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.
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-plus 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.
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.
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:
- Replace the gay liaison with somebody more appropriate.
- or at the very least...ask her not to appear wearing her uniform (something the Committee refuses to do)
- Contribute to the legal defense fund of the ongoing civil rights lawsuit against the city and its police force.