Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington said Monday that last week's raid on a gay leather bar was prompted by allegations of illegal sex, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Police raided The Atlanta Eagle bar at 306 Ponce De Leon Avenue in the city's Midtown section on Thursday at about 11PM. Eight staff members were arrested and charged with providing adult entertainment without a license. The men were released on Friday evening after elected officials intervened on their behalf.

According to patrons present during the raid, no one was allowed to leave the building until after police had leisurely checked the IDs of 62 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.”

Pennington told reporters that vice officers had observed men having sex in the bar while other patrons watched on multiple occasions. Initial complaints filed in May also alleged drugs were being sold in the bar, he said.

Earlier on Monday, at least 10 of the bar's patrons and employees filed formal complaints against the department. Most took issue with the force used during the raid. Several eye-witnesses have called the raid police “harassment.”

“I believe [the bar] was raided because it was a gay bar,” co-owner Robert Kelley, who was among the arrested, told local CBS affiliate WGCL.

“The only thing they'd tell us is we need to sit and shut the [expletive] up, and if we asked any questions, they'd bash us with a bar stool,” he added.

Hundreds gathered Sunday outside The Atlanta Eagle to protest the department's actions. Gay activists have called for a complete investigation.

Twenty-one officers, including nine plain-clothed undercover officers, arrived on the scene with three jail vans in tow and without a search warrant, Pennington confirmed. Members of the Red Dog unit, typically used in drug investigations, also participated in the raid.

Officers concede they found no illegal drugs.

“What happened to the customers was an assault,” Alan Begner, a lawyer representing The Atlanta Eagle, told the paper. “They were not free to go. There was no suspicion any of them had committed a crime.”