Last Thursday, the Atlanta Police Department decided to stage a raid on the Atlanta Eagle. For those not in the know, the Eagle is a leather bar in Atlanta. While I haven’t been to it, Eagles are usually nice places (all independently owned) for those interested in Leather Men or the like to hang out. I was disturbed to read that the Eagle was raided on Thursday. A great writeup by the Atlanta Progressive News was written by someone who was there.
The present writer for Atlanta Progressive News–who had come to the bar to dance–witnessed as several bar staff and male dancers were arrested between approximately 12:30am and 1am and taken away in paddy wagons, but it is not immediately clear why. One source stated he believed it was because the bar did not have a license for the dancers. (CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated patrons had been arrested; no patrons were arrested).
About ten police cars and about 15 cops raided the bar, allegedly looking for drugs.
However, the police were said to have ordered all patrons to get on the ground–including patrons who were just dancing or standing at the bar–and numerous patrons said people were handcuffed indiscriminately.
Bar patrons were furious at the aggressive and indiscriminate treatment and called the incident “harassment.”
(There are a lot of details in the article that I would recommend that you read.) Politicians running for mayor have criticized the raid. And the NCSF has condemned the raid.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE National Coalition for Sexual Freedom
NCSF Condemns the Atlanta Police Department’s Raid on the Eagle
September 15, 2009 – On September 10th, the Atlanta Eagle was raided by local police who used excessive force and voiced anti-gay slurs while handcuffing 62 patrons and 8 employees, forcing them to lie face- down on the floor for over an hour. The strong use of force included the presence of the “Red Dog unit” which typically deals with crimes such as gang violence.
Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington held a press conference yesterday afternoon stating that the gay leather bar was raided because of anonymous complaints that came through the mayor’s office. One undercover officer stated in a September 11th report following the raid that it was the “conclusion of a several week investigation involving indecency and the club was providing adult entertainment without the proper permits to do so.”
“It’s a clear violation of the civil rights of those who were detained without cause,” says Susan Wright, NCSF Spokesperson. “Instead of making an arrest at the time of the alleged offense, the Atlanta vice squad spent many hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer’s money to raid the gay leather bar and persecute Atlanta citizens.”
NCSF demands a full probe into the alleged misconduct and the allocation of resources by the Atlanta police department. NCSF also joins state and local representatives in urging anyone present the night of the arrests to step forward and file a formal complaint. Please contact NCSF for additional assistance to ensure that this matter is investigated in an open process.
A rally on Sunday at the Eagle drew a large presence in support of the victims by the LGBT community. Another rally is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, September 19, 2009.
National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF)
The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom is committed to creating a political, legal, and social environment in the United States that advances the equal rights of consenting adults who practice forms of alternative sexual and relationship expression. NCSF advances the rights and advocates for consenting adults in the SM-Leather-Fetish, swing, and polyamory communities. We pursue our vision through direct services, education, advocacy, and outreach in conjunction with our partner organizations to directly benefit these communities.
National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (917) 848-6544 email@example.com http://www.ncsfreedom.org http://www.twitter.com/ncsf http://ncsf.wordpress.com
Personally, I am horrified that this kind of thing goes on. If you actually live in Atlanta, I would suggest that you contact your city government and let them know how you feel.
There was a protest in Atlanta this past Sunday, I wish I lived close enough so that attending the protest would have practical for me. Hundreds showed up. That is a good start. The inquiry is expected to last until at least December or January. I only hope that this doesn’t get brushed under the rug in the mean time.
Let me know what you think, in the comments.