The Atlanta Citizens Review Board on Thursday sustained allegations of abusive, anti-gay and racist language used by Atlanta Police Department officers during the botched raid of the Atlanta Eagle last year. But the board chose not to make recommendations for disciplinary action until more investigations into complaints by employees and patrons were completed.
The Eagle is a gay bar located on Ponce de Leon Avenue. It was raided in September 2009.
ATLANTA, GA - In coming to the conclusion that at least some Atlanta Police Officers used abusive, homophobic language, members of the volunteer citizen panel went against the recommendations of their paid staff. Atlanta Citizen Review Board executive director Chris Beamud says because the complaints were not made against specific officers by name, her staff had no choice.
Folsom Street Fair poster image draws inspiration from The Usual Suspects
San Francisco, CA - Monday, May 10, 2010 - Folsom Street Events has released poster designs for their annual events: Bay of Pigstm, Up Your Alley®, Magnitude®, and the Folsom Street Fair®. This year, the official Folsom Street Fair poster was inspired by both the film The Usual Suspects and the 2009 police raids on gay bars like the Atlanta Eagle and The Rainbow Lounge in Ft. Worth, Texas. In light of these recent events, the organization felt it was important that the Folsom Street Fair – and San Francisco – highlight issues of crime and punishment in the community. Folsom Street Events sought to juxtapose the crimes of Wall Street (e.g. Goldman Sachs) against behaviors in the BDSM community which may be punishable in some states.
According to Demetri Moshoyannis, Executive Director, "This year’s Folsom Street Fair poster is intended to draw attention to the ongoing discrimination and persecution facing consenting adults who practice BDSM. We are extremely pleased with the outcome of this poster because it maintains the tradition of our trademark cutting-edge commentary on our community within the broader society. We are very much looking forward to producing a fantastic series of internationally renowned events this year."
Mitchell Koonce, Administration and Special Projects Manager, who managed the creative process of producing the poster, commented, "Folsom Street Fair has a custom now of creating posters which are timely, provocative, and address vital community issues and values. At the same time, we like to give it our own ‘cheeky’ spin. With everything that has been happening on Wall Street, we think it is important to spotlight the real criminal behavior in society."
Consensual BDSM can be prosecuted in many jurisdictions under felony laws dealing with assault and sexual abuse with the potential for serious jail time. Criminal laws that are used against consensual BDSM practitioners can include assault, battery, sexual assault, sexual abuse, sadomasochistic abuse, lewd or lascivious conduct, selling or possessing certain sex toys, kidnapping, rape, prostitution, and trafficking. For many other categories of sex-related crimes, proof of consent defeats the prosecution’s case – not so with BDSM, which is treated as violence instead of consensual sexual conduct.
The criminalization of our communities can also be seen in recent local police actions targeting gay and leather bars. At the Atlanta Eagle, 62 patrons and eight employees were searched without a warrant, reasonable suspicion or probable cause on September 10, 2009. Some were forced to lie face down on the floor for over two hours, and the police used excessive force by bringing in the "Red Dog Unit" which typically deals with crimes such as gang violence. A similar show of unjustified and excessive police force took place during the raid on a gay bar in Forth Worth, Texas on the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in June 2009. Less extreme but still troubling, some local community members have accused the ABC in the State of California of unfairly targeting gay events and leather bars to seek out "crimes" committed by consenting adults.
This targeting of consensual, adult behavior is often a way of harassing sexual minority communities. According to the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF), a national organization focused on the sexual freedom rights of alternative sexuality practitioners, numerous BDSM practitioners face criminal charges each year for consensual activity. According to NCSF spokesperson Susan Wright, the Coalition’s help hotline dealt with 106 criminal incidents in 2009. NCSF is actively working to decriminalize BDSM through its Consent Counts Project.
The Folsom Street Fair poster was made possible in part by Brian Mills of Titan Media who brilliantly photographed the images. Titan Media generously volunteered their studio for the photo shoots. Additionally, all of the models volunteered their time, including (in order from left to right): Alix (cow-punk), JR Matthews (rubber cop), Ken (pink furry pig), Sparkly Devil (Betty Paige), Jason (Wall Street guy), Mark (leather daddy), Monistat (drag queen), Mollena (Ms. SF Leather 2009 and International Ms. Leather 2010), and James (uniform/leather man), all of whom brought vitality and diversity to the final image.
