A group of about 100 protestors gathered outside the West Hollywood apartment of former Democratic donor Ed Buck, to express their outrage over the recent development that a second man was found dead in his home on Laurel Ave., on Monday, January 7–the first death being the untimely passing of Gemmel Moore, 26, who died inside Ed Buck’s apartment on July, 2017, from a meth overdose. Moore’s death reportedly occurred just hours after he left his family in Texas to join Buck.
WEHO TIMES was the first to publish Gemmel Moore’s name when this publication broke the story of his death and gave LaTisha Nixon–Moore’s mother–a voice asking for justice for her son. In the article published on August 8, Nixon called for an investigation and she accused Ed Buck as the man responsible for her son’s death. At the time, Los Angeles County Coroner reported the death of Moore, as a result of an accidental meth overdose at 7:22 p.m. on July 27. Nixon said that a detective from the West Hollywood Station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department called her following her son’s death and said no drugs or paraphernalia were found at Buck’s home.
Investigators later reported that 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” were found in Buck’s two-bedroom apartment at the time of Moore’s death. He was not arrested.
18 months later, deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s West Hollywood station were called to the scene at the Laurel Avenue apartment complex where Buck resides, on Monday, January 7, 2018 at 1:05 a.m. They were responding to a report that a person was not breathing. The person was first mistakenly described as a young African-American in his early 20s by local media, but later reports reveal that the man is more likely in his 50s.
“From what I know, it was an old friend who died of an accidental overdose, and unfortunately, we believe that the substance was ingested at some place other than the apartment.” Buck’s attorney, Seymour Amster, told the Los Angeles Times. He added that Buck was not arrested and is cooperating with investigators.
“I’m sick to my stomach, I can’t stop crying!” LaTisha Nixon posted on her Facebook page following the news of the second death. “This was the reason for coming forward with Gemmel’s story. He so private, but I didn’t want no more people to die by the hands of that bastard. I’m so upset this ruined my day. I feel like Gemmel got killed all over again.”
“The rumors of Ed Buck’s meth use, and predilection for shooting and smoking up young black men at his WeHo apt have swirled in the ether of West Hollywood insiders for decades,” said Marco Colantonio, the founder of WEHO TIMES and publisher emeritus. “I was not surprised when LaTisha Nixon contacted me about the death of her son in Buck’s apt. As the publisher of WEHO TIMES at the time, it was risky to break the story and no one else seemed to care. Buck was a prominent white political donor. It reeked of a coverup back then; and with no indictment of Buck, this latest tragedy sadly was an inevitability. My heart goes out to the family of these two young men. In my opinion, Ed Buck is a monster and needs to be stopped.”
Buck not being arrested after another dead man was carried out of his apartment, resulted in an angry mob of protestors outside his home, while Buck’s neighbors in the building watched with crestfallen looks on their faces. One member of the community suggested they “occupy Buck” to make sure he gets no rest and no peace until justice is served.
“Arrest him now!” The crowd chanted.
“I was here in 2017,” Democratic strategist, political consultant and activist in the Democratic party, Dallas Fowler, told WEHO TIMES. “This is time number two. Mr. Buck has shown a habit that he is not going to stop. We will continue to shine a light on him and who he is and keep warning people. The saddest part is this could have been prevented. The district attorney Jacky Lacy should have prosecuted him. We had enough testimony from survivors and individuals who had been injected by Ed Buck with meth amphetamines against their will. And in some cases created the habit for them and once they needed to be at his mercy through the financial strain or stress, he’d sent them out to recruit for him. This is human a trafficking operation. There is no way that you can promise L.A. County residents that you’re going to be tough on trafficking and let this man sweep this black body under the rug.”
“At the end of the day, I could not have a dead body in my house and not be detained, not go down to the station and not go to jail,” Jasmyne Cannick–a representative for Gemmel Moore’s family, told members of the media. “This man has had two dead bodies in his house and he’s still in his house. He’s in there right now, because his lights are on. He’s probably watching the live stream. This is absolutely ridiculous, because what will happen is, we’ll all leave, and there will be another man going in his house tonight. There will be another man going in there tomorrow.”
Cannick called for the arrest, prosecution, and conviction of Buck, adding that she preferred a conviction for murder rather than manslaughter. She also faced the neighbors at the rally and accused them of being complicit in the deaths of the two men and accused them of not doing or saying enough to stop what is happening in Buck’s apartment.
