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Atlanta police LGBT Advisory Board accused of being ‘puppets’ of mayor in heated meeting

Atlanta Police Department LGBT Advisory Board

A heated meeting of the Atlanta Police LGBT Advisory Board on Monday night included shouting, accusations of the board being “puppets” of the mayor and palpable anger with the board and city administration for not doing more to heal the pain in the community after the unconstitutional raid on the Atlanta Eagle nearly two years ago.

Geoff Calhoun (pictured, inset), was in the gay Midtown bar the night it was raided on Sept. 10, 2009, and was a plaintiff in the successful federal civil lawsuit against the city. Calhoun got into a shouting match with board member Ebonee Bradford-Barnes at the two-hour meeting held at Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse after he accused the board of becoming “puppets” of the mayor. Calhoun's statements came after much discussion about why the media was not allowed into the meetings the board had with Mayor Kasim Reed and Police Chief George Turner last month.

“I wonder if you could explain the rationale of the majority of the board denying the media into the meeting with the mayor. I'm trying to understand … is it because you thought you wouldn't be honest, the mayor wouldn't be honest?” Calhoun said.

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Plaintiffs praise settlement in lawsuit over Atlanta Eagle gay bar raid

The lead attorney and plaintiffs who sued the city of Atlanta over the botched 2009 raid of the Atlanta Eagle, a gay bar, praised the settlement agreement signed by a federal judge today. But they continued to stress that their lawsuit should not have been necessary to force Atlanta police to change unconstitutional policies.

"This is a wonderful change for the city of Atlanta — to get the Atlanta Police Department to follow the law," lead attorney Dan Grossman said in an interview this afternoon. "It's really a shame it took a lawsuit to make the APD follow the law."

Richard Ramey, co-owner of the Atlanta Eagle, echoed Grossman's sentiments.

"I feel vindicated and relieved. I feel that everyone in the city, from the mayor to the city council, realized something went wrong," he said.