An unannounced inspection that several agencies carried out at a gay bar in Manhattan on Friday night occurred at nearly the same time that patrons were celebrating the passage of legislation in Albany legalizing same-sex marriage.
Police officials said on Saturday that the inspection was part of a routine operation planned long ago. But Scott M. Stringer, the Manhattan borough president, said that he was troubled by descriptions of what took place at the Eagle bar, on West 28th Street off 11th Avenue, and that the actions amounted to a raid.
“I am going to ask the police commissioner to conduct a formal investigation concerning the circumstances around this raid,” he added.
The inspection occurred late at night, Mr. Stringer said, and while it was “true that there are these multiagency inspections, I think this one was ill-conceived and ill-timed given the circumstances surrounding the marriage equality celebration, on Pride week.”
According to those present, about 100 people were mingling at the Eagle, when representatives from the New York Police Department and three other city agencies, as well as from the State Liquor Authority, showed up, at nearly the same time as a vote by the State Senate to legalize same-sex marriage and as the thrill of victory was swirling through the place.
All of this news is troubling for sure, but let’s be real for a minute here. The Eagle was reportedly on a list of approximately 1000 bars in the city that are frequent causes of complaints to the city’s 311 and 911 lines. And on the night in question, The Eagle received six different violations. The security at the establishment was unlicensed, there was no public assembly permit, the noise level was in violation of the Department of Environmental Protections of all things, and there was drinking going on outside of the area permitted by the liquor authority.
Yes, the police timing was either obnoxiously planned or moronically never double-checked – We’re talking about maybe the single most historical piece of gay rights legislation in the country passing and not a single officer thinking to hold off a day on the raid? – but The Eagle really has no grounds to complain here. The bar was operating illegally. End of story.
In order to properly stand up for ourselves as a community, it’s important that we make sure we are keeping our noses clean in the first place. This story carries enough buzz to become national news today because of the possibly prescient timing involved, but The Eagle did the LGBT community absolutely no favors by inviting this nonsense into their bar, our community, and the news with all of their violations in the first place.