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Witnesses Contradict Police Report in Barry Scott Arrest

by Kilian Melloy
Friday Jul 20, 2007

Boston DJ and radio show host Barry Scott was spinning discs at the 40th birthday party for Eddy Foley in Foley's back yard in Provincetown when the local police showed up saying that a complaint had been called in about the noise being generated by the party.

Party guests say that the music was turned down in order to comply with the police, and the speakers turned to face the house; none the less, the police were back later in the evening, with a $50 citation, once more saying that a noise complaint had been phoned in. The music was turned down once again, say witnesses; even so, the police were back, at about 10:30 Saturday night, and that's when Barry Scott was arrested.

The report filed by summer officer Anthony Bova says that after turning off the music, Barry announced over the microphone, "The Provincetown Police are here to ruin our night. We hate them."

The report goes on to say that in response to this announcement, the partygoers--about 50, in the report's reckoning--began "to cheer and yell."

That's when, according to the report, police moved in and arrested Barry. In the process, Bova's report says, Scott's "nose inadvertently came in contact with the external window frame," resulting in facial lacerations and profuse bleeding.

Scott was taken to the Provincetown jail, treated for his face laceration, charged with disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest. He pled not guilty at his arraignment on Monday.

But witnesses at the party disagree with Bova's report. They say that's not quite how it all happened.

John Donovan, a guest at the party, gave his account to EDGE, saying, "I was very close to where [Scott] was set up, and what I observed was he had to turn the music off and then he made a very brief, like thirty second, statement as to why he'd turned the music off."

Continued Donovan, "And as soon as he'd finished saying what he was saying, [the police] just came running around the corner of the house and they just tackled him."

According to Donovan, Scott's address was not an incitement to riot or to hate the police officers. "I can say with absolute certainty that the word hate never came out of his mouth," Donovan told EDGE.

Donovan continued, "I was sober, I haven't had a drink in over 20 years, and everything is very clear to me. Essentially, what he said was, 'Ladies and gentlemen, I am very sorry, we have to turn the music off per order of the Provincetown police department.'"

"And this is almost a direct quote," added Donovan: "'I have a feeling they don't like us very much tonight, and I think the feeling is mutual. And it's very sad that we pay taxes for this town, and that we can't celebrate Eddy's 40th birthday without being harassed.' And the second that he finished saying that, they grabbed him."

Asked whether it looked as though Scott were resisting the officers, Donovan told EDGE, "Not at all," and added, "they basically just stampeded around the corner and they looked like they were on top of him in a matter of seconds... they just kind of pounced on him."

Added Donovan, "I didn't see him resisting arrest, and... he kept saying, 'I am not resisting arrest, I am not resisting arrest,' and, 'Please stop, you're hurting me,' and then, 'Where's my shoe?'"

Explained Donovan, "In the process, they somehow took his shoe off. After they took him away, we found his sneaker and took it into the house."

According to a report in the Provincetown Banner, Scott was later treated for contusions to his leg, a cut to his right foot, and a badly bruised toe that he initially feared might be broken.

Donovan reiterated to EDGE, "Again, from my observation, he did not seem to be resisting arrest at all."

Fellow partygoer Gary Montague agreed with the description of events provided by Donovan, and said that he was late in arriving to the party, though he arrived before the arrest took place. When he got there, he said, there was no loud music playing.

"I was thinking I would find the house easily" because he expected the party's music to be audible from down the street. "As we were coming down the hill, we couldn't hear anything," Montague said, adding that the only way he knew which house was hosting the party was that he "saw the side of the house with all the food and stuff... it was very quiet."

Like Donovan, Montague said that there was no indication that Barry was resisting arrest. "No, he never had a chance," Montague told EDGE. "There were about four [policemen] who ran up to him. They shoved him against the wall. They automatically started saying, 'Don't resist arrest.'"

Said Montague, "Throughout the entire thing, I could hear Barry saying, 'I'm not resisting, I'm not resisting.'"

Scott was not the only one taken in by Provincetown police. His partner, Bryan Richardson, was taken in. According to a Bay Windows article from earlier this week, Richardson was taken in for being "drunk and disorderly," though he was not subsequently charged.

Said Donovan, "I don't understand that either. [Bryan] had had a drink, maybe, but he was by no means drunk. I don't understand why he was taken... he was on private property, he wasn't in a public place where he was creating a nuisance or anything."

Said Montague, "I just happened to glance over and noticed that Bryan was in handcuffs already. I don't know why. I don't know anything that happened earlier."

