City, police to face lawsuit over Eagle raid

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A national gay legal group is joining with an Atlanta attorney to file a discrimination lawsuit against the City of Atlanta and a handful of police officers for the controversial raid at the Eagle in September.

Lambda Legal will appear with Atlanta attorney Daniel Grossman during a press conference Tuesday morning in Midtown to discuss the lawsuit, which alleges officers from the Atlanta Police Department violated the Fourth Amendment rights of patrons and employees by illegally searching and detaining them when they stormed the bar Sept. 10 and arrested eight dancers and employees.

The lawsuit also alleges officers violated the First Amendment rights of people inside the bar by not allowing them question what was happening.

“The complaint is primarily alleging violations of the Fourth Amendment and also alleges violations of the First Amendment because you have a right to question and criticize police officers,” Grossman said early Tuesday. “When anyone at the Eagle questioned the officers, they were greeted with, ‘Shut the fuck up.'”

Grossman has been consulting with people arrested during the raid and helped launch the website Atlanta Eagle Raid to help document it.

The lawsuit also alleges a series of violations of state law, including false imprisonment, assault and battery, trespass and damage to property, Grossman said.

Lambda spokesperson Jonathan Adams on Monday alerted media outlets about the lawsuit and press conference, but told Project Q Atlanta that details of the lawsuit and the press conference were embargoed and not to be released. Adams also told Project Q that he would provide an advance copy of the lawsuit, but failed to do so. Details of the press conference were first reported late Monday by Creative Loafing.

The text of the press advisory, which Adams also did not provide to Project Q:

Lambda Legal to Announce Discrimination Lawsuit Against City of Atlanta

Save the Date: Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 10:00 a.m.

(Atlanta, Georgia, November 23, 2009) — Tomorrow Lambda Legal will hold a press conference announcing a discrimination lawsuit against the City of Atlanta and officers of the Atlanta Police Department.

When: Tuesday, November 24, 2009 10:00 a.m.

Where: Lambda Legal Southern Regional Office
730 Peachtree St. Suite 130
Atlanta, GA 30308

Who: Greg Nevins, Supervising Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office in Atlanta
Dan Grossman, local co-counsel, Law Office of Daniel J. Grossman
Three plaintiffs

The raid resulted in eight arrests, three protests, calls from elected officials and political candidates for an investigation into police tactics, a public forum with police and LGBT activists and a public flap over grand marshals for the Pride parade earlier this month.

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