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Hundreds protest over raid on Atlanta gay bar

Jessica Geen September 14, 2009
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Hundreds of demonstrators met yesterday to protest over a “heavy-handed” police raid on a gay leather bar in Atlanta.

Eight employees at the Atlanta Eagle were arrested in the swoop on Thursday night after two anonymous callers claimed they had seen men having sex in public.

The workers were apparently arrested for not having the correct permits.

Many of those present have accused police of using disproportionate force and homophobic language.

Witnesses said several police officers entered the bar at around 11pm and told them to get on the floor. Some said they knelt down but were then pushed to lie face-down on the floor for more than half 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. Those who protested outside the bar last night now hope to take their concerns to a city council meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) night.

Earlier this year, a Texas gay bar was raided on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, which are hailed as the birth of the gay rights movement.

As yet, three officers from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission have been fired after an investigation into the raid on the Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth

More: Americas

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