Shorter University, an institution of higher (on Christ) education located in Rome, Ga. recently made employees sign a "Personal Lifestyle Statement" denouncing all-things-unholy, including homosexual and pre-marital sex.
Here's an excerpt ...
I agree to adhere to and support the following principles (on or off the
1. I will be loyal to the mission of Shorter University as a Christ-centered
institution affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention.
2. I will not engage in the use, sale, possession, or production of illegal
3. I reject as acceptable all sexual activity not in agreement with the Bible,
including, but not limited to, premarital sex, adultery, and homosexuality.
4. I will not use alcoholic beverages in the presence of students, and I will
abstain from serving, from using, and from advocating the use of alcoholic
beverages in public ... and in settings in which students are
present or are likely to be present. I will not attend any University
sponsored event in which I have consumed alcohol within the last six
hours. Neither will I promote or encourage the use of alcohol.
Opponents of the statement are saying it's basically a way to weed out gay faculty members (although, they could just lie, right?), and the Human Rights Campaign launched an email blast this week to pressure Shorter's leadership to withdraw the pledge.
The Christian Post was, naturally, more supportive:
Various media reports indicate there was a certain lack of focus at last night's Eagle Raid town hall meeting. More recent controversies — like last week's Occupy Atlanta bust and Mayor Kasim Reed's declaration that he doesn't support the legalization of gay marriage — dominated the forum, but the meeting ended with an olive branch extended and a pledge from the mayor.
Attorney Dan Grossman, who has represented victims of the unlawful 2009 raid in three separate suits, stood and suggested that he and the mayor end their cold war. And have a nosh. From Project Q:
“I think the court is the worst place to resolve these problems,” Grossman said near the end of the nearly two-hour town hall. “I encourage us to sit down, as well as other attorneys. It is time for some healing. It is time for a bunch of people who love the city in their own ways to make something constructive happen.”
Reed agreed and Grossman quickly followed up: “Let’s have lunch.”
Reed also offered a conciliatory gesture of his own. From the GA Voice:
Reed ... said he would hold a status conference with representatives from the city and the Eagle discussing before a federal judge whether or not the city has complied with all of the police reforms mandated in the December settlement.
He said he would like to have it videotaped and then have the video posted the internet for the public to view "so we can stop having this argument." Reed said at the town hall forum he would instruct City Attorney Cathy Hampton, who was in attendance last night, to begin setting up today such a conference with Grossman.
In a conversation with CL today, Grossman said, "Wars can't go on forever. It was time for one of us to take the first step —- you can't fight forever. It’s time to move on and do something good for the city. I hope he picks up my little olive branch."
Mayor Kasim Reed and Police Chief George Turner will appear at a town hall-style meeting tonight to — according to the GA Voice — "cover general community and public safety concerns, as well as ongoing controversy over the Eagle Raid."
This sounds familiar ...
In July 2010, Turner and Reed attended a similar meeting at Inman Middle School, and it didn't exactly go well. Attorney Dan Grossman called Reed "disingenuous," Reed defended himself, saying, "This didn't happen under my watch ... I care very deeply about what happened at the Eagle," and then, after about a minute, he stormed out.
That meeting took place before a settlement was reached in the first Eagle Raid lawsuit — a settlement that resulted in two investigations, a $1.025 million settlement and multiple officer firings — and it seemed that was part of the friction. Currently, there's another lawsuit pending, filed by Eagle raid patrons who didn't participate in the first suit. And, thus far, the city has maintained that there was no wrongdoing.
I guess what I'm saying is, it seems unlikely this meeting will be any more productive than the last one. But it should be interesting. The meeting takes place from 7-8:30 p.m. tonight at St. Mark United Methodist Church, 781 Peachtree Street NE.
He told CL last year, "I would love for an opportunity to be able to sit down with each of these kids, maybe even their families, and just hear their story and introduce myself to them and kind of do that exchange."
Yesterday, in a Fulton County courtroom, Noblitt had an opportunity to address three of his attackers, 21-year-old Jarvis Johnson, 19-year-old Sam Johnson and 17-year-old Benjamin Johnson.
