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

 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,  in November 1983. Brown’s murder near Figueroa Street and Avenue 41 was never solved. But 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.

UPDATE: A family member of Robert Anthony Brown says his killer was eventually arrested and convicted. Brown was shot when he and his friend went back to his car and were confronted by the gunman who opened fire. The Eastsider is seeking information from the council office regarding the matter. Brown was a resident of Highland Park.

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6 comments

  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

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