Thursday, March 11, 2010
TRIAL BEGINS IN ATLANTA EAGLE CASE
Since last September, I've been following the controversy surrounding the police raid on the popular Atlanta Eagle. There are a number of previous posts here at Conversion Therapy detailing the events of that raid, as well as the numerous protests that followed.
Eight people, including four bar employees and four dancers, began today in Atlanta's Municipal Court.
“The employees face business license charges, while the dancers are accused of providing adult entertainment without a license,” reports the Journal-Constitution. “Up to 10 witnesses are expected to testify.”
Each violation carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Last September 10th, Atlanta police claiming that they had received reports of illegal drug use and illicit sex at the Eagle, raided the bar wtih a force of eighteen officers. They also claimed that they sent undercover teams on several occasions preceding the actual raid, even though no arrests were made on those occasions. Nor did any charges or arrests for drug use or illicit sex result from the actual raid.
The Atlanta police department maintains an officer-liaison to the Gay Community, but the officer was not informed about the raid and only learned about it hours after the fact. The raid occurred on "Underwear Night" at the Eagle, and the only charges that finally resulted were for minor city ordinance violations regarding "entertainment licenses."
The raid, which occurred in the middle of a heated mayoral election campaign, generated a lot of press. The Atlanta Gay Community took to the streets in protest. Bar patrons alleged that the police officers used antigay slurs and unnecessary force, that customers were handcuffed, pushed around and insulted. The police officers involved in the raid later refused to answer questions, however, recently the Atlanta city council announced that they will compel the 18 police officers involved to answer questions from the Citizen Review Board about their conduct.