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|Atlanta Eagle owners grateful for mayor's apology, hope true police reform comes from lawsuit|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|December 08, 2010 22:45|
The owners of the Atlanta Eagle said Wednesday they are pleased with Mayor Kasim Reed's apology to the plaintiffs who sued the city in the wake of the controversial raid by the Atlanta Police Department on the gay bar last year.
"For the mayor to say the things he said really makes me feel, on an individual basis, makes me feel very good. The mayor's [apology] was icing on the cake," said Richard Ramey, co-owner of the gay bar, in an interview with the GA Voice.
Ramey and Robby Kelley also stressed the lawsuit filed against the city was never simply a "gay case."
"If the city really goes forward with the changes [made as part of the settlement agreement] it will be good for every citizen," Ramey said while seated in his bar with Kelley.
"Many people thought this was a gay issue, but this was about the citizens and visitors coming to our city. This was just so much more than gay issues," Ramey added. "So many people lost track of that. What we were fighting for was for the entire city of Atlanta."
The settlement agreement includes an overhaul of APD's standard operating procedures — from officers not detaining a person without reasonable suspicion to all officers wearing visible name tags — as well as a $1.025 million monetary settlement.
Ramey said he was pleased with the city's response to the settlement, including the 14-0 vote by the city council to pass a resolution accepting the settlement.
"It's fantastic … knowing this is behind us," he said tearfully. "These are tears of joy. Knowing I don't have to deal with this anymore — it's wonderful."
Ramey said he was grateful to the customers who have stood with the Atlanta Eagle for the past year and a half as the lawsuit played itself out.
"We can’t even start this conversation off without thanking our customers that stood behind us since that happened," Ramey said. "If this just had happened to us as a business we probably wouldn’t have had the fight that we had."
The reason to fight was for the customers who were in the bar the night it was raided, Ramey said, and also because how the police and members of the Red Dog Unit treated people that night was "legally and morally wrong."
"I felt so responsible for those people here that night and I wanted something good to come out of it," Ramey said.
"From what I'm being told by our attorneys [lead attorney Dan Grossman along with Lambda Legal and the Southern Center for Human Rights] we've done something wonderful," Ramey said.
"If we have made it where this doesn’t happen to anyone in this city again, gay or straight, it makes no difference, then we're very, very happy," he said.
Top photo: Richard Ramey (right) and Robby Kelley, owners of the Atlanta Eagle, said Wednesday they were grateful for Mayor Kasim Reed's apology to the plaintiffs in the federal civil suit who sued the city after a botched Atlanta police raid on the gay bar last September. (by Bo Shell)
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