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Posts for December, 2012

Welcome to the evolution, Mayor Reed

Timothy Kincaid

December 11th, 2012

In 2009 I was concerned about the election of Kasim Reed as Atlanta Mayor. He had stated his position on marriage to be one of opposition and, upon election, found that “the voters have spoken”. He had “religious beliefs”. Coming so soon after a raid on an Atlanta gay bar, this was concerning.

At some point in 2010, I began to warm slightly to Reed. His public support for HIV testing was, I believe, helpful and useful. And he has made attempts to connect with the community in the period since.

Yet, when President Obama came out in support of equality, Reed found himself unready. He had “personal beliefs“.

But those beliefs have become increasingly difficult to maintain while seeking advancement in Democratic Party politics. As James Richardson noted last June:

Eleven words. That was all it took to rock Reed’s almost-assured contender status for that inevitable statewide bid: “I think same sex couples should be able to get married.”

But Maine and Washington and Maryland (Maryland!) has voted for equality, and now Mayor Reed has joined the evolution:

Mayor Kasim Reed today announced his support for marriage equality by signing a resolution sponsored by Councilman Alex Wan and passed by the City Council on Dec. 3, 2012. The resolution supports the city’s lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual community by endorsing marriage equality for same-sex couples.

“Today marks an important day as I announce my support for marriage equality,” said Mayor Reed. “It is well known that I have gone through a good bit of reflection on this issue, but listening to the stories of so many people that I know and care about has strengthened my belief that marriage is a fundamental right for everyone. Loving couples, regardless of their sexual orientation, should have the right to marry whomever they want. By signing this resolution, I pledge my support to marriage equality for same-sex couples, consistent with equal protection under the law provided under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

And his support is welcomed.

Six Atlanta Officers Fired over Eagle Raid

Jim Burroway

July 9th, 2011

Six Atlanta police officers were fired yesterday for lying about what happened during the 2009 raid on the Atlanta Eagle. Nine other officers were also disciplined, with three more hearings scheduled for next week. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

The actions come almost 10 days after the release of 343-page report detailing how 16 officers lied or destroyed evidence when asked about the raid at the Atlanta Eagle bar. The report said 10 of them lied, which usually leads to a termination because those officers can not longer testify.

“Honesty goes to the very heart of a police officer’s credibility,” Chief George Turner said. “The public must be able to trust its police officers and expects them to tell the truth at all times. Failure to be truthful has serious consequences at the Atlanta Police Department. I hope my actions today serve as a reminder to those men and women on the force that dishonesty simply will not be tolerated.”

On September 10, 2009, more than a dozen police officers descended en masse on the Atlanta Eagle. Patrons were forced to lie face down on the floor – many handcuffed – and were frisked by officers looking for drugs. According to one patron, police searched everyone the crowd individually while lying face-down without asking permission, and took everyone’s ID. Once a patron’s ID was cleared, he was asked to leave the building.Some officers were heard laughing and commenting that the raid was “more fun than raiding niggers with crack.” Police gave differing reasons for the raid. First, it was a drug search, but no drugs were found. Then the problem cited was sex taking place at the club, but no one was arrested for engaging in any sexual acts. Six were arrested for various charges, but all charges were either dropped or acquitted in court.

These latest disciplinary actions come after an independent review in late June found widespread abuses during the raid:

According to the Greenberg Traurig report, 10 members of the vice unit and the RED DOG team, including three supervisors, violated APD’s policy regarding truthfulness. Most law enforcement agencies consider lying a firing offense, partly because that officer’s credibility can be challenged in court.

The report also found 24 officers illegally searched patrons, illegally detained them and illegally took their belongings, including cellphones and wallets.

…The internal APD investigation sustained complaints violating police policies against 23 officers, including a major. Their offenses ranged from lack of supervision to lying, to showing bias, to using unnecessary force.

The entire report is available here (PDF: 7.8MB/). The report confirmed that patrons, even those not under suspicion for criminal activity, were unnecessarily forced on the ground while background checks were run. One officer, unit supervisor Sgt. John Brock, defended those actions this way (page 142): “There’s a risk factor involved when you’re dealing with people you don’t know anything about. S&M, that has a stigma of some sort of violence.” He added that gays generally “are very violent.” The report quotes Officer Jeremy Edwards as saying, “Seeing another man have sex with another man in the ass, I would classify that as very violent.”  Brock and Edwards were among the six fired Friday for multiple violations of police department policy.

