2014, 5/17/2014

John Duran for City Council
Amount Recv’d: $1,000
Dates: 11/28/2012, 6/18/2016

Neighbors for a Better West Hollywood in Support of Lauren Meister for West Hollywood City Council 2015
Amount Recv’d: $2,000
Date: 2/4/2015

Lauren Meister for West Hollywood City Council 2015
Amount Recv’d: $500
Date: 2/1/2015

John Heilman for West Hollywood City Council 2017
Amount Recv’d: $2,000
Dates: 5/25/2017, 6/1/2017

D’Amico for City Council 2015
Amount Recv’d: $1,000
Dates: 9/29/2010, 7/24/2014

To read my complete series, including witness accounts, on the death of Gemmel Moore, please click here.

  1. I’m glad to read that John D’Amico assures us that the City Council continues to hold the Sheriff’s Department to task on this important issue (although it could have been done with some brevity and less self-serving calls about his own benevolence). Perhaps I’m an eternal cynic, but I’m skeptical that much would be happening were it not for the ongoing pressure from activists and family members of Gemmel Moore. In my view, there was a dead body in an apartment strewn with illicit drugs and drug paraphernalia, and there were no charges for anything? Not even the illicit drugs? Further, as to all the arguments that the return of the contributions is ill-advised, that negates progressive calls for the return of any campaign contributions to conservatives for any issue we might find offensive. Campaign contributions and preferential treatment of donors is kinda, well sorta, well really the genesis of what we call political corruption.

  2. I’d really like for a district attorney to explain to me how this is not a case of involuntary manslaughter, because I always understood that to be the crime that applies if you contribute to someone’s death, even unintentionally, through your own actions. IF Buck was injecting Moore with meth, and IF Moore died of a meth overdose, does that mean that Buck administered the fatal dosage? Isn’t that the same kind of liability that Michael Jackson’s doctor had, in injecting him with the critical “last dose” of medication that killed Jackson? Isn’t it “worse” when a non-MD administers drugs to another person, even with their “consent”? And is it really “consent” when the victim is being paid in apparently desperately-needed money and the victim is an escort complying with some kind of “sexual request” to be injected with meth in exchange for money? Isn’t this like some kind of sick “Island of Dr. Moreau” or Dr. Mengele Nazi “experiment” if Buck was administering meth to these young men to somehow “see what it would do to them”, like a kid with a chemistry set, or like Jeffery Dahmer torturing backyard animals to fulfill some kind of sick “curiosity”? Did Buck “get off” with some kind of sexual gratification by injecting young men with men to “experiment” with how they would react? And did he masturbate to orgasm when the life drained out of Moore, like some kind of sick snuff film entertainment? What did Buck expect would happen to the young men, if he kept injecting them with more and more and more meth? Couldn’t he reasonably be expected to know that at some point they would overdose and die? Again, how is this not reckless endangerment? And if it is a death that occurs during the commission of another “crime” (paying a sex worker for sex), or using illegal drugs, doesn’t that complicate the case? How is this not involuntary manslaughter? Why didn’t the police at least arrest Buck for possession if they found “residue” (aka, meth) on the paraphernalia in the open at the scene? Is Buck being sued civilly for Wrongful Death? Does he have a defense as to why he shouldn’t be considered liable, IF he was the one injecting the victims? Does the D.A.’s office somehow have different standards or thresholds for filing charges if you’re rich, White, and influential, and the victim is young, gay (or, gay-for-pay), HIV-positive, poor, and Black? These are all questions that don’t seem to be answered in any of the news coverage that I’ve seen, but maybe I’m missing something. OK, innocent until proven guilty, I get it; but why aren’t the details of the criminal investigation made more clear, when there at least seems to be so much circumstantial evidence? Law enforcement has been so unfair (to say the least) nationwide and locally to people of color, especially to African-Americans, that to me, as a White, gay, poz, privileged, Black Lives Matter supporter, I want answers, too. Black Lives Matter, and there is STILL a lingering sense that the questions about Moore’s death still have not been answered. Sure, it’s controversial about how much detail in a police investigation citizens are “entitled” to know, but I think for many of us, the questions have not been answered to The Public’s satisfaction, and the D.A.’s office is an elected post. Criminal cases are THE PEOPLE versus someone, and in this case, THE PEOPLE still want answers about questions in this “tragedy”…or CRIME??

