Notes From the Last Night’s Talk On Rainbow Lounge Raid

Jim Burroway

July 1st, 2009

John R. Selig attended the talk at BuzzBrews in Dallas last night featuring Todd Camp and Chuck Potter, who were eyewitnesses to the Rainbow Lounge raid by Ft. Worth police and Texas Alcoholic Beverages Commission (TABC) agents early Sunday morning. The following are rough notes taken by John and passed on via Rex Wockner. John Selig apologizes for not having had the time to organize them into a more orderly post.

At approximately 1:05 AM 6 members of the Ft. Worth Police Department and 2 TABC (Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission) Officers (number of officers reported in the media) raided the Rainbow lounge in Ft. Worth and terrorized the bar for 40 minutes. Chuck mentioned that he saw more than 8 officers in the bar. Terrorize is a strong word but it was one that all of the speakers used repeatedly and from their accounts they were not overstating their case. The TABC officers were wearing shirts that had State Police on their backs but you couldn\’t tell they were police officers from the front.

Rainbow Lounge was raided to intimidate the patrons to help close the bar which had been open for just over a week. The police had been by the bar every night since it had be open patrolling the parking lot. The night before the raid the police were peering through the fence into the patio. The bar was disliked because it was LGBT and it had strippers (who all obeyed the law). The night of the raid two other bars were raided earlier (one of the speakers mentioned that he believed that the other bars were hit first as a cover for the real target which was the Rainbow Lounge which was the third and last bar raided. One of the bars hit was a Latino bar and the other had a mixed crowd. All three bars were in less than desirable neighborhoods

The raid on the Rainbow lounge was different from the raids on the other two bars in three significant ways

1) The Rainbow Lounge was the only raid that had a Paddy Wagon sitting outside. The police intended to make arrests and haul people outside.

2) The raid at the Rainbow Lounge was the only raid that resulted in bodily injury to one of the people arrested.

3) This was the only raid where the police brutally took down patrons and terrorized the people in the bar. “They came into the Rainbow Lounge full of adrenalin, pumped and ready for a fight.”

The speakers mentioned that this wasn\’t a typical TABC raid. They had seen them before. When the TABC comes in usually the music is turned off and the lights are turned on. They go behind the bar and check records and licenses and ask patrons for ID. What happened at the Rainbow Lounge was nothing like that.

The media notes that seven arrests were made. However, at least 20 people were dragged outside before it was determined which ones would be arrested.

The police walked up to patrons of the bar and tapped them on the shoulder from behind. They took one look at the patron and said you are under arrest. If the patron asked any question like is was going on or why am I under arrest, they were slammed to the floor, handcuffs were put on and they were dragged outside.

Chuck reported that Chad Gibson (who ended up in the Intensive Care Unit at John Peter smith Hospital because of his treatment) was tapped on the shoulder and told he was under arrest. When he asked why he was slammed against the wall, his head was pulled back so far that Chuck was worried that his neck might break. When they released him for a second, Chad tried to catch his breath and staggered as he did so. The police then slammed him to the ground and 5 cops were on top of him. A friend who was at a higher vantage point in the bar saw one cop with his foot on Chad\’s nexk on the floor. When a patron asked what was going on the police told him to move along or we will arrest you. When he saw the cop outside later the policeman told him that when I tell you to move along you move along and then grabbed him by the scruff of the neck. Chad was dragged outside and one cop watched him. Chad Gibson\’s injuries were caused while he was in TABC custody (which the TABC is now admitting). The cops say that Chad\’s injury was caused by Chad passing out when he was outside the bar because he was drunk. Eye-witnesses and doctors disagree with the police account. The police are also using the “Gay Panic” defense that they were groped by one of the people they arrested (I believe it was Chad Gibson. Chad was brutalized by the police and was dragged outside at 1:45 AM. The police wrote his ticket at 2:17 AM and the ambulance didn\’t arrive until 2:25 AM.

Chuck had seen Chad in the bar before and described him as shy and timid. He visited Chad in the hospital today and again described him as being fairly quiet, humble, shy and timid. Because of Chad\’s brain injury he doesn\’t remember many details from the night but doesn\’t believe he was drunk and there was no way that he would have assaulted a police officer. He wanted to thank everybody for their support and wishes.

Chuck mentioned that there were a number of heterosexual people in the bar that were shocked and outraged and three straight men were so shocked that they hugged Todd.

Patrons were traumatized by the brutality of the force used. One patron was approached (they all seemed to have been approached from behind). The cop told him that he thought the patron was drunk. The patron told the cop that he was drinking water and showed him the bottle. He was thrown against the pool table as the bottle fell to the floor and smashed. The patron\’s arms were twisted behind his back and the cop told the patron that he, the patron, had just assaulted the cop. He was cuffed and taken outside. If anybody asked any question of the a cop they were taken outside.

Todd believes that the raid had nothing to do with the Stonewall anniversary. Chuck disagreed and said he definitely believed that there was a connection that they picked that night. They wanted to intimidate the patrons so that they would leave the bar and never come back. They want the bar to close.

Most of the police were large men and many of the guys arrested were 120-150 lbs (no match for the cops) and the brutality of the force used was definitely not needed and used to intimidate and terrorize.

The bar closed at 2 AM. People were scared to get into their cars for fear of the police pulling them over and charging them with DWI. Chuck made it home at 2:45 and immediately started texting everybody that he knew. Todd who had been at the Rainbow Lounge with several friends to celebrate his birthday contacted newspapers and broadcast media as quickly as possible.


July 1st, 2009

As a follow up, I’ve been pointing out to every reader on various blogs that they can reach out directly to city officials.
Police Chief Halstead:

Assistant City Manager (for PD):

As I also point out, this is for constructive inquiry, not insults. These are the civil servants who’ll have to sort these actions out, along with Internal Affairs, no matter how defensive they’re acting right now without enough information to be useful.

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