The police's story is changing when it comes to the bar raid at The Eagle in Atlanta last Thursday. First they said they were there because of noise complaints from the neighbors. Yesterday, their gay liaison said it was "criminal sexual activity" complaints. Today they say it was undercover officers who saw sex acts going on in the club (making arrests when they saw those sex acts would be too much to ask. Of course they had to go back later and raid the entire place):
According to police records, undercover vice officers had been to the club and witnessed men having sex while other patrons watched. The department received its first complaints in May and sent officers there undercover before the Sept. 10 raid, Pennington said.
Police records show that initial complaints alleged there were drugs being sold on Atlanta Eagle premises and that patrons engaged in open sex acts.
The police are also saying that they didn't search anyone illegally, they just frisked them for weapons for the police officers' own safety. We're talking about dozens of people entering a bar, armed and trained in self-defense and killing people, and we're supposed to believe that the people we know were carrying guns and handcuffed everyone and made them lie face-down in broken glass were the ones who were in danger? Please.
Anyway, they did a little more than frisking:
Garrett McLendon, 43, said patrons were not frisked, they were illegally searched.
McLendon said he found himself laying in glass from a beer bottle that had fallen on the floor. When he asked if he could move, an officer shouted an expletive at him, McLendon said.
McLendon said officers grabbed the prone customers by the back of their pants and turned them over and rifled through their pockets. "Still, as I look back at it, it's hard to believe," he said.
The raid began last Thursday after 11 p.m. when police officers entered the bar and told everyone to lie facedown on the floor.
For the next couple of hours, police went through the patrons' pockets, apparently looking for narcotics, said Alan Begner, Atlanta Eagle's lawyer. The officers also took everyone's identification and ran background checks on them. One by one, the customers were allowed to leave, Begner said, noting no drugs or illegal contraband were found during the searches.
"What happened to the customers was an assault," Begner said. "They were not free to go. There was no suspicion any of them had committed a crime. This is unbelievable."
Begner also said some of the bar's customers said they had been subjected to anti-gay slurs by some of the officers.
I'm wondering about those sex and drug complaints. They searched everyone, and they didn't find any drugs. If drug-dealing is a regular activity, even if it isn't, I'd expect at least one person to be carrying something they shouldn't, get arrested, and then be held up as an example of why living in a police state is great. But they didn't even find a single person with drugs on them. Did the dealers just take the day off?
The sex acts out in the open that the cops say they observed (and, considering this is police justifying violating gay people's rights, we ought to take their reports of out-in-the-open sex with a big grain of salt), why wasn't any going on when they raided? It was Underwear Night at the bar, and no one's having sex in the open on Underwear Night, just, uh, because the sodomites who perform sex acts in front of everyone for their pleasure were off with the drug dealers on their day off as well.
It's not really all that convincing of a story.
Not that any of this justifies handcuffing everyone and searching them. Even if there was sex out in the open, then those people should have been arrested when the cops saw them out in the open. Instead, the only people arrested are accused of permit violations, and they've all pleaded not guilty.
So people were treated like that because of a few permit violations? I find that hard to believe. The more likely story is that this is part of a history of homophobic violence on the part of the police officers. I don't know whether it's true they made homophobic comments to the patrons, but even if they didn't the circumstances here, the changing stories, and the stunning lack of criminal activity found all speak to the fact that someone had it out against this bar.
Even if the cops didn't use the word "faggot," that doesn't mean that they weren't homophobic or that their intentions were pure.