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Atlanta Police say no plans at this time to disband Red Dog Unit

Conflicting reports emerged over the weekend about the fate of the Atlanta Police Department's notorious Red Dog Unit, but a police spokesman said this morning that the unit is not being disbanded.

WABE, citing anonymous sources, is reporting the unit may be disbanded as soon as this week. Reporter Jim Burress noted that APD spokesperson Sgt. Curtis Davenport said that was a "rumor."

WSB TV, however, had an exclusive interview with Chief George Turner over the weekend in which Turner told reporter Eric Philips that there were no plans to disband the unit.

Carlos Campos, spokesperson for the APD, said this afternoon, "To the best of my knowledge, [the Red Dog Unit] is not being disbanded today."

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Defense secretary lays out plan for ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal implementation

Defense Secretary Robert Gates gave the first indication of a move toward the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” late last week when he released a memo calling on military leaders to draft training material needed before the repeal’s implementation.

According to the memos, the effective date of repeal has yet to be determined, but they do, however, outline the upcoming policy changes each branch of the military will face after the law is overturned.

The memos also state that once repeal is certified, the military will no longer be allowed to discharge members of the armed services because of their sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation and must cease all open investigations regarding gay servicemembers.  The change in policy will also allow previously discharged soldiers the opportunity to re-enlist.

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Two officers from Atlanta Eagle raid in trouble again; complaints allege groping, body search

Three Atlanta police officers are under investigation and will likely face disciplinary action after allegedly conducting a body cavity search on one man and groping another in the street during a traffic stop. Two of the officers are members of the Atlanta Police Department's Red Dog Unit and were part of the September 2009 raid on the Atlanta Eagle, a gay bar on Ponce de Leon Avenue.

The Atlanta Police Department released a statement that an internal investigation, which is now nearing conclusion, showed "inappropriate" behavior by some officers and Chief George Turner plans quick discipline "up to, and including, dismissal."

WSB-TV reporter Eric Phillips broke the story Jan. 27. 

The two men alleged they were pulled over by three Red Dog Unit officers, forced from their car at gunpoint and then made to pull down their pants.

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Red Dog Unit officers involved in Atlanta Eagle raid under investigation

Three Atlanta Police Red Dog officers are being investigated for allegedly conducting a body cavity search on one man and groping of another during a traffic stop, WSB TV is reporting.

Two of the officers are members of the Red Dog Unit and were part of the raid on the Atlanta Eagle raid, a gay bar on Ponce de Leon Avenue, WSB also reported.

WSB reporter Eric Phillips reported during the 11 p.m. news that two men alleged they were pulled over by three Red Dog Unit officers, forced from their car at gunpoint and then made to pull down their pants.

"Who wants another man touching their... any parts of them ...without justice,"  Brian Kidd, one of the alleged victims, told WSB. His friend was made to undergo a body cavity search while standing in the middle of the road, Phillips reported. The incident occurred in June.

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Atlanta Police LGBT Advisory Board to weigh proposed Eagle raid punishments

The Atlanta Police Department’s LGBT Advisory Board will meet Monday, Jan. 31, after the board’s previous meeting was postponed due to the early January snowstorm.

The group will meet at Atlanta City Hall in City Council Committee Room 2 at 7 p.m.

The meeting follows the Atlanta Citizens Review Board’s recent recommendations that the supervisors of the raid on the Atlanta Eagle in September 2009 receive letters of reprimand and training on the 4th Amendment.

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Gay business owners to community: Shop, drink local

The gay Business Owners of Atlanta met Tuesday to discuss its main mission: educating the public and the community to support local gay-owned businesses in the city.

Some 20 people were present at Jungle for the meeting of the new group, including Bev Cook, owner of the Heretic; promoter Chris Coleman; Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse owner Philip Rafshoon; William Duffee-Braun, editor of Fenuxe magazine; Marci Alt of Carma Productions; Cain Williamson of the Atlanta Pride Committee; and representatives of Brushstrokes, Oscar’s and Woofs.

Those at the meeting decided coming up with a mission statement is a top priority and all seemed in agreement that the BOA should focus on gay business owners rather than become a networking group such as the Atlanta Executive Network or the Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

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Mother of gay Carrollton man speaks out on suspected arson of his home

Wanda Morris said she’s still “in shock” that someone allegedly tried to burn her son’s house down with him inside simply because he is gay.

“We’ve lived here 31 years and never had a cross word with anyone,” she told the GA Voice today.

Christopher Staples, 43, was inside his small home in Carroll County on Sunday when he said a rock with an anti-gay note attached was thrown through his window. Hours later, Staples said he woke up to find his home engulfed in flames. Carroll County is some 50 miles west of Atlanta.

The FBI is assisting the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department and there is discussion the alleged crime may be classified as a hate crime.

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Gay activists watchful as Obama delivers State of the Union address tonight

President Barack Obama calls for DADT repeal

Though the central focus of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address will likely be the economy, gay rights advocates hope the president mentions LGBT issues when he speaks to the nation tonight.

Obama is expected to highlight the recent repeal of the military’s anti-gay “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in tonight’s address, but advocates hope the president will also issue calls for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act or the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

During last year's State of the Union speech, Obama called for DADT to be repealed: "This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It's the right thing to do," Obama said at the time.

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FBI aids investigation of arson attack on Carroll County gay man

The FBI is helping to investigate a fire at the home of a gay Carroll County man to determine if the suspected arson is a hate crime.

If federal prosecutors decide the alleged attack on Christopher Staples fits the criteria, it would likely be the first case in Georgia charged under the new Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, according to Atlanta FBI spokesperson Stephen Emmett.

"The FBI is in a supportive role in this investigation, but the investigation itself remains with Carroll County authorities," Emmett told the GA Voice. 

Asked what specifically the FBI is doing in the case, "I won't elaborate other than initial crime scene assessment and any additional lab submittals that Carroll County deems necessary — those types of matters," Emmett said.

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Carroll County gay man target of suspected arson

A Carroll County man believes he was the victim of a hate crime after his house was set on fire late Sunday, according to WSB-TV. Chris Staples told WSB that a rock, with an anti-gay note attached, was thrown through a window in his home and several hours later, he awoke to flames in his bedroom.

According to WSB, Staples said of the note:

"It said, ‘We know you're gay. And God hates gays. You won't be raping anybody in the county and God's going to make sure that you burn in hell.’ And something about my daddy... my daddy will make sure you burn in hell."