Police to discuss raid at gay bar

The Atlanta Police Department has called a press conference today in response to Thursday night's raid at The Atlanta Eagle nightclub. It'll meet with the media at 3:30 p.m. Check AJC.com for updates.

The owners of the Atlanta gay bar on Ponce de Leon Avenue have said their establishment was unfairly targeted by police conducting a raid Thursday evening.

Several customers at Atlanta Eagle say they were harassed without prompting. They were forced to the ground and frisked, according to several witnesses.

"Our problem is with the way our customers were treated," said one of the Eagle's owners, Richard Ramey.

Eight employees of the bar were arrested around 11:30 p.m., charged with providing adult entertainment without a city permit.

The APD said Friday that the city "received several complaints with descriptive information about alleged criminal conduct at the Atlanta Eagle Club located at 306 Ponce De Leon."

Danni Lynn Harris, Atlanta Police's liaison to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community, said the volume of complaints she's received from Eagle customers suggest an investigation is warranted.

The raid, conducted by the vice squad, was a result of a tip sent to Mayor Shirley Franklin's office alleging “illicit sex” at The Eagle, Harris said. Ironically, Franklin's election and re-election campaigns were headquartered in space adjoining the leather bar.

Harris said no drugs were found, and none of those arrested face narcotics charges.

“What I’ve been hearing is a lot of people saying they were verbally abused, with anti-gay overtones,” the LGBT liaison said.

A rally opposing the raid was held Sunday at the bar.

“I’m concerned it’s going to be one of those things that blow up before all the facts are known,” Harris said.

Ramey, who said The Eagle has never had trouble with police before, said he may pursue legal action following the raid.

“How can I just sit here and let them get away with doing this to my customers?” he said.

The APD statement acknowledged "allegations of improper behavior by police officers conducting the investigation."