Sixty demonstrators stood in driving rain on Saturday outside Atlanta City Hall to protest over the recent police raid of a gay bar.

Claiming homophobia was the reason for the swoop, they denounced police for their handling of the affair.

The raid happened on Thursday 10th at the Atlanta Eagle.

It was organised after two anonymous callers said they had seen men having sex at the bar. It was also alleged drugs were being used in the bar, something the owners have strenuously denied. No illegal substances were found but eight employees were arrested for not having correct permits.

Witnesses said several police officers entered the bar at around 11pm and told the 62 people present to get on the floor. Some said they knelt down but were then pushed to lie face-down on the floor for more than an hour.

One patron told the Washington Blade that police then proceeded to search each person without their consent and took ID. Once patrons’ ID was verified, they were permitted to leave.

He said: “It wasn’t necessarily abuse, but I definitely think they used a heavy hand. . . We were treated as criminals from the get-go. I definitely felt harassed.”

Other witnesses reported hearing police make comments such as “This is a lot more fun than raiding niggers with crack” and “I hate gay people”.

Police have now launched an internal investigation over the allegations of misconduct from officers.