The Eagle raid has been compared to the 1969 police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a New York City gay bar, that is credited with sparking the modern gay rights movement. How do the two raids really stack up? We asked Scott Titshaw, professor at Mercer University School of Law, who teaches “Sexual Orientation and the Law.”
How does the Eagle raid compare to raids that happened prior to the Stonewall riots in terms of the surrounding political climate?
“Before there was much less tolerance, therefore politicians tended to use gay bar raids for political purposes, as did police. Up until the 1970s, the frequency of raids tended to go up around the time of elections, and politicians used raids to show they were cleaning up the cities by cracking down on an illicit population that was unpopular. “One of the biggest differences this time is the political reaction. The mayoral candidates in Atlanta condemned the raids or at least disclaimed any support for them, so there’s been a big shift in the political potency or use of raids for political purposes. It’s become more of a negative than a positive for incumbent leaders.”
Was this raid carried out in a similar manner as raids before Stonewall?
“The raid itself is somewhat similar in how it happened. Allegedly there were these humiliating games the police played using slurs and allegedly kicking people, shoving them and the like. All that would have been common many years ago as well. This is interesting because there were so many officers involved. “Before the 1970s, gay people were not taken seriously. There was this idea that they would not fight back, so bringing in so many officers would not have been likely. Back then most of the gay people would probably have been scared of police and not resisted. They certainly would not have brought a lawsuit because they would have been too afraid of being outed or losing their job and the like.”