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Thread: Police raid at gay club in Texas stirs ugly memories of Stonewall

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    Elite Member Cali's Avatar
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    Default Police raid at gay club in Texas stirs ugly memories of Stonewall

    Police raid at gay club in Texas stirs ugly memories

    Paul Moseley / Fort Worth Star-Telegram
    Hundreds gather last week for a vigil honoring Chad Gibson, a patron who was injured in the raid on the Rainbow Lounge. Witnesses said police slammed his head into a door; police said Gibson had grabbed a state agent.

    The incident, on the heels of the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, prompts fear among the Fort Worth gay community that times haven't changed.

    By P.J. Huffstutter
    July 6, 2009

    Reporting from Fort Worth -- Todd Camp and some friends had just marked the 40th anniversary of the police raid on New York's Stonewall Inn by screening a documentary on the historic gay riots and then heading for drinks at the Rainbow Lounge.

    Camp remembered looking across the bar, packed with gay and some straight couples, and marveling how much times had changed since Stonewall -- the spark that ignited the gay rights movement.

    And then the police came.

    "No one knew what was happening," said Camp, founder of the Q Cinema gay film festival in Fort Worth. "All I could think was, 'It's Stonewall all over again, and we can't do anything about it.' "

    Seven officers from the Fort Worth Police Department and two agents from the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission clashed with about 300 bar patrons in the early hours of June 28, reviving an ancient dread that even this conservative Texas city had thought long past.

    Seven people were arrested, and witnesses said one man had his head slammed into a door by law enforcement officials. Chad Gibson, 26, was hospitalized with a brain injury and released Saturday.


    "It was strange that all this happened on that night of all nights," said Mark Potok, a director at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama. "If it was a simple mistake, then it was a very, very foolish one."

    Fort Worth Police Chief Jeff Halstead defended his officers, saying they entered a hostile environment and were taunted by patrons with "sexually explicit movements."

    Both the police department and the Alcoholic Beverage Commission are conducting internal investigations. City and state lawmakers are calling on Gov. Rick Perry to order an independent inquiry.

    In the meantime, both gays and straights wonder whether the incident was an ugly replay of Stonewall or simply a weird convergence of events and bad tempers.

    "We have a gay councilman. We've had an ordinance prohibiting discrimination over sexual orientation for years," said Mayor Pro Tem Kathleen Hicks, who lives near the bar. "People are angry and confused, and so am I."

    The incident began about 12:30 a.m., when police officers and ABC agents arrived for a routine check to ensure the bar wasn't serving underage patrons and to stop potential drunk drivers.

    The Rainbow Lounge had opened the week before. Police had stopped by earlier to alert the owner to the inspection.

    By the time they returned to the Rainbow, officers had already checked two nearby bars and arrested nine people. Neither of the other bars had a gay clientele.

    At the Rainbow Lounge, witnesses said, officers forced their way through the crowd and grew physically and verbally aggressive. They claim the officers arrested people at random, never asked for identification and didn't check blood-alcohol levels on site.

    "I've never been so terrified in my life," said Thomas Anable, the bar's accountant. "People were crying. . . . No one knew what to do."

    Police say they were faced with an extremely intoxicated crowd that taunted the officers.

    They say Gibson, the injured man, was arrested after he grabbed the crotch of an ABC agent. Gibson has denied the charge, his family said.

    "You're touched and advanced in certain ways by people inside the bar; that's offensive," Halstead, the police chief, told Dallas-Fort Worth TV station WFAA.
    "I'm happy with the restraint used when they were contacted like that."

    After at least an hour at the bar, officers had handcuffed about 20 people and put them facedown on the sidewalk beneath a "grand opening" banner, witnesses said.

    Both law enforcement agencies have faced intense criticism. In a statement last week, state ABC Administrator Alan Steen said: "We are saddened that this incident occurred and extend our sincere hope that Mr. Gibson recovers quickly."

    And within days, Halstead's earlier stance seemed to waver. He halted joint investigations with the ABC and said he would review officers' multicultural training to ensure that it covered concerns of the gay community.

