Monday, March 22, 2010
Atlanta Gay Bar’s Lawsuit Against Police Grows
In a lawsuit against the Atlanta Police Department originally filed in federal court in November, six more employees were added last week who say they were victimized in a police raid of Atlanta’s Eagle Bar which occurred the previous September. This brings the total claimants, who include bar employees, contractors, and patrons, to 28.
The lawsuit is a reaction to a raid that has the local gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community outraged. Amid protests and scathing editorials, the Eagle Bar claims that on the night of the police raid several employees and patrons were forced to lie on the floor of the bar which was littered with spilled alcohol and broken glass while police officers spewed homophobic remarks.
According to an updated version of the complaint, several officers posed as patrons and allegedly sat at the bar ordering and consuming alcoholic beverages while waiting for the raid to start. Once the rest of the police force arrived, including members of Atlanta’s Red Dog drug unit, the undercover officers told all civilians in the establishment to “hit the floor.” Employees as well as customers of the bar were frightened and initially believed that the club was being robbed. The suit goes on to say that the police searched cash registers, beer coolers, the manager’s office and the adjoining business on the property, Rawhide Leather, without a search warrant. Allegedly the police also broke into a locked storage room without reason or provocation.
The Atlanta police were tipped off by undercover vice officers early in September that the bar had been the site of public sex as well as a place where drugs were easily bought and sold. There were separate allegations that the club illegally employed all-nude dancers. Earlier this month, however, the Eagle Bar was found not guilty of these charges. Currently, 31 Atlanta police officers have been named in the federal discrimination lawsuit against the police.