City to get tough for ‘Dreamgirls’ at ‘Screen’

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imageJust in time for the gays arriving Thursday to watch “Dreamgirls” in Piedmont Park: a police presence that will make the Eagle raid blush.

Gay movie-goers were caught in the crossfire of a melee during “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” on June 3 at “Screen on the Green.” The fights, unruly behavior and general mayhem — some of which was targeted at LGBT movie fans in the crowd at Piedmont — caught the Atlanta Police Department off guard, prompted organizers to cancel the June 10 show and pushed Mayor Kasim Reed into action.

Their solution? A police presence to engulf the park on Thursday, accompanied by “T-Shirt security” that’s supposed to make attendees feel safe. LGBT folks may think more along the lines of the Eagle raid last September, when the police department’s controversial paramilitary Red Dog Unit was unleashed on patrons.

On Monday, the city detailed its plans for Thursday’s movie screening:

An on-duty Atlanta Police Department Incident Commander, utilizing the City’s Mobile Command Unit, will be on-site and able to make decisions to bring in additional Atlanta Police resources if needed.

Additional off-duty police officers have been added to the inside of the park to maintain order and stop any criminal behavior including disorderly conduct.

Staff from the Mayor’s Office of Constituent Services will be on-site to assist moviegoers with non-emergency concerns.

The APD’s Mounted Patrol will have a presence and will be available to assist with any crowd control concerns that arise. They will only be called in by the Incident Commander if needed.

APD’s Zone 5 Units will maintain an on-duty presence in the area and can be called in quickly to augment the off-duty resources if needed.

The APD’s School Detective Unit, which has specific expertise in dealing with young people, will have a presence at the event.

Communication between event staff and police has been enhanced with the use of Nextel Direct.

Communication between off-duty and on-duty police will be improved, as the event is utilizing all Atlanta Police, who are on the same frequencies.

The sponsor partners have hired a new security company familiar with the park to provide more event security personnel, commonly referred to as “T-Shirt” security. They will maintain presence in the aisles and ask anyone disturbing the movie to quiet down or leave.

The sponsor partners have made adjustments to the event site plan to improve pedestrian traffic flow, such as relocating the screen, locations of the vending stations and the portable toilets.

Is this enough to keep some gay movie buffs from continuing their boycott? We’ll see.


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