A Call To Action By Atlanta’s Trans Community
Based on the findings of this report, we recommend that all indicated parties swiftly and decisively take the following action steps:
1. ELIMINATE ORDINANCES THAT ENCOURAGE POLICE TO
TARGET, HARASS & SEXUALLY ASSAULT TRANS PEOPLE
The City Council should immediately repeal the ordinances that give police officers excuse and incentive to conduct pretextual stops that often lead to exploitation and abuse. Survey respondents repeatedly shared stories of being threatened with or actually arrested and detained for behaviors such as sitting, standing, walking, talking, using a restroom, or asking a question. The ordinances that should be eliminated include most of Chapter 106 of the Atlanta Municipal Code among other provisions. We specifically recommend repealing the following:
• Idling and Loitering (§106-127)
• Disorderly Conduct (§106-81)
• Unauthorized Person Entering Vacant Building (§106-56)
• Monetary Solicitation (§106-85)
• Indecency (§106-129)
• Marijuana (Under 1 Oz) (§106-182)
• Spitting (§106-131)
• Obstructing Traffic (§150-266)
• Disorderly Conduct While Under the Influence (§10-9)
2. DECRIMINALIZE SEX WORK & PROVIDE EMPLOYMENT
& SOCIAL SERVICE OPPORTUNITIES TO TRANS RESIDENTS
The Atlanta Police Department should follow best practices and immediately stop conducting any arrests of or raids/stings against sex workers. These stings disproportionately harm trans people. In addition, the Atlanta Police should, as a policy, deprioritize any arrests or detentions of people for offenses that focus on criminalization of HIV/AIDS.
The City (including the City Council and Mayor’s Office) should invest in a job training and placement program specifically focused on serving trans communities, recognizing the unique obstacles we face due to widespread discrimination.
The City and the County should also work together to expand funding and support for community-based, gender-affirming services both as alternatives to jail and as stand-alone community supports. Services should include but not be limited to harm reduction oriented drug treatment, safe and affirming housing, physical and mental health care, social services, and education. Service providers must ensure that groups, services, facilities and programs for survivors of sexual violence, intimate partner violence, and/or police violence are fully accessible and accountable to trans survivors.
This funding and support could be done, in part, through the continued investment in the Pre-Arrest Diversion Program, the design team and planning process of which was authorized in late 2015 by both the City Council and the Fulton County Board of Commissioners.
3. ADOPT COMMUNITY DRAFTED & SUPPORTED STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES & IMPLEMENT IMPROVED POLICIES & PROTOCOLS THAT ENSURE TRANS EQUITY
The APD should immediately amend the current SOPs to fully incorporate the provisions of The People’s Standard Operation Procedures including bi-annual trainings conducted by a person of trans experience, knowledgeable of the involved issues.
To further build trust with the community and eliminate accusations of unlawful searches leading to arrests, APD should require all officers t0 obtain written consent for a “consent search” to be considered lawful.
In addition to these policy changes, the Atlanta Department of Corrections (ADOC) should immediately adopt Standard Operating Procedures that ensure the safety and equitable treatment of trans people while detained in the Atlanta City Detention Center (ACDC).
For all recommendations above for APD and the ADOC, departmental leadership should ensure that materials and forms are available in all major community languages, particularly Spanish, and people should be provided interpreters upon request, particularly those making complaints.
Until the above are fully being implemented, thereby ensuring the safety and equitable treatment of trans people, the Atlanta Police Department should refrain from arresting and detaining any trans person on any city level offense and placing them in what is currently a dangerous housing situation where they may be exposed to violence and discrimination. Further, until the above is fully implemented, the ADOC should release any trans individual currently in their custody.
4. CONDUCT AN INVESTIGATION OF MISCONDUCT BY THE ATLANTA POLICE AGAINST TRANS INDIVIDUALS & DEVELOP A CLEAR PLAN TO ADDRESS HARM DONE
The City of Atlanta, APD, and ADOC should work with Solutions Not Punishment Collaborative, community leaders, and an independent investigator to conduct a thorough investigation into the abuses and misconduct of the police. The purpose of the investigation is to understand the harms caused by police misconduct, and to create a plan for repairing that harm. A qualified restorative/transformative justice practitioner should be part of the process, to ensure that the investigation can be used as a basis to acknowledge and repair the harm done. Actions arising from such an investigation may include:
- Public apologies and acknowledgment on the part of the individuals and institutions responsible;
- Discipline, up to and including termination of officers who caused harm, failed to report and/or intervene, were complicit in wrongdoing, or those who retaliated against individuals who expressed intent or in actuality did file complaints;
- Financial compensation for victims of APD assault and harassment including coverage for medical and mental health costs resulting from APD harm
Unlike a criminal investigation that asks whether there is sufficient evidence to prove criminal behavior beyond a reasonable doubt, this investigation focuses on the harm to trans people caused by Atlanta Police. Its primary purpose is to repair that harm.
Please see A note on language for more information