    1. You definitely got me to think about this case in an entirely different manner. I don’t think the City Council bears responsibility here, but it would be nice to see those questions answered. I don’t know enough about the law, or the evidence they had, to know how easy it would have been to convict him of those charges. Were their text message exchanges enough? Buck’s text messages with other young men? Is there any proof that Buck shot him up, and can they prove he didn’t do it to himself? Perhaps the evidence vanished, before it could be collected, and that is part of the problem here.

      If the DA’s office chose to not bring him up on any of these charges, I hope they at least told the family why that is the case. They don’t necessarily have a responsibility to tell the public, but if I was one of his family members, I’d want some answers, and would feel like I deserve them.

  3. I want to thank the people who have reached out to me regarding the ongoing investigation into Gemmel Moore’s death. The sheriff’s department continues their investigation and the community continues to follow up, as the city council has, to keep the Sheriff’s department on task.

    All of us expressed our thoughts and respect to Gemmel Moore’s mother, LaTisha Nixon when she was here in August 2017. Mr. Moore’s death is a tragedy. Plain and simple – a tragedy. He was a young, 26 year old homeless, HIV positive person in a world that can sometimes be cruel and can leave young people thinking they have few choices. Unfortunately, Mr. Moore did not receive the help he needed. Thirty years ago, I myself was once a 25 year old, HIV positive, homeless young man, in 1988, I thought I had few options, with even fewer resources. I found a path to safety and will be forever grateful. And I think we all know that there are far too many others in similar situations – whose path to safety may not be clear.

    There is much work to be done to make a difference for each and every young person in a precarious life situation. In my 25 year career, I have worked with a homeless shelter developing programs and funding, started the first young men’s HIV testing study in LA County, worked for AIDS Project Los Angeles, for an affordable housing developer, was a member of the Disabilities Advisory board and Human Services Commission and now as an elected official. And I continue to be committed to the task of making the world a safer place, especially for the vulnerable. Do I do everything right every time? Of course not, but my heart is open and so are my eyes. The resumes of my colleagues are equally impressive, all of us committed to helping people. All of us affected by Mr. Moore’s death. Assertions otherwise undermine the credibility of those making the claims.

    There has been much speculation about donations asked for and received by all of us here on this dais and across the state. Full disclosure, all of us on this dais, have asked Mr. Buck to make donations either to our campaigns or to campaigns we believe in. And he did, and those dollars have helped elect talented legislators that believe in progressive values and causes that make West Hollywood and California thoughtful progressive places to live. Those donations went directly into the elections they supported. The very people elected that are interested in changing the world for the better.

    Ms. Cannick perhaps performs an important role in this tragedy. I cannot speak to her motives. I do know that Ms. Cannick must not know what efforts we are making behind the scenes and has never contacted me regarding Mr. Moore, this case, or any of the assertions she believes are true. And there have been accusations about donations that Mr. Buck supposedly made and has suggested…no really demanded… that I and others return to Mr. Buck the money that was donated. It doesn’t help our cause of achieving Justice for Mr. Moore by spreading lies and making up figures. And for me it makes no sense to return $1000 dollars to a known drug user.

    My husband and I make donations several times the $500 amount that I received in 2010, eight years ago, and the $500 amount that I received in 2014, four years ago, $1000 total, to worthy non-profit organizations every year. Several times that amount every year…to organizations that fight poverty, promote compassion, improve scholarships for artists, help people with AIDS, help people with mental heath problems and perhaps most importantly help people enter and sustain their sobriety.

    And our city spends hundreds of thousands of dollars, millions over the years on HIV prevention, anti-drug and harm reduction campaigns and millions of dollars on homeless and drug rehab services. In the past year, we reopened the West Hollywood Drug and Alcohol center after a several million dollar renovation. To help young people like Mr. Moore. And still Mr. Moore did not receive the message or the services that could have saved his life. The tragic outcome. The tragedy of his death is unfortunately part of a long line of people who have lost their lives too young.

    Is there more to do? Of course. Is racial bias still a scourge that must be eliminated? Of course. Is justice sometimes hard to come by especially for people of color? Of course. Will it one day be eliminated? Will we get things right with the world? With the help of the community I believe we will get there. And I would hope that in Mr. Moore’s name all of us would, including Ms. Cannick continue to help those in situations like Mr. Moore’s to do our best to ensure that every young person knows of their options and that something like this never needs to happen again.

