Screen on the Green returns after being postponed a week due to violence

“Dreamgirls” tonight at Screen on the Green

“Dreamgirls,” a gay favorite flick, shows tonight as part of Screen on the Green at Piedmont Park after being postponed a week due to fights and brawls that broke out during the June 3 viewing of “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.”

More security measures are in place for tonight’s movie as announced this week by the City of Atlanta and Screen on the Green sponsors Peachtree TV and the Piedmont Park Conservancy. Added security measures include more on-duty Atlanta Police Department personnel as well as the APD’s mounted patrol and presence from MARTA Police and Midtown Blue.

Several groups of rowdy teenagers were said to have caused a melee at the June 3 movie at the park, including several attacks against gay people trying to watch the movie.

“I was called a faggot. There were a couple of fights in front of Blake’s [the gay bar on 10th Street] — it was all pretty pathetic,” said openly gay Midtown resident Jesse Rhodes after the June 3 incidents. “I was verbally discriminated against based on my sexual preference.”

The press release from Peachtree TV, Piedmont Park Conservancy and the City of Atlanta states:

Peachtree TV, Piedmont Park Conservancy and the City of Atlanta have been working individually and collectively to evaluate and adjust the safety and security plan for Screen on the Green, a long-standing Atlanta summer tradition in the City’s flagship park.

The new public safety plan, which will be effective at the next event on June 17, incorporates increased security personnel, including on-duty and off-duty Atlanta police officers and staffers from a private security firm that regularly handles events in Piedmont Park. In addition, representatives from MARTA Police and Midtown Blue are participating in this coordinated effort. Specific improvements to the security plan for Screen on the Green include:

An on-duty Atlanta Police Department Incident Commander, utilizing the City’s Mobile Command Unit, will be on-site and able to make decisions to bring in additional Atlanta Police resources if needed.

Additional off-duty police officers have been added to the inside of the park to maintain order and stop any criminal behavior including disorderly conduct.

Staff from the Mayor’s Office of Constituent Services will be on-site to assist moviegoers with non-emergency concerns.

The APD’s Mounted Patrol will have a presence and will be available to assist with any crowd control concerns that arise. They will only be called in by the Incident Commander if needed.

APD’s Zone 5 Units will maintain an on-duty presence in the area and can be called in quickly to augment the off-duty resources if needed.

The APD’s School Detective Unit, which has specific expertise in dealing with young people, will have a presence at the event.

Communication between event staff and police has been enhanced with the use of Nextel Direct.

Communication between off-duty and on-duty police will be improved, as the event is utilizing all Atlanta Police, who are on the same frequencies.

The sponsor partners have hired a new security company familiar with the park to provide more event security personnel, commonly referred to as “T-Shirt” security. They will maintain presence in the aisles and ask anyone disturbing the movie to quiet down or leave.

The sponsor partners have made adjustments to the event site plan to improve pedestrian traffic flow, such as relocating the screen, locations of the vending stations and the portable toilets.

Piedmont Park has long been home to safe, successful events, including Screen on the Green.  The sponsor partners and the City of Atlanta believe the incidents on June 3 were an anomaly and encourage the community to return Thursday for the Screen on the Green showing of “Dreamgirls.”  The final Screen on the Green event for the 2010 season is the June 24 showing of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.


Top photo: Dreamgirls (publicity photo)