Richardson, who suffers from two split discs in his spine and uses a cane to walk, was later released without charge, but not before allegedly enduring an ordeal of his own. According to the Bay Windows article, Richardson was thrown against the police car as he was being taken in. Then, by his own account, Richardson was left on the floor of a holding cell where, unable to rise to his feet unassisted, he called out for help in getting up so as to use the facilities, but was left on the floor to soil himself.

The Bay Windows article said that Richardson, who works as a personal chef, later was told that his back had been re-injured and he is now unable to work.

Said Donovan, who stayed at Foley's house until Scott and Richardson returned, around 3 a.m., "Eddy--the host, the birthday guy--came in and said, 'I think everyone needs to leave, they're not in good shape.' Everyone went out the back door. I stayed."

Recounted Donovan, "In the living room Bryan, [Barry's] partner, was sobbing hysterically... his body was literally twisted into a pretzel. Barry was obviously upset too, he was more together than Bryan was, but I guess from what they said... [Bryan] was on the floor of the holding cell, he needed to go to the bathroom, and they ignored him, and he had to pee his pants on the floor of the cell."

Scott was unable to provide comment about the incident, but his attorney, Chris Snow, told EDGE, "I've said from the outset that I didn't think that the evidentiary foundation is present to support the charge [of resisting arrest]."

Added Snow, "Resisting arrest is not a crime if it's not a lawful arrest."

Aside from Scott being apprehended on private property by police who entered the back yard with no warrant, the repeated claim that loud music was being played was in itself "seriously flawed," said Snow, "inasmuch as the complain came in from 22 Franklin Street, not once or twice, but all three times complaints were reportedly made.

"And 22 Franklin Street," continued Snow, "as the local police should know, is miles away [from where the party happened], so that they had received no complaints from anyone... in this neighborhood."

Snow characterized the gathering as a group of "well-behaved, mature adults enjoying an outside party at a time of night in July that, by Provincetown standards, is very early; is reasonable in any town's standards."

Chairman of the Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project and GLAAD spokesman Don Gorton wrote a letter to Provincetown Town Manager Sharon Lynn and Acting Chief of Police Warren Tobias in which he expressed concern at the way the incident was handled by the officers.

The letter from Gorton urged town officials to ensure that the possibility of anti-gay bias on the part of the officers be addressed. Gorton's letter read, in part, "...given the bodily injury suffered by Mr. Scott, the question of potential civil rights violations... arises."

The letter continued, "Furthermore, we strongly feel that the question of the motive behind the conduct causing Mr. Scott's injuries is a serious one. While I do not know the full facts--obviously--there are relevant bias indicators that may well apply in the circumstances."

Gorton's letter went on to say, "...Provincetown must decide whether the police conduct in question should be classified as a hate crime for purposes of the Hate Crimes Reporting Act of 1990.... The law calls for all hate crime episodes to be reported to the State Police, which compiles the data to send to the FBI. The implementing regulations issued by the Executive Office of Public Safety... help structure the relevant line of inquiry in making the determination about hate motivation, by enumerating the various bias indicators that serve as evidence of motive."

Because hate crimes are often identified by abusive language uttered before or during a physical attack, Gorton addressed the absence of any reported slurs in posing the question of bias motivation. Wrote Gorton, "Other bias indicators offer ways of identifying motive that assailants might seek to conceal with a sophisticated avoidance of hate language. Hate crime perpetrators cannot be allowed to get away with throwing their fists by holding their tongues."

Neither the witnesses EDGE spoke with, nor Attorney Snow, suggested that anti-gay bias might have been a factor in the episode. Said Snow, "I don't know that there was any language used that [would lead to] that conclusion. I don't even know the sexual orientations, for instance, of the officers involved."

But Gorton said that the question had not been answered, because it had not been adequately addressed in the first place. Gorton told EDGE that the Provincetown police had rejected out of hand the notion that the incident was in any way motivated by anti-gay bias. "That is the strategy of an ostrich," Gorton said, "and it typifies communities that have something to hide."

Continued Gorton, "I don't think that they necessarily have anything to hide, but putting up the barrier means that you never get the truth, and you're left wondering [about] questions [and their] answers."

Added Gorton, "Homophobic motives will remain unknown; Provincetown police aren't willing to even consider that there might be homophobia in Provincetown. And that is disturbing."

Acting Chief of Police Tobias said earlier this week that Provincetown police are highly trained in sensitivity issues, and that he does not believe bias played a part in the officers' conduct. Said Tobias, "I can tell you that this is not a gay issue. It is a quality of life issue in the neighborhood about noise."

Tobias also said that the incident would be taken seriously. "I will be speaking to the officers personally," Tobias said.

Added Tobias, "We're not going to overlook this or brush this off."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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