Patrons of the Atlanta Eagle who were searched and detained when police raided the gay bar last September finally got their longed-for apology late Wednesday, when Mayor Kasim Reed held a press conference to speak out on a settlement agreement reached between the city and plaintiffs in a federal civil rights lawsuit over the raid.
"I believe that what occurred that evening should not have happened and should not happen again," Reed said. "As mayor of the city of Atlanta, I feel pain for anyone mistreated in our city and apologize to each plaintiff in the Calhoun case."
Dan Grossman, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, has long said that the lawsuit, which will cost the city some $1.025 million in payments, could have been avoided if the city apologized to the plaintiffs and agreed to change police policies.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed apologizes for Eagle gay bar raid
In the settlement agreement finalized today, the city of Atlanta agreed to sweeping changes in how the police department conducts raids and investigations, but did not apologize.
Reed delivered the apology himself in a press conference at City Hall, flanked by Police Chief George Turner and the police department’s two LGBT liaison officers.
Neither Reed nor Turner held their posts when the raid took place. At the time, the police department had one LGBT liaison officer, who was not even told about the raid until she was contacted by media seeking comment on it. The APD now has two LGBT liaison officers, fulfilling a mayoral campaign promise from Reed, as well as a citizen LGBT Advisory Board.
Here is the full text of Reed’s statement. He did not take questions and no one else spoke at the press conference.
On behalf of the city of Atlanta, the Atlanta City Council and the Atlanta Police Department, I am pleased to announce that our settlement with the plaintiffs in the Atlanta Eagle lawsuit has been approved by the federal court.
The allegations made by the plaintiffs that certain Atlanta police officers engaged in inappropriate conduct at the Atlanta Eagle on Sept. 10, 2009, have been a matter of serious concern to me for some time.
I believe that what occurred that evening should not have happened and should not happen again. As mayor of the city of Atlanta, I feel pain for anyone mistreated in our city and apologize to each plaintiff in the Calhoun case.
This week’s settlement agreement is a step forward and I hope the beginning of a healing process, part of a number of steps that we have taken since I have been mayor of the city of Atlanta.
The plaintiffs and the city of Atlanta, as part of the settlement agreement, have agreed upon clear steps which will strengthen and improve our law enforcement capability and help ensure that incidents such as this will not happen in our city again.
These reforms include training, education and revising applicable policies and procedures.
I believe that the lessons learned here and the resulting reform will have a positive impact on future relations between the Atlanta Police Department, the LGBT community and the rest of the city of Atlanta, and that the rights of all of our citizens will be better safeguarded as a result.