Friday, November 27, 2009

Atlanta Gets Sued Over Stonewall-style Raid on Gay Bar

The found no public sex. No drugs. No illegal weapons. But they still called in SWAT and treated everyone like criminals. Federal lawsuit filed against Atlanta police over raid at gay club -
During the raid, patrons were made to lie face down on the floor while background checks were run on everyone, the statement said. "Eagle bar patrons heard anti-gay slurs; were forced to lay in spilled beer and broken glass; and one was forced to lie on the floor even though he had injured his back in the Iraq War."

Some of the patrons were restrained with handcuffs, and officers used excessive force, including shoving some people to the floor and kicking others on the floor, the lawsuit says. Authorities searched everyone on the property, seizing their driver's licenses or other identification, the suit says.

"These actions were taken without particularized reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe that any individual patron, let alone every person at the establishment, was involved in criminal activity whatsoever," said the suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
Oh, and they failed to identify themselves as police, but that is expected today.
The only charges filed were against Eagle employees, for allegedly violating the city's law about unlicensed adult entertainment "because four dancers were observed, in the words of the arresting officers, allegedly 'wearing underwear' and 'dancing,' " the lawsuit said.

"Imagine if the police walked into a Wal-Mart and see someone shoplifting, and because they see what they think is a crime taking place in Wal-Mart, they take everyone at Wal-Mart, throw them on the floor, spread their legs, put their hands in their pockets, take their IDs, put their name in the computer, simply because they're out of place or someone else may or may not be doing something wrong," co-counsel Daniel Grossman said at a news conference Tuesday.
Don't really expect a jury trial in Georgia to accomplish much.

Atlanta has been covering assets -so to speak- since the incident. A month after the raid, they identified everything as SOP. Not that day - it took time to decide what they needed to be in standard operating procedures.
Greg Nevins, supervising senior staff attorney in Lambda Legal's southern regional office, based in Atlanta, said in the statement. "If it is APD procedure for elderly men and wounded veterans to be thrown to the floor and harassed simply for being in a bar having a drink after work, then APD should change its procedures."

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