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|Still mad about the Eagle raid? Activists want you at tonight's LGBT Police Advisory Board meeting|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|August 22, 2011 09:28|
An activist angry with how the city has handled the aftermath of the unconstitutional Atlanta Eagle raid urges the bar's patrons and supporters to attend the Atlanta Police Department LGBT Advisory Board meeting tonight to show “strength in numbers.”
Laura Gentle is a straight ally who helped organize one of the first rallies to support the Eagle, days after the Atlanta Police Department raided the gay Midtown bar on Sept. 10, 2009. Gentle is using Facebook to urge more people to attend the meeting tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse.
The call for action comes weeks before a Sept. 28 town hall meeting with Mayor Kasim Reed and APD Chief George Turner to discuss the Eagle raid.
Gentle listed alleged “offenses, botched responses and stonewalling of justice” in the Facebook note titled “Help is Needed: Bring Justice to Eagle Raid” posted Sunday night.
Those “botched responses” include the arrest of the lead investigator in the police raid for DUI and possession of marijuana; the disbanding of the controversial Red Dog Unit that was part of the unconstitutional raid; and anti-gay discrimination against patrons during the raid.
“Eagle patrons and supporters need more people to attend these two upcoming meetings and express their individual and collective concern for what went on before, during and after the Eagle — the homophobic slurs, violence, intimidation, humiliation, lies, destruction of evidence, and distrust APD has created in Atlanta communities for years,” the Facebook post stated.
“There is strength in numbers, and up to this point, our numbers and pressure have simply not been strong enough to force real results,” stated the post.
The agenda for tonight’s LGBT Advisory Board meeting includes:
• Updates from the LGBT police liaisons, Officers Pat Powell and Brian Sharp, on the diversity training taking place within the department;
• Review of sessions with Mayor Kasim Reed and Chief George Turner ;
• Review of the agenda for the upcoming Community Town Hall ;
• Public Comment: Two minutes per person to allow enough time for everyone to speak.
Two investigations — one by the APD's Office of Professional Standards and an independent investigation by the high-profile law firm Greenberg Traurig — into the Eagle raid were released in June. Both stated officers violated numerous procedures during the raid.
Last month, Mayor Kasim Reed met with members of the LGBT Advisory Board in a closed meeting to discuss the Eagle raid aftermath. Members said he promised a closer look at the punishments handed down during the Eagle raid.
Chief Turner also met with the advisory board and said he couldn't fire more officers after the investigations revealed officers likely tampered with cell phone evidence and lied about doing so because the evidence was circumstantial.
The meetings with the mayor and chief were requested after a town hall meeting in July showed LGBT attendees remain angry with the city and its handling of the case.
In December, the city settled a federal civil lawsuit from Eagle patrons for more than $1 million.
The Eagle lawsuit, titled Calhoun v Pennington, has garnered enough attention in legal circles that the Department of Justice cited the case as evidence of anti-gay discrimination as part of a brief it filed in a federal case related to the Defense of Marriage Act.
The Eagle plaintiffs were represented by lead attorney Dan Grossman, LGBT legal group Lambda Legal and the Southern Center for Human Rights.
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