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Atlanta Police Department Refuses To Adequately Investigate Anti-Gay Hate Crime Caught On Video

Atlanta

More than five years after the Atlanta Eagle raid, the Atlanta Police Department continues to fall short when it comes to protecting and serving the city's LGBT community. 

According to a report from the Georgia Voice, the department has refused to adequately investigate a recent anti-gay hate crime, which police have been unable to solve despite ample evidence including video of the suspect and the identity of his accomplice. 

A gay couple was walking down a midtown Atlanta street holding hands in March when a motorist began honking his horn at them. The passenger then jumped out of the vehicle and yelled a homophobic slur before attacking the couple. The suspect punched one of the victims in the head and shoved him into the street, where another motorist had to swerve to avoid hitting him. The suspect then got back into the vehicle, and the driver sped off. 

The entire attack was captured on surveillance video (screen grab above), and the victims obtained video of the suspect as well as the license plate number of the vehicle. However, the driver of the vehicle reportedly told police he didn't know his passenger, and detectives haven't bothered to obtain the driver's cell phone records — or, for that matter, to publicize the crime in any way until the Georgia Voice began looking into the matter in December.  

The Voice reports that the couple has requested anonymity and the story identifies the victim's boyfriend as "the witness":

“We were told they [police] talked to the guy and they said he doesn’t know the passenger, and that he picked the guy up on one block and dropped him off on another,” the witness says. “It’s crazy to me saying, ‘I don’t know the passenger in my car who beat up that guy.’ It’s just crazy, I don’t believe it.”

The couple asked the APD investigator to subpoena the driver’s phone records.

“There has to be a record of the passenger on there,” the witness says. “They said that was the end of it and they couldn’t do anything else. They weren’t able to get a subpoena." ... 

“I was disappointed that the investigation ended with one conversation and that’s the best they can do. I think they can do better than that, and I would encourage them to do better than that,” the witness says. “I’m not laying a lot of blame on the police department but I’m also not giving them any awards.”

The witness is being generous here. If this had been a black couple and the suspect yelled the N-word, there would undoubtedly be protests in response to the police department's apparent indifference. 

The Georgia Voice's story also reveals that APD hasn't been following its Standard Operating Procedures that require the department to report anti-gay hate crimes to the LGBT liaison unit. Only half of the 12 anti-gay hate crimes in 2014 were properly reported to the LGBT liaison unit. 

The APD's raid of the Atlanta Eagle in 2009 led to a $1 million settlement with patrons, the firing of six officers and various LGBT-related reforms in the department. But apparently there's still work to do. 

Watch surveillance video of the attack, as well as video of the suspect getting back in the vehicle, AFTER THE JUMP ...

Continue reading " Atlanta Police Department Refuses To Adequately Investigate Anti-Gay Hate Crime Caught On Video" »


Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran Suspended For Anti-Gay Religious Tract

FEMA_-_41848_-_Kelvin_Cochran,_Administrator_for_the_Federal_Emergency_Management_Agency_US_Fire_Administration

Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran has been suspended from his position for one month for writing a religious book in which he describes homosexuality as a “sexual perversion,” reports AJC.com.

In the self-published book “Who Told You That You Are Naked?” (yours for only $13.18!), Cochran argues that homosexuality is akin to bestiality and pederasty. Kelvin Cochran Who Told You That You Are Naked?

Arguing that “men who carry the curse of condemnation and deprivation cannot fulfill their purpose as husbands, fathers, community and business leaders,” the book includes passages such as the following:

• “Uncleanness — whatever is opposite of purity; including sodomy, homosexuality, lesbianism, pederasty, bestiality, all other forms of sexual perversion.”

• “Naked men refuse to give in, so they pursue sexual fulfillment through multiple partners, with the opposite sex, the same sex and sex outside of marriage and many other vile, vulgar and inappropriate ways which defile their body-temple and dishonor God.”

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s spokesperson Anne Torres said the administration didn’t know about the book until employees came forward with complaints last week.  Reed wrote on Facebook that he was “deeply disturbed” by the book book and will “not tolerate discrimination of any kind” in his administration.

Cochran has been ordered to undergo sensitivity training and has been barred from distributing copies of the book on city property.

Additionally, Reed’s office has now opened an investigation to determine whether Cochran has violated city policies or discriminated against employees.


Wiki Loves Pride Edit-A-Thons Improve LGBT Content On Wikipedia

Wikimedia lgbt

Last month, Wikipedia launched a series of Wiki Loves Pride edit-a-thons to improve LGBT-related content on various Wikimedia projects.

The edit-a-thons aim to increase “the number of people and perspectives contributing to LGBT information on the site, as well as encouraging institutions to add their authority information, research and images to the public domain.”

