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Operation Vice-Versa, Phillip W. Smith, and Queer Nation Houston

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Published on Dec 30, 2010

On Sunday, November 3, 1991, at 1:30 am, Phillip W. Smith, 24, was gunned down outside Heaven, a gay nightclub in the 900 block of Hyde Park in Houston, TX. Investigators said Johnny Bryant Darrington III, 20, planned to rob Smith as part of a nightlong crime spree, but reportedly became angry when the victim smiled at him. Darrington told police that he shot Smith because he hated homosexuals. Three of Darrington's companions were charged with aggravated robbery. Four months earlier, 27-year old Paul Broussard, a Houston banker, was killed after he and companions left the same nightclub Smith had visited.
Following the murder of Paul Broussard, The Houston Police Department introduced Operation Vice-Versa, a short lived undercover sting operation meant to capture gay bashers. Operation Vice-Versa was shut down after only 2 weeks after several undercover police officers were attacked and beaten up.
On the evening of Wednesday, November 6, 1991, more than 2 dozen Queer Nation Houston members met at Charlie's Coffee Shop, a Montrose area diner, to plan a course of action to enlighten the community on the problems of hate crimes. This led to the creation of Q-Patrol.
Later that evening, Queer Nation protested at police headquarters demanding a meeting with Bob Lanier and Sylvester Turner, the two mayoral run-off candidates. Queer Nation also planned a rally at Houston City Hall scheduled to take place at noon on Friday, November 8, 1991.
"There is a clear message being sent from society, from our government, from the management of the police department, that it is open season on gay people," Queer Nation activist Brian Bradley said, "That it is permissible, that it's even laudable in some cases, to verbally or physically assault, if not murder, gay people, and we are fed up with it."

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