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|Atlanta Eagle owners plan to submit liquor license amid closure rumors|
|Written by Dyana Bagby|
|Friday, 12 November 2010 00:00|
Rumors that the Atlanta Eagle may close by the end of this year were swatted down by co-owner Richard Ramey this week as the gay bar continues its federal lawsuit over the Atlanta Police Department’s botched raid of the bar last year.
Ramey talked to the GA Voice after a short blog entry in Creative Loafing on Nov. 5 lamented the laying off of longtime Eagle bartender Chris Lopez and stated the loss of Lopez was “not altogether surprising. Rumors have been flying that the bar will close before the end of the year.” The blog entry was later taken off the website.
When asked if the Atlanta Eagle was closing at the end of the year, Ramey said, “That is not necessarily true. Chris Lopez was laid off ... and one of the reasons is because times are tough. Just because we decided to lay a person off does not mean we are closing and no news agency should be reporting that.
“At this point it’s not absolutely true. Creative Loafing is not blogging the correct information,” Ramey added.
Ramey said this week he is planning to fill out the paperwork to renew the bar’s liquor license. The city’s renewal request is due Nov. 15 and the state renewal is due Dec. 31.
“The paperwork is on my desk and I’m planning on filling it out,” he said Tuesday.
Mayor announces ‘blue ribbon panel’ on federal lawsuit
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed addressed the Stonewall Bar Association Oct. 28 at the organization’s annual awards dinner and announced the formation of a blue ribbon panel.
The panel’s mission is to help find ways to resolve the federal lawsuit against the city by numerous patrons of the Atlanta Eagle when it was raided Sept. 10, 2009, and who claim their constitutional rights were violated.
Currently named to the panel are Lee Schreter, Burt Tillman, Lawrie Demorest, Lawrence Ashe and Jeremy Burnette. Burnette and Demorest are openly gay attorneys.
“The main function of the panel is to bring the case to a resolution,” said Reese McCranie, deputy director of communications for the mayor.
Dan Grossman, an attorney for the Eagle plaintiffs, was not impressed with the mayor’s announcement.
“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. “The mayor doesn’t need a blue ribbon panel to talk to me about settlement, all he needs is a telephone,” Grossman added.
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.
Earlier this month in a court filing, Grossman, who is representing the Eagle plaintiffs along with Lambda Legal and the Southern Center for Human Rights, accused the city of purposefully withholding or destroying evidence in the aftermath of the 2009 raid.
Grossman claimed APD officers deleted text messages and cell phone pictures taken during the raid.
The city then denied any wrong-doing in its response to the Eagle attorneys’ allegations, saying it has provided all necessary information to the plaintiff’s attorneys.
The plaintiff’s attorneys responded to the city’s response, saying the following “serious matters were left largely unaddressed” by the city’s recent response, such as deliberately destroying mobile phone data; the city’s continued overwriting of computer backup tapes after the court’s order they be produced; failure to produce complete email archives; and the disappearance of Special Enforcement Section minutes about the Raid.
The mayor has asserted that any illegal activity on the part of the city would be thoroughly investigated and swift action taken if the allegations against the APD officers are true.
— Laura Douglas-Brown and Ryan Watkins contributed
Top photo: The co-owner of the Atlanta Eagle, which was raided by Atlanta police in 2009, denies rumors the gay bar is closing as a federal lawsuit against the city continues. (by Dyana Bagby)
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