...Is aggressively going after Buttman going to make one of the few profitable industries left in America go away? Of course not. Even a nation founded by Puritans can never tamp down its indomitable desire to get off. But it will be interesting to see what the Obama administration does once these carryover cases from the Bush era are wrapped up. Last year, the Justice Department's move of a porn trial from Montana to New Jersey suggested a quiet push toward more free speech-friendly venues.
Two Atlanta police officers should be disciplined for arresting a man who lived in an apartment above The Eagle while the bar was being raided last year, a panel of citizens said Thursday night.
David Shepherd, who worked at the bar, was off Sept. 10, when dozens of officers arrived at the Ponce de Leon bar. But when two officers knocked on his apartment door, Shepherd, who was watching television, was told to go downstairs, according to his complaint filed with the Citizen Review Board.
Even though he wasn't working in the bar, Shepherd was arrested and charged with operating a business without a license and not having a current permit, making it a false arrest, according to the CRB.
"He did not commit this offense on the date and time listed on the citation," Cristina Beamud, executive director of the board, said at the meeting. "On Sept. 10, 2009, this man was guilty of watching TV."
City officials have said the raid was conducted after citizen complaints of illegal sexual activity. Those complaints prompted undercover officers to visit the bar in May and June, months before the September raid. The night of the raid, bar patrons were ordered to the floor while officers looked for drugs and checked for any outstanding warrants.
No drugs or outstanding warrants were found, board vice chairman Seth Kirschenbaum said. No evidence of illegal sexual activity was found either, he said.
"Nothing happens, and then in September, a crowd of police officers from more than one unit was organized to go to The Eagle bar to conduct this raid," Kirschenbaum said. Kirschenbaum's three-year term on the board ended after Thursday's meeting.
The board voted to recommend that Sgt. John Brock be given a three-day suspension for his role in Shepherd's arrest. The board suggested another officer, Sgt. B.E. Bridges, be issued a letter of reprimand.
Board members also anticipate receiving additional complaints from those involved in the raid at The Eagle. Although individual officers should be disciplined, board members said the entire incident is an example of bigger problems within the police department.
"They were doing what they were told to do," Kirschenbaum said of the officers. "We should find out who ordered this, and whether or not they violated the law."
On Tuesday, a group of anti-porn activists and scholars arrived on Capitol Hill to brief members of Congress and their staffs and to call for beefed-up federal enforcement of obscenity laws. They weren't there to fret about the pornographers of old: the loveable chauvinist Hugh Hefner and his scantily clad bunnies, or even the not-so-loveable-but-occasionally-principled First Amendment crusader, Hustler publisher Larry Flynt. No, they had come to alert Congress to websites like GagFactor.com, whose teasers alone are way more graphic than anything Hefner ever published, and whose content doesn't portend a spirited First Amendment defense.