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Friday, April 22, 2011

Atlanta: Gay, Not Progressive

Although Atlanta is considered the gayest city in America, that doesn't mean they are well recieved by the police and politicians of Atlanta.  One specific instance that rocked the gay nation (for a unusually short period) and still sends shivers down the spines of Atlanta gays is what is known as "the eagle raid".


THE EAGLE RAID
On Thursday night, September 10th of 2009, the Atlanta Police Department and the Red Dog Swat Team.  The raid was conducted due to allegations made to Mayor Shirley Franklin that there was public sex and the use and distribution of drugs at this establishment.  I should preface this story in saying that there WAS, in fact, "public sex" and drugs at the Eagle--but this should come as a surprise to anyone who has heard of an Eagle bar, nor to those that attend the Eagle.  The Eagle is a leather bar--an establishment that is centered around the BDSM (bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism) scene.  Any bar that supports this scene is (at some level) known for the behavior allegedly occurring at the Atlanta establishment.  Then again, drugs happen at any, maybe every, establishment  that sells alcohol.


On that night, more than 60 people were assaulted by the APD and the Red Dog SWAT Team.  The Red Dog unit is known for their violent and prejudice tendencies, excessive use of force, and even sexual assault.  These people were forced to the floor of the establishment, and instructed to remain there for over an hour--some of them in puddles of beer and broken glass.  During this time, several of the officers used anti-gay slurs and harsh language to describe the patrons and the situation they were in.  There were sixty patrons in the bar, and FIFTY OFFICERS...


Eight people were arrested.  They were charged with running the establishment without proper licenses--this was on "underwear night", where a handful of patrons and several dancers remain in their underwear and dance to entertain the crowd.  It was later found that these individuals were NOT GUILTY of the charges brought against them.


NO ONE WAS FIND ENGAGING IN PUBLIC SEX, AND NOT ONE OF THE 60 PATRONS HAD DRUGS ON THEM.


Soon, a lawsuit was filed by 25 of the people at the Atlanta Eagle, against 35 police officers.  During this lawsuit, it was found that the Atlanta police blatantly tampered with, erased, and withheld THOUSANDS of pages of documents relevant to the case. a large portion of all the material produced by the investigation.  This included the text logs of the police officers participating in the rave--I bet there were some interesting texts that night!


In late 2010, a settlement of $1.025 million was awarded the plaintiffs, as well as an agreement by the APD to modify their standard operating procedures.


The chief of police stepped down, a new mayor was sworn in, money exchanged hands, and it all went away....


Since the Atlanta Eagle Raid, there have been many cases in which the hate crimes against gays have been swept under the proverbial rug.  Some of these instances include arrests being made, court dates being set, and the cases completely disappearing--much to the dismay of the victims.


Although I wasn't alive in the 1960's I guarantee you that anyone who was in Atlanta during that decade recognize these instances at history repeating itself in the very place that it should not.


Although many of you feel safe when you go out with your friends to have a good time, some of us have to watch our back.

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