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."

Comments

  1. otrdriver1 says

    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

  2. Uffda says

    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.

  3. Come On Already says

    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.

  4. Jay says

    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?

  5. bilitis says

    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.

  6. Mike says

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

  7. Uffda says

    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.

  8. says

    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.

  9. says

    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.

  10. HadenoughBS says

    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!

  11. Kit9 says

    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!

  12. yunin says

    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.

  13. Ray T says

    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?

  14. Frank says

    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.

  15. walter says

    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

  16. Max says

    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.

  17. Emdub says

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

  18. kodiak says

    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.

  19. kodiak says

    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.

  20. Chris says

    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.

  21. Jeff says

    My experience has been that problems/crime increase in direct proportion to the amount of illegal activity going on in a bar. That includes drugs and underage drinking. I’ve never been to the New York Eagle, but from what I’ve read by Joe.My.God, a lot of not-so-legal stuff is common.

  22. Jon says

    Hip hop clubs are also targeted frequently for drugs and weapons. Gay bars are frequently targeted for drugs, sex, and prostitution. Anyone who lives in NYC knows that gay clubs have a very short half-life. Most are shutdown because of blatant drug use and prostitution. I feel like the organizers of these clubs don’t really care sometimes and just want big crowds. If you can’t police your own house, Uncle Sam will be glad to do it for you.

  23. peterparker says

    All of you prudish queens moralizing about drug use and public sex in a gay leather bar make me want to turn in my gay card. Where did you come from anyway…Gay Patriot?!

    @FRANK–Dude, I am so jealous of you. I would LOVE to move to London, Berlin or Barcelona!

  24. BikerDude says

    If you’ve never been present when an inspection happens, it’s unsettling and scary. (It’s like strangers coming into your house and you don’t know why they are there.) Even if you don’t like the Eagle, doesn’t mean that its patrons or the club itself deserved this. This could be your favorite bar next Pride weekend.

    An inspection which shuts down the club for a period of time of a Friday night during Pride weekend is like shutting down Macy’s on Black Friday for a few hours.

    As far as drug allegations, I’ve never witnessed this at the Eagle.

    If patrons were REQUIRED to empty their pockets, they should speak up. (I think this is rumor, btw.)

    Someone made very poor judgement planning an inspection not only on Pride weekend, but also on a day when NY gays are celebrating marriage equality. You should demand an answer from Bloomberg.

  25. me says

    this makes me so angry. didn’t anyone whip out their iphones and start video-ing what was going on??? would love it if it were on camera that they were forcing people to empty their pockets, for example. definitely SUE them. It will calm them down from raiding the Eagle. I was on the high line the day of Folsom East, by the way, and walked past Folsom East, and NO ONE cared. It’s NYC…. people (should) love diversity, and if they don’t, they can move to Germany 1940.

  26. AllBeefPatty says

    Oh groan! Who the hell goes to “gay” bars anymore?

    They all smell like old beer and santorum.

    The Eagle….indeed.

  27. anon says

    Thankfully it wasn’t Code Thursday!

    Anyway, this is a game of Gotcha! foisted by the police on bars owing to the competition amongst all nightclub establishments in the city. Landlords, other bars, nightclubs, businesses, etc. will make anonymous “tips” that illegal activity is going on a competitor XYZ. With enough tips the police will conduct a raid on XYZ and slowly drive them out of business, particularly if the inevitable violation is found. All bars are in violation of something, so the raids are mostly a tool for one group of businesses to attack another. They’ve been fixing up 28th Street for a while, so it makes sense they’d want to chase the Eagle away, as low-rent places on the West Side are becoming more and more difficult to find.

  28. Ken says

    I dont have a problem with the inspection but it doesnt sound like it was handled properly. I think a proper way to do this would be to eject all the bar-goers immediately and then the officials can have their way inspecting the building, i.e. code violations, licenses, permits etc. I dont think innocent patrons should be involved with business like this between the city and the bar. Do I understand this right? The building is basically in “lock down” why they inspect ?

  29. Tim NC says

    @Ken, from what I gather reading this, it’s more than just the facilities that are being inspected. The patrons are also being checked to make sure that they are not participating in any illegal activities such as drug use, drug sales, public sex acts. Legally, it’s up to the owners to make sure the patrons are complying with the law. So, if the cops find any illegal activities going on, the bar owners are held responsible for allowing it.

  30. Ryan Smith says

    these are random inspections done by the health dept, fire dept, etc to make sure the club is adhering to permits, capacity, layout etc. they’re just looking for money!

