ATLANTA, Ga. (WXIA/NBC News) – An Atlanta gym owner is standing behind his “no cops” policy.
A vulgar sign announcing the policy at the EAV Barbell Club has been removed, but the ban remains in place.
“It was really just that the vulgarity in that sign, and that seems to bring it out for people,” says gym owner Jim Chambers.
Despite the backlash, Chambers says he still stands by the message the sign conveyed.
“We’ve had an explicitly stated ‘No Cop’ policy since we opened, and we also don’t open membership to active members of the military,” he says.
For Chambers, a lifelong political activist, the sign and policy is a political statement outside a multi-use space which serves as a gym, community gathering spot and meeting place for activists in the metro area.
He says groups who work out there are generally minorities who are uncomfortable with the presence of law enforcement agents.
The Atlanta Police Department would not comment on the policy, but said, “Were we to respond to an emergency there, this sign would not stop us from lawfully doing our job.”
“If they have a warrant, they can go anywhere they want, but we’re not breaking the law,” Chambers said.
The question now is what happens if Chambers or anyone inside the gym needs the police.
Chambers says they never have, and won’t ever need the help of officers. He says he plans to put the ‘No Cop’ sign back up without the foul language.
Lawyers we talked with found the policy strange, but said because law enforcement officers are not a protected class under the law, only the courts can decide if EAV Barbell Club is violating any anti-discrimination laws.