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|UPDATED: Mayor to form 'blue ribbon panel' on Eagle raid case|
|by Ryan Watkins|
|October 29, 2010 10:22|
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed addressed the Stonewall Bar Association last night at the organization’s annual awards dinner. Reed was the keynote speaker at the dinner. The mayor promised late last week to make an announcement regarding news on the on-going Atlanta Eagle case and made good on his promise during his address last night.
“The mayor announced that he is going to form a blue ribbon panel to act as an intermediary somehow between the city and plaintiffs’ attorneys to try to resolve the case,” said Dan Grossman, an attorney for the Eagle plaintiffs who attended the dinner.
“Part of the reason he is doing this is because he believes this blue ribbon panel can say things he doesn’t feel like he is free to say,” Grossman said. “Because as he explains it, the things he says can be held against the city in court but he believes the blue ribbon panel can say things without them being held against the city.”
Patrons and staff of the Atlanta Eagle are suing the city in federal court after the botched 2009 raid. The Atlanta Police Department's Red Dog unit has been accused of illegally detaining the staff and patrons, searching them without warrants and using anti-gay slurs during the raid.
Grossman expressed skepticism about the need for the panel.
“The mayor doesn’t need a blue ribbon panel to talk to me about settlement, all he needs is a telephone,” Grossman said.
Reese McCranie, deputy director of communications for the mayor's office, said today that the panel will consist of legal scholars and attorneys from the Atlanta area. McCranie said that the panel would likely consist of seven members. Currently, Lee Schreter, Burt Tillman, Lawrie Demorest, Lawrence Ashe and Jeremy Burnette make up the commission.
"The main function of the panel is to bring the case to a resolution," McCranie said.
The panel is still in the formation stage and more information about scheduled meetings, additional members and whether or not the meetings will be open to the public have yet to be formalized.
Reed's address was at least the fifth time in the last month that the mayor spoke before an LGBT audience. Reed hosted a pre-Pride reception at City Hall, spoke at the Atlanta Pride kick-off party at the Georgia Aquarium on Oct. 8, spoke from the Pride stage on Oct. 11, and addressed the Atlanta Executive Network last week where he discussed accusations that Atlanta Police Department destroyed evidence relating to the raid on the gay bar. At the AEN meeting, Reed said the city would make an announcement regarding the lawsuit within five to seven days.
Earlier this month in a court filing, Grossman accused the city of purposefully withholding or destroying evidence in the aftermath of the 2009 raid. The city has since denied any wrong-doing.
Grossman claimed APD officers deleted text messages and cell phone pictures taken during the raid. “Some of the missing messages specifically concern the Raid, and some were even sent during the Raid itself,” according to court papers.
The mayor asserted that any wrong-doing on the part of the city would be thoroughly investigated and swift action taken if the allegations against the APD officers were true.
“We are going to investigation every single allegations made ... and if we find those allegations are true ... then we are going to deal with those individuals in a decisive way that will be public so it will not be private,” the mayor said at the meeting. “So you will see what we do.
“We’re going to get to the bottom of this and if we find out the assertions are true ... we will deal with this in swift fashion. We will deal with these allegations in an aggressive fashion.”
Top photo: Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed addresses Stonewall Bar Association (by Sher Pruitt)
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