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NYC Gay Bar Raided As Patrons Celebrated Marriage Equality Vote

The New York City police department is receiving heat for what many are calling a raid on one of the city's gay bars, the Eagle, which took place at the very same time that the state Senate voted to introduce marriage equality to New York Friday night. Police claim this was a routine inspection. Whether that's true or not, the timing of this operation was remarkably insensitive. About 100 people were at the Eagle at the time.

Eagle The NYT reports:

Allen Roskoff, 61, a veteran gay-rights activist who was not at the Eagle, said, “In typical New York City Police Department fashion, the N.Y.P.D. demonstrated its disrespect for the gay community by raiding the Eagle mere moments after the passage of most important piece of gay rights legislation in history.”

But some accounts of the inspection diverged significantly, in places, from what the police described. For instance, (Eagle owner Robert Berk) said the inspection lasted about two hours, while (Police Department’s chief spokesman David Browne) said it was completed in about 45 minutes.

Along with flashlights being shined in people’s faces, lights were turned off and patrons were forced to empty their pockets “without probable cause,” Mr. Shevlin said.

A reader of Kenneth in the 212 writes: "yes, i was there and they definitely raided it. i argued with the police there for an hour over the outrage and eventually left. i am going to try to organize a response, like i did after the raids 3 years ago after pride."

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  1. not surprised.
    The US has become a police state.

    Posted by: suede | Jun 26, 2011 7:17:13 AM

  2. The NYPD again lives up to its reputation as homophobic pig scum.

    Posted by: SteveC | Jun 26, 2011 7:35:49 AM

  3. What were the police hoping to find? Their "DownLow" sexual partners? Ya I know they are going to say they are going to say "drugs, illegal activity, etc etc, but really.. I'd be more inclined to think every other reason for police sting activities, to harass and show superiority over a group who is already oppressed

    Posted by: otrdriver1 | Jun 26, 2011 7:46:00 AM

  4. I don't understand this. Why were the police there? What is a raid?
    What is a raid for? Do they do this at other, straight, bars? I am certainly outraged if this is in fact a form of hasseling without a cause. Why?...and doesn't the NYPD have gay people on the force?
    The timing is, of course, as consciously, unimaginably vindictive as possible.

    Posted by: Uffda | Jun 26, 2011 7:51:21 AM

  5. Seriously? The police are "homophobic pig scum" because they raided THE EAGLE???? That place is a cesspool...the gay community needs to stop crying foul every time police raid a bar, because quite frankly, they had every right. Please tell me how many straight bars you can go to where you can watch open drug use and (stomach-churning) sexual behavior.

    Posted by: Come On Already | Jun 26, 2011 7:51:49 AM

  6. I don't know if NYC's system of "random" nightclub inspections is biased against gay bars, but it is certainly economically biased. How often, do you suppose, does the NYPD or FDNY conduct a surprise, nightime inspection, in force, at 21 or helmet head's World Bar? Just another way for the man to keep the little guy on his toes and properly respectful. That being said, they sure is stoopid. Do you think The Mayor is chewing some ass right now? Hmmm?

    Posted by: Jay | Jun 26, 2011 7:58:58 AM

  7. They've been raiding and actually shutting down straight bars on the Lower East Side frequently this year:

    At least in the LES cases, though, they can cite an actual reason (underage drinking). Whether or not the charge was ever true though is debatable.

    Still, I agree that raiding the Eagle was a horrendous thing to do at that particular time.

    Posted by: red_phone | Jun 26, 2011 8:06:53 AM

  8. It isn't uncommon to find people openly smoking pot on the rooftop deck at the Eagle earlier in the evening (before midnight) before it gets really crowded. Also, it's pretty well known there are a lot of drug sale connections there for pot as well as x. These kind of inspections happen at the hip hop clubs uptown as well. You just don't read about them too much in the white press. Cops probably thought they'd catch a few extra because of the marriage thing, not knowing it's a much later crowd.

