Friday, September 25, 2009

Anonymous "tipster" likely was disgruntled Eagle patron: SoVo

Southern Voice reports on the anonymous "tips" used to justify the undercover operation and finally raid on Atlanta Eagle (go here for a PDF version of the "tips"; last two pages of the document):
The two anonymous complaints that led to a controversial Atlanta Police Department raid on the Atlanta Eagle likely came from a disgruntled customer, according to the gay bar’s co-owner.

Richard Ramey said this week that a former customer who had been thrown out of the bar due to his temper is the one he suspects of sending the tips as an act of revenge. The customer was also thrown out of Southern Bears, a gay organization specifically named in an anonymous Crime Stoppers tip to the APD.

Ramey said he cannot comment at this time on police reports that their undercover investigators witnessed sex acts in the bar’s back room.

“I can’t comment on the case because it is pending,” he said. “And I would love to comment. But none of that matters right now. What matters is those 62 patrons should not have been treated the way they were. They did not break any law — they were innocent bystanders,” he said. “There were no drugs found on anyone. No one was arrested for sex.”

Critics of the raid also question why the notorious anti-drug Red Dog unit was brought in to arrest men for allegedly violating a city code by dancing in their underwear. Many of the patrons said members of the Red Dog unit, wearing paramilitary gear, were the ones who treated them roughly while they were frisked, searched, had their cell phones confiscated and were forced to lay on the bar’s floor for up to an hour.

The Red Dog unit made national headlines in 2006 during a botched drug raid in which 92-year old grandmother Kathryn Johnston was killed after her home was stormed by three undercover officers with a no-knock warrant. The FBI investigated the shooting and the three officers were sentenced to federal prison.

Attorney Alan Begner, who is representing the Eagle and the eight men arrested, said whatever allegations police made, there was no reason for police to come in with an “army mentality” when dealing with simple alleged code violations.

...Reiterating a previous point about Officer Harris, who was named grand marshal for the Atlanta Pride parade before the raid, about the Sep. 19 "rainy rally":
Speaking first was the APD’s LGBT liaison Officer Dani Lee Harris, who said while she can’t comment on the investigation, the allegations raised by those in the bar that night concern her as well. Harris did not find out about the raid until contacted by the media.

Note that the organizers of the rainy rally, where Officer Harris spoke above, are still angry and holding a "community discussion" about Atlanta Pride's decision. Even though Atlanta Pride issued a letter defending that decision; and then decided to honor Eagle owners Robby Kelley and Richard Ramey as honorary grand marshals; and Officer Harris had nothing to do with, and was specifically excluded from knowing about, the raid on Atlanta Eagle... wait, we're protesting who? I'm confused. does not share in that sentiment, and we hope that Officer Harris is able to help us find real answers to the issue. We feel that this distraction towards Atlanta Pride is only further shifting the issue away from its main point: 62 patrons assaulted, terrorized, and now left in fear; and we should be focused on helping them directly rather than going off on silly tangents.

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