Baltimore’s LGBT nightlife community has encountered some challenges recently, with the legendary Grand Central recently closing, and pandemic restrictions making business challenging for the remaining businesses. The Baltimore Eagle recently was faced with another challenge; last month, the legendary leather establishment was raided by a dozen member, black body armor garbed SWAT Team.
Adam Abadir, a spokesperson for the Baltimore City Health Department indicated that at least one of the individuals that filed a complaint against the Eagle contacted the Health Department and included a flier that had been circulated by the Eagle on social media. The flier advertised a “foam party” scheduled to take place Aug. 7 and 8. The flier states: “Throw on your harness and get naughty under piles of safe, antibacterial foam on our social distance patio. Thank you for respecting our COVID-19 guidelines.” According to Abadir, the task force members completed their inspection and found that the Eagle was in violation of a mayoral order that had been issued on Aug. 7. This violation was issued hours before the Eagle raid that banned indoor operations at bars and restaurants after 10 p.m. Abadir also stated that during the inspection visit the Eagle’s management immediately complied with the order and moved all patrons that were indoors to the Eagle’s outdoor space with no penalty being imposed.
While Baltimore Eagle Ian Parrish owner acknowledges that they did hold the foam party, he also clearly indicates that he later learned that the mayor’s order banning indoor operations at both restaurants and bars was issued at noon on Aug. 7, just hours before the raid occurred. His claim is that no one from either the liquor board or health department contacted the Eagle to inform the club about the order being revised “There is no reason why a call, a text, an email can’t be sent out to licensees to keep us informed so that nobody is causing an infraction unwittingly,” Parrish told the Washington Blade. As far as why the raid took place initially, Parrish was clear on where he think it originated; Parrish told the Blade the raid came after he alerted officials with the Baltimore Board of Liquor License Commissioners that people associated with a competing LGBTQ establishment filed complaints directly against the Eagle with both the liquor board and the Baltimore City Health Department, claiming the Eagle was violating social distancing requirements.
For his part, Parrish is not taking the raid lying down. In his email message to State Sen. Mary Washington, a lesbian, Parrish indicated that the Baltimore Eagle has a proven record of operating as a responsible bar, restaurant, and retail shop. “I mention this because in 30 years the Baltimore Eagle has never – not once – never been called before the Liquor Board for any wrongdoing,” Parrish states in his email to Washington. “We are a bar with a very long and verifiable history of community involvement and charitable giving, and we enjoy the formal written support of over 1,200 residential and commercial neighbors of all backgrounds and beliefs, the Charles North Community Association, and the support of 5,000-plus people who follow the Baltimore Eagle on social media,” he said.
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