The weeks of ongoing protests and marches in Atlanta have echoed themes heard across the country – calls for racial justice and police reform. But changing the Atlanta Police Department won’t be easy.
The next episode of Q Conversations will explore reforming the police agency with leading LGBTQ voices calling for change – Xochitl Bervera of the Racial Justice Action Center, Atlanta City Council member Antonio Brown and attorney Dan Grossman. Register now for the live virtual event on Friday at noon.
Atlanta police officers have been in the center of two violent incidents that gained national attention – the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old father, in the parking lot of a Wendy’s on June 12 and a May 30 incident in which two college students were yanked from a car during a protest.
Both incidents led to the firing of officers and criminal charges being filed. The killing of Brooks to the resignation of police Chief Erika Shields, the department’s first LGBTQ leader.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has since ordered Atlanta police to change its use of force policies and created the Use of Force Advisory Council. But this week, the Atlanta City Council voted down an effort to withhold $73 million from the police department’s $217 million budget to force reform, according to the AJC.
How can lasting change be made at the Atlanta Police Department? What do the calls of “defund the police” really mean? What does reform look like for Atlanta police? We'll explore those issues on Friday and answer your questions. (The event is free but registration is required.)
Can’t make the event on Friday? Register and we’ll share a recording of the conversation that you can replay later.
Host Matt Hennie is the founder of Project Q Atlanta, a media outlet covering LGBTQ issues, and has worked in local journalism for more than 25 years.
Bervera is a queer, Chicana/Latina organizer, lawyer, educator and movement builder with over 15 years of experience in grassroots organizing, media and policy advocacy, and training and technical assistance, mostly focused on ending criminalization in Black and Latino communities. She is currently the director of the Atlanta-based Racial Justice Action Center. RJAC incubated the projects of Women on the Rise and Solutions Not Punishment Collaborative and was a key partner in founding and waging the successful Close the Jail ATL: Communities Over Cages Campaign. Bervera also serves on the Reimagining the Atlanta City Detention Center Task Force
Brown was elected to the District 3 post on the Atlanta City Council in 2019 and is the council’s only LGBTQ member. He is a successful CEO who built the LVL XIII men’s fashion brand and the founder of Dream of Humanity. He serves on the council’s Public Safety Committee and the Reimagining the Atlanta City Detention Center Task Force, and has been leading calls to reform the Atlanta Police Department during the ongoing social justice movement in the city. He also helped lead the effort to withhold a portion of the police department's budget.
Grossman is an Atlanta attorney who specializes in police procedures, police conduct, and Fourth Amendment issues, including arrest, search and seizure. He is responsible for several federal court orders imposing reforms on the Atlanta Police Department, including protection of the public’s right to photograph and video police activity; requiring all officers to wear visible name tags so they can be identified by the public; requiring officers to receive recurring training on arrests, detentions, searches, and other constitutional issues; prohibiting officers from deleting or destroying photographic, video, or audio recordings of police activity; requiring the agency to resolve all citizen complaints of police misconduct within six months; prohibiting officers from conducting public strip searches; and requiring the agency to revise several unconstitutional policies.
Grossman also was a key figure in suing Atlanta police on behalf of people arrested in the raid of the Atlanta Eagle in 2009.
This event is supported through a grant from Facebook Journalism Project's COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund.