“GAY PRIDE” Unknown (Flickr CC)

After reading the article on the Atlanta Police Department closing gay bars this past weekend I picked up on the following terms:

Discrimination

Profiling

Gay rights

Harassment

Lifestyle

Sexual Orientation

Unlawful Action

Eagle Raid

Help/Support

Equality

According to the owners of four LGBT bars and restaurants in Atlanta;Blake’s, Ten, G’s and 10th, they were targeted by the Atlanta Police Department (APD) that were open due to the Black Gay Pride Weekend held inn Atlanta Labor Day weekend . This ignited a controversy and claims that the action was motivated by racism and homophobia.The owners say they were targeted due to their patrons sexual orientation on Sunday, August 27,2017. James Nelson, the owner of Ten, said the incident was a case of discrimination and pointed to non-LGBT bars around Piedmont Park that were allowed to remain open. Around midnight APD came into the venues forcing the bars and restaurants to close down two hours before their scheduled times. However, the owners and many people celebrating the event felt this was unlawful due their being, “…a city ordinance allowing bars and restaurants to remain open until 2:30 a.m. on Mondays during four holiday weekends – MLK, St. Patrick’s Day, Memorial Day and Labor Day…” Many people are becoming outraged at the actions of the Atlanta Police Department and some citizens even claim this is not the first time a LGBT bar/resturant has been targeted by the APD. Although, on September 10, 2009; an Atlanta Police Department task force called Red Dog Unit, raided into a gay bar called the Atlanta Eagle without a warrant. Officers forced the customers to lie face-down on the spilled beer, dirt, and broken glass covered floor because they were patrons of the bar. Customers were illegally searched, fondled, and  called racist and anti-gay slurs. Major Darin Schierbaum, who met with LGBT residents and activists to repair the department’s image in the wake of the Eagle raid and helped update homophobic and anti-trans materials used to train new police recruits, is personally going to the four businesses shut down to apologize.

The loudest voices heard in this controversy are the Atlanta community members who were among many in attendance of the venues and the officers of the Atlanta Police Department, including Atlanta police Chief Erika Shields, those who agree this was a targeted choice and those who feel that it was a simple mistake. The police are saying that the allegations of the bars and restaurants being targeted due to them being LGBT business are “unfortunate and simply not true.” In addition to this, an Atlanta police spokesperson said the agency was concerned with the safety of the large crowd as it spilled onto the streets. But when commanders moved to shut the businesses down early, they made a mistake, according to Carlos Campos, the public affairs director for Atlanta police. City Council member Alex Wan, the only openly LGBT member of the council, called the incident disappointing. Chief Shields made a public statement saying, “I’m disappointed with the decision by the Zone 5 morning watch commander to force four gay bars/restaurants in Midtown to close two hours early during Black Gay Pride weekend,…” Shields also added, “There are several steps the morning watch commander could have taken to further investigate the concerns bar owners expressed that they had permission to stay open until 2:30 a.m. Those steps were not taken. As a result, I have made the decision to move this commander to another duty in another zone,…”

The controversy is causing the Atlanta Police Department reputation to decline once again like it did after the Atlanta Eagle raid. However, the controversy is causing minority members of the Atlanta LGBTQA community to stand up and fight for justice.

I feel that this situation is one of many attacks from police against the African American LGBTQA community in Atlanta. In addition I feel that this trend is spreading across our nation and world and need to be stopped on the federal level. This will not stand with the LGBT community and we will fight for what’s right!!!

To view this article, click here. and to view the statements made by Chief Shields click here.