Guest Blogger

Atlanta Pride Committee Throws Eagle Raid Victims Under the Bus

Filed By Guest Blogger | October 27, 2009 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics
Tags: Atlanta, Atlanta Eagle, bar raid

Editors' Note: Guest blogger Mike Alvear is the author of Attract Hotter Guys with the Secrets & Science of Sexual Body Language, host of HBO's The Sex Inspectors and writes a sex advice column syndicated to the gay press. He blogs at mikealvear.com

Atlantagaypride Atlanta Pride Committee Throws Eagle Raid Victims Under the Bus.

Pride Goeth Before The Fall

With it’s insistence that the gay liaison to the Atlanta police remain as co-grand marshal of the massive gay pride march next week, The Pride Committee is telling the 62 guys who had their civil rights trampled on to drop dead.

Six weeks ago, the Atlanta police threw everybody in a gay bar called The Eagle–including sixty year old men–to the ground, handcuffing them face down on the floor (many were laying on broken glass), confiscating their IDs, and shouting homophobic slurs. After two hours, they finally let everyone go. Without a single arrest of the patrons.

Stonewall anyone?

So it came as quite a shock when the Atlanta Pride Committee named the city’s gay police liaison as co-grand marshal of the quarter million person+ parade (coming up this weekend). On the 40th anniversary of Stonewall, no less.

The Pride Committee had actually selected the officer before the unconstitutional police raid but announced it afterward. Indeed, the gay liaison, Dani Lee Harris, was an admirable choice BEFORE the raid. But after? Especially after Harris was booed when she defended the police raid at a city hall rally?

It’s like asking Chris Brown’s publicist to lead a march against domestic violence. Complete with parade organizers telling us to put a little makeup over the black and blues and man up.

Shut Up, Rihanna. It Wasn’t That Bad.

With it’s insistence that Harris remain as co-grand marshal, The Pride Committee is in effect, telling the 62 guys who had their civil rights trampled on to quit bitching. I’m sure Dani Lee Harris, the gay liaison, is a wonderful woman. I’m sure that she’s opened up lines of communication between the police and the gay community (though police brass have and still keep her pointedly in the dark about the raid), BUT SO WHAT?

She still represents the organization that harassed and persecuted us. She still represents a force that shows no signs of contrition or changing their policies to make sure it never happens again.

Whose side are you on, Pride Committee?

The Pride Committee stubbornly insists they’re doing the right thing–that they’re honoring the individual and the work that she’s done within the police department. Never mind that she’s the official representative of an organization that allowed its officers to trample on our constitutional rights, and yell , “I hate fags” and “You people make me sick” while they were doing it.

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.

If the committee had any sense of obligation to the people it should be advocating for–us–, it would do the following:

But of course, none of that will happen. They’ll say it’s too late–the march is only a few days away. Well, you know what? It’s never too late to do the right thing.

Tell the Pride Committee what you think. Email them at their public info email: info@atlantapride.org

What Really Happened the Night of the Raid.


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Sounds like HRC planned this one.

Actually, the Atlanta Pride Community is not a big fan of HRC.

This will be an interesting Pride to say the least. It's at the end of October, so instead of shorts and tank tops, we could have jackets and sweaters. Rain is predicted for Friday and Saturday.

It has been 16 months since the last Pride and if it took place in June like it was suppose to, this issue about Officer Harris would not exist. Dani is a very good friend of mine. Unlike others I know, I can separate friendship and business, so I agree that Officer Harris should not remain the Grand Marshal, for the good of the community.

And, with Danny Ingram recently elected as the new President of the American Veterans for Equal Rights, there are now two heads of national organizations in the Atlanta area. But, since Danny is the head of the Color Guard, he actually marches in front of the Grand Marshal. He should be consider that for next year, assuming that the Pride Committee can get their shit together in just 8 months for the next Pride.

Thanks for the article, Mike.

YIKES! Hyperbole much? I agree with your point and disagree with your delivery, Mike. Usually, I like your pieces, but this one is a little inflammatory. Invoking Rhianna and Chris Brown feels sleazy to me. Cheap shot. I don't tend to look kindly on using a situation of domestic violence as a punchline. I know you didn't mean it as a joke, but using it in this way is cheap and a little unnerving. Not classy.

That said, Officer Harris ought to have bowed out knowing this was going to be controversial. Whether she did so on her own, or whether someone at Atlanta Pride strongly suggested it, it should have happened. First of all, that is far more graceful. To bow out, lay low, help build bridges again, and maybe grand marshal in a few years when folks feel that the correct amends have been made. Now EVERYONE has to deal with the egg on their faces.

Everything is not said and done on this investigation, nothing is settled, there will yet be legal battles, all sorts of things uncovered, mea culpas from the PD. Why draw negative attention to your organization and put yourself on the wrong side of the debate. The police were clearly in the wrong and aligning the organization with the police is a total mistake. Some day relations with the PD will be better in Atlanta--you can bet on it. Situations like this tend to have ONE good outcome--they FORCE a long overdue dialogue about the state of he community, and the state of the relationship between LGBTs and the police. Today isn't the day.

Atlanta Pride may be trying to play peace-maker or something. Well, its the wrong time for that. Right now is the time for righteous anger, for asking questions and for demanding the police department take responsibility and make remuneration. Peacemaking can come later. Bad move, Atlanta Pride.

Why in the world didn't they just make one of the victims a co-grand marshal? That would show the community coming back together instead of pitting one versus the other.

This idea is the best one I've heard so far. Sunday will be an interesting day. I walk up and down the staging streets before the Parade starts and it'll be interesting to hear the comments.

I can do a video interview with Officer Harris before the Parade, if anyone cares to provide me with questions above the ones I'll ask, and if anyone cares to post it.

Weird. It's not like police violence in Atlanta started with the Eagle bar raid or like it'll end if they apologize over that one raid.

It sounds like the Pride committee picked their side a long time ago and lots of LGBT folks went along with them without thinking about it all that much.

Does the LGBT liaison co-grand marshal every year or just this one?

The problem is that the Eagle is not just another gay bar. It's a leather bar. I think the police picked the Eagle because they know it's an easier target than more mainstream gay bars. They sure didn't go sniffing around to see what festivities people were up to in the backrooms of the local gay C&W bar. The whole GLBT community would be up in arms then. But even passionate activists prefer to keep a distance from what they view as a freaky fringe. (I say that as a proud member of that freaky fringe.)

Freaky fringe? Think of this as the beginning of a very bad nightmare for Atlanta Gays. First the leather bar, followed by the women’s bar then…Atlanta may easily be the beginning of a national trend.
I have watched posts regarding the Atlanta raids expecting news of huge Gay demonstrations as well as activists demanding city council member’s positions. Police investigations are waiting for the news coverage to cool. It seems that Atlanta Gay activists are unaware that their Gay Police Liaison needs their support to correct illegal police activities. Numbers talk. Is everyone trying to find where to click their mouse to indicate their outrage? Pride parade? The Pride committee has little reason to be proud. Certainly their leadership is lacking.
I’m several thousand miles away but I worry that if this were to take place in my town that our “community” would be as dysfunctional, fragmented and ineffective as Atlanta’s seems to be.