Edit-a-thons have already taken place in Philadelphia, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Portland, Oregon.  Future edit-a-thons are planned for Atlanta and Houston and for Bangalore and Delhi, India.


Man Turns Himself in After Anti-Gay Attack on Cyclist in Atlanta: VIDEO

Beltline

An Atlanta man has turned himself in after a cyclist and surveillance cameras captured him in an anti-gay assault on a cyclist on the Atlanta Beltline, WSBTV reports:

Quinn Chrzan, 24, says the man shouted anti-gay slurs just before the man slammed him into a gate and punched him repeatedly.
 
"I was pinned against the wall and my hand was sliced up so, there was nothing I could do," said Chrzan. "He just punched me in the face."
 
The incident happened at Beltline Northeast near McGruder Street.
On Wednesday, Michael Sanders turned himself in to Atlanta police. He was charged with battery and released Thursday morning on $5,000 bond.

"(He) kept calling me homophobic slurs and all I said to him was, Please don't use homophobic slurs,’" Chrzan said.

There were also several witnesses to Sanders' attack, which he said was motivated by Chrzan riding too close to him as he ran on the trail.

Watch the report, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Jason K. Friedman's 'Fire Year': Book Review

BY GARTH GREENWELL

Fire YearIt’s not surprising that a collection centered on gay Jewish experience in the American South would be filled with outsiders. The seven stories in Jason K. Friedman’s rich, funny and finally very moving debut all feature characters who feel like transplants in a strange land, even though often enough it’s the land to which they were born.

In several of these stories, sexuality is among the reasons for this sense of displacement. In “Blue,” the opening piece, a boy takes refuge in religion after a night watching hotel porn, when he realizes his excitements are different from those of his classmates. In “Reunion,” a forty-year-old gay man returns home from New York to find himself embroiled in a brief and bewildering affair with the star athlete of his class, now married with kids. “A little air started to leak in around the edges of the me who was filling the space of my body,” the narrator says, “the confident new me I was presenting." 

But these characters’ sense of apartness persists even when sexuality in itself is no longer a source of conflict. In “There’s Hope for Us All,” the book’s longest story and also one of its best, a young art historian finds himself working at a small museum in Atlanta, having failed to find an academic job after earning his Ph.D. from Yale. Adrift in the sprawling urban landscape of the New South, “a city of suburbs and ring roads,” and estranged from his Guyanese boyfriend, he makes a discovery that will bring him sudden fame and also a fuller sense of his own isolation. 

Friedman has already been compared to Philip Roth, and the first two stories here have something of Roth’s erotic comedy and brilliant sense of Jewish life in the suburbs. Salvatore Scibona, who selected Fire Year for the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction, also invokes Saul Bellow in characterizing Friedman’s work. But as I read this collection, I found myself thinking most often of the third in that trio of 20th-century Jewish American greats, Bernard Malamud, whose stories and novels are sriking, like Friedman's stories, both for their elegance and for the extraordinary compassion they show for their characters. 

Jason_Friedman_Photo This compassion is most evident in the book’s tremendously good title story, the last piece in the collection and the only one that takes place outside of America. In an unspecified country in an unspecified time, a boy comes of age in a Jewish town cursed to burn every seven years. The son of a great Rabbi, feared for his mysterious tie to the fires that plague the town, Zev’s own fears center on the desire that seems to blight his life, separating him both from his father and from the brother he loves, making him “a sapless tree, a dry well.” With its gorgeous, surprisingly redemptive end, “Fire Year” is among the best stories I’ve read all year.

Having recently published Caitlin Horrocks’s tremendous first collection of stories, and with Kyle Minor’s much anticipated second collection out in February, Sarabande Books is cornering the market on exciting young writers of short fiction. Fire Year is an excellent addition to their list. Friedman’s bio suggests that he may have a novel in the works; if it’s anything like these terrific stories, I can’t wait.

Previous reviews...
David Levithan’s ‘Two Boys Kissing’
Thomas Glave’s ‘Among the Bloodpeople: Politics and Flesh’
Duncan Fallowell’s ‘How to Disappear: A Memoir for Misfits’
Frank Bidart’s ‘Metaphysical Dog’



Garth Greenwell is the author of Mitko, which won the 2010 Miami University Press Novella Prize and was a finalist for both the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award and a Lambda Award. He is currently an Arts Fellow at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.


Gay Rights Activists to Protest Coca-Cola Headquarters Today Over Sochi 2014 Olympics

Sochiallout

The activist group AllOut is planning a protest at Coca-Cola's headquarters in Atlanta today at 12:30 pm, Atlanta INtown reports:

 The organization is asking for the soft drink giant to call for a repeal of Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda” law before the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Coke is one of the largest sponsors of the Olympic games.

AllOut has been pressuring Coca-Cola executives to speak out against Russia's anti-gay laws and a petition has received more than 350,000 signatures urging the company to do so.


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