Facts Not In Dispute
The following facts about the raid on the Atlanta Eagle have been admitted by the Atlanta Police (either through public statements by police officials such as Chief Richard Pennington, or in the Police Incident Report provided to the press). These facts are therefore not in dispute.
Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington has admitted that the officers had no warrant to enter the bar or to search the bar or its patrons. (Pennington Press Conference, minute mark 4:33; Atlanta Journal Constitution, 9/14/09).
The raid was conducted by officers of the Atlanta Police “RED DOG” force, who were called in by undercover officers of the Vice unit. (Atlanta Police Incident Report, page 5 [PDF]; Pennington Press Conference, minute mark 6:50.)
According to Chief Pennington, the raid was conducted by nine undercover officers and 12 uniformed officers. An unspecified number of additional officers and three police “paddy wagons” and other vehicles were assembled outside the bar in preparation for the raid. (Pennington Press Conference, minute mark 11:56.)
RED DOG is a special SWAT-style unit designed to “provide aggressive police presence in areas that have a high incidence of street drug sales, use, and drug related crimes.” (Atlanta Police Department website.) The name stands for “Running Every Drug Dealer Out of Georgia.”
“The raid began…after 11 p.m. when police officers entered the bar and told everyone to lie facedown on the floor.” Atlanta Journal Constitution, 9/14/09; Atlanta Police Incident Report, page 7 [PDF].
According to Police Chief Richard Pennington and the Police Indident Report, everyone at the bar was “frisked,” including all the customers. (Pennington Press Conference, minute mark 10:38; Atlanta Police Incident Report, page 7 [PDF].)
The police checked the ID’s of everyone present at the Eagle, entered the names into a police computer, and checked each name against a police database. (Atlanta Police Incident Report, page 5, page 7 [PDF]; Pennington Press Conference; Deputy Police Chief Banda public comments, minute 8:43)
(The police have used the work “frisk” to describe the search they conducted, but since it is not possible to take an individual’s driver’s license from his pocket or wallet without conducting a full search, is is clear that what the Police have been calling a frisk was in fact a full-fledged search, as reported by the patrons.)
At his press conference, Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington stated:
- “…APD [Atlanta Police Department] observed criminal behavior taking place at the club on September the tenth, 2009. As a result of the observation, eight employees were arrested based on charges that ranged from operating a business without a license to providing adult entertainment without a license. And let me be a little bit more distinctive. In order to dance partially clothed or naked in Atlanta, the business must have a license to do so, and if the dancers accept money for dancing that also requires a permit. The business does not have a license for either and that was the premise of the arrest.” (Pennington press conference, minute mark 1:01)
- “[the police] they went in based on previous complaints, and the complaints were very descriptive, and they went in because of dancing in the club, lewd dancing, and some other complaints that they received, and when they observed these things they went in to make the arrests.” (Pennington press conference, minute mark 4:49)
Chief Pennington’s reference to “some other complaints” apparently refers to reports of public sex at the bar, but no-one was charged with indecent exposure or lewd conduct as a result of the raid.
Eight individuals were taken to jail and charged with Atlanta City Code violations regarding “adult entertainment” without a permit. Four dancers were charged with “Providing Adult Entertainment without a Permit” for dancing in underwear, and an owner of the bar, the doorman, a bartender, and an off-duty bar manager were charged with working at or operating an adult entertainment establishment without a permit. (Atlanta Police Incident Report, pages 4-5. [PDF]; Atlanta Journal Constitution, 9/14/09). No other charges were filed as a result of the raid.
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