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Police: Despite TV reports, no increased violence among Midtown crossdressing prostitutes

11Alive and WSB-TV went on air Wednesday night with sensational segments that stated cross-dressing and "transvestite" prostitutes were terrorizing residents living in  Midtown. The commander of the Atlanta Police Department's vice unit said Thursday the stories are not true.

The neighborhood in question is Piedmont Avenue and 3rd Street as well as Myrtle Street. Both stations interviewed residents of the area who alleged there were prostitute gangs as well as prostitutes approaching residents and threatening them.

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Longtime political activist ready for his own turn on the ballot

Ken Britt recently announced a bid for the Ga. General Assembly

For Ken Britt, the time is finally right.

“I have the ‘fire in the belly,’” Britt told GA Voice during a recent interview. “If you had asked me 10 years ago, I probably would have said I was content to stay on the sidelines.”

Britt, 63, recently announced his candidacy for the District 56 seat in the Georgia House of Representatives, currently held by Democrat and gay-rights ally Rep. Kathy Ashe. Ashe announced her retirement in mid-April after more than 20 years under the Gold Dome.

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Atlanta police release reports in Blake’s fight

Vance Johnson and Derrick Leggrant face charges of simple battery and felony obstruction after fighting Jan. 21 with an off-duty police officer at the gay bar Blake's on the Park, according to police reports released this evening.

Both men were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the altercation, which apparently stemmed from them trying to cut the bathroom line, police reports state.

Police leaders said yesterday that they want to investigate any allegations of police misconduct stemming from the incident. But they noted that the only criticism thus far has come from one individual who wanted to remain anonymous and had not filed an official complaint.

Meanwhile, multiple Blake's employees and patrons praised police handling of the unruly patrons who are described as "belligerent" in witness statements included with the police reports.

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Atlanta Police LGBT Advisory Board takes on Blake’s incident, Midtown crime tonight

The fight at Blake's on the Park that resulted in arrests as well as what is happening with Midtown crime are on the agenda for tonight's Atlanta Police LGBT Advisory Board meeting.

Zone 5 Commander Major C. Leighty will be on hand to discuss the Friday night incident at Blake's when two patrons were arrested after a fight broke out at the popular Midtown bar.

An off-duty APD officer working at Blake's Friday night was allegedly punched in the face by one of the unruly patrons after he and another man were asked to leave by management. The alleged assault of the officer led to more Zone 5 officers responding to the scene and arresting the two men in the parking lot.

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Blake’s employee: No police misconduct happened at bar

Lynn Barfield, Atlanta Pride parade grand marshal

A longtime security employee of Blake's on the Park said today there was no discrimination by the Atlanta Police Department against patrons of the bar after the APD was called in to help break up a fight on Friday night.

"No one was hurt, no one was taunted or were physically abused by anyone. The only people that got hurt was our staff, trying to apprehend the jerks that started the whole mess," Lynn Barfied told GA Voice. Known as "Mama Lynn" by many of the patrons of the bar, she has worked at Blake's for seven years.

"They [the APD] show up any time we need them at our bar for incidents just like this. It's not news to us, it's what we deal with every weekend. How the rumor of officers discriminating against anyone got started is beyond me," she added.

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Rafshoon pledges bright future for Outwrite

Outwrite Bookstore and Coffeehouse owner Phillip Rafshoon

The shelves at Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse are starting to look a little bare as the iconic bookstore sells down its inventory as it celebrates its 18th anniversary in the face of a prospective move.

On the corner of Piedmont Street and 10th Avenue, Outwrite has become the unofficial center of gay Atlanta. It started its life as a vacant nightclub and turned into one of Atlanta’s few remaining independent booksellers. In November, store owner Philip Rafshoon announced that Outwrite can no longer afford its lease and is looking to move.

“It’s kind of a bittersweet milestone tonight because we’ve got to kinda find a new home, but 18 years tonight, well sorta tonight, we had our opening party,” Rafshoon told the crowd on Saturday.

“What I said that night is that there will be a time that we won’t need a gay and lesbian bookstore. When people can come to their parents, where they won’t be persecuted in churches, schools, there won’t be any issues in their families. Right now there are a lot of people who think that we are at that point. In fact, we had some good friends who ran a book store and they said mission accomplished… our mission is not accomplished in any shape way or form. There is still a lot of work to be done.”

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Outwrite announces $1,000 donation to save the LGBT bookstore

Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse announced Friday on its Facebook page that it received a $1,000 donation from the Lloyd E. Russell Foundation to start a "Save Outwrite Books" campaign.

We are thrilled to announce that we we received a donation from the Lloyd E. Russell Foundation to kick off the "Save Outwrite Books" campaign and have set up a fund to do it. Stay tuned to hear how you can get involved!

"Pamm [Burdett] came in about a week ago with a $1,000 check for a donation and said she wanted to get [your] campaign started," said Outwrite owner Philip Rafshoon. Burdett is the director of the Lloyd E. Russell Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides grants and contributions to various LGBT and leather community individuals, agencies and organizations.

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Outwrite Bookstore plans move from landmark location

Outwrite Bookstore and Coffeehouse

A sluggish economy, a rapidly changing book industry and high rent in the heart of Midtown are key factors forcing Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse to move from its home at the corner of 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue.

When the move will take place is not yet known, said owner Philip Rafshoon. The store’s lease expires in a couple of months, he said, and a “For Lease” sign now hangs from the side of the store’s exterior along 10th Street.

But Rafshoon believes there is still a need for LGBT bookstores in Atlanta — although his store also sells many mainstream books as well as novelty gifts, food and coffee.

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Lesbian bar Bellissima for sale

Lesbian bar Bellissima is up for sale, says owner Anna Ragghianti.

Located in Amsterdam Walk in Midtown, Bellissima opened in 2008.

The website listing for the bar states it is for sale at "at $79,000 which is a fraction of start-up costs."

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Atlanta City Councilmember hosts forum on Midtown public safety

Atlanta City Councilmember Alex Wan

Atlanta City Councilmember Alex Wan (District 6) will host a public safety forum on Tuesday, Nov. 15, at the YMCA on North Highland Avenue to discuss recent criminal activity in and around Midtown.

The meeting follows an armed robbery and police shootout on Oct. 26 in the heart of the Midtown residential neighborhood. The robbery occurred near the intersection of 8th and Myrtle streets.

Joining Wan, the only openly gay council member, will be Atlanta Police Department Zone 6 Commander Major John Dalton and Zone 2 Commander Major Robert Browning.

The forum will offer citizens a chance to engage the Atlanta Police Department in an effort to find ways of working with the department to reduce crime in the Midtown neighborhoods as the holidays approach.