IOWA CITY, IA -- State liquor agents and 14 law officers, including the Johnson County sheriff, raided a church here late Saturday night where the local chapter of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) was holding a dance and beer was being served.
Two men were arrested and charged with bootlegging, for allegedly selling beer without a license.
Although a state official denied the charge Sunday, members of GLF -- a group that espouses rights of homosexuals -- claimed the raid was "harassment" because of the participants' sexual preference.
The GLF party -- billed as a "Gay Pride" dance -- was held in the social hall of the Iowa City Unitarian-Universalist Society Church, located next to the Civic Center here where the city Police Department is housed.
Dean Blake of Iowa City, a member of GLF, gave this account of the dispensing of beer at the party:
Two kegs of beer were purchased by an individual and set up in the hall. "Donations only" were accepted to help defray the cost of the kegs, which Blake said is a routine policy for "keg parties" in a college town such as Iowa City.
"Anyone who had a cup was given a beer," Blake said. "No one was forced to pay for the beer and no one was turned down."
Roger Stephens of Des Moines, assistant director of the Beer and Liquor Enforcement Division of the State Department of Public Safety, Sunday gave this account of the raid:
"We had been given information through an anonymous source, which was later confirmed by printed material, that there was probable cause to believe criminal laws would be violated at this party."
Stephens said his agents purchased beer at the GLF party, which was "a very distinct violation of the law," adding that the party "was not a donation situation."
The two men arrested on bootlegging charges were Gard A. Roper, 26, and Loran T. Rodewald, no age given, both of Iowa City. They were released on their own recognizance Sunday after preliminary arraignment before Police Judge Joseph Thornton.
The GLF party had been advertised in last week's editions of the Daily Iowan, the University of Iowa student newspaper, which said "draft beer" would be available. The dance originally was scheduled for the clubhouse of a local apartment complex but was moved when the manager refused to allow the group to hold the party there, GLF members said.
The Unitarian Church has allowed the GLF chapter -- a recognized U of I student group -- to use its social hall for about two years, according to Tom Mikelson, the church's minister.
The congregation's board of directors has adopted an "open-door policy" that allows any group, if it meets certain criteria, to rent out the hall for functions, the Rev. Mr. Mikelson said. One of the criteria is that the group be of non-profit nature.
GLF member Blake said the raid "obviously" was intended to harass the local homosexual community. About 80 persons, men and women, attended the dance, including some 'straight,'" Blake said.
Stephens said the fact that the party was a homosexual gathering "had absolutely nothing to do with the raid.
"This is not the first raid of this kind," Stephens added, "This happens quite frequently. The fact that this type of group was involved is totally irrelevant."
Regarding the issue of entering a church, Stephens said: "We'll enter any place in the state where there is probable cause of illegal activity."
Local liquor agent Francis W. (Bud) Sueppel said three state agents, three Iowa Highway Patrol officers, 10 Iowa City police officers and Johnson County Sheriff Gary Hughes conducted the raid.
IOWA CITY, IA. -- A local civil libertarian Monday criticized the Saturday night raid of a "gay liberation" dance as having "all the impressions of selective law enforcement."
David Schoenbaum, president of the Hawkeye chapter of the Iowa Civil Liberties Union (ICLU), also questioned the necessity of sending some 17 law enforcement officers to conduct the raid on the dance, sponsored by the local chapter of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF).
Lawmen descended on the GLF dance late Saturday night. State liquor agents arrested two men, charging them with "bootlegging" at the dance, which was held in a social hall of the Unitarian church here.
Persons at the dance claim they were "harassed" by law officers because the GLF group openly espouses the civil rights of members who are homosexuals. Officials have denied the charge.
A state liquor enforcement official said Sunday his agents "purchased" beer at the dance in violation of state law. GLF contends that "donations only" were accepted to defray the costs of two kegs of beer and that no one was denied beer if they did not pay.
If GLF's version is true, "then any five graduate students who have a party on Saturday night and let their friends chip in to pay for the drinks" are also guilty of law violations, Schoenbaum said.
Schoenbaum also criticized what he called the "extraordinary concentration" in the number of lawmen sent to raid the dance.
Francis W. (Bud) Sueppel, local liquor agent, said Sunday three state agents, three Iowa Highway Patrol officers, 10 Iowa City police officers and Johnson County Sheriff Gary Hughes assisted in the raid.
Roger Stephens, assistant directory of the beer and liquor enforcement division of the State Department of Public Safety, Sunday denied the "harassment" allegations. Stephens said similar beer raids have occurred in the state.
Stephens said his officers received a tip last week from "an anonymous source" who said possible law violations could occur at the dance.