    But the turmoil caused by the incident is still reverberating in Fort Worth, a city of more than 700,000 people that has long embraced its "Cowtown" nickname, a nod to its working stockyards and ranching heritage.

    Despite its old-time roots, its modern history is a blend of conservatism and tolerance -- a paradox well known to Councilman Joel Burns.

    Burns' homosexuality, and his 16-year relationship with his partner, became a focal point of his 2007 campaign. At one point, a former councilman urged voters at a Republican Women's Club to vote for a heterosexual candidate, noting that "he's married to a female and the other's married to a male."

    "I thought people were going to hate me," said Burns, a real estate agent. Instead, his donations increased, and he won the seat with 54% of the vote.

    Now, Burns said, "the talk of town is not about how Fort Worth values diversity, it's about how Fort Worth is an intolerant place. . . . I'm hearing about how people are making threats against public safety officers. The whole thing makes me sick."

    Darlene Miller, who lives near the Rainbow Lounge, said the incident had made her uneasy about the bar and its patrons. She's thinking about taking a different route with her two children when they walk to a nearby movie theater.

    "I feel terrible even thinking that," said Miller, 39.

    Some residents wonder how well they actually know their neighbors.

    Robert L. Camina, a filmmaker who has lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for 11 years, said he had never felt like an outsider.

    "I can hold hands with a guy in public and not be afraid," said Camina, 36. "I've never felt uncomfortable going to a bar. I've never felt that people were giving me looks."

    After the incident, he began to wonder whether it was simply bad judgment and poor timing on the part of law enforcement -- or a homophobia that he had overlooked.

    "I thought we'd gotten past this sort of thing a long time ago," Camina said.

    Sean Goldberg, a manager at the nearby Gallery Art Cafe, said the incident had changed him.

    He was at the Rainbow Lounge that night but was leaving as the police pulled up with a paddy wagon.

    "My first thought was, 'Someone must be hurt. They're going to help somebody,' " said Goldberg, 31.

    Hours later, friends called with tales of people huddling in corners of the club and sobbing at the bar.

    "They still hate us," Goldberg recalled thinking. "Even after all this time, and all that's changed, they still hate us."
    Police raid at gay club in Texas stirs ugly memories - Los Angeles Times

    A bit more on the injured man:
    Man injured during Rainbow Lounge raid in Fort Worth speaks out
    11:23 AM CDT on Monday, July 6, 2009

    From Staff Reports A man who was seriously injured during his arrest at a bar raid in Fort Worth has denied he did anything to provoke police and said he faces months of medical complications, according to media reports.

    "I was at the bar buying drinks for my friends," Chad Gibson, 26, told KTVT-TV on Sunday, shortly after his release from the hospital. "The next thing I remember is waking up in the ICU."

    Gibson denied a police report alleging he had groped a Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agent during a joint-agency raid last weekend at the Rainbow Lounge, a gay bar in central Forth Worth.

    "First of all, I don't do that. Second of all, I didn't have a chance to do it," he told KXAS-TV.

    Gibson was hospitalized with bruises, strained muscles and bleeding in his brain after his arrest on suspicion of public intoxication. Gibson said doctors told him he could have severe headaches for years.

    Police initially said Gibson had injured himself when he fell and hit his head. That contradicted witnesses who said police slammed him into the wall and floor and aggressively tackled several other patrons who were arrested that night.

    Fort Worth Mayor Michael Moncrief has since asked federal prosecutors to review the raid. Several dozen people marched outside the Tarrant County Courthouse on Sunday to protest the arrests.

    The Forth Worth Police Department, which sent several officers along on the raid, has suspended operations with TABC as it investigates the incident.

