Report: Staff, Patrons Arrested in Raid of Atlanta Eagle Gay Bar

In a story eerily reminiscent of the June raid on the Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth, Texas, Atlanta police reportedly raided the Atlanta Eagle gay bar last night. Mattthew Cardinale, a news editor for Atlanta Progressive News, filed a report:

Atlantaeagle "About ten police cars and about 15 cops raided the bar, allegedly looking for drugs.

However, the police were said to have ordered all patrons to get on the ground–including patrons who were just dancing or standing at the bar–and numerous patrons said people were handcuffed indiscriminately.

Bar patrons were furious at the aggressive and indiscriminate treatment and called the incident 'harassment.'

Patrons also stated that at least three undercover cops were present. One patron stated he knew this because he saw the undercover police first without their badges, mingling with the crowds, and then again with their badges on…According to one patron, APD handcuffed all Eagle staff members and dancers, patrons in a leather shop, and anyone who was wearing only underwear; Thursday is advertised as underwear night."

Cardinale also received an email from a patron who was there: “My roommate and I were there for the police raid at the Eagle on
September 10, 2009.  We had arrived about 20 minutes before the raid
took place. Everyone was ordered to get on their stomachs and face down
during this ordeal. As far as I could tell everyone was searched at
least once, most of us twice. Most, but not all, of the officers were
incredibly derogatory and insulting whether they found evidence of
drugs or not,” Alan Vives wrote in an email to APN."

(image source)


  1. Bill T says

    What the heck is going on with police raiding gay bars all over the place in such a rough manner? I used to work for Village Station and JR’s in Dallas in the 90s and never heard of such overt disrespect.

  2. Sean Mac says

    Thursday nights at the Eagle are particularly low-key. There are no people on the back deck talking or otherwise making noise. There are no speakers pumping music outside. There is absolutely no sound disturbance to the residential area behind it. You’d likely hear more noise from the halfway house’s basketball court next door. Absolute bullshit.

  3. says

    Civil rights groups need to take action on this……on what basis were warrants obtained….were they to search the premises or persons…..and why all persons….was this authorised by the DA ? …..were any charges preferred ? and if not who spun the lies on which the warrants were conned ? I hope that local equality advocates don’t let the bigots get away with this.

  4. Boris says

    I’ve been living in Atlanta for almost fifteen years now and this comes as no surprise. Mayor Shirley Franklin and the Midtown Alliance have been working diligently to rid the city of any gay presence for some time now. Looks like they now have their sights set on closing down The Eagle. And why not? They finished off:

    * Backstreet & The Armory
    * The Metro
    * The Phoenix
    * The Cove

    and have decimated our nightlife and culture. “The city too busy to hate?”


  5. Donovan says

    As we all know, gay men on party drugs are responsible for 85% of all violent crime in America. I keep getting carjacked by circuit queens, and it has to stop. Ugh, it’s just disgusting – the Police are long past actually trying to keep the world safe – they’re just brutalizing whoever’s inconvenient to the agenda of whoever’s paying them… which in this case, is the Atlanta Republicans?

  6. David in Houston says

    This homophobic shit needs to stop. All of those officers involved should be fired. I don’t want to hear their lame ass excuses about disturbing the peace or possible drug use. They know it’s bullshit, and we know it’s bullshit. Enough already.

  7. says

    Boris, don’t forget how they’ve moved Atlanta Pride to Halloween instead of allowing them to do it in the summer in Piedmont Park.

    Since I’ve gone there a few times, a noise complaint is laughable as it’s had the same amount of noise for years and a “noise complaint” only suddenly sounds suspicious to me.

  8. alex in boston says

    Well let’s start a national boycott of all things Atlanta!! If Atlanta does not want fair and equitable rights for their GLBTT citizens ( much like antebellum Atlanta and its’ Black citizens) then it is up to the rest of American GLBTT citizens to HALT all and every event which has a GLBTT influence and this means all Medical, Social, political (note to HRC) or sexual events! No conferences, no white parties, no conventions and now lets see how Atlanta likes that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Shame on any Circuit or social organization that moves forward with using Atlanta as its venue!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Mark says

    What planet are you on Donovan… “gays are responsible for 85% percent of all violent crime in America”..really? And where are your statistics coming from?

    Maybe the gays are just car-jacking because you’re Republican, which is the party of douche-bags.

  10. says

    @Roseanne: “Drugs have killed many of our GLBT community”……what the fuck is that supposed to imply ? That innocent patrons of a bar must be molested/brutalised/intimidated ? How about some proper investigative police work ? Or is that too hard ?

