A heavy police and security presence was visible to deter any rowdy behavior from young moviegoers like what occurred June 3 during the showing of “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.” For that film, about 10,000 people flocked to the park in Midtown, but the film was stopped early when violence erupted, including allegations by gay residents that they were targeted in the numerous fights.
Atlanta’s LGBT liaison Officer Patricia Powell (photo by Dyana Bagby)
No incidents were reported Thursday. Police would not estimate the number of people attending.
The June 3 fights, coupled with only a small security presence, forced the Atlanta Police Department to send in on-duty officers to halt the viewing early and clear out the park “Dreamgirls” was originally scheduled for June 10, but Screen on the Green was put on hold until June 17 while organizers revised security plans.
The City of Atlanta and the sponsors of Screen on the Green, Peachtree TV and the Piedmont Park Conservancy, announced more security measures this week in anticipation of potential disruptions.
Officer Patricia Powell, the Atlanta Police Department’s new LGBT liaison, was at the park in uniform to be visible to LGBT attendees.
“I’m just out here because there is going to be a large GLBT crowd out here. I’m out here to show support and make sure everything runs smoothly. Just watching, being visible,” she said.
She said she knew about the juveniles who were behind the disturbances two weeks ago but did not hear from gay people complaining about being alleged victims.
“I didn’t hear anything from gay people,” she said.
Attendees at Screen on the Green (by Dyana Bagby)
Reese McCranie, deputy communications director for Mayor Kasim Reed, was also at the park and said a strong presence was wanted but police did not want to be overbearing and intimidating to the crowd. McCranie is gay.
What happened June 3 didn’t deter some gay Screen on the Green fans from attending “Dreamgirls.”
Jane Holdman, a lesbian, said she had no fear because of the visible security and police presence.
“What happened was bad, but it was good because now there is security out here,” she said.
Her only complaint was that she apparently read the “Screen on the Green” schedule incorrectly and was anticipating seeing “Star Wars: A New Hope (Special Edition).”
That’s next Thursday.
“I’m thinking the beer will help,” she said, laughing.
Another group of young gay men, singing Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” as it played on the loudspeakers before the movie started, said Piedmont Park is like a home to them, a place they feel comfortable to be themselves. The extra security surrounding them at Screen on the Green also made them feel safe.
“It’s a good place to mingle and see random friends,” Spencer Luster, 20, said.
“It’s the only place I feel comfortable and accepted,” Alex Luce, 19, said of Piedmont Park and Midtown.
“The security, the City Council, they’re all here — that helps. It’s safer. We feel OK about it,” Luster added. “We’re here to have a good time.”