City settles Atlanta Eagle lawsuit
ATLANTA, Ga. — A settlement in the Atlanta Eagle raid lawsuit will force the Atlanta Police Department to rewrite unconstitutional policies regarding arrest, search and seizure, and make other changes to protect the public from police misconduct.
These reforms require Atlanta police officers to document certain types of warrantless detentions, frisks and searches; prohibit officers from interfering with the public’s right to take photographs and make video and audio recordings of police activity; require uniformed police officers to wear clearly visible nametags and identify themselves upon request; require the Atlanta Police Department to rule on citizen complaints of police misconduct within 180 days; and require the City of Atlanta to conduct mandatory in-person training of all police officers every two years regarding Fourth Amendment issues and the safe use of firearms.
The agreement also requires the Atlanta Police Department to conduct a thorough and meaningful investigation of police misconduct, failure to obey the law, and untruthfulness during and after the Eagle raid. The settlement also provides for a payment of $1,025,000 by the city of Atlanta.
The settlement resolves a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Atlanta and 35 individual Atlanta police officers brought by 26 individuals and two businesses. The federal court order ending the case found that that each of the plaintiffs was unlawfully searched, detained and/or arrested during the raid and that none was personally suspected of any criminal activity.
Patrons at the Atlanta Eagle were forced to lie flat on the floor, some lying in spilled beer and broken glass, while police searched them, conducted background checks, and hurled antigay slurs. Lawyers for the plaintiffs have contended from the beginning of the lawsuit in November 2009 that the police department’s policy of detaining, searching, and taking ID from every person present during an operation such as the Atlanta Eagle raid was in violation of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Point scholarships up for grabs
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Point Foundation, the nation’s largest scholarship-granting organization for LGBT students of merit, has opened its 2011 application season. Students who will be enrolled in undergraduate or graduate programs for the 2010-11 school year are eligible to apply for the prestigious, multi-year scholarships. The application deadline for this year’s scholarships is Feb. 11, 2011.
Point’s rigorous selection process for its scholarships is highly competitive and requires demonstrated academic excellence, leadership skills, community involvement and financial need. Particular attention is paid to students who have lost the financial and social support of their families and/or communities as a result of revealing their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. The selection process begins with online applications and concludes with face-to-face interviews with selected finalists in April 2011.
The average amount of annual support devoted to each scholar is between $22,000-$31,000, which includes mentoring, leadership and media training and direct financial support. Point’s multifaceted support extends far beyond the scholars’ time in school as Point provides leadership training and mentoring.
Apple targeted by right-wingers
CUPERTINO, Calif. — Earlier this month Apple removed from its store an anti-gay iPhone app called “Manhattan Declaration.” The app features an electronic version of a pledge for users to “make whatever sacrifices are required” to oppose marriage equality. It also labels gay and lesbian couples “immoral,” calls the recognition of their relationships “false and destructive,” and claims that allowing them to be married will lead to “genuine social harms.” The original application also contained a quiz in which the “right” answers were those that oppose equality for gay and lesbian people.
Following removal of the app, GLAAD noted, “This application fuels a climate in which gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are put in harm’s way. Apple did the right thing in recognizing that this application violates the company’s guidelines.”
The anti-gay activist group National Organization for Marriage released an ad criticizing Apple’s decision to stand against bias. And, according to The Advocate, the app makers have re-submitted the application to Apple. At press time, there is no indication from Apple that their stance against the app has changed.
GOP senator backs bullying bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) has announced his support of the Safe Schools Improvement Act by signing on as a cosponsor of the legislation, becoming the first Republican to do so. The federal anti-bullying bill, which includes protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression, was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) in August. The measure now has 15 bipartisan cosponsors.
“I am an advocate for the Safe Schools Improvement Act because every student should feel safe in school and know that discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated,” said Kirk, who cosponsored a similar measure as a member of the U.S. House.
The Safe Schools Improvement Act, which is endorsed by the more than 75 members of the National Safe Schools Partnership, will require comprehensive anti-bullying policies in our nation’s public schools. The bill was introduced in the House last year by Rep. Linda Sanchez and has 128 bipartisan cosponsors.
Coming out age plummets in U.K.
LONDON — The average coming out age has fallen by over 20 years in Britain, according to an online poll by U.K. LGBT rights group Stonewall. The poll, which had 1,536 respondents, found that LGB people aged 60 and over came out at 37 on average. People aged 18 and under are coming out at 15 on average.
Ruth Hunt, Stonewall’s Deputy Director of Public Affairs, said, “People are coming out younger and younger. Everyone should come out when they feel ready and confident but this is an encouraging trend and sends a positive message to anyone not yet out: you don’t have to wait. Britain is a fairer country than it once was, and support is available to you.”
Stonewall’s new “It gets better … today” campaign tells young people that they don’t have to wait for their lives to improve — they can be great now. Video messages of support have been filmed by teachers, parents, members of Parliament, soap stars and other celebrities.