  11. Tom Anderson says

    @Adam: The mayor of Atlanta, Shirley Franklin, is not a Republican but a Democrat. The current President is Barack Obama, not George Bush. Isn’t it time to stop blaming Republicans and Bush for the actions of Democrats and the precious Obama? Just try to be a little fair-minded.

  12. Chad says

    James, the reason they moved Pride was due to water restrictions and the heavy traffic on the grounds of Piedmont Park. It’s happening in October.

    This makes me sad for my home town.

  13. Chad says

    And Alex, there are thousands of gay men and lesbians who are very supportive and work very hard to be visible and demand equality in Atlanta. Atlanta has one of the greatest gay communities I’ve ever lived. Boycotting the city simply does little than hurt those that are trying to fight for their own equality. I’m still very proud of all the demonstrations Atlanta participated in during our Prop 8 fiasco in Los Angeles. Atlanta may not see marriage rights for a many years because of the Bible belt, but they showed their support for us at the government buildings in the city.

  14. Nick Koperski says

    i was there with a friend. while on the floor i was reminded of stonewall. it felt like it wasn’t really happening, but sadly it was. all the cops said was “everybody get down on the floor, on your stomachs, this is a raid!” the were calling people names. it was ridiculous. it took forever to get out of there, after being frisked and having them check our IDs. it felt like living in the past. definitely not a fun night.

  15. Craig says

    Having grown up in a police family I tend to see both sides of the police’s actions and the alleged victims. People need to understand that it is common practice for police to handcuff everyone during a raid whether you’re innocent or not. Why? Because until the police figure out if you’re armed or dangerous they are only protecting themselves and everyone else in case something happens (Has everyone forgotten how the police made all those school kids from Columbine march with their hands up because they didn’t know who the killers were at the time).

    Basically if you’re innocent you’ll understand and be polite and patient enough to allow the police to do their work. And if you’re not innocent, generally you’re the one who tends to complain the most about rights being violated and what not.

    If undercover was there that means there was either drug trafficking or underage drinking taking place; the drug trafficking seems more likely but let’s not assume completely.

    Basically people needs to stop whining, suck it up, take responsibility for their actions and let the police do their job. Yes there are police who are corrupt and there are gay men who are drug dealers; it’s a fact of life.

    I’m personally against the use of drugs as having seen the first hand destruction of family and friends and I support drug raids by the police. And if you do drugs and are caught in a public establishment then you deserve to get arrested. Remember it’s always the guilty who complain the loudest.

    Thanks for reading. ~Craig

  16. Andrew says

    Let’s not forget that crime in Atlanta is proliferating wildly… Don’t the police have better things to be doing than raiding a gay bar? How about stopping the shootings and robberies around Georgia Tech campus, or in EAV, or Piedmont Park?

  17. Derrick from Philly says

    “Remember it’s always the guilty who complain the loudest.”

    No, CRAIG.


    Calm down. Your comment and analogy were peculiar.

    Actually, the gay bars in antebellum Atlanta were all integrated (but no interracial sex–ever…that was only for “un-American” New Orleans). In fact, Big Sam and Ashley Wilkes tried to grope each other one night at The Cave . Miss Scarlett called the po’lice to raid the joint.

    Miss Melanie said she knew all along…sweet, kind-hearted, gentle Georgia belle.

  18. says

    I sent a friendly letter to the convention and visitors bureau stating that they need to pressure the city council and mayor to stop alienating groups that would come and spend money on the businesses of Atlanta.

    Incidents like this will make it hard for your organization to get people to come and visit Atlanta.
    Even though the LGBT community is small, the community usually has money to spend to visit places such as Atlanta.

  19. MikeyDallas says

    Hey Craig, did the police say anything about catching people with drugs? If so, I must have missed that. Atlanta Eagle on a Thursday night is simply not going to have that element. And you may be willing to give up all your rights for a bunch of gay hating harrarsing cops, but don’t ask the rest of us to.

  20. A Quirk says

    If the police are truly doing drug raids then why don’t they travel just a few blocks from the Eagle and stake out the apartments across the street from the Taco Bell drive-in? Whilst waiting for your Nachos Bell Grande you can watch half a dozen drug deals occur right out in the open!! This has blatantly been occurring **FOR YEARS**…and while there are some in the gay community who suffer from drug addiction and bars can be a frequent place of use why don’t you focus on stopping the source? Harrass, arrest, disrupt, etc. the dealers on the corner instead!