    Posted by: bilitis | Jun 26, 2011 8:19:20 AM

  9. And patrons were forced to empty their pockets. Wow. Not once have I ever been forced to empty my pocket by a cop.

    Posted by: Mike | Jun 26, 2011 8:23:44 AM

  10. Come On...@ Thanks, that was helpful. Open drug use and scabrously blatant sexual behavior - along with underage drinking- are sound reasons for raiding a bar. Amidst all the whitewashing gay advocates promote it is easy to forget/ignore just how nauseating a lot of public gay behavior is and has been for years. At least in New York now a good gay husband can try to keep his bad gay husband from making a fool of himself in public during the Pride parade...on pain of divorce.

    Posted by: Uffda | Jun 26, 2011 8:27:45 AM

  11. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, but it's distressing to see the number of brainwashed collaborators here. Oh my god! Pot! Just imagine!!!! And sex! in a gay bar!!! If the Eagle has a reputation for sex (I thought all the sex clubs were closed under Giuliani), then it's not really the kind of "public behavior" that should cause a scandal. How many grandmothers and children go there accidentally late late at night when something *might* be happening?

    Nauseating and stomach-turning behavior. Yes, but not at the Eagle, on this board.

    Posted by: KevinVT | Jun 26, 2011 8:42:20 AM

  12. And what I WAS going to say was, "the most important piece of gay rights legislation in history"??? That's a bit of an overstatement.

    Posted by: KevinVT | Jun 26, 2011 8:43:24 AM

  13. Even if they had legal "cause" to do their "inspection" of the Eagle, did they really have to do it on that particular Friday night? Does the NYPD not have any common sense at all?? Way to make your department look like a group of insensitive assholes!

    Posted by: HadenoughBS | Jun 26, 2011 8:54:13 AM

  14. UFFDA...If you were my husband I'd be divorced and fuckin' fast! What a prick of a prude you are to decide other peoples morality!

    Posted by: Kit9 | Jun 26, 2011 9:15:25 AM

  15. If drugs and sex are a common occurrence at The Eagle, and the cops know about it, I would think that night would be the most logical night to raid it...

    But - because it's gay, apparently we need to insist on special dispensation. God, my community is so out of whack sometimes.

    Posted by: yunin | Jun 26, 2011 9:20:55 AM

  16. Reading these posts, the Gay community needs a large dose of pre-christian history. A time when public nudity was the norm for men and in Egypt for both genders. A time when ritual sex was routinely practiced publicly. That scratches the surface. The Christians have not help the world overcome the KNOWLEDGE of good and evil, but driven it deeper into the concept of evil. That was not the aim of a Loving Jesus who took a naked young man to bed, "The Secret Gospel" and made his male disciples angry when they saw him kissing Mary Magdalene. "Gospel of Philip." Why do some in our community rail against those of us who object to the imposition of Christian morality on the rest of us?

    Posted by: Ray T | Jun 26, 2011 9:24:28 AM

  17. Another reason I'm glad I left NY for Europe. My relationship is recognized by all levels of government and I don't walk around in fear of the police state.

    Posted by: Frank | Jun 26, 2011 9:29:25 AM

  18. what straight bars get raided. how many pubs where raided on st. patrick's day or bars on the day of the puerto rican parade? the new york city police must remember the causes of stonewall and not repeat them

    Posted by: walter | Jun 26, 2011 9:43:02 AM

  19. I don't know about the Eagle (never go there), but other gay bars in NYC are saturated with drug-infested filth. The police should raid more often.

