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The Anonymous Tips

Timothy Kincaid

September 15th, 2009

The Southern Voice is now hosting copies of the complaints that generated the commitment of over 20 officers to raid the Atlanta Eagle.

One appears to be a speculation about an event scheduled for July 5th (“They have hired nude dancers to dance on the bars; sex will be permitted as at most circuit parties, drugs will be sold freely.”)

The other anonymous tip (“for fear of retaliation”) seems to be a more generalized complaint about “ongoing sex parties on Thursday nights” and purports to be from a neighbor. It seems that it is this tip that motivated the massive response.

Witnesses (including myself) in the neighborhood have seen men in various states of undress performing sexual acts on each other including oral and anal sex. Mayor Franklin, your assistance in this matter is desperately needed as people in this neighborhood are concerned about the neighborhood being turned into a brothel. Bags of what appears to be drug residue are found strewn around a one block radius of the bar and drunk bar patrons scream and create disturbances. The neighbors that I have spoken to are scared to report anything as the bar owner has been known to retaliate against neighbors by pointing a speakers with sounds of men having sex and blasting it to the residential building next to the bar.

It would appear that the police did not make much effort to confirm this anonymous accusation before choosing to believe it. Had they checked with the Midtown Ponce Security Alliance, they may have saved themselves the effort and the embarrassment.

I have a bird’s eye view of what the community is telling us. I know every square inch of the MPSA service area, in which the Eagle is prominently located. I have never once received any reports or made any observations even remotely suggesting that crime and disorder in the neighborhood would be attributed to the Eagle.

The Eagle has always been totally unlike [other bars the MPSA worked to get closed]. From what we can tell, the staff and patrons of that establishment have enjoyed their evenings quite peacefully. We have never observed otherwise, and nobody has ever reported to us otherwise. We feel reassured that of the 62 (?) people that were found to be in that bar during the raid, not a single one had any drugs in their possession – truly amazing!

…The Eagle was that bar of choice – right there where everything possible could go wrong given the long-standing undesirable remnants of Ponce past, where a bar would be most at risk of becoming a community nightmare, and yet not a peep for years on end.

One thing that stands out to me is the assumption on the part of those who seek to oppose gay people and their lives that they can and should do so without any accountability. They hide behind anonymity claiming fear of reprisal from the evil awful gays, when it is they who are causing harm and disruption.

We see this in the raids on bars in Georgia and Texas, where “anonymous tips” are justification for police hostility. And we see it in Washington in petitioners who want to deny rights under the cloak of secrecy.

But what is disheartening and disturbing is that persons of authority, be they police or judges, are quick to shield the identity of accusers – who are often making false claims – and to view gay people as the danger by default. Our lives are disrupted, our freedoms are threatened, our rights are in jeopardy, but it is the anonymous identity of liars that must be protected.

UPDATE: As best I can tell from Google maps, there isn’t a residential building next to the bar. There may be one behind the establishment across a parking lot, but that appears to be the closest.

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Jon
September 15th, 2009 | LINK

I live in Atlanta and have been to the Eagle many times. The closest residential building is the one behind it across the parking lot. While it does have a “seedy” feel to the place (what leather bar doesn’t), everyone I’ve met there has been very nice.

Leo
September 15th, 2009 | LINK

Yes a bar owner who’s busy encouraging public sex and drug use will respond to complaints lodged against him with the police by creating an even more obvious public nuisance by basting music out his establishment and towards residences. Because that will certainly deflect the cops attention away from him and cast him as a good citizen. Right?

Because police never use noise complaints as an opportunity to fish for other violations, no siree, no never. Because of that any bar owner will gladly give police an ironclad excuse to enter his business and issue a summons for a noise violation.

Chris McCoy
September 15th, 2009 | LINK

But what is disheartening and disturbing is that persons of authority, be they police or judges, are quick to shield the identity of accusers – who are often making false claims – and to view gay people as the danger by default. Our lives are disrupted, our freedoms are threatened, our rights are in jeopardy, but it is the anonymous identity of liars that must be protected.

As long as our “lifestyle” remains underground, not publicly recognized and accepted by civil society, we will continue to be victims of this kind of dishonest behind-closed-doors assault.

I think this is why it is so essential that we stand up for equality at every turn. This raid on a “first time offender” gay establishment would never have happened if glbt were not relegated to secrecy in seedy, windowless clubs. This anonymous tipsters “worst fears” about the gay community are realized, not in spite of, but because of the lack of social recognition and support that our hetero peers are granted by default.