The city of Atlanta has paid $1,025,000 to 28 people to settle a federal lawsuit. During the lawsuit, it was found that police had destroyed evidence, erased cell phone conversations, and recorded over electronic backups of emails. Some of those actions took place after a judge ordered the evidence preserved. Additional terms for settling the lawsuit included the completion and release of last month’s independent review, and several changes to Atlanta Police Department’s policies. The settlement now prohibits Atlanta officers from “interfering in any way with a citizen’s right to make video, audio, or photographic recordings of police activity, as long as such recording does not physically interfere with the performance of an officer’s duty.” They are also required to wear “a conspicuously visible name tag.”

Living In A Post-Tucson World

Jim Burroway

February 23rd, 2011

Jeffrey Cox, Indiana deputy Attorney General responded to a report that riot police may be used to clear protesters from the Wisconsin Capital building, tweeted “Use live ammunition.”  You know, just like Libya’s Muammar al-Gaddafi. When challenged on his statement, Cox doubled down:

Cox remained steadfast in his position that the protestors should be killed when confronted on Twitter by Mother Jones’ Adam Weinstein, writing that “against thugs physically threatening legally-elected state legislators & governor? You’re damn right I advocate deadly force.” (There have been no reports that the protestors have physically threatened any elected officials).

Meanwhile, posters at Free Republic are calling on counter-protesters to an Atlanta pro-labor rally to arrive “with the usual accoutrements” because “the lefties are idiots who are very good at running their mouths… and also very good at keeping their distance from an armed American.”

Update: Cox was canned.

Atlanta loses an asset

Timothy Kincaid

August 25th, 2010

From the Journal Constitution:

An organizer of Atlanta’s annual Black Gay Pride celebration was shot dead in southwest Atlanta early Wednesday morning, police said.

Durand Robinson, co-owner of the popular gay nightclub Traxx, was found dead in the middle of Hadlock Street around 1:30 a.m., Atlanta police said. Officers said he had been shot in the chest.

Robinson, 50, will be honored during a candlelight vigil on Sept. 1, according to In The Life Atlanta, the nonprofit group that organizes Atlanta Black Gay Pride.

NOM in Georgia and Florida

Timothy Kincaid

August 8th, 2010

The time has come that we must now stand for marriage. I know how busy you are, with family, church, work and other commitments. Maybe you have never stood at a public rally or protest before. But if we don’t stand for marriage now, it could soon be too late.

With these stirring words, the National Organization for Marriage called for those who “support traditional marriage” to act now, join them on Saturday in Atlanta to show strength and unity in advancing their cause. And as an extra incentive, in Atlanta they had as a headliner Alveda King, MLK’s niece.

And drew their smallest crowd to date. (Tour Tracker)

We see that Dr. Alveda King has made it. She’s joined by only about 16 NOM supporters (Louis would call it 20 but we’re not counting you, Brian, Justin, Mike, the videographer, or the speakers).

Although their turnout was tiny, at least there was some racial diversity in Atlanta. In addition to King, two gospel singers entertained the few supporters (and the protesters, who enjoyed a song about unity) and there appear to have been a few African-Americans among the supporters.

Speaking of the protesters,

While today’s event may go differently, the outpouring of support from the pro-equality community is no different. We’re standing in a crowd of 254 equality supporters standing alongside a church across the street from the State Capitol.

The protesters rallied earlier at park before marching down to hold their silent protest of NOM’s event. Their crowds keep getting smaller and the protests larger, but I think that perhaps 16 supporter to 254 protesters might be the all-time worst ratio for any marriage-related event. So, if nothing else, I guess NOM can be proud that they’re setting records. Maybe that’s what NOM meant by “We just wrapped up a terrific rally with Dr. Alveda King in Atlanta.”

So then they were on to Orlado, Florida, were NOM did the smart thing and took their rally inside. This makes sense as their rallies are pretty much just religious speech anyway and their supporters often tend to be folks that are not accustomed to standing for an hour in the sun. Of course the trade-off is that church services don’t make very effective media images.

