Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The "Uniform Crisis" is over; can we please get down to real business now?

In response to pleas of varying hostility from those abused by APD officers on September 10, as well as some partially misguided attempts to find an early scapegoat, Officer Dani Lee Harris has decided not to wear her Atlanta Police Department uniform as grand marshal of the Atlanta Pride parade this coming Sunday, partly over concern for her own safety and her children's safety.

Congratulations on a meaningless victory, based on intimidating of one of our own. Friendly fire 1; real-world change 0 (or maybe 0.5, depending on whether recent changes in tactics are a genuine sign of the future).

Most of this unchecked animosity towards Officer Harris is based on her early comments about tactics of "officer safety" made barely after the raid, when she likely didn't know much more about the whole situation than the rest of us. Under APD's currently questionable leadership, and with no tangible information to give us, the best Officer Harris could do then was explain how the policies are defined as written. Whether she believes those policies are unethical or illegal is something she is likely prevented from expressing until the current legal issues are resolved.

So why should this "victory" be empty? We've let our anger branch out beyond the true issues and blind us to the real meaning of Pride: proving that LGBT+ Americans exist in all parts of society, and we are all working towards the same goals.

In Sunday's parade, we will see other out-and-proud, uniformed members of the Atlanta Police Department (and perhaps officers of other jurisdictions). Do we demand that all of them take off their uniforms because they somehow represent hate and injustice? Officers march in uniform at Pride not to offend or intimidate, but to prove that we have strong allies working within APD. We need those allies on our side, and their presence at Pride shows that they're willing to work for change for all of us.

So, too, will we see veterans of the United States armed forces in the parade. Do we demand that all of them leave their uniforms at home until "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is repealed? Countless heroes fight for our country today without questioning political motives, spending up to years at a time enduring humiliation, abuse, and even death for their sexual orientations and identities. But similarly, veterans march in uniform at Pride not to offend or intimidate, but to prove that we too believe in defending our country and our hometowns, despite their flaws.

I'm very happy that the owners of Atlanta Eagle have made the "no-uniform compromise" officially acceptable, and I hope this is finally the end of the matter. We've spent too long on this petty distraction from real action. Remember that we have critical local elections coming up next week, and with a new Mayor and Chief of Police, the incoming administration will have no choice but to find reconciliation for our grievances. Those same allies within APD will be our community's connection to the new leadership.

So... now that she has extended her compromise not to wear an APD uniform at Atlanta Pride, I have a request in kind for the rest of you:

If you see Officer Harris at Pride this weekend, please walk up to her and offer her a big hug. She is on our side. If we do not stand together, we shall most certainly fall.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Officer Harris and Atlanta Pride are not our enemies...

Contrary to minority opinion:

I’m all for patching up the relationship with the cops but shouldn’t there be a resolution before that happens? Last time I checked, the dictionary didn’t put “Reconciliation” before “Apology.” There is an ongoing internal police investigation, a criminal lawsuit and a civil rights lawsuit over the raid. Shouldn’t Pride have the decency to wait out the results before they put the Atlanta Police on a float to wave at us?
How could they do this to the 62 innocent men in that bar?
Pride To Victims: Drop Dead. The message is clear: The gay liaison to the Atlanta Police is more important than the civil rights of the 62 victimized men. And by extension, the entire gay community. Because what happened to those men could have happened to any of us.

This is a patently absurd statement, using guilt-by-association to equate Officer Dani Lee Harris to everyone else in the Atlanta Police Department. Atlanta Pride is not honoring APD; they're honoring one of our most respected community members, who also has inroads to the APD by working there herself. Officer Harris cannot speak officially for APD, but she is in a position to help fix the problems from within. That's a good thing.

With a great deal of respect due to Michael Alvear for helping to publicize the attack on Atlanta Eagle, I'm afraid that this time I must call shenanigans. I believe his heart is in the right place, but any anger should be pointed towards those responsible. Our community must not devolve into torch-wielding mob mentality, demonizing and demoralizing Officer Harris like this. By doing so, we too are attacking an innocent bystander (one who wants to be on our side).

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Don't Forget: Community Forum with APD on Monday

From the Atlantans Together blog post:

Atlantans Together Against Crime (ATAC) and the Virginia Highland Church are co-sponsoring a community forum Monday, October 5, 2009 from 6:30 pm until 8:00 pm. The event is free and open to the public. The forum will facilitate an open dialogue between concerned citizens, leaders within the LGBT community, and the Atlanta Police Department and will address concerns rising from the September 10, 2009 raid of The Eagle.

The forum aims to be a positive, productive, and pro-active meeting meant to foster dialogue, answer questions, and move relationships forward. Specific questions concerning The Eagle raid cannot be answered due to the outstanding investigation; however, questions of protocol, procedure, and others will be welcomed.

A press release with all confirmed attendees from the Atlanta Police Department as well as community organizations will be sent out this Friday, October 2, 2009.

For more information on attending, participating, or covering this event, please contact Kyle Keyser at (404) 217-1024 or

This forum is not a political function for any candidate for public office.

Virginia Highland Church is located at 743 Virginia Avenue NE, Atlanta, GA 30306. Parking is available across the street at Inman Middle School.

Facebook invite found here.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Were you a victim of the September 10 raid? Speak up!

The owners of Atlanta Eagle have set up a special e-mail address for victims to coordinate legal efforts, and to tell their accounts.  If you were a victim of the police raid on September 10, please get in touch with Richard and Robby as soon as possible at: