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Suspicious Elements of Atlanta Eagle Raid

Jim Burroway

September 12th, 2009

Atlanta EagleHere’s the thing I find very suspicious about Thursday’s raid on the Atlanta Eagle, which involved ten police cars and fifteen officers.  After having the patrons lie on the floor during the raid and endure insults from the Police Department, the police arrested eight employees for providing adult entertainment. Apparently, they had patrons dancing in their underwear — it was underwear night — and that constitutes “adult entertainment.” Never mind that this apparel is generally not dissimilar to that found at Atlanta public swimming pools. But that was such a horrific crime for Atlanta that eight employees were detained in Atlanta’s city jails overnight. Six of the eight remained detained until well into the following afternoon when two Atlanta City Council candidates intervened and contacted a judge who finally set bail.

And there’s this description of the raid itself:

“I had been there less that five minutes, around 11 p.m.,” the patron told Southern Voice. “It was a pretty slow night, and I was just talking with someone by the dance floor when all of a sudden, a police office officer, I’m not sure if he was in plain clothes or not, came through, knocked something over and said, ‘everyone get down.’”

The man initially thought it might have been a fight between patrons, but after seeing several officers enter the dance floor area, he knew it was serious.

“I was on my knees after they told us to get down, but then an officer grabbed me by the back of the neck and pushed me down,” said the patron. “It wasn’t necessarily abuse, but I definitely think they used a heavy hand.”

Anyone who tried arguing with authorities was told to “Shut up,” and “don’t speak until spoken to,” the man said.

“It was a full on police raid. For customers who were just having a drink, hanging out, it was definitely shocking,” he said.

According to the patron, while everyone was still face down, police searched the crowd individually without asking permission, and later took everyone’s ID. Once a patron’s ID was cleared, he was asked to leave the building.

The source said he was face down on the ground through the process, which for him was about half an hour. Others, he said, waited longer.

“I heard some laughter and casual conversation during the event,” he continued. “It made me mad because I was forced on the floor, searched and held down, not able to talk while they were around joking and taking their job lightly.

“We were treated as criminals from the get-go,” he said. “I definitely felt harassed.”

All because, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, of this:

The raid, conducted by the vice squad, was a result of a tip sent to Mayor Shirley Franklin’s office alleging “illicit sex” at The Eagle, Harris said. Ironically, Franklin’s election and re-election campaigns were headquartered in space adjoining the leather bar.

This contradicts an earlier claim of “several complaints,” which itself seems suspicious given that no one was arrested for “illicit sex” or selling drugs, which were two of the reasons offered for the raid. No drugs were found in the entire search (which I think is rather remarkable for any large well-attended bar, gay or straight.)

Does the Mayor’s office and Atlanta Police Department pursue anonymous tips against straight bars? That’s what Dan Savage wants to know:

I think we should find out if the mayor of Atlanta will order a police raid on any bar—gay or straight—based on a single (and apparently phony) tip about drug use. So, hey, here’s a list of bars in Atlanta and here’s the mayor’s contact info

Mayor Shirley Franklin
Tel: 404.330.6100
Fax: 404.658.6893
mayorfranklin@atlantaga.gov

If you know or even just suspect that drugs are being used or sold—or adult entertainment provided without a city permit—on the premises of any bar or club in Atlanta, send a tip off the mayor’s office now. If every bar in Atlanta winds up gets raided—if 10 police cars, 15 officers, and 10 undercover officers get sent to every bar in town—then we’ll know that the raid on the Atlanta Eagle wasn’t motivated by anti-gay bias. Mayor Franklin is standing by waiting for your tips!

Meanwhile, the police’s LGBT Liaison Officer Dani Lynn Harris has been kept completely out of the loop. She didn’t know about the raid until she was contacted by the media, and as of Friday afternoon she still didn’t have an incident number on the case, so she couldn’t access basic information like how many officers were on the scene or who was arrested on what charges.

A protest is planned for Sunday at 5 p.m at the Eagle parking lot. A Facebook page has been created for the rally.

Comments

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GreenEyedLilo
September 12th, 2009 | LINK

Horrible. Just horrible. The fact that these creeps laughed and joked while they harassed these men for nothing makes my skin crawl. Atlanta has a reputation as being one of the South’s gay-friendlier cities, too.

