Lambda Legal sues Atlanta over Eagle raid

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Lambda Legal filed a federal civil rights suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on Tuesday in the aftermath of the Atlanta Police Department’s September raid on the Atlanta Eagle, a Midtown gay bar.

Lambda Legal, a national organization committed to the civil rights of the LGBT community, filed the suit along with Dan Grossman on behalf of 19 individuals who were detained and searched during the APD’s Sept. 10 raid.

Defendants include the City of Atlanta, the APD, Chief Richard Pennington, and 48 APD officers.

“The Atlanta Police Department is not above the law,” Grossman said in a press release. “They do not get to search and detain people who are not suspected of any crime.”

The night of the raid, the APD dispatched 20 members of its Red Dog Unit to the Eagle based on tips that there was illegal drug use. The team forced all patrons to lie face down while police ran background checks on everyone.

Some patrons have alleged officers used anti-gay slurs during the episode that resulted in no patron arrests.

“The illegal activity going on in the Atlanta Eagle that night was committed by the APD,” says Greg Nevins, Supervising Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office, said Tuesday. “If it is APD procedure for elderly men and wounded veterans to be thrown to the floor and harassed simply for being in a bar having a drink after work, then the APD should change its procedures.”

The suit accuses the officers of breaking several federal and state laws during the raid. The case is Calhoun v. Pennington.

APN broke the story about the raid the night it occurred and has followed ongoing developments.

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