Baton Bob doesn’t like to talk about the day he was arrested.
It was the same day he says he was handcuffed and forced to give Atlanta officers his Facebook password so they could post on his behalf. Two Atlanta officers were disciplined over how the arrest was handled, his attorney said.
But the Atlanta street performer — known for his batons, costumes and dancing on city sidewalks — should never have been arrested June 26, 2013, and his constitutional rights were violated, according to a federal lawsuit filed late last week. The lawsuit represents a continued fight for the gay and lesbian community, attorney Joshua Brownlee said Monday.
“You can’t back down when people are disrespecting the rights of people and their communities,” Brownlee told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “This is not just about Baton Bob. It’s about the whole LGBT community as a whole.”
Atlanta police said Monday the department had not been served with the lawsuit. The department declined to speak publicly about the initial lawsuit filed in June 2014, the AJC reported. That lawsuit was dismissed and re-filed after the findings of an APD internal investigations were released, Brownlee said.
Bob Jamerson, 62, is better known in Atlanta as Baton Bob, a character he created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Jamerson moved to Atlanta in 2005, and a decade later, Baton Bob continues to entertain with his flamboyant costumes and dancing.
On June 26, 2013, Jamerson wanted to celebrate the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to end the federal ban on same-sex marriage, his lawsuit states. Wearing a wedding dress, Baton Bob hit a Midtown street corner. But his performance was halted by his arrest, and he was charged with two counts of simple assault and one count of obstruction against the officer, all misdemeanors.
According to the lawsuit, city officials and police officers saw the AJC’s online report on Baton Bob’s arrest, and that prompted a lieutenant to suggest Jamerson post a statement on Baton Bob’s Facebook page.
“They told Plaintiff that they would allow Plaintiff to be released from custody on a ‘signature bond’ only in exchange for a positive statement,” the lawsuit states.
Jamerson was in handcuffs while an officer, under the supervision of his lieutenant, logged on to Facebook with Jamerson’s password and posted a statement.
“I want to verify, that the Atlanta police was respectful to me considering the circumstances,” the statement read in part.
Jamerson was booked into the Fulton County and released the following day on a signature bond. After an internal affairs investigation was completed in December 2013, the police lieutenant was suspended for five days and the officer, who later resigned, was suspended one day, the lawsuit states.
In December 2014, the charges against Jamerson were dropped, Brownlee said. Jamerson is seeking a jury trial and unspecified damages in the lawsuit.