All three pled guilty and were sentenced on reduced charges.
In early July 2010, Noblitt — subject of the CL cover story "Victim of Hate" — was picnicking in Piedmont Park with friend Trent Williams when three young men approached them, asked if they were gay and picked a fight. Noblitt was punched in the head and kicked in the ribs. One of the men wielded a stick. Three more young men joined in; one of them held Noblitt at gunpoint and robbed him.
The incident was classified as a bias crime by the Atlanta Police Department because it appeared the boys had attacked Noblitt and Williams mostly because they're gay.
The GA Voice was in the courtroom yesterday, and said the three Johnsons "expressed remorse" for the attack. Here's their summary of the sentences handed down by Judge Alford Dempsey:
• Benjamin Johnson, who has been out on bond and under house arrest after serving a couple months in youth detention, was sentenced to five years but instead of serving time in prison, he will be under intensive probation.
• Sam Johnson, Benjamin's older brother, who has been in jail since the day of the attack, was sentenced to five years to serve 15 months with time served and was to be released later Tuesday.
• Jarvis Johnson, a cousin of the two other men, has also been in jail since July 2, 2010. He was sentenced to seven years to serve two years with time served, leaving nine months to serve.
Cases against three more of Noblitt's attackers — Jamal Bryant, Daequan Lewis and Tyrone Smith, ages 13, 15 and 16 at the time of the attack — are still pending.
Or just slightly drunker than usual.
In honor of Atlanta Pride weekend, City Council voted last month to extend drinking hours this Sunday night/Monday morning by two and a half hours. So, instead of a midnight last call, you can continue to legally consume alcohol at the establishment of your choice until 2:30 a.m.
And now you know. Thank someone gay today!
Just in time for Pride: Yesterday, the City filed its response to a lawsuit recently filed by ten men who were present at the Atlanta Eagle the night it was improperly raided by the Atlanta Police Department. See, I say "improperly" because it's been established several times over — in a previous settlement, an outside investigation commissioned by the city, as well as an investigation report prepared by the APD itself — that officers involved in the raid did NOT follow procedure. And certain APD procedures that were followed were later deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge.
In its response to this most recent lawsuit, the City basically says that the raid was not improper. Here's the dumb-or-brilliant part: They've phrased it so they're not necessarily arguing that NO ONE'S rights were violated or that the police didn't act inappropriately toward SOME PEOPLE — just not these particular plaintiffs.
Here are some highlights from the response (just to clarify, "City Defendants" includes the officers who conducted the raid, several of whom have already been fired for their role in the raid and the subsequent coverup):
"City Defendants assert that they took no action to deprive Plaintiffs of any right, privilege, freedom or immunity secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America ..."
"Insofar as Plaintiffs have been affected by the conduct of City Defendants, their actions were reasonable, proper, and necessary..."
"If any Plaintiff was, in fact, detained, said detention was reasonable..."
"If any Plaintiff was, in fact, patted down, City Defendants were justified in their belief that their safety or the safety of others was in danger..."
"The Plaintiffs' allegations do not establish a constitutional violation…"
Attorney Dan Grossman told CL today that he expected the City would argue damages — yeah, we were wrong, but how much is that hour spent lying on a filthy barroom floor really worth? — but didn't expect they'd argue the raid itself was acceptable.
In an emailed statement he said, "These statements directly contradict the conclusions of the city's two formal investigation reports, which found widespread violations of the patrons' constitutional rights."
Grossman describes the argument as "frivolous," and says bringing it before a judge could expose the City to sanctions — and paying the plaintiff's legal fees.
UPDATE: City spokesperson Sonji Dade acknowledges that the city's answer to the new lawsuit may sound incongruous with the court settlements it has previously made, but says it reflects standard legal practice.
"There are plaintiffs named in this new suit that the city hasn't yet confirmed were present in the Eagle that night," she says. "The legal strategy at this point has to be to deny the allegations and go from there."
If that sounds to you like the city will eventually settle most of these cases, too, we'd agree.