  31. Paul R says

    Though I seriously doubt it, I wouldn’t be surprised if the cops didn’t even know about the marriage vote. The cops in NYC, New Orleans, and Virginia are the dumbest I’ve ever encountered. All on weird power trips and excessive testosterone.

    Though it seems odd to me that if they were raiding a bar on the assumption that Friday would be a big night, why didn’t they raid more than one?

  32. ratbastard says

    Bars and clubs are ‘raided'[ or inspected] all the time. If patrons were harassed, that sounds extreme, but if they were investigating illegal drug use and so-on, then not surprising. PLENTY of illegal activity goes on in bars and clubs in NYC and elsewhere. I’m not telling anybody reading this something they don’t already know. Now, I think all drugs should be legalized, but that’s a different story.

    ————

    I’m not a big cheer leader or fan of police in 2011. I recognize they have a difficult, dangerous, necessary and thankless job, but think we are turning more and more into a police state and our civilian police are becoming militarized, which is not a good thing, imo.

    That said: MOST of the same ‘progressives’ who p*ss and moan about cops, how they hate them, and what-not, can’t defend themselves and like to make it difficult for people in general to defend themselves, especially things like legally own firearms if you are a responsible citizen [HORROR!] Your mentality is confusing. You hate cops, think they’re ‘stupid’, ‘lower class’, ‘uneducated’, and what-not, then don’t deal with them. Don’t call them or go running to them when you’re assaulted. Deal with it like a man [you to ladies]. Defend yourself and get the tools to defend yourself, and encourage laws that allow average citizens to defend themselves.

  33. Craig Fox says

    why haven’t club owners and Lambda gone after the cops on civil rights violations of the patrons. How many times have the cops raided the bar at the Plaza? This exact behavior against black clubs resulted in all kinds of federal prosecutions, why not these raids too?

  34. Joseph says

    These are standard inspections done by city agencies in concert, usually focusing on clubs/bars who have posed a drug, violence or prostitution problem to the precinct.  There were multiple clubs inspected in the precinct on that night.  Of course a gay club was one that was inspected, in the 10th precinct there are many gay clubs and it would be strange if at least one weren’t inspected on a night when multiple clubs were inspected.  The cops of the 10th precinct are very sensitive to gay issues, the gay community is the life blood of the area and the NYPD knows this.  Nothing to see here.

  35. Joseph says

    Also, I’ve never heard of anyone having to empty their pockets during these operations. If that happened it’s likely that the cops had reason to suspect those individuals were dealing drugs or were underage, so if this is the case it was probably only done to a few people if at all. This operation was scheduled far in advance of the passage of the law so there’s no reason to believe they were sending any homophobic ‘message’ to the community. Of course, given the not too distant history of real anti-gay raids it is not irrational to be sensitive to possible discrimination, I can just tell you that in this case that was not what happened.

  36. Fenrox says

    Well lets see, the Eagle is FULL of people breaking laws, so the police raided it. I can see the drunk loud kids turning this into more than it was. Wake me when the police hurt someone, maybe then I will look into foul play, but as of now there is no reason to believe this story any more than the cops.

  37. Erich says

    I don’t understand how police can force patrons to empty their pockets. That’s a clear fourth amendment violation with a Supreme Court decision backing that up.

  38. Really? says

    @ Jeff “My experience has been that problems/crime increase in direct proportion to the amount of illegal activity going on in a bar. I’ve never been to the New York Eagle, but from what I’ve read by Joe.My.God, a lot of not-so-legal stuff is common.”

    Brilliant legal analysis: Crime tends to occur in a places where people are breaking the law. Or, at least, that’s what you read somewhere.

  39. neville says

    Folks. I just watched Peter Tatchell, (http://www.freespeech.org/video/gay-usa-august-7th-2011) a gay Human Rights Activist based in my country, England.

    It is because he was talking about his long career as an activist and then about the way in which the NYC Mayor was walking in front of the Pride March this year only two days after a raid on the Eagle Bar and when particularly LGBT people in NYC were celebrating the passing of the Gay Marriage bill, that I came and found this page.

    I was inspired and educated by both Peter and most comments also responding to these particular events and particular hypocrisy.

    Speaking personally regarding homophobic oppression and abuse of rights: I just got a new job, after coming back from a breakdown caused by abuse. I am on probationary trial period but even when and if I get confirmed, I do not know if I will actively Come-Out again and risk losing it in the long term. (I did mischeviously talk about ‘my partner’ and say ‘he’ in relation to him in one conversation in my second week though – the rumour mill will do the rest I hope but not in a way that leads to confrontation again)

    What is Coming-Out symbolically anyway? It is still important to me but undertanding and working with the symbolism may be even more powerful and empowering. I’m almost suggesting it is possible for a straight person to Come-Out as Gay (yes lie)and for it to be a positve thing in the short term before perhaps admiting the truth. I lost two jobs already and was thrown out of college because of it. I had been very naive and insanely courageous.

