National News

APD chief issues statement on decision to close gay bars over Labor Day weekend

Posted September 7

— Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields has issued a statement regarding the closure of of four Midtown gar bars and restaurants over the Labor Day weekend.

The businesses were ordered closed two hours early by Atlanta Police officers that resulted in the commander being moved to a different zone in the city.

Chief Shields says she doesn't think the move was made in a discriminatory manner but his decision to close them "gave that perception to bar owners, managers, and patrons."

Chief Shields issued this statement on the departmental Facebook page on Wednesday:

"I'm disappointed with the decision by the Zone 5 morning watch commander to force four gay bars/restaurants in Midtown to close two hours early during Black Gay Pride weekend. 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. There are several steps the morning watch commander could have taken to further investigate the concerns bar owners expressed that they had permission to stay open until 2:30 a.m. Those steps were not taken."

As a result, I have made the decision to move this commander to another duty in another zone. We also must ensure that vital communications about matters such as extended bar hours are properly relayed to zone supervisors expected to enforce such ordinances. The diversity of its people is one of the City of Atlanta's greatest strengths. Any perception that the Atlanta Police Department does not respect, and celebrate, that diversity must be dealt with swiftly."

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