Dan Savage is not a favorite of mine, but he definitely has it right here.

paul j stein
September 12th, 2009 | LINK

Well, another reason to hit the Eastcoast on the way to Florida, skip the lousy traffic and high prices of Atlanta. Kick the b*tch out of office and start a boycott/sitdown of gay provided services in Atlanta. When business gets stopped sh*t will hit the fan, Shirley will start stinkin!

ByTheSea
September 12th, 2009 | LINK

Sad note indeed. I grew up in Birmingham, so I have no doubts prejudice is involved. And since California’s Prop 8 failed, it’s been a rippling affect across the country that somehow, it’s just a wee bit more OK to hate and harass gays. Sad thing is, the National Gay Community has no “go to” person to bring this to the media’s attention. Harvey Milk, look down upon us and help us still. I can’t believe we are still having to protest this sh*t.

Richard W. Fitch
September 12th, 2009 | LINK

It is indeed sad and your observation about the affect of Prop 8 certainly rings true. But why does the LGBT citizenry need a go-to person at the national level? In the age of Twitter, Facebook and a multitude of other grassroots venues, some one in any area that experiences or knows of unjustified harassment by public agents has the ability to catch the eyes and ears of the media. Why pass the buck? My fringe association with the unfolding of events subsequent to the bar raid in Fort Worth convinces me that even ‘little people’ can make a big difference. The FB page that was created immediately after the raid had several hundred members within the first 24 hrs. Before a week had passed there were people from literally all over the world sharing comments of encouragement to those victimized – especially to Chad Gibson who was hospitalized with a serious head/brain injury. LGBT folks can no longer just sit back in the corners and hope everything will turn out all right.

Alan
September 13th, 2009 | LINK

I wonder if it isn’t backlash against the increasing acceptance of gays.

AnIrishBear
September 13th, 2009 | LINK

I will be going to the march they are having on the police department this Sunday. I am 51 and have seen this behavior before…I had hoped it was past us.

There is mention of a fund to hire PI’s to look into the lives of the officers involved in the raid at all levels. This sounds like a good idea to me. The lawsuits will not affect the personal lives of the police, the insurance companies will pay off the suits and the only thing the city will “feel” is maybe an increase in their premium. Show the wives/husbands/significant others of these officers pics of them playing around, or send the IRS proof of unclaimed income…well, that makes it just as personal for them as what they did to others.

paul j stein
September 13th, 2009 | LINK

I guess Madame Mayor forgot the oppression of a few decades back in the city she is now the lead politician. She has hers due to cross racial and ethnic support. GAYS and Lesbians can hit the “back of the bus” Screw that bigoted b*tch! A boycott of convention and general tourism directed at the mayor fostering an unsafe environment for my family and spouse seems to be in order. STOP THE CASHFLOW! works everytime.

paul j stein
September 13th, 2009 | LINK

COKE, AT&T, ARBY’S, Delta, Home Depot, NAPA, Equifax, Georgia-Pacific, Newell Rubbermaid, Spectrum brands(Rayovac)all have headquarters in ATL. Email the applicable board of directors. I did. and I’m not buying and or returning products with a reason given as discrimination and civil rights violations. Use your CASH!

Penguinsaur
September 13th, 2009 | LINK

“The raid, conducted by the vice squad, was a result of a tip sent to Mayor Shirley Franklin’s office alleging “illicit sex” at The Eagle, Harris said”

Wasn’t that gay bar in Fort Worth also raided because of an ‘anonymous tip’ that had no basis in reality? From what I’ve gathered police can go anywhere, do whatever the hell they want and if ever questioned about their motives can just claim to have received an ‘anonymous tip’ about the place they’re shaking down.

CLS
September 13th, 2009 | LINK

This raid stinks of a set-up. The police have changed their story numerous times. We were told that “patrons” of the bar complained, then we were told it wasn’t patrons but neighbors. Then they say it was a telephone tip (so they don’t know who it is). The alleged offenses they were investigating have changed a few times as well. They said it was unspecified “criminal” activities, they said it was drugs, they said it was having sex in public. Then we find out that the anonymous phone tip claimed the bar put loud speakers outside and played tapes of “gay men having sex” loudly for everyone to hear.

As it appears to me there was one person who filed two anonymous tips in two different places. Nothing more.

And, after all the claims of alleged criminal activity we only get arrests for dancing without a license. This stinks.

Jane Doe
September 13th, 2009 | LINK

Now now ladies! The last time I went to the Eagle, there was so much naughty behavior going on in that back room that it made me ashamed to be gay. Y’all need to calm down.

