Staff and dancers arrested during police raid on the Atlanta Eagle were found not guilty

Timothy Kincaid

March 15th, 2010

Atlanta EagleOn September 10, 2009, the Atlanta police raided the Atlanta Eagle, a gay bar. They treated the customers like criminals and laughed and made racist and homophobic remarks as patrons lay handcuffed and face down on the floor.

The police were certain that illegal public sex and drugs would be discovered by their raid, thus justifying their heavy-handed approach. But no sex was going on. And although the police searched all of the patrons, they did not find any drugs at all.

So they had to do something. They couldn’t simply acknowledge that their raid was pointless, purposeless, and anti-gay in appearance. Somehow they had to explain why nine undercover officers, a dozen uniformed police, ten squad cars, and three jail vans descended on the 62 patrons enjoying their beer.

A crime, they needed a crime. So they arrested four employee and four dancers for “providing adult entertainment without a permit”. They were dancing in their underwear, you see.

Last Thursday a judge threw that bogus excuse out on its ear. (Journal-Constitution)

An Atlanta judge found three defendants in the Atlanta Eagle gay bar case not guilty Thursday, and the prosecutor agreed to dismiss the charges against the other five defendants.
Related

Municipal Judge Crystal Gaines said city police failed to produce evidence proving that men danced naked without permits or that the bar operators were running an unlicensed adult establishment.

That isn’t to say that they didn’t try. Det. Bennie E. Bridges testified of the evil deeds done that night.

Bridges said that he heard no slurs and that he saw one of the defendants dancing atop the bar “in bikini underwear.”

“He was pulling down the front of his underwear and exposing himself,” Bridges said. “Men would reach up and put money into the waistband.”

But Bridges couldn’t even identify five of the eight arrested, so their charges were dismissed. And after the judge heard testimony from patrons, dancers, and employees that no one was exposed, the judge decided Mr. Bridges’ statements were not enough.

Judge Gaines said the city had to overcome “all these witnesses” and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that nude dancing happened.

“I don’t believe that the city has met that burden,” she said.

This is a blow to the police force. There is a civil suit brought by the patrons of the Eagle against the police, and a conviction of the employees or dancers would have helped with the defense. And no doubt the officers thought at the time that arresting someone – anyone – would be a good idea. “Criminals” have less credibility when it comes to addressing police excesses.

But in this instance they may have done themselves more harm than good. False arrests only serve to turn public opinion against a police force that can then be seen as abusive. And this decision suggests that the word of the officers in this case, or at least that of Bridges, is not completely credible.

But this is not the only way in which the officers are hurting their own public image.

The Atlanta City Council, meanwhile, has agreed to subpoena 18 officers to answer questions about the raid from the Citizen Review Board. So far, only one officer has complied.

That refusal may be due to the lawsuit, but it certainly doesn’t make them look good.

And in the meanwhile, the suit goes forward (pbaonline)

Attorneys say starting Monday, patrons of the Atlanta Eagle present that September night begin giving depositions to the city attorney’s office. Also this week, the legal team plans to request documents, radio transmissions and other records as part of its discovery process.

While last week’s acquittal of the Eagle employees will not have a direct effect on the civil case, Attorney Dan Grossman says it shows the raid was malicious and illegal.

“It was not about sex,” said Grossman. “It was not about underwear dancing. It was cops who simply wanted to search 70 people for drugs, didn’t have a warrant, didn’t have the right to do it, and did it anyway.”

Oh, yeah. I think it’s time to start thinking about a settlement.

Lindoro Almaviva

March 15th, 2010

I would not settle. i would take it all the way just to humiliate them

Joe in California

March 15th, 2010

This is stuff that happened all the time in the 70’s. This is NOT the 70’s. An example needs to be made of this inept bunch! Settlement? Hmmm Monies from the City to the LGBT community would be in order here. And in addition, compensation for expenses to the injured of the raid.

But after all is done, I doubt very much if there is but a very small group of the police force that is trained in serving and made sensitive to the needs of the LGBT community.

To Protect and Serve !!!
It’s YOUR City dollars!!!

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required)
(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

 

Latest Posts

Pope Francis: Church Must Apologize To Gay People, Others

Today's Agenda Is Brought To You By...

Today In History, 1952: Congress Bars Gay People From Immigrating

Today's Agenda Is Brought To You By...

Today In History, 1964: "Homosexuality In America"

Today In History, 1965: Gay Rights Advocates Picket the Civil Service Commission

Today In History, 2003: U.S. Supreme Court Overturns Nation's Sodomy Laws

Today In History, 2013: U.S. Supreme Court Declares Defense of Marriage Act Unconstitutional

Featured Reports

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.

Slouching Towards Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate

When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.

Paul Cameron’s World

In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.

From the Inside: Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out”

On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.

Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

At last, the truth can now be told.

Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!

And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.

Testing The Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.

Straight From The Source: What the “Dutch Study” Really Says About Gay Couples

Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.

The FRC’s Briefs Are Showing

Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.

Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count

Daniel FettyThe FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.