Atlanta's hot spots Blake's, Ten, G's and 10th & Piedmont were shut down about 12:30 a.m. on Monday – some two hours ahead of closing time – as Atlanta police showed up in force to the intersection of 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue
But a city ordinance allows bars and restaurants to remain open until 2:30 a.m. on Mondays during four holiday weekends – MLK, St. Patrick's Day, Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Early Monday, though, police commanders ordered the bars and restaurants at the Midtown intersection to close. The incident has sparked outrage from business owners who operate near the intersection.
James Nelson, the owner of Ten-
- "The incident was a case of discrimination and pointed to non-LGBT bars around Piedmont Park that were allowed to remain open".
- "This was clear, this was racially motivated and discrimination. We are the only businesses that were shut down in the entire city," he added.
- "They pulled up in paddy wagons and began clearing the sidewalks. Really, it was an intimidation tactic at first,"
- "Business owners presented officers and a police commander with the city ordinance that allows the bars to remain open until 2:30 a.m. But they ignored it and forced the businesses to close.
An Atlanta police spokesperson said the agency was concerned with the safety of the large crowd [400 African- American gay men] as it spilled onto the streets.
"Closing the bars early was – very simply – an honest mistake based on a communication failure," Carlos Campos, the public affairs director for Atlanta police.
James Nelson, the owner of Ten, announced his attorneys have contacted City of Atlanta's attorneys. Nelson hasn't revealed any details on what he calls a legal matter.