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Police Sued in ATL Over a Gay Bar Raid

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By Minara El-Rahman on November 30, 2009 6:05 AM

It seems like walking in o a bar and being gay can subject you to being treated like a criminal in Atlanta.

CNN reports that a federal lawsuit against Atlanta police was filed last Tuesday. The lawsuit was on behalf of patrons of a gay bar called the Atlanta Eagle who claim that Atlanta police forcibly searched and detained them on the night of September 10.

The police who were sued claim that they were just trying to do their job.

The lawsuit was filed by the gay rights group Lambda Legal. The lawsuit named Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington and 48 officers in its complaint.

CNN quotes a statement from Lambda Legal that said that police officers forced patrons to lie down on the floor in spilled liquor while they did background checks. The statement said: "Eagle bar patrons heard anti-gay slurs; were forced to lay in spilled beer and broken glass; and one was forced to lie on the floor even though he had injured his back in the Iraq War."

The police also seized patrons' drivers licenses and other forms of identification. The lawsuit also claims that the officers used excessive force such as shoving people and kicking patrons to the floor.

The lawsuit seeks damages and claims that the way that police conducted the raid violated the bar patrons' constitutional rights. The lawsuit also claims that police officers allegedly committed false imprisonment, assault, battery and trespassing.

Exactly what were the police in Atlanta expecting to find? They ended up filing charges against Eagle employees for allegedly violating municipal laws regulating unlicensed adult entertainment because of 4 dancers dancing in their underwear. All of the patrons were eventually let go by the police.

It seems like the raid amounted to nothing but a lawsuit against the Atlanta PD. Greg Nevins from Lambda Legal was quoted by CNN as saying: "The illegal activity going on in the Atlanta Eagle that night was committed by the APD."

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