If we could hold hands at the movie theater, kiss each other at the mall, enjoy a candlelight dinner at a swank restaurant without fear of being heckled or bashed around the next corner, if our relationships weren’t derided as fake, or incapable of being long-term, or sacrilegious, or evil, our community wouldn’t find it necessary to create what that anonymous tipster called a gay “brothel”

So to the anonymous tipster I say, if you want a neighborhood full of decent people, stop forcing us to meet in secret, stop forcing our relationships into the sex clubs and the bushes, stop forcing our consensual, adult relationships into the shadows, and bring us out into the light, into the open, into decent society where we belong, where our relationships are equal with everyone elses, where we have been asking to be for the last 30 years.

John
September 15th, 2009 | LINK

Did I miss something here?

The raid took place on Sept 10th at 11:30pm, yet the complaints are dated May 19th (from private citizen) and July 1st (tip on circuit party).

So the premise for this raid was based on information was over 2 month old?

Christopher Waldrop
September 15th, 2009 | LINK

The more details come out the fishier this seems. Regarding the time delay between the tips and the raid, I can understand that the police would want to check up on the information, do their best to make sure they had corroborating evidence, and maybe even do some surveillance.

Except they don’t seem to have done any of that here. Besides, I thought the APD’s most current story was that they weren’t acting on these tips, but rather based on something some undercover cops claimed to have seen in May. Because, y’know, it would make perfect sense for the cops to have evidence of criminal activity and then wait four months before acting.

Burr
September 15th, 2009 | LINK

Well said, Chris McCoy.

Laura Gentle
September 15th, 2009 | LINK

City Council notes will be up shortly on the Facebook Eagle Atlanta Raid group page: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=132437013245&ref=ts

SINCERE THANKS to the 18 people & press that sat through a VERY long meeting to finally speak. The Atlanta community has put SERIOUS pressure on the City of Atlanta as a whole- they are paying CLOSE attention to the concern everyone has expressed.

KEEP IT COMING!

*big hugs* to the Eagle patrons & staff for their support at these events!

Paula Brooks
September 16th, 2009 | LINK

You know I have refused to cover this story on LGR and I will tell you why…

I am a gay mom with three year old twin girls and I hold a full time job to support them.

What I need are protections… for my twins… for that job…

and I don’t see how dancing around in our underwear at a gay bar can get those…

David Duet
September 16th, 2009 | LINK

Reply to Paula Brooks:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” – MLK

Let’s not belittle ANY rights abuses. Remember that we are fighting for ALL of our EQUAL rights, not just the ones important to you (or I). I am also raising two small children, and so, along with you am in a different stage of my life than the men at this bar probably are. But they deserve equal rights just as much as we do. If you choose to focus your energy on the rights that are most important to you, that is perfectly understandable, but please do not belittle the efforts of anyone else fighting for our equal rights, just because they spent their time focusing on a right which isn’t your top priority.

Richard W. Fitch
September 16th, 2009 | LINK

“First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.”
Lukesdad Dietrich Bonhoeffer quotes (German Lutheran Pastor and Theologian. His involvement in a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler led to his imprisonment and execution. 1906-1945)

JJQR
September 16th, 2009 | LINK

Sorry to put it bluntly, but the Black population of Atlanta is mostly homophobic, and that includes its police.

Chris McCoy
September 16th, 2009 | LINK

JJQR said:

Sorry to put it bluntly, but the Black population of Atlanta is mostly homophobic, and that includes its police.

And this makes it excusable? Acceptable?

sammyseattle
September 16th, 2009 | LINK

@Paula – Perhaps you need to be reminded: “the right of the people peaceably to assemble”. That includes dancing in your underwear. These are your rights as well. Try not to be so smug.

Burr
September 16th, 2009 | LINK

Look.. if the people are willing to stir up this much crap over people dancing in underwear, what makes you think this won’t motivate them to be even more outraged at your child raising activities?

Richard W. Fitch
September 16th, 2009 | LINK

For those who are interested in getting updates “straight from the horse’s mouth -or- Eagle’s beak” here’s the link to Eagle Atlanta Raid page on FaceBook. This will be an ongoing story just as has been regarding the events at the Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth. {btw} I received a note from a contact in FW that Chad is now back to work and doing well, though still plagued with headaches.

Richard W. Fitch
September 16th, 2009 | LINK

Dignity & Respect
“Straight father outraged by mistreatment of ‘valued and very dear friends’ at Eagle ”

I do not like lies about businesses and I personally assure you that much of what is being said about this one are that … lies. When lies are disseminated in the newspaper and by a police chief on television, I often think that this could be my business … or YOURS.

Read the whole article. It puts a very personal face on what is happening.

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