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Raid on Gay Bar in Atlanta

Timothy Kincaid

September 11th, 2009

The facts are tentative, but appear to be as follows (as provided by a first hand account from a reporter for the Atlanta Progressive News and by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution):

Last night, about 15 police officers raided the Atlanta Eagle, purportedly looking for drugs. It was the Eagle’s “underwear night”, and the bar staff, along with some patrons, were in their underwear.

Patrons were forced to lie face down on the floor – many handcuffed – and were frisked by officers looking for drugs. No drugs were found. It appears that several persons in the club prior to the arrest were undercover police.

The bar tenders and bar dancers were arrested and jailed for “providing adult entertainment without a city permit”. They remained in jail until this afternoon when two city councilpersons interceded.

Police appeared to be callous to the humiliation of the gay patrons and made pejorative comments. While the purpose was supposedly for drug enforcement, it appeared to all that this would be more accurately described as police harassment of the gay community. And there were statements made that suggest that the police involved felt no hesitation about a fraudulent raid.

One police officer stated, as he and others left the parking lot, “This is gonna keep happening if we keep getting complaints from the community.” The officer did not specify what complaints he was referring to.

Fortunately, the police liaison to the gay community is not taking the situation lightly.

Atlanta Police’s liaison to the gay community said the volume of complaints she’s received from patrons at a Midtown leather bar that was raided Thursday night suggests an investigation is warranted.

“There’s too many people saying the same thing for there not to be some validity to it,” said Danni Lynn Harris, Atlanta Police’s LGBT liaison.

It is difficult to view this situation in terms other than abuse of power. Let’s hope that a expeditious investigation is initiated and that steps are taken to avoid future targeting of gay businesses for police harassment in Atlanta.

Comments

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Richard W. Fitch
September 11th, 2009 | LINK

Looks as though Atlanta may have borrowed the ‘play book’ used by TABC and FW PD. How many more times is this kind of harassment going to occur before law enforcement agents will be held liable for abuse and bigotry presumably sanctioned by the wearing of a badge?

Burr
September 11th, 2009 | LINK

We’re not the only victims of this insane war on drugs. Grannies are getting their doors kicked down. Mayor’s dogs shot dead. Hell, innocent people shot dead in these paramiltary style raids.

All because of garbage “tips” and a pointless game of whack-a-mole.

Lindoro Almaviva
September 11th, 2009 | LINK

Apparently the Atlanta police does not, or can not read the paper. Apparently they have not been informed that the laws that were used against gay people in the 50′s have been thrown out and that, when the TX Police dept tried to pull the same stunt they were not wearing their seat belts and the whole thing blew in their faces.

Do they actually think that the scare tactics and the “keep them on their place” philosophy is going to work?

gar
September 11th, 2009 | LINK

Grasping at straws and living in the past.

Christopher Waldrop
September 11th, 2009 | LINK

Richard and Lindoro have already summed up my immediate reaction, but there’s something else I couldn’t help thinking. While Atlanta is in the South, I thought it had a reputation as a relatively gay-friendly town. Heck, I used to know guys who drove all the way to Atlanta to see the film Making Love when it was released. I realize there are pockets of prejudice even in the most tolerant places, but this vague comment about “complaints from the community” seems extremely suspicious. Of course “complaints from the community” still wouldn’t be justification for a raid.

JJQR
September 12th, 2009 | LINK

I’ve heard the mayor of Atlanta, Shirley Franklin, is homophobic and several gay establishments have already been “forced” (more or less) to close. But not being from Atlanta I don’t know how accurate that is.

Richard Rush
September 12th, 2009 | LINK

Alleged drug and liquor law violations have a long history of being used as a pretext for harassment of gays. In the early 1970s I once spent an entire night in jail (along with more than 100 others) for “aiding and abetting” liquor law violations on a boat that served as a gay bar on weekend nights. And the following week we all had to march into a court appearance where the charges were dropped. It was all about harassment, of course.

The Atlanta police comment about “complaints from the community” may cause one to assume they were referring to the immediate neighborhood. But it may have really been a dispersed community of fundamentalist religious nuts, none of whom live in the neighborhood.

CLS
September 12th, 2009 | LINK

I would be careful referring to the liaison as “fortunate” as she (I assume from the name) was originally claiming the raid was justified due to unidentified, unspecified calls which she claims she received from customers of the bar regarding unnamed illegal activity. She originally said the “volume” of complaints proved something illegal was going on at the bar. Later news articles said there had been one complaint weeks earlier. So she was justifying the raid originally. In addition, if it turns out there was only one complaint (and no evidence it was from a customer) then her claim to have received a large number of such complaints would be proven false.

She was basically claiming the raid was done at the request of the patrons of the bar. Does that seem likely?

Timothy Kincaid
September 14th, 2009 | LINK

CLS,

I think you misread the liaison’s comments.

Atlanta Police’s liaison to the gay community said the volume of complaints she’s received from patrons at a Midtown leather bar that was raided Thursday night suggests an investigation is warranted.

In other words, because she’s heard from so many victims of this abuse, she thinks there should be an investigation into the matter.

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