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Major in botched Atlanta Eagle gay bar raid announces retirement

Former Maj. Debra WilliamsDebra Williams, who was demoted from major to lieutenant on the Atlanta Police Department in the wake of last week's devastating investigations into the department's raid on the Atlanta Eagle, is retiring from the force.

Williams, who served 27 years on the force, announced her intentions to retire on Wednesday, July 6, APD spokesperson Carlos Campos confirmed to the GA Voice Thursday. The retirement went into effect Wednesday.

Williams was demoted from major after it was determined in the independent Greenberg Traurig investigation of the raid on the Eagle, a gay Midtown bar, that she was ineffective as supervisor of the raid. The APD's internal affairs unit also found Williams' supervision inadequate.

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Queer Justice League petitions Atlanta mayor over Eagle officers

Queer Justice LeagueAction-oriented LGBT advocacy group Queer Justice League posted a petition on today, calling for the City of Atlanta, and Mayor Kasim Reed in particular, to take bold measures against the Atlanta Police officers who broke the law and did not follow procedure during the 2009 raid on the Atlanta Eagle.

The QJL is petitioning the mayor to fire all 25 officers involved in the raid who were found to have violated procedure during the raid, as well as charge officers for various crimes committed during and after the raid. You can read all about it here.

A copy of the petition is below:

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Atlanta Citizen Review Board found similar illegal conduct in Eagle raid a year ago

The independent investigation into the Atlanta Eagle raid by high-profile law firm Greenberg Traurig and the Atlanta Police Department’s own internal affairs investigations revealed a slew of illegal activities by officers involved in the raid. But it should be noted that many of these same infractions were disclosed a year ago — by the Atlanta Citizens Review Board.

In January, the ACRB released its full investigation into the raid on the gay bar, also finding evidence that officers continually lied during the investigation, violated the Fourth Amendment rights of the patrons in the bar the night it was raided, as well as used anti-gay slurs toward patrons. The ACRB began its investigations in the Eagle raid last June, finding the police officers guilty of many illegal activities, including illegal search and seizures and false arrests.

“The findings and recommendations made by the law firm of Greenberg Traurig are very similar, not identical, to the findings made by the ACRB,” said Cristina Beamud, executive director of the ACRB.

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Atlanta police LGBT Advisory group to meet July 13 to discuss Eagle investigations

The LGBT Advisory group for the Atlanta Police Department will hold a meeting July 13 to discuss the investigations of the Eagle raid.

The city released the APD's Office of Professional Standards investigation into the botched raid late Tuesday and an independent investigation by prestigious law firm Greenberg Traurig was also released late Tuesday.'

You can read about some of the findings in the investigations here, including links to the full reports.

Overall, the reports clearly state police officers violated numerous procedures during the raid, including violating the patrons' Fourth Amendment rights. The investigations also found there to be specific instances of anti-gay discrimination during the raid of the gay bar.

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Mayor Reed: ‘Screen on the Green’ back on in Piedmont Park

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and the Piedmont Park Conservancy today announced that the popular outdoor movie series “Screen on the Green” will be held at Piedmont Park this year. The Conservancy had previously canceled the series earlier this year when its main corporate sponsor, Peachtree TV, withdrew.

Comcast, Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines and Georgia Natural Gas are the new corporate sponsors of the series which will continue during its traditional Thursday night timeslot during the summer. Delta will be the main sponsor.

“As you know, we thought we would have to cancel the 'Screen on the Green' series this summer,” Reed said during a press conference held at Piedmont Park's Magnolia Hall. “However, when four wonderful companies, who have always been strong advocates for the city, learned earlier this month that 'Screen on the Green' would not continue this year, they stepped up with really, really strong support.

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Atlanta police ‘pound streets’ to solve killing of Black Gay Pride organizer

Atlanta Police canvass the area near where Durand Robinson was killed

Dasanta Robinson stood in the Campbellton Plaza parking lot Thursday evening with more than a dozen of his family members. They were waiting for the Atlanta Police Department to begin canvassing nearby southwest Atlanta neighborhoods for clues in his brother's death.

"He was really something special," Robinson said of his brother, Durand Robinson, who was shot and killed Aug. 25 on Hadlock Street near East Point.

"It's like we're living in a nightmare and we're waiting for it to be over. I don't understand why anyone would want to kill Durand. He would do anything for anyone," added Robinson, 50, of Decatur.

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Transgender woman robbed in possible Atlanta bias crime

A 16-year old male is under arrest after he allegedly beat a transgender woman and stole her purse in a March 12 incident that is being investigated as a possible bias crime by the Atlanta Police Department.

The victim, 22, whose home address is listed as being in Baltimore, Md., told police the suspect and friends with him shouted "faggot" and "Are you even a woman?" at her, according to the APD police report. 

The LGBT Unit, including Officers Patricia Powell and Brian Sharp, was notified of the incident immediately after it occurred and the APD's Homeland Security Unit is investigating the robbery as a possible bias crime, said Carlos Campos, spokesperson for the APD.

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Atlanta police undergo LGBT training

Atlanta Police Department LGBT Liaisons Officers Brian Sharp and Patricia Powell

For the first time in the history of the Atlanta Police Department, the nearly 2,000 officers and civilian employees are undergoing training on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues as part of a mandatory course announced by Chief George Turner.

Turner and the entire command staff of approximately 30 people underwent the one-hour classroom training in December, taught by LGBT liaison Officer Brian Sharp. Now Sharp and Senior Patrol Officer Patricia Powell, the other LGBT liaison for the department, are teaching the class to everyone else employed by the department; the trainings will continue through May.

Recruits will also receive the training and the class will be taught once a year to all employees as a way for the department to garner better understanding and build a relationship with Atlanta’s LGBT residents.

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Police chief: Eagle raid punishments ‘premature’

Atlanta Police Chief George Turner

Atlanta Police Department's Chief George Turner responded to the APD's LGBT Advisory Board's letter of recommendation that officers involved in the raid be suspended and receive additional training on constitutional protections.

Turner, however, suggested any disciplinary action should come after the completion of the department's own internal investigation.

"To render a decision on discipline would, at this time, be premature and nullify any purpose for continuing the investigation," Turner wrote. "Additionally, all employees are afforded due process in internal investigative files."

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Lead investigator of Eagle arrested for DUI, marijuana possession now suspended without pay

Atlanta Police Chief George Turner has now suspended Investigator Bennie Bridges without pay after he was arrested in Cobb County for DUI and possession of marijuana.

Bridges was arrested Feb. 3 and put on administrative leave — with pay — while an internal investigation was conducted.

A press release from the APD now says Bridges has been suspended without pay after meeting with Turner today and while the Office of Professional Standards continues to investigate the matter.