Alleged ‘miscommunication’ led to early closure of LGBT bars
An Atlanta Police Department spokesman claims a “miscommunication” between city officials and APD led to the closure of several Midtown LGBT-owned bars in the early hours of Sept. 4, but one bar owner isn’t buying it.
Ten, Blake’s on the Park, 10th and Piedmont and G’s Midtown were forced to end events, despite having permits that allowed them to operate past normal closing hours. At least one event was hosted as part of Black Gay Pride.
“The bars came to the attention of the morning watch commander — an openly gay male — because crowds in the area were spilling out onto the streets, causing potential public safety hazards,” Carlos Campos, spokesperson for APD, said in a statement. “The morning watch supervisors should have been aware of the City Council’s extension of bar hours for the Labor Day weekend, but they were not.”
That morning watch commander has since been reassigned. Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields, who is a lesbian, stopped short of calling the actions discriminatory.
“While I do not believe the commander purposely set out to act in a discriminatory manner, his actions certainly gave that perception to bar owners, managers and patrons. Our commanders and officers simply must show more sensitivity to the concerns of our diverse communities,” Shields said in a statement.
TEN owner James Nelson reportedly showed his ordinance to officers on the scene, and later told Project Q Atlanta, “I’ve been in business far too long and I know what happened on Sunday night.”
A torrent of criticism from the LGBT community followed the department’s actions. Out Atlanta mayoral candidate Cathy Woolard said it was “difficult not to interpret the action as discriminatory” and fellow candidate Mary Norwood said though she accepted Shields’ explanation, she was “quite dismayed” by the incident.
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TEN, Blake’s on the Park, 10th and Piedmont and G’s Midtown were forced to end events in the early hours of Labor Day after police arrived on premise, despite having permits to remain open after normal hours. (File photo)