  21. Disgusted American says

    Hey Craig – I’ll take your advise WHEN Police start RAIDING straight bars and doing the same thing to ALL thier customers….like making them LAY down on a filthy/sticky floor….I’ve been to many a straight bar where drugs are being used & sold…but NEVER heard of Police usin those tactics on the straights!!!

  22. darryl says

    i find it amusing that it is ok for gays to be as lude and crude as possible in public and force our lifestyle onto everyone in the world. it is ok that we treat each other like shit, basing whether or not we even speak to each other on “fuckability”. if we dont want to fuck someone, aint no way in hell we are ever going to so much as speak to them.

    it is ok that we walk around practically naked in our clubs, daring anyone to say anything about it. it is ok that we spend so much time being gay that we forget oftentimes to be MEN.

    but it is NOT ok for anyone to be opposed to it or to say anything about it, or stand up for what they believe is right. i think we all know that a great many gay clubs are havens for drugs and lude sexual activities and we do not bother trying to hide it. rather, we advertise and promote it. yet, when we are called out for it, we are more concerned with “who else is doing whatever else” than the fact that the present situation has to do with US!

    if the rest of the world jumped off of the empire state building, would we have to do it too????

    i cannot help but notice that people in straight bars DO NOT have to behave in such a way, and maybe that is why straight bars arenot being raided. the fact of the matter is that we are not entitled to do whatever we want simply because we are gay. nor, do negative things happen to us merely because we are gay.

    in a police raid, police instruct (demand even) that everyone in the building (gay, straight, or indifferent) lie face down on the floor. maybe if we werent so busy being victims, we would have known that!

    furthermore, if we are really that concerned with what may be on the floor, maybe we should take proper measures to make sure those questionable substances stay off the floor…

    …just a thought

  23. MCnNYC says

    I don’t know where CRAIG is getting his information from but NO WAY IN HELL is it common practive to HANDCUFF EVERYONE in a raid.

    Not enough handcufs or personel do accompish and riddiculous law enforcement this is an ATLANTA bar not some horseshit little bar….and are you kidding..always the GUILTY who complain the loudest….?

    Police Brutality against minorities and the LGBT community is well documented and has gotten out of control.

    SUE THE ASS OF ATLANTA and BANKRUPT the city for all I care.

  24. Ozu says

    Why does this crap always happen in the south. Just what the hell is wrong with these people? They can’t pick on black people anymore so they go after us? Is the typical Southerner really as mean-spirited and hateful as the sterotype?

    I often wish Lincoln had just said: “Fine, go your own way, we’re better off without trash like you in the Union.” Can you imagine how nice a country we’d have if we didn’t have to constantly appease the South? It would be like Canada, but with better weather.

  25. Sean Mac says

    @Chad: Yes, they couldn’t have that many people in the park due to water restrictions and grass maintenance, so they held a freakin’ PAUL MCCARTNEY CONCERT instead. How’s that for a slap in the face?

  26. MCnNYC says

    And the story linked above has been updated and NO PATRONS were arrested….only the bar staff and dancers and according to the bar owner “Ramey said the only charge faced by bar staff and dancers is that the male dancers in their underwear had been dancing without a permit.”

    No Drugs…10 POLICE CARS 15 Uniformed Cops and in addition UNDERCOVER cops….for dancing in underwear? read the link….

  27. James says

    There’s apparently a demostration being planned for tomorrow already and I might just go. In front of the Eagle on Ponce, I hope no one gets arrested for that (although no one was arrested at the Eagle last night according to the owner of the Eagle).

  28. MCnNYC says

    And CRAIG u are entitled to your IGNORANT beliefs and statements but you should have read the article before your comments are posted….cause the only people who were being disresctful were your thin blue line members.

  29. Sean Mac says

    @Craig: speaking as a native of Atlanta, the Eagle is known for *drinking*. It’s not known for any sort of dealing, don’t think any dealers would waste time trying to drum up business there. As for underage drinking, well I know of a couple of people who can tell you how strongly Robby protects the license from underage drinkers.

  30. says

    For a similar story, go to and search for “spring4th” (or use the link below) to read about a raid that turned up no drugs, no sex, no alcohol, (but yes, there was some leather) but the same behavior by Atlanta police officers.

    Mayor Franklin should fire the police chief and be on the news right now apologizing for this behavior. There is just no excuse for the targeting of this type when the APD is woefully understaffed.

  31. Derrick from Philly says

    ” cannot help but notice that people in straight bars DO NOT have to behave in such a way, and maybe that is why straight bars arenot being raided.”

