“Many people thought this was a gay issue, but this was about the citizens and visitors coming to our city. This was just so much more than gay issues,” Ramey added. “So many people lost track of that. What we were fighting for was for the entire city of Atlanta.”
The settlement agreement includes an overhaul of APD’s standard operating procedures — from officers not detaining a person without reasonable suspicion to all officers wearing visible name tags — as well as a $1.025 million monetary settlement.
Ramey said he was pleased with the city’s response to the settlement, including the 14-0 vote by the city council to pass a resolution accepting the settlement.
Kelley, one of the Eagle 8 arrested during the raid on Sept. 10, 2009, was visibly emotional Wednesday when speaking about the settlement.
“It’s fantastic … knowing this is behind us,” he said tearfully. “These are tears of joy. Knowing I don’t have to deal with this anymore — it’s wonderful.”
Ramey said he was grateful to the customers who have stood with the Atlanta Eagle for the past year and a half as the lawsuit played itself out.
“We can’t even start this conversation off without thanking our customers that stood behind us since that happened,” Ramey said. “If this just had happened to us as a business we probably wouldn’t have had the fight that we had.”
The reason to fight was for the customers who were in the bar the night it was raided, Ramey said, and also because how the police and members of the Red Dog Unit treated people that night was “legally and morally wrong.”
“I felt so responsible for those people here that night and I wanted something good to come out of it,” Ramey said.
“From what I’m being told by our attorneys [lead attorney Dan Grossman along with Lambda Legal and the Southern Center for Human Rights] we’ve done something wonderful,” Ramey said.
“If we have made it where this doesn’t happen to anyone in this city again, gay or straight, it makes no difference, then we’re very, very happy,” he said.
Top photo: Richard Ramey (right) and Robby Kelley, owners of the Atlanta Eagle, said Wednesday they were grateful for Mayor Kasim Reed’s apology to the plaintiffs in the federal civil suit who sued the city after a botched Atlanta police raid on the gay bar last September. (by Bo Shell)