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|Citizens board: Atlanta police falsely imprisoned Atlanta Eagle patrons|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|September 17, 2010 00:00|
The Atlanta Eagle patrons and employees were falsely imprisoned and had their civil rights violated when the gay bar was raided a year ago by the Atlanta Police Department, according to the Atlanta Citizen Review Board.
The ruling was made during the CRB’s meeting Sept. 9. The board also ruled that while it was likely abusive language, including racist epithets and anti-gay slurs, was used by the 24 officers during the raid, there was no way to prove exactly who said what. The 24 officers all denied using abusive language, according to a CRB investigator, despite the witnesses and the patrons in the bar who said the abusive language was used.
For the finding of false imprisonment, the board can only recommend to APD Chief George Turner a written reprimand or up to a 3-day suspension of the 24 officers of the APD’s vice squad and paramilitary Red Dog Unit accused of violating the rights of the bar’s patrons and employees.
That is not nearly harsh enough punishment, said Joy Morrissey, chair of the board and a lesbian. The other board members agreed.
So the board called for its staff to conduct an in-depth investigation into what happened during the controversial Atlanta Eagle raid and determine what supervisors were involved, including those who signed off on the raid.
The board also wants the CRB staff to investigate the standard operating procedures of the APD and if they were followed during the raid. The board will make recommendations for discipline of the officers after the study is completed.
Dan Grossman, attorney for the numerous Atlanta Eagle patrons and employees who are suing the APD and City of Atlanta in federal civil court, said the CRB’s finding that the police violated the civil rights — specifically their Fourth Amendment rights — of those in the bar that night was obvious.
“Everyone seems to know this except the APD,” he said.
Grossman is suing along with Lambda Legal and the Southern Center for Human Rights.
The hearing was followed by a small rally at the Atlanta Eagle to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the raid.
Former LGBT liaison files complaint with CRB
Dani Lee Harris, who was once the Atlanta Police Department’s LGBT liaison but has been on medical and administrative leave since April, filed a complaint with the Atlanta Citizens Review Board alleging sexual discrimination and harassment from a civilian employee of the APD.
CRB Executive Director Cristina Beamud informed the board Sept. 9 about the complaint as part of the board’s “intake” — deciding which cases it will ask staff to investigate.
The CRB had to dismiss the case because it does not fall under the board’s jurisdiction, Beamud said.
Harris’ complaint alleges an APD employee used abusive language and discriminated against her based on her gender identity and sexual orientation. Harris came out publicly as intersex several years ago.
“She feels she has been discriminated against because of her sexual orientation. This issue is rather serious,” Beamud said. “The most notable violation was the language she was subjected to but that was uttered by a non-sworn employee. And the whole issue of discrimination in the workplace is not within this board’s jurisdiction.”
According to the complaint filed with the CRB, Harris said she was subjected to a derogatory remark on April 16 about her gender identity. A recording of the remarks is included with the complaint, Harris told Georgia Voice.
Harris also filed a complaint with the APD’s Office of Professional Standards several months ago. An OPS officer at the CRB hearing told the board that the investigation into Harris’s complaint was complete and “some form of discipline will be forthcoming” against the non-sworn employee.
Top photo: Supporters of the Atlanta Eagle gathered at the bar Sept. 9 to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Atlanta Police raid that has sparked multiple complaints and a federal lawsuit. (by Dyana Bagby)
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