    TABC has pulled both agents involved in the raid off the street while it conducts its own investigation.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.
    Man injured during Rainbow Lounge raid in Fort Worth speaks out | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Latest News

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    Elite Member RevellingInSane's Avatar
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    This article reeks of police officers who were disgusted by being in a gay bar and any physical contact, as minimal as shoulders brushing, would have set those backwoods clodhoppers off. If some drunken college chick had groped one of them, they would have gladly accepted that and more probably. Drunk people, gay or straight, grope other patrons. It fucking happens. If a bar brawl is breaking out, people are fleeing, swinging, ducking, etc.

    If they didn't want gay people touching them, they should have stayed the fuck OUT.

    I hope the man they injured is ok, and coherent enough to get a soulless, vindictive, sadistic attorney.



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    I still can't believe they go into bars and check blood alcohol levels.
    'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin

    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
    --Sinclair Lewis

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    If the allegations of the patrons are true (and I think they are), then these police officers should be behind bars.

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    I really thought these raids had been outlawed? Until about 7 years ago, police in this area would go into bars and do ID, designated driver, and warrant checks. They administered sobriety checks within the bar as well. It all stopped after complaints and threats of lawsuits, since the cops were entering private establishments and no crimes had been committed when they entered. If no one in a group was sober, the licenses and car tags were run, a patrol car was positioned to watch the parking lot, and the tagged people/cars would be pulled over as soon as they left the lot.

    They also would ask those clearly inebriated to step outside and talk to them and as soon as the person exited, they were arrested for public intoxication.



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    Quote Originally Posted by RevellingInSane View Post
    I really thought these raids had been outlawed? Until about 7 years ago, police in this area would go into bars and do ID, designated driver, and warrant checks. They administered sobriety checks within the bar as well. It all stopped after complaints and threats of lawsuits, since the cops were entering private establishments and no crimes had been committed when they entered. If no one in a group was sober, the licenses and car tags were run, a patrol car was positioned to watch the parking lot, and the tagged people/cars would be pulled over as soon as they left the lot.

    They also would ask those clearly inebriated to step outside and talk to them and as soon as the person exited, they were arrested for public intoxication.
    Are you in TX? I knew they were doing that for awhile there, but I think I heard that they did outlaw that practice.

    Here are a few more eyewitness accounts:

    Todd Camp

    Todd Camp, founder of Fort Worth’s LGBT film festival Q Cinema, had gone to Rainbow Lounge Saturday night with friends to celebrate his birthday. He said he was standing in line at the bar when “seven or eight cops,” some wearing Fort Worth Police uniforms, others wearing clothing identifying them as “state police.”

    Camp said an officer “shoved me out of the way to grab the guy in front of me” in line at the bar. The officer “told the man, ‘You’re drunk,’” and took him out of the bar, Camp said.

    He said there were “about six police cars” and a “paddy wagon” waiting outside the bar, and that officers had several people in zip-tie handcuffs lined up on the sidewalk.


    “No one I saw appeared to be highly intoxicated, and the way they were choosing people just appeared to be random harassment,” Camp said. “They were pretty violent in grabbing people, and one guy was shoved to the ground and handcuffed.

    “I was absolutely stunned. They are saying this was a routine check by TABC. I have been in plenty of bars before when TABC checks happened, and this was not like anything I have ever seen before,” Camp added. “People were just grabbed randomly, told they were drunk, spun around, put in handcuffs and taken out.”

    Camp said straight friends who were there with him were frightened to the point of tears by what they saw.


    Justin McCarty
    Justin McCarty said he was working security for the Rainbow Lounge at the time of the raid early Sunday morning. He said an officer approached him and asked how much he had had to drink.

    “I told him I was working and hadn’t had anything to drink, and that’s when he told me, ‘Then you need to make yourself scarce.’ So I did. I went to the back out of the way. I took that as a threat that if I didn’t, I would be arrested, too,” McCarty said.

    McCarty said that he saw officers throw Chad Gibson to the floor, adding that, “There were people standing there watching it happen and crying. They were scared. It was just brutal.


    Brandon Addicks
    Brandon Addicks said he had brought his girlfriend and “some of her friends” to the Rainbow Lounge on Saturday night to dance. At first, he said, they noticed “a small trickling of cops” coming into the bar, one of which “was wearing a shirt that said ‘Vice’ on it.” Then the trickle grew.