    I again send out my deep sympathies on behalf of the council to Ms. Nixon. As always if you would like to discuss this further be in touch, my mobile phone number is 310.498.5783 and my council office number is 323.848.6400 and available on the weho.org website. Thank you.

    1. Mr D’Amico,
      I do not always agree with you, but as you know I also acknowledge everything that I believe to be true and good. Your comment was both. I have watched a hard working city council, ALL of whom have been so vocal and helpful and supportive of recovery services, be bashed by ill informed people. This tragedy has hurt so many of us to our core. This city council cannot do, nor has any power to do anything else than has been done. To say anything to the contrary is just harmful to Gemmel’s mom, who is being told that no one here cares. That is false. WE ALL CARE. We work tirelessly trying to navigate folks into recovery services. Not everyone goes. I’m heartbroken Gemmel didn’t seek services rather than spend time with Mr. Buck. What I have come to know is that two active addicts in a room with drugs can equal nothing but a tragedy. I hope Gemmel’s mom finds peace in knowing that indeed many of us, even not knowing Gemmel personally , and regardless of what has been said, DO CARE AND ARE HEARTBROKEN. Losing someone so young and with so much life ahead of him breaks our hearts. To preach anything else is just hurtful to the public, but more importantly, to Gemmels mom.


      Jimmy Palmieri
      The Tweakers Project

    2. John, indeed, you’ve done great things for the community, and not returning donations from someone who you later learned more likely committed a crime is not your responsibility. Especially when you are a responsible public servant, who gives back to the community, both publicly, and privately. Like it or not, Buck’s money went to progressive causes. It might seem hypocritical to some, but these things can co-exist: his money used for good, progressive causes, and him also possibly being a criminal, who exploited a young person.

      I think it is wrong to assume there is any corruption between anyone who took his donation and what transpired with the DA’s office or the Sheriff’s Department. Just because of donations.

      It was wise of you to point out how much effort you’ve put into the recovery community on a personal level, as well as what the city has done. Of course, that would not negate corruption, or special treatment of Buck, of which you are saying there has been none.

      Your proposed resolution to remove our president’s star was well-intentioned, and in the spirit of progressive politics, and this situation has nothing to do with the other. It feels like the resolution you passed on Monday is being exploited to draw attention to the Buck situation.

      Let’s assume that there was no special treatment for Buck by the DA’s office or the Sheriff’s department. I’d like to know what the DA’s office is supposed to do, if there is insufficient evidence to convict him in a court of law. It sounds like he bears responsibility, but I don’t believe a few text messages from other parties (who weren’t there) or a journal entry is sufficient evidence get a jury to convict him of a crime. Perhaps there is.

      There are rumors that he’s back at it. If that is the case, I’d like to see law enforcement deal with that, if they don’t have enough evidence to convict him of a crime.

      1. Wow. I don’t make it a habit of continuing the civil discourse of those who fail to publicly identify themselves, but this comment left me breathless: “It feels like the resolution you passed on Monday is being exploited to draw attention to the Buck situation.” How dare those non-white people draw attention to injustice in the world. (Just to be clear, that last sentence was exasperation and sarcasm.)

  4. With all due respect to all parties involved, the police investigated this incident and found that it was a tragic accidental overdose, not murder. Accusing Mr. Buck of a crime when the West Hollywood Sheriffs investigated and found that he had nothing to do with what happened isn’t enough for some people who, rather than focus on the tragedy of Mr. Moore’s addiction and ultimate overdose, have instead decided to blame Mr. Buck for actions which he had no part of. This has more than a strong whiff of homophobia surrounding it. Blame the homosexual for luring my little straight angel astray and to his death. The family has claimed that they accepted Mr. Moore for who he was but he was apparently homeless at the time of his tragic death. If his family truly supported him, he wouldn’t have been homeless. The amount of hypocrisy on display in this article is astounding…

  5. Jasmine, your beef is with the LA County Sheriff’s Department, not the West Hollywood City Council. They are powerless to help you. A declaration from them is meaningless. Returning campaign contributions would be ridiculous, it would only enrich the person you seem to hate so much. Target your vitriol to the right people.

