DES MOINES — The Blazing Saddle, a 37-year-old LGBTQ bar in downtown Des Moines, was raided this week after staff gave medical help to Black Lives Matter protesters coming from the nearby state capitol.
The raid took place on Monday, June 1, but only attracted attention on Friday.
This is the third attack by police on LGBTQ bars that have given support to the BLM protests that have been taking place across the country.
Local media has been silent about the raid.
The bar described what happened and shared video from their own security cameras on their Facebook page.
According to the bar, the staff had been watching the news of BLM protests at the Iowa State Capitol, which is only blocks away. The news coverage showed protesters being told to dispersed and getting hit with tear gas. Three staff members went outside on to the sidewalk with first-aid gear and provided water bottles and towels for those who needed them.
As people went by, some stopping for the help, an unmarked pick-up truck with police in riot gear stopped by. People started to run and the bar staff packed up to re-enter the bar through the alley. That was when the police got out of the truck, guns pointed at the staff members, and told them to get on the ground. The cops then ordered the staff inside to unlock the door and come out. After bringing out the staff that was inside, holding them at gun point, they searched the bar for anyone else.
The backpack the staff had been using to hold medical supplies was searched with tear gas treatment and safety scissors being confiscated. The three people were arrested and taken to jail, getting processed two hours later. Bail was posted, but the bar staff were still kept in jail and denied medical care as one staff member’s medication was in the backpack the police took.
The bar reached out to local political leaders, but didn’t hear anything back from any of them until Thursday.
This is the latest police violence against LGBTQ people and businesses since the protests started two weeks ago. Last Saturday, police shot flash grenades into a North Carolina LGBTQ bar that was offering medical support to protesters, just like the Blazing Saddle. Police also beat LGBTQ people as they were leaving a protest at the historic Stonewall Inn in New York City.