Atlanta Police LGBT Advisory Board meetings with mayor, police chief closed to media

Glen Paul Freedman, chair of the board, said the media nor the community was not invited to attend these meetings based on what was said at the board’s town hall forum on July 13 at Saint Mark United Methodist Church.

“We are not inviting the press or the community. We are following what was stated at the town hall,” Freedman said today. “The way we presented it [at the town hall] was that we would request the meetings and share the information.

“We feel like this an opportunity to have a conversation. Everything will be reported afterward,” he added.

The board will meet with Mayor Kasim Reed Tuesday, July 26, at 10 a.m. at City Hall and with Chief George Turner on Friday, July 29, at the department’s Public Safety headquarters.

Board member Betty Couvertier is stating publicly she disagrees with this position and that the meetings should be open to the public.

“It is my belief that there was and is a certain amount of expectation by the public, that the meetings would be open or at least that the press would be present to report to the community the outcome of the meetings, in preparation for a future town hall meeting,” she said in a statement.

“It is also my opinion that the promise of clarity that is a component of the Mission Statement for the Advisory Board is not being fulfilled,” she added.

Freedman said the board members wanted to discuss with the mayor and chief the role of the LGBT Advisory Board as well as having more training on LGBT issues with employees of the APD.

Couvertier, who is the radio host for “Alternative Perspectives” on WRFG 89.3 FM, also said she believes holding the meetings in private goes against the board’s bylaws.

“I am protesting such closed meetings to the public and to the LGBT press and/or any other media. It was a 7 to 2 consensus that the meetings be closed, contrary to the by-laws

“d. All meetings of the Group shall be open to the public. A minimum advance meeting notice of 24 hours shall be posted on the Group’s page of the APD website and an email notice shall be provided to the press for public notice,” she said.

The advisory board did have a website presence on the APD website but its page is currently offline.

Freedman said seven members of the LGBT Advisory Board met Sunday at Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse to have an informal discussion about the meetings with the mayor and police chief.

He said no votes were taken, but in emails among members it was agreed that in keeping what was said at the town hall forum on July 13 the meetings with the chief and mayor would be held in private.

“We did not vote on anything on Sunday. We had an informal get together at Outwrite .. to talk to everybody. We did that for an hour. It was not an official board meeting. For lack of better term it was a get together,” he explained.