    However, it is clear to me that when we forget that as humans we are first and foremost social beings equipped with the power of consciousness and ability to reflect, then we forget that our greatest asset in the fight for liberation from oppression is our innate power as humans to socialise in the way we can to create communities which are loving and critically conscious.

    These can be communites that do not maintain their size and power by actively or passively applying fear, pain and discrimination to benefit from the resultant division it creates.

    A divided mind is undermined, is it not?

    Social division appears to be contrary to socialising which is a fundamental and necessary part of human behaviour. It may also be primary reason for human consciousness to exist in the universe as a learning entity.

    So, if that ‘opposition’ has knowingly or unknowingly become the objective of those who uncritically hold sway over us then, is it not the case that a prerequiste condition and simultaneously also an alternative to passive cooperation with this objective, is to possess a state of awareness about it and thus be engaged by default at a most basic and spiritual energy level, in creating communities which themselves can be defined by the human manifestation of such an awareness? A concept more clearly refered to as ‘a political group’ I think. The details are what most political groups appear to lack in terms of awareness. Perhaps the nature of spirituality and a notion of ‘fixed political identity’ are inconsistent and mutually exclusive, having at best only a transitory relationship.

    LGBT suffering (amonsgt other oppressed groups) and that of all ‘stomach churning’ people is a pain that has given birth to a particular awareness and may crystalise, galvanise or if we choose, paralyse with drugs and addiction, the development of communities of a higher,wider,deeper or whateva new consciousness.

    Active homophobia causes oppression and oppression is perhaps ironically, inseparable from the presence of expression and creativity. So now, my approach and energy seeks not to aggress, or oppose the homophobes rather it seeks merely to be an increasingly Aware being and one which is prone to reproduction by default and particularly by dint of this nature. This would include actively supporting Peter Tatchell and speaking in support of human rights which he has recently made his focus instead of merely LGBT rights. I now believe a more critical approach to the theories on which homophobia is supported and based is likely to yield a consenting and longer lasting change in attitude.

    He can changes his focus so effectively precisely because he has no job to lose and he has formerly engaged publically as a gay man in direct action and is apparently still prepared to do so again if lobbying fails.

    Actions do not have to be violent, criminally offensive and they do not have to directly oppose views rather, they are or may most likely be activities which inhibit the abuse of rights and at the same time expose the damage, waste and harm that homophobia is having more widely and what it represents. Of course, without coming out, there is unlikely to be a chance to expose the homophobia and neutralise its’ energy and so the challenge not to be seen as ‘unnecessarily provocative’ or ‘a trouble maker’ suddenly becomes an issue for the would be activist. As result, opportunities to act must be selected and used with great care but to no less effect. The answers lie in the questions that can be planted in the thinking in which homophobic seed are planted. It is thinking which when spoken out, is generally making an argument for the a denial, limitation and/or reframing of what human and therefore human rights mean. It is thinking which, as the name suggests, is phobic, derived from fear and lacks a rational basis. That lack of rationale apart from pure fear is what needs to be exposed.

    This exposure works best to bring about a change in thinking when applied, in conversation with the homophobe, as a condition to something which ideally the homophobe possesses or likes as a person in the same way he or she applies the ir-rationale condition to homosexuals.

    Today, tonight and now after a relatively irritating day at work, I have fed off the content and comment in this article and Peter Tatchell’s activism and interview. It has stimulated my interaction with the collective conscious and subconscious and reminded me that I still have a lot of anger about this to transform into love and compassion.

    It feel like a big ask, to be compassionate toward those who oppress but in some ways I may be asking the same of them in relating to ideas and people which they are, albeit unreasonably and disproportionately, terrified of.

    I do not know that I would tolerate assault or harassment or advise anyone to do so – I do think I would challenge and fight back and that I would suggest fighting back to others.

    Changing minds and/or creating inspired political groups or communities is one way of fighting back.

    Do we have the courage to commune, connect, and conqure the traditional and accepted fears of diverse human life forms, fear that is not necessarily necessary or our own?

    Can we colonise a homophobic world so that there in no such thing as homosexuality distinct from heterosexuality, so that there is only sexuality?

    Can this happen if our oppression is internalised and/or acted out?

    What does liberation from sexual and/or oppression generally look like?

    Why does oppression exist at all along lines defined as sexuality?

    Are Oppression and Expression paradoxically indivisible dynamics of social life?

    One struggle.

    One love.

    Neville