But air conditioning and a church pew were undoubtedly welcome for the 34 people who came to hear NOM. Amusingly but without even noting the irony, Brian Brown exhorted his audience – resting in the church – to stand for truth in the public square: “Each and every one of us has the responsibility to stand up for the good. This is our time to stand!”

NOM has been counting on the overturning of Prop 8 to provide a jump-boost to interest in their cause. Unable to get, well, hardly anyone to show up and support them, NOM was sure that churches and politicians would flock out now that Judge Walker had shown that there was a Real Threat to marriage. (Sunshine State News)

Well, this is Florida, it isn’t California. We have some powerful people in this state who respect our state Constitution and the laws in it,” [NOM spokesperson Ellen] Johnson said.

Some of those “powerful people” are running for office. And if ever the National Organization for Marriage wanted to get them on the record in support of their conservative position – and believed they had a chance to do it – it’s now, one day from the start of early voting in Florida

“This being a big year for conservative values, I think the candidates will back us up,” Johnson said.

If by “back us up,” Johnson meant “stay away and pretend they’ve never heard of you” then she’d be correct. It turns out that Florida’s politicians all had better things to do than have their picture taken in the same room as Brian Brown.

Meanwhile, outside, there was the now-common protest crowd.

134 equality activists are lining the sidewalk outside of the church, including the angels from Stand Up Florida and members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

I’m sure that NOM’s Louis Marinelli is delighted that the Sisters showed up; the Sisters are the anti-gays’ very favorite gay activist group. Yes, you and I know that they are street theater and that they actually raise a lot of money each year for charitable causes, but they also make very good propaganda material for those who want to claim that we all just want to mock them, their faith, and their God.

But at least there was no confrontation for NOM to videotape and the “gays hate God” message was diluted by the protesters joining in prayer.

UPDATE:

Project Q has a great write-up of the Atlanta rally.

UPDATE TWO:

As expected, NOM’s bus driver, Louis Marinelli, entirely ignored his own little rally (and I do mean little rally), choosing to obsess instead about the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and the Angels. Oddly, Louis didn’t have a clue who these people were or why they were there. He somehow thought it was something about Halloween.

He didn’t recognize the habits (he thought they were wedding veils) and he thought it was the Angels that were a mockery. Lordy. I’m beginning to get the impression that Louis is perhaps uniquely situated for a career in driving buses.

Prop 8 Rallies Planned

Jim Burroway

August 4th, 2010

As Timothy mentioned yesterday afternoon, we received word that a decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger is expected this afternoon between 1:00 and 3:00 pm (PDT). Already, Prop 8 supporters have already filed a request for stay of judgment pending appeal, in case Judge Walker strikes down Prop 8. If granted, this would prevent any marriages taking until the Court of Appeals hears the case.

Meanwhile, a large number of rallies are planned in California and across the U.S., forty so far and counting. Rex Wockner is keeping up to date with the latest additions.

A group of kids attack gay Atlanta pastor

Timothy Kincaid

July 6th, 2010

Joshua Noblitt and his partner were sitting on a blanket, playing cards, and finishing up a picnic in Piedmont Park when they were accosted by a group of young men. (cbsatlanta.com, video)

“They walked up to us and asked ‘are y’all gay? We ought to beat y’all for that’” said Noblitt.

Noblitt said that the youths walked off, but returned with a stick and demanded money.

The pastor said that he grabbed the stick from one of the attackers and a fight ensued. The young men then used a cell phone to make a call, and up to 10 others arrived and attacked Noblitt and his partner.

“They came out of nowhere,” said Noblitt.

One of the suspects pulled a handgun and held it to Noblitt’s head, then stole his wallet and cell phone, police said.

The police responded quickly and arrested six suspects. Five of them were minors.

A gay man was stabbed to death in the park last May.

Atlanta mayor promotes HIV testing

Timothy Kincaid

June 24th, 2010

Newly elected Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (about whom I have expressed concerns in the past) is using his position to attract attention to National Testing Day this Sunday. (Journal Constitution)

“This is a disease that impacts all of the city,” Reed had said at a press conference earlier to urge widespread testing. “That is why I am going to participate and be tested as well.”