“You guys need to say something,” she told the neighbors. “If you see somebody black getting ready to go up there, you need to come outside and tell them, ‘don’t do it! Don’t go up there…'”
Her comments led to an altercation between the angry crowd and Buck’s neighbors. The neighbors present were shamed for still living in the same building occupied by Buck. One individual shouted that they weren’t doing enough to get Buck evicted from the building. Another man suggested they not pay their rent until he is removed. There was also a suggestion that they not allow young men of color to enter their building and to call the police when young black men enter the building to visit Buck.
“I understand their anger,” Buck’s neighbor of four years, Selene, told WEHO TIMES. “I understand they want to blame someone, but the reality is that we’re are not going to call the police just because there is a black man coming into the building. That in itself is quite racist. I understand their rage, but I’m comfortable with my point of view and I know that the gay community stands with Black Lives Matter and we support the black, brown community.”
Selene says that she feels safe in her home and in her community and has no desire to move out.
“It’s not surprising that this happened again, I’m just sorry that it did,” said Jeff Mitchell, who has been Buck’s neighbor for eight years. “I think this event is great. I think there needs to be more focus on the two people who died in this apartment and don’t look at it as a racial thing. Two innocent people died at the hands of somebody giving them drugs. I saw [Gemmel Moore] go into Ed’s apartment at 3 o’clock in the afternoon and then he came out in a body bag. This morning, I came out at 5:30 in the morning and there were cop cars all over the place. The door was propped open. I saw Buck in the garage at a quarter to seven. He said his friend came over and [overdosed] and he was upset.”
“I understand where their anger is coming from because nobody is doing anything,” he added. “You have to blame people, but the anger is misguided. We try to do as much as we can. When it’s 11 o’clock at night and you see a stranger up on your porch that you don’t know, I’m not going to tell him not to go in there. It’s none of my business. What do I look like being the white guy telling the black guy to shoosh? We tried to evict Buck that first time and we keep trying to evict him. They installed security cameras and still nothing is being done. I think the politicians and the police are in a precarious situation. We need to figure out what happened. There needs to be justice.”
West Hollywood council member Lauren Meister and Mayor Pro-Tempore John D’Amico attended the rally. They were confronted by Cannick, who called them both out for accepting money from Ed Buck five years ago and publicly condemned them for not allocating Buck’s past donations to the fund she created. She called their presence disingenuous and said she did not want to hear what they had to say.
“We’re here to support you.” Meister told Cannick. “From the inside we tried to get the Sheriff’s to do what they needed to do in terms of investigating. I talked to our public safety director. I talked to our city manager and said, ‘where is the investigation’… I didn’t get up and grandstand about it, I’m sorry about that.”
Jerome Kitchen, who grew up with Moore and is a close family friend, asked Meister to say Gemmel Moore’s name. She said his name. Cannick, who earlier had made a speech about educating people with love, told Meister that she did not want to hear it.
The rally was contentious in certain parts, but it was also healing for some who were allowed to express their frustrations.
“I’m glad this event happened tonight,” said former West Hollywood council member Steve Martin. “I had all these conflicting emotions and they all played out. There was a lot of anger, there was sadness and lashing out, but it was all ok, because this all seems so senseless and so cruel.”
“I think the event was galvanizing in a way, but mostly sad,” said protestor Valery Spencer. “It was a demonstration that after two murders, strangers have to galvanize via social media to protest on the sidewalk of a gentlemen who the police refuse to arrest. That is the sad piece of it. The joyful piece of it, the galvanizing part of it is that people–black gay men, white people, came together to say this for us makes no sense and has no logic. We are paying attention now more than ever before. And we are following money trails, social media trails, we are following everything. If we were not awake before, we are certainly awake now. I live in America and I’ve lived in America for a very long time, so I cannot say that justice will be served. What I can say is that there are those people who are likeminded like myself who come together to point out injustice. I cannot say that justice will happen. Injustice towards people of color happens everyday. It’s happening right now, that’s why we’re on the sidewalk. We are paying attention and we are willing to call injustice by its name. It’s a slant of white supremacy with a rainbow flag on top.”
A “Prosecute Ed Buck” demonstration led by Black Lives Matter Los Angeles and allies is scheduled for Wednesday, January 9, from 4pm to 6pm at 211 W. Temple Street in Los Angeles.