Yesterday, members of Atlanta's City Council voted unanimously to approve a $120,000 settlement for eight people present the night of the Atlanta Police Department's improper September '09 raid of the Atlanta Eagle.
If you're keeping score at home, that brings the grand total — including the settlement reached with 28 other plaintiffs last December — to $1.145 million the city's shelled out. And that's not to mention the presumably large sum of money spent litigating the initial lawsuit.
And still, the city is prepared to head to court again, with ten more plaintiffs who weren't included in today's settlement.
According to their attorney Dan Grossman, the remaining ten plaintiffs have three demands ...
— Fair monetary compensation.
— The city and the Atlanta Police Department's full compliance with the terms of the first Eagle settlement, which mandated procedural changes within the department. According to Grossman, the APD is still not fully complying with the court order. In particular, he says despite a new requirement that all uniformed officers identify themselves upon request. By design, the rule doesn't apply to undercover officers, whose safety could be compromised if they reveal their names.
— Procedural reform to prevent officers from destroying evidence in the future. Several officers who were involved in the Eagle raid were found to have tampered with and destroyed evidence after it became apparent the raid was improper. Grossman says there's still nothing on the books that would prevent that from happening in the future.
According to Grossman, his clients have gotten pushback on the latter two demands. Check back with Fresh Loaf for updates.
Dick Yarbrough, metro Atlanta's favorite syndicated columnist and curmudgeon, today recounts a recent conversation with a left-leaning pal he calls "Gay Blade, the world's flaming liberal" about California's new law that requires students to learn LGBT history. He says the chances such a measure would pass in Georgia are slim. Yes, starving writers, this is a column that is being published by local newspapers. Via the Marietta Daily Journal, Cobb County's leading policy publication:
I told Gay that our legislators were more worried these days about paying their taxes promptly and strengthening our already-world class ethics laws and about somebody — I’m not sure who — micro-chipping our body parts without our permission than they were about teaching bisexual history in our schools.
Besides, we have a lot of pride in Georgia’s history and the last thing we need to know is that some guy we named a county for used to run around at night in hoop skirts.
With all due respect to California, I don’t think our kids could handle that kind of stuff. They are going to be bummed enough as it is when they find out about James Buchanan and William R. King.
The Georgia Voice's Laura Douglas-Brown, who first spotted the column, says a local gay public relations consultant is urging action against Yarbrough.
You'll recall Yarbrough once wrote that Marietta could curb gay sex in parks by using dogs trained to bite people in the "fanny" and "chase them off to Atlanta where they belong." He later (kind of) apologized.
Besides revising several unconstitutional standard operating procedures, the APD was required by a Federal judge to provide LGBT sensitivity training for its officers. Tonight, at a meeting hosted by the department's outside LGBT advisory board, LGBT liaisons Pat Powell and Brian Sharp are slated to update the community on what that training involved.
Attorney Dan Grossman, who represented Eagle patrons and owners in their lawsuit against the city, will also be there to discuss and answer questions about the results of the city's court-mandated investigation into the raid.
The meeting's set for 7 p.m. in the sanctuary of Saint Mark Church, 781 Peachtree Street in Midtown.
After being demoted to lieutenant last week, Major Debra Williams, the highest-ranking officer involved in the APD's 2009 raid of the Atlanta Eagle, announced yesterday she's retiring.
From the GA Voice:
Williams, who served 27 years on the force, announced her intentions to retire on Wednesday, July 6, APD spokesperson Carlos Campos confirmed to the GA Voice today.
Williams was demoted from major after it was determined in the independent Greenberg Traurig investigation of the raid on the Eagle, a gay Midtown bar, that she was ineffective as supervisor of the raid.
“Major [Debra] Williams, as the highest ranking ... official failed to adequately supervise the Eagle Investigation. In addition, Major Williams presented an inaccurate statement to the public regarding APD policies and procedures,” the report states.
Other officers have been placed on administrative duty following the release of the damning investigation, apparently because investigators determined they lied. The recommended punishment for untruthfulness, according to the APD's own regulations, is termination.
"Nearly one in five Georgia residents lives" not "live"
Are you planning to inquire how the prosecution did such a poor and unsatisfactory job?
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