    DARRYL, you got me laughing so hard I peed on myself a little. Straight people do everything gay people do–they love “tossin’ salad”….secretly. And they love makin’ babies out of wedlock.

  32. crispy says

    Sean Mac is right. The Eagle is a big burly leather bar. The only thing going up someone’s nose there is a hairy guy’s smelly armpit.

    If this was a drug raid, the cops woulda had as much luck raiding a Home Depot.

  33. Dean says

    Darryl, are you fucking serious or are you a closet case?: “i find it amusing that it is ok for gays to be as lude and crude as possible in public and force our lifestyle onto everyone in the world.” First, go back to school and learn how to spell–because I think you meant “LEWD” not “LUDE”; second “force our ‘lifestyle’ onto everyone in the world” sounds like you’re actually an “American Family Association ‘Ex-Gay'” than a part of our community…I’m fairly certain that no one was dragging people off the street into the Eagle to force them to watch men dancing in their underwear.

    And actually, you’ve got your panties in knots–if you don’t like men running around with their shirts off or showing a bit of basket, then you’d better be out there in Midtown handing out Annette Funicello Mousketeer chest-hiding devices to all the women showing off their boobs in public, buddy…no double standards. Really–if you don’t like being in a place where men are being men, DON’T GO THERE…no one is forcing you there, and you probably aren’t someone any of us want to associate with anyhow. Have fun being asexual, buddy.

  34. Rocky says

    Craig has the same typical “nazi” cop mentality that most of the NYPD (New York Pussy Department) (Pussy=Police) has in New York.And we wonder why no gay person wants to bother with New York Shitty anymore.Craig keep your ignorance to yourself.Its always cops defending cops no matter how butt-headed the issue and no matter how blatant the stupidity.

  35. Gregus says

    @ darryl

    “i cannot help but notice that people in straight bars DO NOT have to behave in such a way, and maybe that is why straight bars arenot being raided.”

    > You’re a tool. You just haven’t been to the right straight bars. There’s plenty in Atlanta where crazy stuff is going on.

    “i find it amusing that it is ok for gays to be as lude and crude as possible in public and force our lifestyle onto everyone in the world. it is ok that we treat each other like shit, basing whether or not we even speak to each other on “fuckability”. if we dont want to fuck someone, aint no way in hell we are ever going to so much as speak to them.”

    > You’re clearly not fuckable, so please move along you self-loathing fuckwit.

    Have a nice day :-)

  36. Vera Waitress says

    If I were a frightened cop, about 39, one year away from retirement, I would raid gay bars rather than deal with real scum in Atlanta. Hell yes. I’d much rather do a raid at a dialysis center than on a rough street corner. I’m with the cops on this one. It’s scary out there.

  37. Jon B says

    Honestly, Atlanta has one of the best gay communities in the country. They better rise up and fight this nonsense. I’m tired of the Midtown PC patrol. The only place left to go is Blake’s… ugh…

  38. Bryan says

    And now for the “investigation,” the apology, and the next time.

    Do the patrons of the Atlanta Eagle think Stonewall occurred because everyone laid on the floor whining, “definitely not a fun night.” Then and now, we’ll get what we tolerate.

  39. tony M from NYC says


    I was there visiting from NYC and we were treated like criminals. I have never felt this way and thought that after al my shouting from the 80s – We would never be treated this way.


    The two roomames above were great – one of them was trying to help me think of a place to get a cab and the cop -yelled that we should be quite. Then he was punished like a child by being held to the end of the group.

    This is disgusting

    I will make my voice heard when I return to NYC tomorrow. This is not to be tolerated.


  40. Genix says

    For what the employees are being charged with allegedly, they still have not been released from jail for a charge that is lesser than jay walking, and the Atlanta PD still has not released any information and has not given any information to the person who should be answering questions. The Vice Squad will not even give the LGBTQ Officer the case number and she did not even know about the raid until she was called for comment and had to ask someone what was going on. The APD has fraked up big time and I think the realize it, and are trying to back peddle as quick as possible.

  41. Jay says

    Really sad to hear about this. Do the Atlanta police not mind violating citizens’ constitutional rights? This harassment and intimidation must be stopped. For a city with such a high crime rate as Atlanta to be wasting police resources on such absurd raids means either they really hate gay people or somebody is up to no good.

  42. Let'sFaceIt says

    I’m just glad McCain didn’t win the Presidency. You gay-gays would be blaming all this on him, and saying “it wouldn’t be happening if Obama was President!” (Don’t argue with me. You know it’s true).