Posters for Bay of Pigs, Up Your Alley, and Magnitude as well as Folsom Street Fair are available online at http://www.folsomstreetevents.org. The Up Your Alley poster was illustrated creatively by the talented Rob Clarke (robclarke.net). The Bay of Pigs poster features model Torrez, as photographed by Joe Oppedisano (http://www.joeoppedisano.com). The Magnitude poster features local SF models John, Keith and Mark, as photographed by Brian Mills.
At the time of this press release, Folsom Street Events sponsors include: PRESENTING RECON, NakedSword, Steamworks, Mr. S Leather, Kink.com, Manhunt, and GLOSS; PREMIER Elbow Grease, Blow Buddies; CHARTER ExtremeRestraints.com, TitanMen.com; SUPPORTING The Stockroom, Powerhouse, Gold’s Gym, Adult Friend Finder, StraightHell.net, TheDiscoSF, Past Curfew, and Cruzliner Tea Events; MEDIA Bay Area Reporter/BAR Tab, SF Weekly, SF Station, Frontiers Magazine, GAYVN; HOST HOTELS SF Marriott Marquis, Joie de Vivre, and Renoir Hotel.
Folsom Street Events receives support from SF Grants for the Arts for its top entertainment.
Bay of Pigs – Saturday, July 24, 2010
Up Your Alley – Sunday, July 25, 2010
Magnitude – Saturday, September 25, 2010
Folsom Street Fair – Sunday, September 26, 2010
About Folsom Street Events
Folsom Street Events® is a 501(c)(3) non-profit agency that produces four fetish events annually: Bay of Pigs, Up Your Alley, Magnitude, and Folsom Street Fair. The mission of Folsom Street Events is to create volunteer-driven leather events that provide the adult alternative lifestyle community with safe venues for self-expression while emphasizing freedom, fun, frolic and fetish and raising critical funds to benefit local charities. In 2009, Folsom Street Events marked the 26TH Folsom Street Fair with nearly 400,000 attendees and over $333,000 donated to charity.
Some readers may be thinking, “This sounds like the raid of the Atlanta Eagle last September,” and they would be right. In all likelihood every cop at the Eagle did exactly what he or she believed to be within the bounds of the law at the time. Even being kept face down on the floor for an hour isn’t a violation of anybody’s civil rights if there is a legal reason for keeping them there. But the reason the patrons were kept there for so long is because that’s how long it took to do criminal background checks on them, and not all of them were suspected of criminal activity. Some of them were just playing pool and listening to music, and that’s according to documented statements by an undercover APD officer.
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."
Once again, National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) will be a beneficiary of both Leather Pride Night (LPN) auction and Folsom Street East (FSE) street fair in New York City during Leather Pride Weekend in June. NCSF staff members will be present to proudly represent NCSF at both of these outstanding community events:
The 27th annual Leather Pride Night Auction will take place on Saturday, June 19th, 2010 at Splash! from 6-10 PM. Leather Pride Night is sponsored by nine NYC S&M-leather- fetish organizations: Imperial Court of New York, Iron Guard BC, Lesbian Sex Mafia, MAsT Metro NY, MetroBearsNY, New York boys of Leather, Pariah's MC, The Eulenspiegel Society, ONYX New York and many other committed individuals. For more info: www.leatherpridenight.org
On Sunday, June 20th, Folsom Street East will be running an SM-leather-fetish block party on West 28th Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues) in front of M2 and the Eagle NYC Bar from 2-8pm. Over 10,000 leathermen and women cap off Leather Pride Weekend with the largest outdoor festival of its kind on the East Coast. Visit the NCSF table to find out more about NCSF projects and programs. For more info about the Fair: www.folsomstreeteast.org
This year, NCSF's Spokesperson and Founder Susan Wright will be awarded FSE's Sexual Freedom Award during the street fair. In addition to establishing the group in 1997, Susan was also instrumental in reforming the National Organization for Women's anti-SM policy in 1999, and created the SM vs. Abuse policy statement through the Leather Leadership Conference in 1997-98. Susan is a member of the organizing committees for Smarter Sex NYC, the Sex Positive Journalism Awards, and the advocacy committee for the American Association for Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists. She has also published over 25 books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Come see NCSF at both Leather Pride Night and Folsom Street East! NCSF is very grateful to the NYC BDSM-leather-fetish community for raising a significant amount of our budget every year to further our advocacy and education goals.