Gay activists in Atlanta, Georgia are
planning to protest Sunday against a police raid on a gay leather bar
that resulted in 8 arrests, gay weekly SOVO.com
Police raided The Atlanta Eagle bar at
306 Ponce De Leon Ave. in the city's Midtown section on Thursday at
about 11PM. Eight staff members were arrested.
“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 …,” Sergeant Lisa Keyes, spokesperson for the department,
said in a statement released Friday.
Eye-witnesses at the bar called the
police action “harassment.”
According to patrons present during the
raid, no one was allowed to leave the building until after police
had leisurely checked the IDs of patrons forced to lay prone on the
floor. Police collected IDs and personal belongings. Challengers
were told “Don't speak until spoken to” or “Shut up.”
“Everyone was ordered to get on their
stomachs and face down during this ordeal,” Allan Vives told the
Atlanta Progressive News. “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.”
“[S]everal were openly hostile
towards the gay patrons,” he added.
“It was full on police raid,”
another patron told SOVO.com. “We were treated as criminals from
the get-go. I definitely felt harassed.”
Some people were handcuffed. Du-Wayne
Ray, manager of Rawhide Leather, a leather store that operates in the
basement of the bar, said he was handcuffed for as long as two hours.
“A lot of anti-gay comments were
made,” Ray told the paper.
Police say complaints about the bar's
“underwear night” prompted the raid.
“The original complaint received is
that on Thursday night at the club is sex night … It's saying the
club is a sleazy place on Thursday, all that goes on is soliciting
for sex,” Officer Dani Lynn Harris, the police department's
lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community liaison said.
Police charged the eight men with
providing adult entertainment without a city permit. Richard Ramey,
one of the owners of the bar, said dancers performing at the club are
covered under the bar's nightclub permit because they are not nude.
The men were released late Friday.
Sunday's protest is being organized by
the gay rights group GLBTATL.
A post at the group's blog said protesters plan to gather at The
Atlanta Eagle at 5PM and proceed to march to City Hall.