Sex, crime & Elysian Park

The remote canyons and shady trails of Elysian Park have long drawn residents in search of some peace, quiet and – in the case of many gay men – sex. The reputation of Elysian Park as a gay cruising ground is far from new. But today the LAPD revealed a video of some recent arrests for lewd conduct in Elysian Park – as well as images of trails littered with used condoms and containers of lubricant – that officials hope will discourage the risky and possibly dangerous behavior. Recently, police said there has been an increase in the number of men who have been robbed and assaulted in the parks, possibly by gang members, while searching for sex. While this morning’s press conference focused on Elysian Park, public sex and lewd behavior are also problems in Griffith Park and Sycamore Park in Highland Park, said LAPD Sgt. Lisa Phillips, head of the Northeast Division’s vice unit. Last year, about 90 people – including doctors and lawyers on their lunch breaks -were arrested in the three parks for lewd behavior. But those arrests have done little to to reduce the problem.

The arrests this week in Elysian Park took place in the hills near the Northeast Little League ball fields and the Los Angeles Police Academy. “We’ve had complaints from officers who jog up there,” said Northeast Capt. William Murphy.

About 80 of last year’s arrests were equally divided between Elysian and Griffith parks, with the remainder at Sycamore Park, Phillips said. However, the statistics did not include Elysian Park east of the 110 Pasadena Freeway, where there has also been a problem with lewd behavior over the years. She noted that the vast majority of men arrested in Elysian Park for lewd conduct are Latino while those in Griffith Park are white.

The parks have historically been a refuge for gays in the face of laws that could have gotten members of the same sex arrested for holding hands or dancing together, Phillips said. “That’s what drove a lot of people into these areas to meet up, to hook up – to meet other gay people,” she said. “But the times have changed. The laws have changed. Its not illegal simply to be gay anymore. But [this] segment of the community hasn’t quite caught up with the changing of the times.”

Police noted that many of the men arrested were engaged in unsafe sex, which could lead to the spread of HIV and other contagious diseases. AIDS activist Richard Zaldivar, president of The Wall Las Memorias Project, said these men were also vulnerable criminals who know their victims are reluctant to report the crimes out of fear and embarrassment. That’s why his group wanted “to warn the community … that there are some serious activities taking at this park.”

Photo by LAPD


  1. am sorry but in that photo all I see are bushes and some trash; are there condoms in there??PS I know of a couple straight people who have had "encounters" up in there too.

  2. More evidence of the return of the bad old, same ol, same ol rule crazy LAPD, whose first solution to any "problem" is to make arrests, clamp on the handcuffs and show everyone whose In Charge. The LAPD got caught with their pants down a few years ago pulling the same down low, undercover caper on the border with West Hollywood, enticing men into talking about sex (none actually occurred) and then clamping on the handcuffs and parading their arrestee victims before the Fox News Cameras and Bright Lights. A co-worker of mine was so entrapped. He was driving to his home in West Hollywood when an attractively attired LAPD perp gave him a "come hither" look. The first thing he knew was he was under arrest and publicly humiliated. A public meeting was called in West Hollywood and WEHO told the LAPD to get lost. WEHO handles the problem without undercover arrests and more effectively, but the LAPD is "always right" in the City of Angels and has a more hardcore reputation for homophobia and . . . here we go again, even when murder investigations go wanting for detective overtime and former LA Mayor Rich Riordan darkly hints of municipal bankruptcy.

  3. When will something be done about this city? Its an absolute disgrace to the USA. So much crime, poorly constructed and decaying roads, scarce greenery, run-down shops, eww skid row… The list goes on. This is meant to be the entertainment capital but to any smart person that title is just a cover up for a very poorly managed sick city that is in desperate need of help. The LAPD are failing in protecting the cities citizens and the LA City Council is failing in providing modern & safe infrastructure. Elysian Park is another example of the sick city… gay sex.. lewd conduct in public? Thats disgusting where is the LAPD oh wait its under-resourced and is busy with a zillion other crimes across the city and doesn’t have the capacity to deal with problems like this. Trash? Where is the council with its park maintainence? LA is third world and to bring it up to normal city standards is going to take a lot of work.

  4. There have been straight couples doing it as well. It’s not just reserved to the gays. Sorry.

    • I think that the park rangers should come up with a master plan to try and rid the parks from all this lewd conduct. Gay or strailght it still a crime and should be handled accordingly. I took a walk there the other day to see wlhat the comotion was about and man there was so much trash every where and I was left wondering how the hell did couches and all these other very large items make it up there unnoticed by the LAPD or the park rangers. I kept hearing all kinds of noises that sounded nothing like animals moving out and about in the greenery. It doesnt even feel like a park it feels more like a cemetery or something. It feels like the end of the world has come and people are hiding from authorities in a police state.

  5. Lets’s see if I get this correct, resources are being put towards profiling of groups (which is illegal), evidenced by the mention of not only gays, but their nationalities also. Basically targeting 2 sub groups.
    We have people getting shot daily on our streets. When was the last time you saw a lapd officer doing a traffic stop for all the ridiculously unsafe drivers out there. The only time you are going to get a ticket in la is if you happen to break the law where they are targeting a traffic area..This is where the problem is, not patrolling the streets. Everybody knows this and it leads to no respect for the law. I do support lapd, not the idiot who makes points fir herself while waisting resources. Shouldn’t the fbi be pursuing this racial profiling?

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