On Thursday September 10th at around 11:30pm Atlanta under-cover officers and officers from the Red Dog unit (elite drug enforcement group) swept into a quiet “gay leather” neighborhood bar and acted as if they had come in on the largest drug and sex infested cartels in the city. This raid was of such urgent and serious consequence the city’s LGBTQ liaison officer was not informed, probably out of fear of tipping off these dangerous, immoral and heinous criminals.
Think I am kidding? How about some of these quotes as reported by Mike Alvear webmaster of “Urge and Merge” website:
Mark Danack was watching the football game at his favorite bar, The Eagle, when he heard somebody yell, “HIT THE GROUND!” He thought a fight had broken out. The lights switched on and up to 30 cops were yelling, screaming and ordering everyone to the ground. The police had raided the bar.
“Shut the fuck up!” a cop yelled at one of the bar patrons who asked why they were being forced to lay face down on the grubby floors.
An acquaintance saw the police shove an 80 year-old man to the ground because he was moving too slowly.
“No questions! Do what you’re told or we’ll arrest you!” The officers threatened jail time to anybody asking why they were being held against their will.
The search and seizures began. Everything in everyone’s pockets was taken away.
“None of your goddamned business! Get back on the floor and shut the hell up!” Driver’s licenses were taken and put through a laptop screening.
What are you looking for?
“I said SHUT THE FUCK UP!” Three paddy wagons were waiting outside.
Nick Koperski was enraged. He knew he had done nothing wrong. Yet there he was, lying on the floor, face down, his pockets emptied. He had it better than some of the others, like Du-wan Ray, one of the bar’s managers. He was handcuffed on the back deck.
Why are you doing this?
“I hate queers,” a cop said. Other officers–some plain-clothed, some uniformed– walked around the bar demanding to know who was in the military, threatening to report them to their commanding officers.
“This is a lot more fun than raiding niggers with crack!” Du-Wayne Ray heard one white officer say this to another; other cops were high-fiving each other.
For almost two hours, Mark Danack, Nick Koperski, and sixty other gay men were forced to lay face down on the bar’s filthy floors. The drivers license screening revealed nothing.
Sixty two men and the cops didn’t find a suspended license, a criminal prior, nothing. Not even a parking ticket.
The search and seizure uncovered nothing. No drugs. Not even a joint.
Did you see the last part of the quote: 62 men and nothing illegal was found, nothing.
No sex, no drugs, no illegals, no prostitutes, no bail jumpers, no “America’s most wanted”. In fact the best they could do was arrest a person or persons for dancing in their underwear. Huh? So why did this raid happen? Simple answer; “Because they could” and because the time of Stonewall is still with us. The LGBTQ is still the whipping child of the morally righteous and those who think their brand of sexuality played out in main-line churches, offices and board rooms is the righteous way to live.
Also, the APD has been having a tough time of it lately…a murder in Piedmont Park that was explained as “it was about cruising for sex”. By adding that little thought to the report it makes a murder in a city park in the heart of the city less scary and more like; “It was just a homosexual looking for sex, so if we don’t solve it no biggie. Of course they have not solved the Precious Armoniee case either…but hey it was rumored she was a transgender prostitute so who cares? Then there have been a couple of people beat up in midtown, those have not been solved either, but a point was made they had been at a gay club and were drunk, so I guess they got what the deserved…not to mention a murder of a Georgia Tech student, gee I wonder what the explanation is for this. Also, I might add a member of my church took a brick to the head while being robbed on Ponce and they have not caught that guy either.
OK, there was one piece of law enforcement victory…remember those fellas from Blake’s cutting through Piedmont Park to get home after hours…yup they got arrested and embarrassed and reprimanded by the arresting officer.
So appears the APD needed a win, they needed a clear victory to show they could in fact bring order to a city in chaos.
So let’s look through all those tips turned into crime stoppers…let’s find something that will be seen as a major bust, a victory for the morality of the community, something that will say to the criminal element in the city…”watch out we are coming for you next”.
What did they find? What did they choose for their victory? What did they pick to put their powerful use of weapons, powers of arrest and macho attitude to work, for the victory that would bring good press to their embattled department? Yup, you got it…that little queer bar on the corner by the Krispy Crème.
Now of course the APD has come out with their explanation as to why this raid took place. Their versions of events were reported by “Project Q Atlanta” (http://www.projectqatlanta.com/news_articles/view/Police_documents_detail_sex_allegations_at_Eagle/) as follows: (Caution if you are under 18 or are easily offended by graphic sexual detail skip this part.)
The first complaint, filed May 15, alleges that neighbors to the popular gay bar on Ponce de Leon witnessed sex parties on Thursday nights at the bar and that they “spill out in the neighborhood.” The complaint also alleges that bags with drug residue “are found strewn around a one block radius of the bar.”
The second complaint, lodged July 1, complained that the Eagle was opening for an after-hours party on July 5 during the Atlanta Bear Fest and employing “nude dancers to dance on the bars; sex will be permitted as at most circuit parties, drugs will be sold freely.”
