Trans activist named to police oversight board

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A longtime transgender activist was has worked to improve the Atlanta Police Department's treatment of LGBT citizens was named to a review board that oversees the police agency.

Mayor Kasim Reed on Friday announced that he appointed Tracee McDaniel to the Atlanta Citizen Review Board to fill a seat that has been vacant for nearly three years.

“As a life-long advocate for the transgender community, Ms. McDaniel will bring an important perspective and a lifetime of experience to this role,” Reed said in a prepared statement. 

“It is always essential to have minority voices in the room, and our LGBTQ community has a tremendous stake in positive police-community relations. I am confident Tracee McDaniel will serve Atlanta with excellence and dedication,” Reed added.

McDaniel, the founder and executive director of the Juxtaposed Center for Transformation, was one of the nine original members of an LGBT advisory board to police created in 2010 after the agency raided the Atlanta Eagle.

Reed's statement on her appointment also cited McDaniel's long-running advocacy work:

In 2014, she became a Vetted Trainer for the United States Department of Justice. McDaniel is a recognized community leader, having served on multiple boards. She has facilitated Atlanta’s observation of Stonewall weekends, including convening speakers' panels and marches. Currently, McDaniel serves on the Board of Directors for Trans Housing Atlanta Program (THAP) and on the programming board for The Center for Human Rights LGBT Institute.

On March 30, 2015, McDaniel was invited to present at the White House’s Trans Women of Color Women History Month Briefing on Employment and Economic Equity and how those inequities affect transgender women of color. In 2007, McDaniel became the first transgender person invited to deliver a keynote address at the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday celebration march. 

The appointment comes a day after Reed appeared at a review board meeting and pledged to appoint a transgender person to the panel.

“We have one more spot to fill on the board and I am planning on naming someone from the LGBT community,” Reed said Thursday, according to CBS 46.

The appointment comes just months after activists released a survey in March that detailed reports from transgender people about harassment, unwanted sexual contact and insensitivity by Atlanta police officers. The document from Solutions Not Punishment – Trans Voices on Police Abuse and Profiling in Atlantacaught the attention of U.S. Attorney John Horn when he met with LGBT organizers and activists in late July. 

In 2015, Atlanta police came under fire for homophobic and anti-trans training materials used to teach new recruits to the department. The agency quickly apologized and pledged to scrub the offensive material from its training program.

In October 2014, Turner announced new policies concerning the department's treatment of transgender people. Reed called the new Standard Operating Procedures part of the city's efforts to “celebrate diversity.” Months later, Atlanta police pledged to revise the policies after a sometimes heated meeting with trans activists.

Also Thursday, Reed said he values the “important work” that the ACRB does and pledged to take its recommendations more seriously. 

The board has complained recently that police Chief George Turner has upheld the panel's disciplinary recommendations just 25 percent of the time, according to CBS 46.

But the complaints about how Turner responds to the panel's recommendations date to the ACRB's inception in 2007. In 2010 – in the wake of the police raid of the Atlanta Eagle – Reed fought the board's requests to have Atlanta police officers testify, prompting the board to threaten subpoenas for the officers. 

And when the panel – and its lesbian chair Joy Morrisseyrepeatedly recommended discipline for officers involved in the raid, Turner ignored the recommendations. He later fired six officers and disciplined nine others that were involved in the raid. 

Attorney's fees and legal settlements related to the raid cost the city nearly $2.7 million. In the aftermath of the raid, as Atlanta police worked to repair the agency's image among the city's LGBT residents, McDaniel was involved in specialized training sessions with officers and its APEX Unit, which replaced the infamous Red Dog Unit that carried out the raid.

McDaniel also has prodded Reed to include trans people in the city's homeless initiatives. 

Each year, McDaniel helps organize the Transgender Day of Remembrance in November. In 2015, she was honored as one of 12 grand marshals for the Atlanta Pride parade. McDaniel also serves on the programming board of the LGBT Institute, which is housed within the National Center for Civil & Human Rights.


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