Police Raid at the Atlanta Eagle

On September 10, 2009, a paramilitary, SWAT-type force of Atlanta police officers stormed into a gay bar called the Atlanta Eagle without a warrant.

The police immediately forced dozens of innocent customers to lie face-down on the floor, which was covered with spilled beer, dirt, and broken glass, simply because they were patrons of the bar.

Patrons who were not suspected of any criminal activity were illegally searched; police officers emptied their pockets, confiscated their ID’s, and entered every patron’s name into a police computer.

The Police detained all of the patrons between thirty and ninety minutes, handcuffed some of them, and forced them to remain face-down on the floor long after they had been searched and found to be unarmed.

The police never explained why they were there, and when patrons asked questions, they were told to “shut the fuck up.”

Some patrons were told they would be hit in the head with a barstool if they asked any questions, and some were shoved to the ground and kicked by the officers. Several patrons report that some officers made racist and anti-gay slurs.

At the end of the raid, not a single patron was charged with any crime.

On behalf of the Atlanta Eagle and many of its patrons, Atlanta attorney Dan Grossman, the Southern Center for Human Rights, and Lambda Legal have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the City of Atlanta, Police Chief Richard Pennington, and the individual police officers involved in the raid.

Here’s what happened at the Atlanta Eagle…

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