Atlanta Eagle’s $1 million settlement stands in sharp contrast to Rainbow Lounge outcome

Stephen V. Sprinkle  |  Unfinished Lives

The Atlanta City Council has voted 14-0 to award the Atlanta Eagle Bar $1 million in response to a federal lawsuit filed by a private attorney on behalf of 19 clients unjustly arrested in a botched police raid last September, according to a report by WTVM News 9 and the Associated Press.

The night of Sept. 10, 2009, four dozen police crashed the Underwear Night special event at the Atlanta Eagle, slamming patrons to the floor, using homophobic slurs, and arresting and detaining 62 people. Police targeted the gay bar on the pretext of illicit sex and drugs, allegations that were never proven.

The owner of the Eagle, Richard Ramey, went immediately on the offensive against the raid, saying to The Atlanta Journal Constitution on Sept. 12, 2009, ”Our problem is with the way our customers were treated.”

Nick Koperski, a bar patron present at the time of the raid, said in the same article: “I’m thinking, this is Stonewall. It’s like I stepped into the wrong decade.”

The Atlanta Police Department refused to cooperate with an investigation by the Atlanta Citizens Council. Charges brought against employees and patrons either failed to win convictions, collapsed for lack of evidence, or were otherwise dismissed, according to a report by EDGE.

Last March eight employees of the bar were found not guilty of trumped up charges by the Atlanta Police Department in a ruling handed down in Municipal Court.

Investigations into the raid found that the Atlanta Police Department did not have a warrant to raid the bar on the night in question. Mandatory revisions to police procedures will be carried out in response to the settlement.

The vindication of the Atlanta Eagle stands in sharp contrast to the outcome of the Fort Worth Police Department’s infamous raid on the Rainbow Lounge just months before the Atlanta debacle. Like the Georgia raid, all charges against patrons arrested at the popular Fort Worth gay bar have been dropped without comment from the city.

Unlike the Atlanta outcome, however, the Fort Worth Police Department has never issued an apology or admitted any wrongdoing in the illicit raid on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion.

This has been in spite of the public action disciplining officers of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) for their part in the raid, and a formal apology issued by the executive of the TABC. Factors contributing to the non-resolution of the Fort Worth police raid may include a less-than-robust defense of bar patrons by the Rainbow Lounge ownership at the time of the bust, and the less aggressive approach Fort Worth gay leaders employed to bring the city and the police department to account.

Justice for Atlanta, but how about for Fort Worth? We guess the mayor of Fort Worth has more control over the courts, the press, and the gay establishment in North Texas than the mayor of Atlanta. A good thing? You be the judge.

—  admin

Countdown to Pride continues

As of this post at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Dallas’ gay Pride parade was just 100 hours away. And if we weren’t so busy trying to crank out this ginormous special issue that hits the streets Friday, we’d probably be able to feel the excitement building.

Anyhow, in case you’re wondering, the weather forecast for Sunday afternoon is holding steady: Mostly sunny, with a high of 91, a light breeze and no precipitation. A little toasty, but it could be worse. Besides, you’re not going to be wearing much anyway, right?

And speaking of letting it all hang out, here’s Wednesday’s line-up of Pride-sanctioned events from the Dallas Tavern Guild:

Pride with Miss Wanda
Dallas Woody’s
She’s a classic…Miss Wanda and her special guests.
$3.00 Amaretto Sours
11pm to 1am – No Cover
4011 Cedar Springs
Dallas, Texas 75219
www.dallaswoodys.com

Mr. Bear Round Up Contest
Round Up Saloon
Come out and see the bears in action and cheer for your favorite furry guy!
Cash prizes. No entry fees. Applications available at the front door.
9:00 pm
3912 Cedar Springs Road
Dallas, TX 75219
www.roundupsaloon.com

Little Chalupa’s Pride Karaoke
The Brick/Joe’s
$25 CASH PRIZE to best singer as voted by crowd.
9pm -1am
2525 Wycliff
Dallas, Texas 75219
www.brickdallas.com

Underwear Night – Wear Your Pride
Dallas Eagle
10:00 pm
5740 Maple Avenue
Dallas, Texas 75235
www.dallaseagle.com

Shantal and Dreamgirls Show at midnight (12am)
Kaliente
Karaoke starts at 9pm
Drink Specials – $2 wells / $2 domestic from 9pm – 11pm
No Cover
4350 Maple Avenue
Dallas, Texas 75219
www.kaliente.cc

—  John Wright