Penguinsaur
September 13th, 2009 | LINK

“Now now ladies! The last time I went to the Eagle, there was so much naughty behavior going on in that back room that it made me ashamed to be gay. Y’all need to calm down.”

Except the cops didnt seem to find anything, all they did was arrest afew people for wearing their underwear, on a night specifically advertised as being one where everyone wears just underwear.

A radio station here used to do this thing called a BLT party all the time. Black tie, lingerie and toga. They never had 15 officers arresting people for ‘adult entertainment’ even though 1/3rd of the people there were in underwear.

Rex Thomas
September 13th, 2009 | LINK

So, these cops enjoyed dressing up in SWAT gear, making gay men get face-down on the floor, barking orders at them, frisking them, getting them in handcuffs, and totally dominating them. I’ve been to the Eagle & fantasized about doing the same thing.

What do you think is their motivation? Wouldn’t it be great if the city would demand a psychological evaluation of each one involved?

joey mcfur
September 13th, 2009 | LINK

This is Mayor Franklin trying to get some “law and order” publicity. I remember her first day as mayor, with news cameras rolling as she rode along with the vice-squad, lecturing busted hookers saying, “you gone have to take it some place else, not on my street” in that Aunt Ester voice. She is a sad case and needs to be voted out. Anti-gay backlash is in full effect. “Atlanta Goddamn!”

Mike Travers
September 14th, 2009 | LINK

My thoughts for your illustrious mayor:

Dear Mayor Franklin:

You should be ashamed of the raid on the Atlanta Eagle. Only in Atlanta would such “violent” acts, such as dancing without a permit prompt such a disproportionate response. And what, pray tell, was the “crime” of the many patrons who the Atlanta Police Department also chose to harass and threaten once their fishing expedition turned up no significant problems.

The only thing you didn’t do is lynch or tar and feather any of those hateful homosexuals. Oh – that’s right – I forget – they don’t treat people like that in the South any more.

Mike Travers
Annapolis, MD

patrick
September 14th, 2009 | LINK

if the cops want to find drugs, all they have to do is walk down the street from the eagle. i always see drug dealers and prostitutes doing business out in the open on the corner of ponce de leon and monroe. and all we hear about are current problems due to lack of police presence because of furloughs and budgetary constraints. but the cops can find enough officers and cars to bust up a gay bar? it’s obvious they’re targeting a minority. since shirley franklin has been in office, we’ve seen most of the gay bars pushed out of midtown. clearly the harassment continues…

Atlanta Police: Raiding Gay Bar “More Fun Than Raiding Niggers With Crack” | Asterisk
September 16th, 2009 | LINK

[...] eight arrestees were kept in jail overnight, with two remaining until the following afternoon when two city council candidates coerced a judge [...]

300baud
September 17th, 2009 | LINK

“I wonder if it isn’t backlash against the increasing acceptance of gays.”

Ah, good point, we should stop supporting gay issues and reject gays — so they will stop being targets. Great.

GeorgeM
September 23rd, 2009 | LINK

Although I was brought up in metro DC to believe the police were always our advocates … the older and more experienced I get [at 54 yoa now]…. the more I’m convinced the police are merely ‘high-authority-low-intelligence’.

Give a moron a gun and a badge forchrissakes.

I think I’m going out today to buy some weapons to protect myself. I’ve got to pay the cops through my taxes — but I no longer trust them one damned bit….and if the police or anyone invades my home, I’ll make certain the body falls within the house….so it’ll be ruled self defense.

BTW — I’m in Fort Lauderdale — the gay mecca — and at election time — it’s the same crap here….but we did manage to oust our homophobic mayor.

L.W. Smith
October 2nd, 2009 | LINK

I moved out of Atlanta two years ago to Saint Pete, Florida.
I just wanted to say that Shirley Franklin has made it her secret mission to close down Atlanta gay bars one by one. First there was Backstreet, then Armory and now the Eagle is on the list. I knew that was coming when I left there. When the new condos and Art School down the street was just starting to be built I told my neighbors that this was coming and was laughed at.
After this is done, if it hasn’t happened yet, all of the bars that are in Ansley Two will end up being closed down watch for it to happen. She is as anti gay as they come and you guys need to figure that out before MidTown becomes completely a straight area.

Spike
October 4th, 2009 | LINK

http://www.sundaypaper.com/More/Archives/tabid/98/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/4578/Default.aspx

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