After a battery of medical questions, the technician handed the mayor an oral swab and instructed him on how to conduct the test – basically gathering saliva.

“Oh,” Reed said. “It is like brushing my teeth.”

And with that, it was over.

Twenty minutes later, the mayor would learn his status.

I appreciate Mayor Reed’s decision to heighten awareness about the ease and availability of testing for HIV. Most new infections are tied to a lack of knowledge about the HIV infected partner’s status and studies show that those who detect the virus early and seek treatment live longer healthier lives.

Those who are not absolutely certain about their status should follow Reed’s example.

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.

Atlanta mayor-elect finds his election to be confirmation of anti-marriage position

Timothy Kincaid

December 6th, 2009

From the Sunday Paper interview with Kasim Reed:

In District 6, the most prevalently gay district in the city, Norwood got 70 percent of the vote, despite your extremely strong voting record on gay issues and Norwood’s complete lack of such a record. I’m hearing that it was because of your statement regarding your religious beliefs about [against] gay marriage. What do you think about that?

I think the voters have spoken. I’ve shared where I am on that. I’ve shared how I have personally worked through the issue. I have an unmatched track record on legislation that supports the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered] community. I would like to ask them if they would be willing to throw aside a whole career of voting supportively for the gay community because of one issue. I have voted with them over and over again. Would they toss that aside? My position on this issue is exactly where Jim Martin was when he ran for the U.S. Senate. The LGBT community supported him. I would ask those voters only this: I would like to see you apply this standard to all candidates equally, to be as forceful on this issue as you have been with me.

Yep, he thinks “the voters have spoken” and that they endorse his discrimination. I feared that this would be the conclusion if Reed were elected

The Atlanta election results

Timothy Kincaid

December 2nd, 2009

Yesterday I posted a commentary in which I speculated that if the mayoral election came down to the gay vote (as some news sources were suggesting) that this would favor Mary Norwood.

Well, the results are in (kinda) and either the gay community was not the determining factor or my speculations were off base. The vote was much larger than expected and while the gay community turned out in large percentages to support gay candidates, overall increased turnout diluted the gay vote. As it stands, Sen. Kasim Reed is ahead by 758 votes, though provisional ballots are still untallied and a recount is expected.

The good news is that whoever is finally determined to be the victor, both candidates courted the gay vote and seem to recognize the importance of rights and recognition for gay couples and individuals. As the city and the police department are facing a lawsuit from the patrons at the Atlanta Eagle, it is hoped that a closer relationship between the community and the city can help heal rifts and facilitate a smoother resolution to the situation.

Additional good news is that Atlanta voters elected two gay representatives, Alex Wan to the Atlanta City Council and Simone Bell to the Georgia House of Representatives.

With their wins, Simone Bell becomes first black lesbian elected to a state Legislature in the United States. Alex Wan becomes first gay man and Asian American man elected to Atlanta City Council.

Watch the Atlanta vote

This commentary is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect that of other authors at box turtle bulletin.

Timothy Kincaid

December 1st, 2009

From Fox News:

Gay marriage is not on the ballot in Atlanta today, but the issue could make a difference in the race for Mayor. The ongoing gay marriage and gay rights debate has become a flashpoint in an election that could seat the city’s first white mayor since 1973. Both candidates have been pushed into a struggle to prove who is more gay-friendly to win the coveted vote of Atlanta’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) community.

The two candidates, former Georgia State Senator Kasim Reed, who is black, and current City Council member Mary Norwood, who is white, are expected to split the city’s heterosexual votes along racial lines.

But Atlanta has a large gay voting block, about 12% of the populace. And the two candidates are each seeking to appeal to these constituents, hoping they will provide the margin of victory.

Norwood has, as I see it, two advantages. First, unlike Reed who favors civil unions, Norwood has long and vocally supported marriage equality. This should give her at least some advantage.

And secondly, Reed is black.

I am not suggesting that gay people are racists or that they generally vote based on skin color (though, of course, racism is present in the gay community just as it is in every community). However, I think that at this point in time there are increased tensions between the gay community and the African American community. And these tensions are the logical outcome of what appears on the surface to be an aggressive attack on gay people by leaders in the black community.