  6. This is quite disturbing and saddening that the WeHo council would open themselves up to this knowing about Gemmel. Using the exact language they did in the attempt to have Trumps star removed, begs the question if this was not in fact premeditated all along, forgetting along the way the stereotypes of some of the actions of the PnP cultures taking place everyday. I hope at the very least this throws more light on the uncharged, criminally liable host of Gemmel, Ed Buck.

  7. West Hollywood could be a destination. But with those rubes on the West Hollywood City Council, every move they make reflects there shopping mall background and hick town mentality.

    Maybe they could put the Trump star on top of the proposed Stormy Daniels statue for billboard alley aka Sunset Boulevard.

  8. Thank you for exposing the truth. For some reason, many West Hollywood Residents prefer to put their heads in the ground than to admit the truth. West Hollywood is one of the Whitest Cities in America. City Council should all be held accountable for allowing the death of Gemmel to occur without proper investigation.

    1. Eric -where do you get this nonsense? If you have one iota of evidence that the city council had any role in preventing a proper investigation, or that indeed a proper investigation was not done, please share it with us. You won’t, because you don’t have any. Your alternative universe of facts makes you no better than the person whose star is being disputed.

      1. Took the words out of my mouth. Thanks Chris. The only unfortunate comment was offered by John Duran in an effort to discourage others from coming forward.

        The elephant in the room is METH USE IN WEHO! Its proliferation is rampant yet its a subject not addressed by the city. Again Duran makes reference to recovery facilities but the object is to discourage the use at the beginning.

        1. John Duran is a criminal attorney and was giving sound advice letting people know they could incriminate themselves.

  9. Donald Trump is a degenerate and a disgrace, and the morally upstanding men and women of the West Hollywood City Council were right to call him out for it. Why, I hear that Trump is such a predatory idiot that he even scrolls through pictures on sex apps during government meetings, and uses those sex apps to hire deputies — sometimes even going so far as to have sex with them before he puts them on the public payroll. Or maybe I’m getting some of those details mixed up.

  10. Saying people should return his campaign contributions to past campaigns is like saying you feel guilty about eating at Chick-Fil-A and are going to return the food you ate for a refund. How would you do that? The money is spent. The campaigns are over. City councilmembers are not paid big bucks; they are practically volunteers given the amount of time and energy they have to put in to the job. They did not take any campaign money for themselves (Heidi Shink did, but she lost). Everyone who voted for the candidates who accepted his money benefited from it because it helped their candidates get elected.

    And why should anyone return money to Ed Buck? You think he committed a crime, so he should get paid $19,500 because of it? How is that just or fair? That’s completely insane.

  11. Saying people should return his campaign contributions to past campaigns is like saying you feel guilty about eating at Chick-Fil-A and are going to return the food you ate for a refund. How would you do that? The money is spent. The campaigns are over. City councilmembers are not paid big bucks; they are practically volunteers given the amount of time and energy they have to put in to the job. They did not take any campaign money for themselves (Heidi Shink did, but she lost). Everyone who voted for the candidates who accepted his money benefited from it because it helped their candidates get elected.

    And why should anyone return money to Ed Buck? You think he committed a crime, so he should get paid $19,500 because of it? How is that just or fair? That’s completely insane.

  12. I’m astonished at the suggestion that the city council should convict Ed Buck of murder. It’s above their pay grade. Nowhere in their job description does it say that they are a judge, a jury or an executioner. The tragedy of senseless loss like this is beyond comprehension for most people, but qualified experts have worked on this case & we have no choice but to accept the results they present to the public.
    The city council was silent in the case of the senseless killing of John Winkler & offered their full support of the sheriff who was involved in the killing. So why shouldn’t they support their findings in this case as well?


      I agree they have to Criminal Authority – But even if they did, would they use it judiciously? (Each City Council Member is given an official “BADGE” I believe from The County Sheriff’s Department (no tickets ever for them)

      But – shocking and unbelievable as it was to hear Bill Maher say last Friday on his show … he thinks what it really comes down to is just RACISM in all ways across our Country (and I guess in weho too). I didn’t think he was correct – until I thought for a second. Is that what is really behind the unrest and the blindness to the DEATHS of so many Black Men by Law Enforcement across the Country (and maybe one case being ignored in weho??)

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