Alabama Civil Rights Groups and Montgomery Pride United Seek Public Records on Pride Weekend Police Raids of Bars and Restaurants
Materials will show whether LGBTQ people were targeted on anniversary of Stonewall riots
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Three Alabama civil rights groups and Montgomery Pride United filed a public records request with three government agencies yesterday, seeking to determine why LGBTQ-friendly bars and restaurants in the city were shut down during Pride Month and on the weekend of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the ACLU of Alabama, Hometown Action and Montgomery Pride United filed the request to determine whether LGBTQ people were unfairly targeted or harassed when they were celebrating Pride events in locations around the city and law enforcement forced LGBTQ patrons out of establishments under distress and with little explanation.
The records request, which is addressed to the Alabama Alcohol Beverage Control Board, Montgomery Police Department, and Montgomery Fire/Rescue asks the three agencies to produce materials that show the planning, execution and follow-up on the raids at A Touch of Soul Cafe, Club Reset and Club Ciroc, so that the organizations can evaluate the records and share them with the public.
“The fear that was triggered and the pain that was caused the night of the raids cannot be undone,” said Meta Ellis, Director of Montgomery Pride United. “But if the city of Montgomery and its LGBTQ residents and allies are to heal and move forward together, there must be a full accounting of the raids by all government agencies involved.”
The June 28, 1969 police raid on the Stonewall Inn in New York City was one of several ongoing raids used to detain and humiliate LGBTQ people. But that night, the crowd grew angry, and a tense standoff led to several nights of violent uprising. The Stonewall riots served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the U.S. and around the world.
“LGBTQ people exist and deserve dignity everywhere,” said David Dinielli, deputy legal director at the Southern Poverty Law Center. “Especially in Montgomery, Alabama – whose history in the struggle for civil rights is renowned – we cannot permit the use of state power to quash peaceful Pride celebrations to go unexamined and unchallenged.”
“Significant progress for the LGBTQ community has occurred since the Stonewall Inn riots 50 years ago,” said Justin Vest, executive director of Hometown Action, “but throughout the nation and the Deep South in particular the community faces ongoing discrimination permitted by law or enabled by law enforcement agencies. Law enforcement intimidation was wrong in 1969, and – intentional or not – it’s wrong in 2019.”
“Organizations like ACLU of Alabama and our partners in this public records request will continue to be a watchdog in Montgomery and throughout Alabama,” said Dillon Nettles, policy analyst at ACLU of Alabama, “so that LGBTQ communities are protected and able to come together in solidarity and in celebration during Pride Month and every day.”
The open records request is available here: https://www.splcenter.org/sites/default/files/ora_request_re_touch_of_so...