Friday, September 11, 2009

Police raid gay leather bar Atlanta Eagle

Posted By on Fri, Sep 11, 2009 at 3:17 PM

eagle
UPDATE: According to an Atlanta Progressive News correction, Eagle patrons were not arrested after all, though they were ordered to lie on the ground and were handcuffed.

Ten police cars pulled up to the Atlanta Eagle on Ponce de Leon Avenue at approximately 11:30 p.m. Thursday night and stormed the bar, arresting multiple bar staff and male dancers and patrons, according to a report by Atlanta Progressive News.

An APN reporter was present at the raid:

One police officer stated, as he and others left the parking lot, "This is gonna keep happening if we keep getting complaints from the community." The officer did not specify what complaints he was referring to.

This writer arrived minutes after the raid had begun. A line of cop cars blocked the parking lot so that no one in the parking lot could leave. ...

According to one patron, APD handcuffed all Eagle staff members and dancers, patrons in a leather shop, and anyone who was wearing only underwear; Thursday is advertised as underwear night.

APN also received an e-mail from someone who claimed to be present at the Eagle raid.

My roommate and I were there for the police raid at the Eagle on September 10, 2009.  We had arrived about 20 minutes before the raid took place. Everyone was ordered to get on their stomachs and face down during this ordeal. As far as I could tell everyone was searched at least once, most of us twice. Most, but not all, of the officers were incredibly derogatory and insulting whether they found evidence of drugs or not.

Another patron present at the raid echoed that story.

While he was detained in handcuffs for more than an hour, he also heard one officer tell another that “I hate gay people.”

“I was held in the bar for over an hour; they were going through and searching people’s pockets. They tore the bar apart. They searched the cash register, they searched the ice machine, they were ripping things off the walls. It was ridiculous. They were in full SWAT gear,” the patron says.

The incident is causing anxiety in Atlanta's LGBT community as the story spreads this morning, particularly after the well-publicized raid of a gay bar in Fort Worth, Texas, that left a customer seriously injured.

That incident led to mass protests across the country, the firing of three Texas liquor board agents and a complete revision of the police department's bar inspection policies.

(UPDATE): Here's the APD's statement about the raid:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 11, 2009

The Atlanta Eagle Club Arrests

“The Atlanta Police Department conducts routine inspections of city businesses with valid alcohol permits. The City received several complaints with descriptive information about alleged criminal conduct at the Atlanta Eagle Club located at 306 Ponce De Leon.

In an effort to ensure compliance with the law, the Police Department investigated the complaints and during the investigation police observed criminal behavior taking place at the Club on September 10, 2009. While the Police were conducting a compliance check it lead to the arrests of eight employees. The Department views all complaints of criminal conduct as serious and will utilize resources to investigate and deter criminal activity in order to create a safe environment.

While there have been allegations of improper behavior by police officers conducting the investigation, there have not been any official complaints filed with the Atlanta Police Department. ”

Sgt. Lisa Keyes, Atlanta Police Department, Public Affairs Unit

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