Some 200 entries helped make the Oct. 9 Atlanta Pride parade the largest ever. But there was one notable absence: Mayor Kasim Reed. What a difference a year makes.
A year ago, the mayor – still stung by lingering resentment over an Eagle raid he had nothing to do with – put on a Pride offensive. It was, after all, Reed’s first Pride as the city’s top dog and he hosted a first-ever reception atop City Hall, glad-handed at length during the Atlanta Pride Committee’s VIP reception, and walked with his new police chief in the parade (top photo).
This year? Not so much. No rooftop reception, Reed breezed in and out of the VIP event, and he totally skipped the parade. (He did record a welcome video that played in Piedmont Park during the festival.)
Maybe Reed was concerned that crowds along the parade route would react poorly to his administration’s surprising response to the latest lawsuit over the botched Eagle raid. The day before Atlanta Pride opened, the city denied that police officers violated the constitutional rights of the 10 bar patrons who recently filed suit. That despite settling two other Eagle raid lawsuits and two scathing investigations that uncovered wrongdoing by officers and vitriolic statements some made about gays and homosexuality. Even Reed said he was “shocked” by the findings.
Or Reed’s absence could be chalked up to a scheduling conflict. That was the official reason from an administration spokesperson about why the mayor skipped the parade, though an explanation of the exact conflict wasn’t offered. Compare that to Oct. 16 when the mayor again didn’t attend the AIDS Walk Atlanta & 5K Run. The reason? A scheduling conflict, but this explanation offered specifics – Reed was in Washington, D.C. attending the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. He even tweeted about it.
To be fair, just a handful of elected officials took part in the parade this year, a sharp contrast to 2010 when an election year attracted scores of politicians – even a candidate for governor. Among parade participants this year was Pride regular U.S. Rep. John Lewis, City Council members Alex Wan (second photo), Carla Smith, Michael Julian Bond and Kwanza Hall, and Fulton Commissioner Joan Garner (third photo with Hall). Fulton Sheriff candidate Richard Lankford also rode in the parade.
Missing in action along with Reed was Fulton County Commission Chair John Eaves and state Rep. Rashad Taylor, who came out earlier this year in an emotional press conference. Eaves and Taylor, like Reed, took part in the 2010 parade.