    “I saw a cop walk up behind a guy who was sitting at a table. The cop told him to stand up, and when the guy asked what for, the cop said, ‘You’re intoxicated,’ Addicks said. “Then there was that guy getting the crap beat out of him there in the back.

    “I have been in bars before when police have come in, and I have never seen anything like this,” he added. “It all just had a really nasty vibe to it. They seemed to be specifically singling out certain people to arrest. It was really unnerving.”


    Randy Norman
    Randy Norman is general manager for the Rainbow Lounge. He said he saw a man on the dance floor, dancing, who was approached by police officers.

    “They threw him down, put the zip ties on him and took him out,” Norman said. “He told them he was not drunk, and asked that they do breathalyzer on him. But they refused.”

    Norman said that after the bar had closed Sunday morning, an officer came back in and gathered the club’s employees on the dance floor. The officer told them police and TABC had been there for a routine check and that they club was not being targeted because it caters to the LGBT community.

    “He said, ‘I don’t partake in being gay, but I don’t care if you do,’” Norman said. “I don’t know about you, but I can’t see why someone would say something like that.”

    Alison Egert
    Alison Egert said several members of her family have been in law enforcement, and that she has learned over the years that if you treat a police officer with respect, that officer will treat you with the same respect in return. But that’s not what she saw Sunday morning at Rainbow Lounge.

    Egert said when she first noticed an officer in the club she “made a point of going up to him to tell thanks for coming out to make sure we’re safe. ‘This is kind of a rough neighborhood, and we appreciate you.’ But he told me, ‘That’s not why we’re here.’”

    When Egert asked why the officers were in the club, she said he told her they had received a tip from “a disgruntled former employee” who claimed the club’s bartenders were over-serving customers.

    At that point, Egert said, she told the officer that she had had several drinks herself, but that she had a designated driver. The officer, in return, told her she had nothing to worry about.

    It was shortly after that conversation, Egert said, that she saw a patron in the bar “thrown against the wall” and then pushed to the floor. (That man was later identified as Chad Gibson.)

    “Here you had this gay man who looked like he weighed about 100 pounds thrown to the floor with six cops on top of him,” she said. “That’s when I started noticing that they were only arresting men, and they seemed to be targeting the smaller men.”


    Egert said her experience that night was proof the officers in the bar were there specifically to harass gay men.

    “They said they were arresting people for public intoxication. I told them I was intoxicated, but they left me alone,” she said. “It was disgusting.”


    Egert also said she didn’t see anyone make sexual advances toward any of the officers and that she didn’t see anyone grope any of the officers.

    “The people in there were scared. They were all getting out of their [police officers’] way,” she said. “No one resisted arrest. They were singling out specific people, the men who seemed more effeminate. It just seems like it was a deliberate jab at the community.”

    Dallas Voice :: What they saw at the Rainbow Lounge

    So sad.

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    what's the point on going to a bar and check if the patrons are drunk?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cali View Post
    Are you in TX? I knew they were doing that for awhile there, but I think I heard that they did outlaw that practice.
    No. MS.



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    Quote Originally Posted by Hasdrubal View Post
    what's the point on going to a bar and check if the patrons are drunk?
    Scare tactics, given the kind of bar.
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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    grimm! are you back from nyc or just dropping in?
    I'm open to everything. When you start to criticise the times you live in, your time is over. - Karl Lagerfeld

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    just got in! walked all the burroughs (cept staten island, cuz really, who cares), took over 400 shots, killed enough batteries to give everyone from the rock to the park mercury poisoning.

    Saw most of the major sites but holy fuck you need at least 2 or 3 weeks to see EVERYTHING.
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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    ^^
    very true. i've been to NYC about 8 times now (including once for over 2 weeks) and i still feel like i have so much to see!
    I'm open to everything. When you start to criticise the times you live in, your time is over. - Karl Lagerfeld

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