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|Atlanta police LGBT Advisory Board accused of being 'puppets' of mayor in heated meeting|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|August 23, 2011 14:08|
A heated meeting of the Atlanta Police LGBT Advisory Board on Monday night included shouting, accusations of the board being “puppets” of the mayor and palpable anger with the board and city administration for not doing more to heal the pain in the community after the unconstitutional raid on the Atlanta Eagle nearly two years ago.
Geoff Calhoun (pictured, inset), was in the gay Midtown bar the night it was raided on Sept. 10, 2009, and was a plaintiff in the successful federal civil lawsuit against the city. Calhoun got into a shouting match with board member Ebonee Bradford-Barnes at the two-hour meeting held at Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse after he accused the board of becoming “puppets” of the mayor. Calhoun's statements came after much discussion about why the media was not allowed into the meetings the board had with Mayor Kasim Reed and Police Chief George Turner last month.
“I wonder if you could explain the rationale of the majority of the board denying the media into the meeting with the mayor. I'm trying to understand … is it because you thought you wouldn't be honest, the mayor wouldn't be honest?” Calhoun said.
Philip Rafshoon, a board member and owner of Outwrite, answered, “We thought it would be a much more frank discussion ― we thought it would make more people comfortable.
"I think it worked well with the mayor's meeting. I wasn't pleased with the chief because he had [the city's] lawyers there. It was a decision that was made,” Rafshoon said.
“The impression I'm getting is you all are becoming puppets of the mayor,” Calhoun told the board to some applause from the approximately 20 people attending.
Bradford-Barnes, however, took offense at the accusation made by Calhoun.
“We have our own individual minds. Everybody has an opportunity to serve on this board just as we do. This chair fits everybody's butt in here. I am not a puppet of the mayor. I have a personal opinion. I think that we are going on and on, over and over again about the same issue for over two years now,” she said.
“We need to bring it to a head,” she continued. “We need to cowboy up, cowgirl up...”
“Hold on. Hold on!” Calhoun interrupted. “The same issue for two years? You weren't on the floor of the Eagle! You didn't have your rights violated! I did!”
“But I have had my rights violated as being a black person here in this city of Atlanta,” Bradford-Barnes said. “And there has not been a meeting...”
“Congratulations!” Calhoun shouted back. “I've had it done overseas and here. It hurt a lot more here because this is what I call home. Two years! Two years! … Don't be a window dresser for the mayor!"
“My name is Ebonee Bradford-Barnes. I am not a puppet,” she answered.
Check back with www.thegavoice.com for more coverage of the police LGBT Advisory Board meeting.
Top photo: The Atlanta Police Department LGBT Advisory Board. Inset photo: Geoff Calhoun, plaintiff in the Eagle lawsuit against the city. (by Dyana Bagby)
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