  43. peachbear says

    This has happened in the past and YOU GLBTT folks have now let it happen again. When people finally get mad enough in this country and do something about this kind of militant oppression, then and only then will any of us be safe in any community in the USA no matter how big. The right wing rhetoric in the country is at an all time high and it’s only going to continue getting worse until people get mad enough to finally say “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, I’M NOT TAKING IT ANYMORE.” Until then (if that day ever comes) you have no one but your ownselves to blame.

  44. mitch says

    The raid, conducted by the vice squad, was a result of a tip sent to Mayor Shirley Franklin’s office alleging “illicit sex” at The Eagle, Harris said. Ironically, Franklin’s election and re-election campaigns were headquartered in space adjoining the leather bar.
    Harris said no drugs were found, and none of those arreste face narcotics charges.
    for the record I have been to the eagle on THursday and it is known for its favorably dirty backroom activity on Thursdays.

  45. Chris says

    With all due respect to the anger here and I think this situation that happened is DOWN RIGHT digusting!

    But as I have read some of these comments. C’mon guys African Americans have NOTHING to do with this…NOR PRESIDENT OBAMA.

    And I’m sure Mayor Franklin will issue and an apology if need be. As Mayor if a tip is given to her as the elected official it is her responsibility to pass it on the proper agency to investigate the situation.

    Atlanta has a very good thriving gay community. But some comments are stupid such as Alex in Boston
    “Well let’s start a national boycott of all things Atlanta!! If Atlanta does not want fair and equitable rights for their GLBTT citizens ( much like antebellum Atlanta and its’ Black citizens)”….WTF? What about Georgia and it’s WHITE CITIZENS??????

    Statements like that are just ASSININE and not called for in the discussion. Lets wait for Andy Towle to get back to us with further info or go and visit since that is the local paper of Atlanta.

    But please keep your racial views to yourself. Or go to Queerty where the KKK Gays rage on!

  46. Not surprised says

    Backstreet Memphis was closed recently as well, after a under cover infiltration followed by a raid. It was reported that there were people having sex and openly abusing drugs. I can say I have gone to that place thousands of times and never saw any of the things that they alleged were happening.

  47. jim says

    How can this happen in Hotlanta? We used to have such shit in Salt Lake City until Equality Utah organized and we won all of the city council seats and the mayors office. we got the chief fired and sympathetic and LGBT officials appointed top to bottom. no way that could happen to us…just my two cents.

  48. Dan says

    Nick – My god – we are all outraged – yet you sound sound passive in your post. You were a victim – we are all indirect victims. Join others and do something – this is WRONG! Take action against the Atlanta Police!

  49. Chuck Lampman says

    I am a 70 year old gay man. I remember these incidents when I was young. If the young gay and lesbian populations think it is all over, well I think not. So sorry to hear about this raid. It is time for the young people to carry the banner. Our human rights are being violated. Human rights are much more important than marriage. Marriage will come later.

  50. David says

    Annual Cause of Death:

    Properly prescribed prescription medications: 65%
    Illicit drug use: 35%

    Raid doctor’s offices and pharmaceutical companies, not gay bars.

    Thank Shirley Franklin… and use your vote wisely for the next mayor in Atlanta.

    I agree with the one poster… any gay man or lesbian who uses their money to attend events in states that do not support gay rights is giving their silent vote for that treatment… ie Decadence? Gay Day at Walt Disney etc…

  51. baygelldawg says

    So all those big men at the leather bar just got down on the floor when the police told them to? Not one man there had the guts to tell the police, “Do what you needed to do but I’m not lying down?”

  52. KevinCA says

    @Craig: You’re an idiot. And I don’t care if your dad is the Director of the FBI and your grandfather was the Attorney General, that doesn’t make you an expert in police procedure in Atlanta. Try again.

    Since the raid itself was bogus, everything that follows was unnecessary. It’s called logic. Try it on for size. You might like it.

    There’s a vast difference between a call to respond to a school shooting/bombing and to go shake down some dudes in a bar who, by the way, are apparently all law-abiding.

    @Darryl: You are a sad, sad creature. Whether gay men on the whole are shallow or not really has nothing to do with the situation at hand.

  53. John in Boston says

    Officer patting down gay bar patron:

    ‘Is that a crack pipe or are you just happy to see me?’

    Classic example of city hall trying to ‘clean up’ a neighborhood. The gay bar(s) got to go. Didn’t the owners make campaign contributions?

  54. Rob says

    Since my move to Atlanta over 10 years ago, I have watched the visible gay part of this city almost disappear. Atlanta has a very dispersed gay population, the gay area of Midtown has almost disappeared…it’s time for me to move on.

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