When police visited the Eagle on May 21, officers reported seeing men engaging in sex in a backroom and dancers dressed in G-strings.
“I then went to the back room where I observed one male performing anal sex on another male and he was performing oral sex on a third male. While this was happening, several other males stood around and watched, several of them had their penises out and were masturbating [sic],” according to one incident report.
Again on June 11, officers reported witnessing sexual activity at the bar.
“When I walked in I could see three men on top of the bar. The three men were participating in anal and oral sex in the open so that other club patrons could watch. A large number of other patrons in the room were also conducting lewd sex acts with one another,” according to another incident report.
Officers also allege that dancers at the bar exposed their buttocks and caressed their genitals while receiving tips from patrons.
When nine undercover officers returned Sept. 10 – with a dozen uniformed officers and three paddy wagons staged nearby – one officer reported seeing “one dancer rubbing his genitals on the top of a patrons [sic] head as he sat the bar.” Another officer reported that a patron began chatting with him and “started to caress my chest and stomach. The male was telling me that I was sexy and then suddenly grabbed my penis through my jeans.”
But on Sept. 10, officers complained that “due to the lighting of the room,” they did not witness any sexual acts. Another officer reported that “I observed two men in what appeared to be a sexual act. A third officer reported “about 4 or 5 male patrons were gathered around another patron who was on his knees. This room was poorly lit, making it difficult to make out details.”
The documents released by police on Monday redacted the names of officers involved in the investigation, but included the names of the eight men arrested in the raid.
Wow, this is bad, awful stuff. Any respectable person should be shocked and totally dismayed at the crimes being committed that are a danger to the city and as heinous as to cause the investigation to continue from May all the way to September and the vast amount of drugs found in this investigation staggers the mind.
Wait…no drugs… just open and public sex? I mean if there were drugs it would make sense for a 4 month investigation as it takes time to find the “big fish” the supplier…but there is no mention of drugs…so how come when the officer observed an illegal act didn’t he just show a badge and arrest those breaking the law? Well because they needed a big victory, a show of power and there is nothing more disgusting then open and public sex, especially if it is gay sex.
So at this point many of you reading this blog may be feeling I am being a tad sarcastic, over the top cynical and not very pastoral, not dealing with what appears to be an over abundance of sin?
OK, you got me…but here is why:
1) The alleged complaint could have been handled with the lights coming on in May and those participating in illegal acts arrested and taken to jail. Word would have gotten around in a hurry and the business in the back room would have stopped.
Also, why were there no busts, raids or arrests on July 5th? APD allegedly had a rock solid date for something that was going to be illegal; they missed an opportunity for arrests and capture.
2) In these undercover reports there is no mention of drug sales or distribution…there are plenty of bars in this town where there are open sales and distribution of drugs. In fact the APD probably picked the one place where the sale and distribution of drugs is frowned upon and highly discouraged. Of course one can also find drugs being sold openly in several parks and on several streets in this town. I cannot tell you how many times I have been approached while waiting for a light to change.
3) I am more then just a little annoyed the APD seems free to use the “gay panic” defense to justify such a major operation. If the officer who was grabbed in the groin was offended, why was there no arrest for assault? By the way if someone rubs my chest and tells me I cute…I would be flattered, just sayin!
4) I am not suggesting the alleged sex going on was OK or acceptable…but the “Red Dogs” storming the place, people being tossed to the floor, background checks being done without probable cause? I wonder what message is really being sent here. It can’t be about sex since almost ever bar or night club open for business is about sex of one kind or another. Hello, who ever signed off on this do you really thing we are that stupid or powerless? Or did you think God was on your side?
5) Since I am gay, I have never been to the straight strip clubs but aren’t people there dressed in less then jockey’s or boxers?
6) I am more then just a little curious as to what this was really about…is there something going on in midtown the city is not being honest about? Are there those who have some money and power that want the midtown area to not be the center for the LGBTQ community? I mean there is the whole Gay Pride thing and Piedmont Park. Also, I am not an expert but these two complaints read like someone with an ax to grind, rather then someone reporting a serious crime that is danger to the neighborhood. After all could there not have been some meetings with the owners and the neighborhood association? I don’t know but it seems something is very wrong here.
7) Finally, why does our community have a liaison officer if she is not going to be consulted or asked for advice on how to handle things in the community? Maybe the Chief should promote her to a rank in which the other bureaucrats would remember who she is.
I am sorry folks this whole thing is a despicable and hypocritical operation on the part of the ones who have the charge to “serve and protect”. Chief Pennington and Mayor Franklin could you please tell us what was served? What was protected? I wonder with a police department that is way understaffed, with all the Red Dog’s at the Eagle who didn’t get served or protected that Thursday night?
Yes, Chief, Mayor as Ricky used to say to Lucy, “you got some splaining to do”. It would really be nice if y’all were honest as to what this was really about but I have my doubts that will happen anytime soon. Then again in view of the numerous possible civil rights violations for which the city maybe held accountable CYA may be the word of the day as opposed to admitting this was a bad call, a really bad call.