    Posted by: Max | Jun 26, 2011 10:03:53 AM

  20. How come we never hear about straight clubs being raided? Does that even happen?

    Posted by: Bravo | Jun 26, 2011 10:06:22 AM

  21. Did the nypd raid Donald Trump's penthouse? I guarantee that's where he's growing his next palinesque child bride.

    Posted by: Emdub | Jun 26, 2011 10:08:56 AM

  22. Bars in NYC have a liquor license. This means the gov. is involved in the regulation of the business. It has become a common practice for the powers that be to conduct inspections during a friday or saturday night at peak business hours, turning off music, making it bright, etc. The police, fire dept, buildings dept, and health dept can show up all together. They write you a summons for a fruit fly or something minor, while the bar and employees suffer a significant drop in income that night because business doesn't really recover. The clientele are victims of harrassment and rudeness from the authorities. Then they leave and hit a couple more places. Bars make the majority of their income from the weekend business, the force knows this and attacks then. This has been happening in the lower east side for years now. Never have I heard of patrons asked to empty their pockets, though. While this action was ill timed with the vote and all, I don't think it was prompted because it's a gay bar. But, that said, it could be the first push to force the bar out of the area. The fact that they were asking patrons to empty pockets means they were looking for illegal contraband. This is a bad sign. It means more harassment to come. They closed another bar a couple years ago on Christopher st. Chi chiz was a gay bar that catered to a black crowd. The powers that be decided to get rid of it. They succeeded by under covers purchasing drugs inside the bar. Thing is, the officer who bought the drugs, made contact with the dealer in the Starbucks on 7th av, several blocks away, and insisted they go to Chi Chiz to make the deal. On the Lower East Side, the slightest infraction will get you shut down. The Pct Captain wants you to "work" with him. For him is more like it. Klieg lights on the block, random car stops and checkpoints, streets blocked by cop cars, cops on horseback, etc, etc. They are currently in the process of trying to close several bars. Other bar, curiously, have not been hassled, even though they are on the same street. Those would be the ones that have off duty cops on staff, or firemen. Hmmm? I wonder if... Anyway, this seems to be the new model for nightlife in NYC. The bars are seen as a locus for criminal activity, and are treated as such. It's considered okay to close a club/bar because
    suspected drug activity is taking place, whether it is or it ain't. The bar must go, and so will the "crime". A friend of mine was doing a shot of tequila at the bar, and an undercover almost arrested her when she was putting salt on her hand in preparation to do the shot. He thought it was cocaine. I can go on and on with screwed up stuff. The Eagle has been marked. I would encourage them to sue the police department right now. After they "catch" you for underage drinking, or the staff having a beer after hours, and close you down, it's too late. They are gonna be back, and use every power they have to get rid of the bar. I heard on the radio this past week people on the newly opened high line talking about how the Folsom East fair was visible from the park, and children were gonna see something they shouldn't. This could be part of it. They go after a bar that supports or welcomes a community that is considered less powerful or normal or whatever. On the LES, it's the skaters, who tag stuff, the artists, the creatives, who must now make way for the sports bar mentality (trust me-sports bars are not gonna get raided). "Decent" people are moving up into the area near the Eagle. The "indecent" must make way. I wonder if this is also a side effect of the Compstat system put in place by Quality of Life Giuliani. It's a whole new way of thinking about crime! I worked in a bar on the LES for 18 years and it all came after Giuliani. The cops have more power, and consequently there are more abuses. The general public believes cops are there to help and support them, and while this is still true to some extant, it's not what I see. Who is the judge gonna believe in court? It's your word against the cop. Can't fight city hall. Or can you? I can go on, but enough. It's really sad.

    Posted by: kodiak | Jun 26, 2011 10:11:48 AM

  23. Postscript- Last night I was thinking that the Stonewall is probably pretty safe for awhile now. It's a landmark, a shrine, and the powers aren't gonna go in and shut it down any time soon. The community response would be too big. Then this morning I read about the Eagle. R.I.P. New York City.

    Posted by: kodiak | Jun 26, 2011 10:26:36 AM

  24. I think it's more of an excuse to pat up hot guys while getting paid!

    Posted by: Chris | Jun 26, 2011 11:02:36 AM

  25. Let's not forget the Rainbow Lounge raid in Ft. Worth on or near the Stonewall anniversary. Guess police departments choose particular dates to make a statement.

    Posted by: Chris | Jun 26, 2011 11:07:30 AM

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