Updated Saturday evening: A patron of the bar Friday night said he saw no excessive force by police officers and submitted a detailed statement. He asked his name not be used. His statement included:
I do not know why the patrons were asked to leave or what caused the situation to become physical. I stumbled upon the situation as the off-duty officer and staff were attempting to remove the patrons from the business.
The majority of what I saw happened inside the bar. I was just coming up the stairs to go toward the patio and by the time I got there, the melee (the only word I can use to describe it) was unfolding right in front of the patio door.
They finally got the patrons out the door and a couple other people followed behind. They walked down the ramp and ended up near the dumpster. Their was a lot of yelling between the suspects and the people that followed them out the door. Because I was inside, I could not hear what was being said. Within minutes, a few more cruisers and an ambulance showed up.
Order was pretty much restored inside the bar, except those of us that were near the window trying to see what was going on outside.
At that point, the remaining part of the action was outside in the parking lot. By the time the other officers showed up, things came under control. Because I was inside, I could not hear the audio of what was happening but I did hear muffled noise At no time did I feel the police force was excessive. As a regular customer of Blake’s, I am familiar with the 4 or so off-duty officers that work there and they are always respectful to the patrons.
Updated Sunday afternoon: Blake’s security employee Lynn Barfield discounts allegations of police misconduct, saying officers acted professionally and did not taunt or harm anyone.
Project Q Atlanta reported that another witness said police officers were calling patrons “sweetie” and “princess.”
Some responding officers called patrons in the gay bar “sweetie” and “princess,” according to the witness. He also alleges that another officer ordered the man to stop recording the scene on his mobile phone, knocked it out of his hand 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.”
Campos said the APD wants to know about allegations of any police misconduct and that as of late Saturday afternoon nobody had filed an official complaint.
“If there are specific allegations of wrongdoing or misconduct by any officers, we will investigate those allegations. We ask anyone with those specifics to contact our Office of Professional Standards if they are interested in filing a complaint,” he said in an email response.
In 2009, the APD raided the Atlanta Eagle after an undercover operation alleged there was illegal sex and drug use taking place at the gay bar also located in Midtown. The city eventually settled a federal civil lawsuit for $1.025 million filed by patrons of the bar. Two other lawsuits are currently pending.
As a result of the first lawsuit, internal investigations showed that APD officers involved in the Eagle raid used anti-gay language against those in the bar as well as violated constitutional rights. Several officers were fired and disciplined.
Two men were mugged nearly two weeks ago after they left Blake’s.
In Feb. 2011, the city settled a lawsuit with a group called Copwatch for $40,000 as part of the ongoing fallout of the Eagle raid. As part of the $1.025 million settlement the police department was mandated to implement specific policies including a clear policy that states it is not illegal for citizens to film actions taken by APD officers.
The Atlanta Police LGBT Advisory Board will meet Monday at 7 p.m. at Atlanta City Hall, second floor, committee room No. 2