Nearly 100 demonstrators braved the pouring rain September 19, to rally at City Hall in protest of the Atlanta Police Department's controversial Sept. 10 raid of gay bar Atlanta Eagle.
Nearly a dozen people spoke out against the bust and called for an independent citizen police review and more accountability from police and government officials. “The mayor needs to explain what happened,” Jeff Graham of LGBT advocacy group Georgia Equality said. "And we need to make sure the next mayor does not let this type of abuse happen again." Justin Ziegler, president of the Atlanta Executive Network, encouraged the crowd to “go to your elected officials and demand answers.” Officer Dani Lynn Harris, the APD's LGBT liaison, told the crowd that, when it came to police matters, “you have an ear with me.”
In what felt like the tensest moment of the rally Harris defended the Red Dog unit who helped conduct the raid as a “good unit" and said that Chief Richard Pennington — whose leadership was the subject of controversy even before the questionable bust — had been her “biggest supporter“ as LGBT police liaison. She was met by shouts from the crowd of “when’s Pennington going?" Sex columnist and Huffington Post blogger Michael Alvear added some levity to the rally, joking that he would rather be water boarded then have to lie face down on the floor of the Eagle. (More than 60 patrons were reportedly ordered to lie on the floor during the raid.) Alvear said that the police thought that the possibility of a “hand job was more dangerous to the city then the reality of home invasions.” He also said the raid was motivated by “a deep fear and hatred of gay people.”