During his opening remarks at yesterday's GLBT town hall meeting — a pow wow organized to address safety concerns in the gay community and, presumably, to allow Police Chief-to-be George Turner the opportunity to begin mending fences with that demographic — councilman Alex Wan politely requested that the audience not dwell on the past.
"I want us to find ways [for our community and the APD] to partner and work together," Wan said to an audience of a few dozen members of the GLBT community seated in Inman Middle School's auditorium. "I encourage you to ask tough questions ... but not ones that rehash old stuff."
You can't fault the man for trying.
Despite Wan's urging, it was inevitable that the Eagle raid would be brought up. And why not? Several people who spoke during a public comment/question period made it clear the criminals aren't the only ones making them feel unsafe — they're concerned about police officer conduct, as well.
Jeff Calhoun was at the Eagle the night of the raid. Toward the end of the meeting, he wondered aloud why the city has been so steadfast in its refusal to simply apologize for the incident. Daniel Grossman, the attorney who initiated a lawsuit in the Eagle case, took the mic next and said — gesturing toward Mayor Kasim Reed, who was seated in a front row — that the city's claim that they couldn't risk implicating the APD by apologizing is "disingenuous." After all, Grossman said, a lawsuit wasn't filed until well after the alleged victims in the Eagle incident asked for and were denied an apology. "This case is not about money," he said.
Reed — who was among several local notables in the audience, including Atlanta councilmembers Michael Julian Bond and Kwanza Hall, Fulton County commissioner Robb Pitts, State Rep (and out lesbian) Simone Bell, and a slew of APD commanders — made it clear he didn't appreciate the indictment.
"This didn't happen under my watch," a frustrated Reed said, explaining that he wasn't yet in office when the incident took place. "What you said were my comments were disingenuous. I care very deeply about what happened at the Eagle." Reed sat down for another a minute or so, before getting up and leaving.
At one point, another commenter spoke to the perception within the GLBT community that they're being unfairly targeted by road blocks the APD has set up on several occasions near the intersection of Piedmont Ave. and 10th St. in Midtown. Chief Turner attempted to dispel that notion. "One of our strategies around crime fighting is to use traffic as a deterrent. We’ve had some robberies in that area. There have been eight road blocks the entire year in the Piedmont and 10th [area], and there have been 800 roadblocks this year throughout the city. We're trying to decrease overall crime in the community." Later in the meeting, Turner seemed to allude to his department using road blocks as a general crime deterrent and to identify people who might be in the area for nefarious reasons, thefts, etc. "It’s a strategy," he said, "one of many, that we use to fight crime."
Attorney Daniel Grossman took the mic, and stated his opinion — or, rather, what he said was the Supreme Court's opinion — that road blocks can't be used in that manner. "It's unconstitutional to use a roadblock for general crime prevention. They have been approved for very limited purposes. [You can't use them] for drugs, robbery or general crime control — it’s unconstitutional."
Mayor Reed — who was still in the audience at this point — agreed that it was worth looking into with the law department (more on this to come).
Despite moments of contention, the meeting was a decent first step in the APD's journey toward building trust in the gay community. Still, it's obvious there's a long way to go. Officer Patricia Powell proudly identified herself as lesbian and recognized the fact that she has her work cut out for her in her position as the department's GLBT liaison. She said to the audience, "I have a lot of challenges and a lot of work ahead of me, but I need your help and I’m up for the challenge."
"it's probably too much to hope that they do away with the entire poorly-written Blotter"…
Not surprising at all.. Most of America is a sprawling-strip mall dotted-suburbia speckled-freeway.
I had to look at Doria's Facebook page. While stalking as a practice should be…
Free lunch? 1. Capital gains tax relief 2. Walton grantor retained annuity trusts tax relief,…
I think a better thing would be to get the myth out of jack kingston's…
"As elected officials we are bound by oath to uphold the Constitutions of Georgia and…