Ranty drag relic Baton Bob fired back at Atlanta police for arresting him, accusing them of violating his constitutional rights and coercing a statement from him in a federal lawsuit filed a year after he was cuffed in Midtown.
And in Baton Bob's typical over-the-top fashion, he compared his June 26, 2013 arrest outside Colony Square to the police raid of the Atlanta Eagle in 2009, which resulted in eight arrests, the firing of several police officers, public protests, millions in lawsuit settlements and police department reforms.
Baton Bob, the 62-year-old gay man whose legal name is Bob Jamerson, filed the 50-page lawsuit on June 26, exactly a year after the tututastic street performer was stopped by Colony Square security guards and later arrested by Atlanta police. Baton Bob, dressed in a skimpy wedding dress, was on hand to twirl, dance and blow his whistle in celebration of the Supreme Court's historic gay marriage decision, which was issued a few hours before the incident.
It didn't quite unfold that way, according to the lawsuit.
"Plaintiff was peacefully exercising his First Amendment right to express political performance art. Plaintiff’s performance was speech in celebration of the landmark Supreme Court decision granting federal recognition of marriage equality. Although clearly within the bounds of the First Amendment, consisting of expressly political speech in a public forum, the performance was short-lived."
Baton Bob was charged with two misdemeanors after the altercation with two security guards at Colony Square. They asked him to leave, which he did but not before unleashing a stream of profanities and threatening them with, "I'll fuck you up." The security guards alerted the private security force Midtown Blue and an off-duty Atlanta police officer, H.J. Davis, arrived. Davis said the performance was stalling traffic and impeding pedestrians on the sidewalk, though video and photos from the incident contradict that. A scuffle ensued in which the officer says Baton Bob tried to kick him, an allegation he disputed in a later interview with Project Q.
Baton Bob said Davis told him, "You kneed me in the crotch." And he responded, "I would have never kneed you in the crotch. I would have kneeled down and sucked your dick."
After his arrest, Baton Bob alleged in a lengthy Facebook post that Atlanta police forced him to make a statement sympathetic to police that an officer posted to the Facebook page. The lawsuit filed last week says officers forced Baton Bob to relinquish his log-in credentials to police in exchange for more lenient bail terms. An initial statement from police after the arrest said he faced a felony charge of terroristic threats. That statement was quickly revised and he was later charged with two misdemeanors – obstruction and simple assault.
The lawsuit alleges that police, concerned over its image among the city's LGBT residents, coerced Baton Bob into making the Facebook post while he was cuffed at a police precinct.
"In the wake of the notorious raid on the Atlanta Eagle nightclub, numerous officials within the City of Atlanta and Atlanta Police Department became fearful of another lawsuit and public outrage from the L.G.B.T. community."
"The actors within the Atlanta Police Department acted with unprovoked intent to falsify the facts of the arrest of Plaintiff which resulted in damage to both his personal and business life."
The lawsuit also accuses Davis of battery during the arrest.
"Defendant, Officer Davis, intended to make harmful or insulting or provoking contact with the Plaintiff. Officer Davis grabbed Plaintiff’s arm, wrenched it behind Plaintiff’s back, and slammed Plaintiff on the ground, placing Plaintiff in handcuffs, and otherwise unlawfully touching Plaintiff without Plaintiff’s consent constitutes battery."
The lawsuit blames the media for casting doubt on the allegations of police misconduct leveled by Baton Bob.
"Since the incident, Plaintiff has posted on the Baton Bob Facebook page regarding the illegality of the arrest and coerced confession, but his outcries have been viewed with skepticism by much of the media. Plaintiff’s arrest remains controversial, and his image and business continue to suffer from the after effects of the incident on June 26, 2013. Numerous media organizations have exploited the illegal confession which has led Plaintiff to being harassed. The Atlanta Police Department have also banned Plaintiff from other events he would normally attend."
The lawsuit asks for a jury trial and seeks damages for physical pain and injury, mental anguish and emotional distress. It also wants his arrest scrubbed from public records. A spokesperson for the city says it won't comment on the lawsuit.
What might U.S. District Judge Steve Jones expect when Baton Bob shows up in court? Snappy retorts.