Two people were arrested early Saturday after an apparent fight at Blake’s, with a witness saying that Atlanta police swarmed the Midtown bar with scores officers and that some called patrons “sweetie” and “princess.”
The incident took place about 1:15 a.m. on Saturday. A spokesperson for Atlanta police said that two people were arrested after police responded to a fight call at the popular 10th Street gay bar. Other details of the incident were not available on Saturday afternoon.
A bar patron who witnessed a portion of the incident says that it involved a security officer for the bar who was attempting to break up a scuffle between two patrons. Several uniformed Atlanta police officers responded and rushed into the bar, according to this witness who asked to remain anonymous.
Some responding officers called patrons in the gay bar “sweetie” and “princess,” according to the witness. He also alleges that another officer ordered a man to stop recording the scene on his mobile phone, knocked it out of his hand and then ordered the man to delete most of what he recorded.
“It was really an overwhelming force, and they started running into the bar. People were freaking out,” the witness said. “They kept calling us princess, sweetie and being sarcastic and laughing. It was awful.”
Not all of the responding officers were making derogatory comments, the witness said. A female officer even told other officers to stop making the remarks.
A brief video provided to Project Q shows a handful of police vehicles with their emergency lights activated. The vehicles, including one police pickup truck, are stopped on Piedmont Avenue at the entrance to the parking lot that abuts Blake’s. The police vehicles are partially blocking traffic on the street.
The allegations about police mistreatment of patrons inside the bar evoke memories of the botched Atlanta police raid of the Eagle in September 2009 in which eight people were arrested and scores of bar patrons were illegally searched and detained. People inside the bar complained of verbally and physically abusive officers. The action led to the discipline of several officers and has proven to be a stumbling block for Mayor Kasim Reed in improving his relations with LGBT residents of the city.
City Council member Alex Wan, whose district includes the bar, said that he is aware of the incident and the allegations of police misconduct.
“I am definitely aware of it and have been in direct contact with the zone commander and pulled in the police chief and the city attorney. I am aware of the of the allegations. If there are charges [of misconduct], please step forward. I want to hear that side,” Wan said.
“I would hope that after our experience with the Eagle that APD would be on heightened awareness of potential infractions. Once we hear from everyone, we can go from there,” Wan added.
Calls to the bar on Saturday afternoon received an automated response.
The incident comes a week after two men were attacked and robbed as they left the bar.
UPDATE: Carlos Campos, a spokesperson for Atlanta police, responded with this statement about the incident:
Some time Friday evening (or possibly early morning hours on Saturday), two males were asked by the manager to leave the establishment (Blake’s). They refused. The manager called for the off-duty officer working at Blake’s who advised one of the individuals they would have to leave. One of the males refused and threw his drink in the officer’s face and then punched him in the face. At some point, a call for assistance went out over the radio and several Zone 5 officers and a supervisor arrived on scene. One of the individuals damaged a third person’s vehicle in the parking lot and was charged with Criminal Damage to Property. The first individual that punched the off-duty officer was charged initially with Felony Obstruction. Our LGBT Liasion officers have been notified of the incident.
If there are specific allegations of wrongdoing or misconduct by any officers, we will invesigate those allegations. We ask anyone with those specifics to contact our Office of Professional Standards if they are interested in filing a complaint.