“I’m very excited to come to Atlanta because of the kinship of Fort Worth and Atlanta. There are so many parallels,” Camina says. “I’m really anxious to see the audience reaction and questions posed. If any audience can relate, it’s the Atlanta audience.”
The Atlanta Police Department’s raid on the Atlanta Eagle led to several lawsuits by gay bar patrons and employees which the city of Atlanta eventually settled for more than $1.5 million. An independent investigation into the September 10, 2009, raid cost taxpayers another $1.2 million, for a total of nearly $3 million Atlanta paid out. The final case against the city, filed by bartender Chris Lopez, was dismissed by a federal judge in May.
The lawsuits forced the APD to make changes to its standard operating procedures including more training on LGBT diversity. But years later, some in Atlanta’s LGBT communities continue to harbor ill feelings for the city police department and Mayor Kasim Reed.
In Texas, activists held rallies and were thrown out of City Council meetings because they shouted angrily at city officials, yet eventually the city and LGBT residents came together to build bridges. The police chief even became an open and vocal LGBT advocate.
“In the wake of the raid …this horrible incident … the city and police department instituted diversity training, assigned an LGBT liaison to the police department, added gender identity to its nondiscrimination statement and gave benefits to domestic partners,” Camina says. “It was a catalyst for a lot of change.”
Camina started out to make a short film to be used as an educational tool with police departments, schools, attorneys general offices. Now a feature-length film, his documentary is screened at film festivals but also is screened on college campuses and at various law enforcement agencies.
Top photo: Rallies protesting the raid on the Rainbow Lounge helped lead to change in Fort Worth’s leadership on LGBT issues. (Publicity photo)