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Gay Rights Activists Angry Over ‘Street Hustlers’ Killings

December 1, 1986 GMT

ATLANTA (AP) _ In the wake of a man’s arrest for the killing of six reputed male prostitutes, Atlanta gay rights activists are calling for top city officials to denounce violence directed at homosexuals.

The Atlanta Gay Center has called on Mayor Andrew Young and Public Safety Commissioner George Napper to say publicly that violence against gay people will not be tolerated and to establish sensitivity training for police officers.

″We would like for the commissioner and the mayor to set a moral example, saying it’s not right to kill people, no matter whether you like them or not,″ said Bill Gripp, a member of the center’s board of directors.

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″I think if they made the statement, it would have an impact on police officers,″ said Ken Bartuka, the center’s board chairman. ″They would know that they had the backing of the complete system at City Hall.″

Neither Young nor Napper had any immediate response. Young is attending a meeting of the National League of Cities this week, according to aide Sandra Walker. Also, no response has come from the Public Safety Department, she said.

Michael Terry, 26, was arrested Wednesday and charged with murdering six young black men, ages 18 to 31, described by police as ″street hustlers″ who, although not necessarily homosexual themselves, took money for gay sex.

Terry had been a customer of the victims, who were all shot or stabbed or both, according to police.

Gay leaders complain that Atlanta police failed to realize an anti- homosexual pattern to the killings, even while activists were complaining about unsolved killings of gay men.

″I don’t think there was any kind of breakdown in the system,″ said Atlanta Police Chief Morris Redding. ″When you work these kind of homicide cases, it just takes a long time to establish a pattern.″

Police said a pattern in the killings, which date from December 1985, became apparent after the most recent victim was found on Oct. 20. At that time, police said, a witness linked Terry to a boarding house where two bodies were found.

Terry remains jailed without bond and has entered no plea pending a grand jury hearing the case this week.

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