New Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields 

Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields released a statement after the department was  accused of racism and homophobia after one of its officers forced four gay bars in Midtown to close early during last weekend’s Black Gay Pride celebration. Shields has reassigned the morning watch commander who ordered the closing.

Here is Shields’ statement in full:

“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.”

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.