We look over the recent past and we see that in many, many instances those who are leaders in opposition to gay concerns, be it in DC, Maryland, California, or within the Obama administration, can seem to be disproportionately African American. This may be a product of an effort by white anti-gay activists to direct attention to black preachers in a desire to deflect comparisons of anti-gay animus to racism, but polls consistently show that black Americans are far more favorable of discrimination against gay citizens than are any other racial subgroup.

Although there are many principled and caring African American leaders who are committed to equality for all (who, sadly, don’t receive enough press), there is a perception that black politicians cannot be counted on to support our community. So be it fair or not, I think that race will sway gay voters to Norwood.

If, indeed, the election comes down to the gay vote, I suspect that Norwood will be successful. The question I wonder is: We know that if Reed wins, Fox will see this as a rejection of marriage equality; but will a Norwood victory be declared as Atlanta’s endorsement of same-sex marriage?

Washington Blade, SOVO Shut Down

Jim Burroway

November 16th, 2009

Word is spreading around the Internet that Windows Media, publisher of the Washington Blade, Houston Voice, Southern Voice, South Florida Blade and other LGBT news outlets, has gone out of business over the weekend in Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation. SOVO editor Laura Douglas-Brown posted a note on Southern VoiceFacebook page confirming the shutdown:

With deepest regret, as editor of SoVo, I have to tell you that we arrived at the office to learn that our parent company, Window Media, has shut down. While the 20 years of SoVo have come to an end, our civil rights movement is only beginning. I am personally grateful to all of the staff, and to all of you who have had the courage to share your stories. It has been the honor of my life to help you tell them.

Project Q Atlanta reports that Southern Voiceemployees showed up to find that the locks had been changed and a note taped to the door, asking employees to return on Wednesday to collect their personal belongings.

This is a horrendous loss to the LGBT community. The Washington Blade began just forty years ago as The Gay Blade, a free one-paged mimeograph newspaper. It grew to become one of the most powerful voices for LGBT issues in the nation, having broken many important stories over the year covering the political beat in the nation’s capital. The editorial and reporting talent at the Blade is one of the best in the industry, and not just the specialty niche LGBT news industry. Few reporters have a Rolodex like veteran reporter Lou Chibarro. (Even fewer are still using a genuine Rolodex as Lou reportedly does.) The talent at that small paper would be the envy of any other publication, LGBT or mainstream. It would be very difficult to overstate the magnitude of this loss.

Atlanta Eagle Raid Cops: “More Fun Than Raiding N***ers With Crack”

Jim Burroway

September 16th, 2009

Many police departments have someone designated as a liaison to the LGBT community. For many departments, these liasons are respected and valued officers who serve an important role in the department’s dealings with the LGBT community. For other departments, the position is nothing but window-dressing. In Atlanta, where the LGBT liaison was kept out of the loop during the raid – and didn’t even have basic information about what happened late the following afternoon, it’s increasingly clear that the Atlanta Police Department views its liaison as nothing but a prop.

More evidence has piled up now that the Atlanta Police have released nine complaints against police officers who raided the Atlanta Eagle last week. None of the bars patrons were arrested or charged with anything, but all of them were subjected to some pretty vile treatment. Here are some exerpts from those complaints obtained by Southern Voice:

One man said officers grabbed patrons who didn’t immediately lie down by the neck and forced them to the ground. The man said he was kicked in the ribs while lying down. “Then I heard laughing and giggling and saying this is more fun than raiding niggers with crack. … He also reported that one officer “said to everyone in general that all you all do is flash your asses and show your cocks.”

The raid extended beyond the club itself and into a private apartment above the Eagle:

An employee who lives in an apartment over the Eagle, who said he was not working that night, said someone started pounding on his door. He opened the door to two cops who asked if anyone was having sex there. They asked why there was a bed and he said it was because he lives there. He was made to come downstairs and was arrested with the other employees. He recalled hearing comments like “You people are despicable.”

The Southern Voice has more. That’s one classy department the Atlanta police chief is running — and a racist one too.

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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