For the second time in less than two years, Los Angeles County law enforcement officers are investigating a death that happened at the home of a wealthy Democratic donor known for keeping company with young black men.
On Monday, WeHoville reported that a young African-American man had been found dead at the West Hollywood apartment of Ed Buck, a wealthy, white gay man. While the L.A. County Sheriff’s office hasn’t released many details, the circumstances are reminiscent of the July 2017 death of Gemmel Moore, a 26-year-old gay black man who passed away after expressing to friends and writing in his personal diary that Buck had a penchant for drugging young black men whom he had in his home.
Buck, 64, made his fortune in the early 1990s after purchasing an Arizona company that provided driver’s license information. The “millionaire, self-acknowledged homosexual and registered Republican” eventually left Arizona and the GOP because of their LGBTQ intolerance, moved to West Hollywood, California, and became a major political donor. Over the years, he has donated millions to Democratic candidates including Hillary Clinton and California politicians.
Since moving to West Hollywood, Buck became infamous for rumors of offering money to young black men for their company. Gemmel Moore was one of those men.
After relocating from Texas, Moore became the focus of what his friend, Samuel Lloyd, called Buck’s “obsession.”
“He went out there searching for other men that were struggling and on the streets and had no money...men who had never experienced drugs before,” said Lloyd at a community meeting last year. “This is the kind of guys Ed Buck searched for.”
Lloyd added that Moore had grown afraid of Buck in the days before his death: “Gemmel was scared of this man. He came and he laid in my arms and he was scared. Scared that this man was going to hurt him.”
Lloyd’s comments are backed up by other black men who had visited Buck. Damar Love, another frequent guest, revealed photos taken inside Buck’s home along with pictures of glass pipes apparently used to smoke crystal meth. Another alleged client who only goes by the name “Brian” provided screenshots from the website Adam4Adam of reported conversations with Buck arranging an encounter. Yet another man named “Blake” provided screenshots to writer and activist Jasmyne Cannick from a man using the name “Bucked,” purported to be Ed Buck. Blake provided screenshots and photos from inside an apartment that appears to resemble Buck’s home.
But perhaps the most damning evidence comes from a journal that Moore’s mother says belonged to her son, in which he discusses his fear of Buck.
“I honestly don’t know what to do,” the journal excerpt reads. “I’ve became addicted to drugs and the worst one at that. Ed Buck is the one to thank he gave me my first injection of crystal meth it was very painful but after all the troubles I became addicted to the pain and fetish/fantasy.”
In the entry, Moore goes on to say, “If it didn’t hurt so bad I’d kill myself, but for now I’ll just let Ed Buck do it.”
Still, Los Angeles County prosecutors decided there was insufficient evidence to charge Buck for Moore’s death. Since his passing, Cannick has relentlessly pursued the case, seeking justice for Moore. After the Monday incident, Cannick renewed the call for prosecutors to arrest Ed Buck.
Two prominent West Hollywood city council members have reached out to City Manager Paul Arevalo, asking that he push newly-elected Sheriff Alex Villanueva to investigate the most recent death, WeHoville reports. Another council member, Lauren Meister, also has pressed for the homicide division to investigate.
Police say Ed Buck was home at the time of both deaths. But Buck likely knew what we all know: His alleged victims lie at the confluence of discrimination, vulnerability, and no-one-gives-a-fuck. There are few segments of the population who are as invisible as gay black men. If Ed Buck were a police officer, there would be widespread outrage. If these victims were white or straight, this would be plastered all over the front pages.
But Ed Buck is one thing these men could never be: rich and white.