The 1983 murder of a gay man in Highland Park is mostly forgotten but that may change soon [correction]

 Figueroa and Avenue 41 in HIghland Park would be named in honor of Bobby Brown and the Uptown Gay & Lesbian Alliance

Figueroa and Avenue 41 would be named in honor of Bobby Brown and the gay support group formed after his death

HIGHLAND PARK — Robert Anthony Brown was 24 when he was shot and killed after leaving a gay bar, The Bon Mot,  near Figueroa Street and Avenue 41 in November 1983. His killing and that of another gay may, Richard Lee, who was shot two years earlier near Figueroa and Avenue 43, prompted friends and neighbors who were not satisfied with the LAPD’s response to form the Uptown Gay and Lesbian Alliance. The group lives on, and now there’s a proposal to rename the intersection of Figueroa and Avenue 41 in honor of Brown and the alliance.

A City Council motion presented by Councilman Gil Cedillo includes background on the 1983 and the community’s response:

“Bobby was first attacked by two men thought to be members of a local gang. During the first attack, witnesses described Bobby as being on the ground with a shotgun pointed at his mouth. These witnesses, Tom Walters and his lover David, were shot at when they walked onto Avenue 41. Bobby escaped, robbed of his money, jewelry and keys. Tom and his lover had to crawl back into the bar to avoid being shot. The police were called, who arrived, took the report, and, according to witnesses, made no investigation. Witnesses also reported the police as questioning whether or not the victims had come out of “that fag bar.” Bobby stayed in the bar to phone his lover, to inform him what had occurred, and to calm down. He was offered a ride by David Maxwell. Shortly after midnight, the two men left the bar. When they turned onto Avenue 41, they were met by one of the gang members, who opened fire. Bobby was shot twice, once in the chest and once in the thigh. He was pronounced dead at the scene. David was wounded in the leg and is in stable condition at County USC Medical Center.”

Gus DiClario, a local real estate agent and friend of Brown, helped organize a meeting with the LAPD over the murder investigation. While Brown’s killer or killers were never found, that meeting would eventually lead to the creation of Uptown Gay and Lesbian Alliance, a nonprofit based in Northeast L.A.

If Cedillo’s motion is approved by the full council, signs reading “Bobby Brown Uptown Gay and Lesbian Alliance Square” will be installed at the intersection.

Correction: A previous version of this story said that Brown’s murder was unsolved based on information provided by the council office and the Uptown Gay and Lesbian Alliance.  However, the LAPD said that Thomas Adam Cabuto was arrested in April 1984 in connection with the murder, said Capt. Arturo Sandoval of the LAPD Northeast Division.  Cabuto was granted parole in November 2017. The LAPD has asked the parole board to reverse its decision, Sandoval said.

Sandoval also defended the department’s handling of the case in light of allegations at the time that the police were indifferent to the killing of a gay man.

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  1. Wow I wish there was still a gay bar on this corner.

  2. Wow what a terrible event from our not too distant past. Bobby Brown deserved better from the LAPD and he and this terrible event should indeed be remembered. Thanks for posting this Eastsider.

  3. I knew him when I was 19, I am 54 now. I never knew the entire story until last night when it appeared on a friends Facebook post. Sure opened an old wound, and answered many questions. I hope this monument happens.

  4. So it has taken 34 years for anything to be done for someone of the gay community. Gee didn’t this councilman just get reelected and never did anything in the first place. If I were related to Mr. Brown I would say a day late and a dollar short. No thanks to your sign….

  5. sorry gaYS. BUT THERE ARE MORE IMPORTANT issues going about (like being out$$$$$) by yuppies wit old $$$$$. no 1 cares about your sex label!.

  6. R.I.P Robert Anthony Brown

  7. Hey I’ve lived here since the 60’s and I don’t appreciate you thinking your going to change my street name. Sorry about being killed on my street but so was my younger brother but we aren’t asking to change the street name for him. I think if you do put up that sign it’s not going to last so I suggest you don’t waste your time. Because my brother grew up on this street from a baby and he deserves the street named after him instead. Robert Medley was his name. Those men were just visiting a bar.

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