City of Atlanta, police department, officers sued over raid at gay bar

Atlanta Eagle gay barA national gay rights group has filed a lawsuit against the Atlanta Police Department on behalf of 19 people who say they were forcibly searched and detained during a raid on an Atlanta gay bar.

Lambda Legal filed the lawsuit against the city of Atlanta, the Chief of Police and forty-eight individual officers of the Atlanta Police Department, claiming the September raid at the Atlanta Eagle gay bar, was illegal.

“The illegal activity going on in the Atlanta Eagle that night was committed by the APD,” said Greg Nevins, Supervising Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta. “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 the APD should change its procedures.”

“The Atlanta Police Department is not above the law. They do not get to search and detain people who are not suspected of any crime,” said Dan Grossman, co–counsel in the case.

On September 10, the Atlanta Police Department dispatched about twenty to thirty officers to the Atlanta Eagle, including its “Red Dog Unit” dressed in SWAT team gear, but inside the bar the APD found no public sex, no drugs, or illegal weapons.

During the raid, patrons of the bar were forced to lie facedown on the floor while background checks were run on everyone.

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. Not a single patron was charged with any crime.

The lawsuit challenges the APD officers’ actions, claiming violations of the U.S. and Georgia Constitutions and Georgia state law.

The case is Calhoun v. Pennington.

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