More Details Emerge From Rainbow Lounge Raid

Jim Burroway

July 5th, 2009

More reports of injuries are coming to light from last week’s raid on the Rainbow Lounge in Ft. Worth, Texas. That raid resulted in Chad Gibson being sent to intensive care for a severe head injury with bleeding in the brain. Doctors say he will probably continue to experience severe headaches for the next two years.

The New York Times reports that another patron suffered broken ribs, and a third had a broken thumb resulting from aggressive actions by Ft. Worth police and agents from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. The Dallas Voice reports that another man who was taken in to custody experienced severe bruising and muscle strain in his shoulder and back. He was charged with public intoxication, even though he says he was not drunk and police did not perform any sobriety or blood-alcohol tests on him.

This practice of charging people without evidence goes against the very foundations of our country’s system of justice, but it is just one more example of how Texas policy on Public Intoxication is an open ticket for abuse. Ft. Worth Police Department has since announced that they are suspending operations with TABC.

The New York Times also provides more details about Gibson’s arrest:

Tom Anable, a 55-year-old accountant who said he was in the bar during the raid, said that for more than a half-hour the officers entered the bar repeatedly in groups of three and escorted people out. Then around 1:40 a.m., he said, the officers started to get rougher, throwing one young man down hard on a pool table.

Minutes later, one of the state agents approached Mr. Gibson, who was standing on steps to a lounge at the back of the bar with a bottle of water in his hands, and tapped him on the shoulder, Mr. Anable said. Mr. Gibson turned and said, “Why?”

Then the officer, who has not been identified, twisted Mr. Gibson\’s right arm behind his back, grabbed his neck, swung him off the steps and slammed his head into the wall of a hallway leading to the restrooms, Mr. Anable said. The agent then forced Mr. Gibson to the floor, Mr. Anable said.

“Gibson didn\’t touch the officer,” Mr. Anable said. “He didn\’t grope him.”

Two police officers and a second state agent arrived and helped subdue Mr. Gibson, kneeling on his back. A lounge employee, Lindsey Thompson, 23, said she saw an officer slam Mr. Gibson\’s head into the floor while he was prone with his hands cuffed behind him.

Ft. Worth police chief Jeffrey Halstead was adamant that Gibson suffered his head injury while in TABC custody. “They were not my employees,” he reiterated at a recent townhall style meeting. But witnesses are disputing that claim — as does this photo taken at the time of Gibson’s arrest:

Cell phone image of police arresting Chad Gibson after throwing him on the floor. (Dallas Voice)

Cell phone image of police arresting Chad Gibson after throwing him on the floor. (Dallas Voice)

TABC agents are in tan uniforms. The picture is grainy, but you can clearly make out a third person  between the kneeling tan-uniformed agent and the standing TABC agent against the back wall. That third person is wearing the dark uniform of the Ft. Worth police department. The gloved hand of a fourth agent can be seen just to the right of the bar patron’s pants leg. It’s impossible to tell whether that hand belongs to a Ft. Worth police officer or a TABC agent, but the NYT account describes two TABC agents and two Ft. Worth police officers. This photo is consistent with that account.

The Ft. Worth Star-Telegram reports that Ft. Worth residents are taking stock on how the raid reflects on their city. From my fifteen years of having lived in the D/FW metroplex, I think the article gives a good account of the differing cultures between Ft. Worth and neighboring Dallas. It’s worth noting that the Star-Telegram, long the home of the late Molly Ivins, was considered the “lib’ral” paper, with conservatives deriding it as the “Startlegram.” Ft. Worth was always the more laid-back, leave-’em-alone kind of place, and Dallas was always regarded as more hard-nosed conservative. But the Rainbow Lounge raid has shaken that up.

There will be a rally tonight in Sundance Square in downtown Ft. Worth tonight at 7:00 p.m, as well as another rally in front of the Courthouse on July 12 at 7:00 p.m. Local activists also plan to attend the Ft. Worth City Council meeting on July 14.

Socrates

July 5th, 2009

The situation in Ft. Worth is such that it could have serious consequences for the Dallas/Ft. Worth conference center/s. I therefore sent the mayor of Ft. Worth and the council people the following letter today:

Dear Mr. Moncrief, Mayor of Ft. Worth,

It’s with some relief that I read your statements. If only we had more people like you in Texas. However, if things do not get resolved soon with the aftermath of the attack on gay people at the Rainbow Lounge, I fear that a lot of professional organizations in the U.S. may call for a boycott of any conferences and conventions in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.

I tried to upload my letter to the blog of the FW Star Telegram, but they want to know so many details, incl. my age and full address, that I decided not to make myself vulnerable and, instead, uploaded my letter to various blogs in the US.

To be fair, I am sending you both my “Editorial” and the original “Editorial” of the FW Star Telegram, identical documents, except that I added the Jewish references. And to support you in your work, I am sending a copy of this correspondence to the Ft. Worth police department, to your Council colleagues, including Joel Burns (you may already have listened to some of the vicious tel. messages he receives, messages which only support a boycott of the Dallas/Fr. Worth area as conference center), and, by separate mail, to the American Civil Liberties Union.

I am confident that you and the people of the Ft. Worth/Dallas area will work together to root out homophobia and help your fellow Texans to learn to respect people as people. Feel free to share my letter below with those colleagues who care about the well being of ALL citizens in your area.

Kind regards,

Socrates Socratis

TEXAS WOULD NOT DARE TO ATTACK JEWISH PATRONS IN A JEWISH LOUNGE, BUT GAYS …?

Replace the label GAY with the label JEW and the entire western world would be in an uproar. One Jewish organization after another would threaten a boycott of Dallas/Fort Worth as conference centers for professional organizations (physicians, lawyers, teachers, librarians, etc.).

And what do we get? No apology from the police chief and a lecture from the local newspaper, the fairly influential FW Star Telegram. By throwing in a few crumbs, the Public Relations Dept. knows only too well that time will probably work in their favor with gay people being grateful that a little education program may get started some time in the future, and then it’s back to a subtler form of homophobia.

The local press has much to answer for. Imagine the following editorial in the Star Telegram:

“The Police Department informed THE STAR OF DAVID Lounge management in advance that an inspection would take place the night of PASSOVER. Why didn’t the managers educate the officers about the date’s significance? That’s need-to-know information for uniformed law enforcement officers showing up at a JEWISH bar on that date.

It’s also need-to-know for any JEWISH bar patron that laying a hand on a police officer will result in a quick trip to jail.

Drinking to the point of intoxication is a crime even in a bar. Officers tasked with enforcing alcohol laws must make sure local and state statutes are observed regardless of the date on the calendar, PASSOVER OR NO PASSOVER. The residents of Fort Worth who share the streets with bar patrons throughout the city expect as much.

Law enforcement officers also must follow agency procedures to make sure inspections are conducted professionally and legally.

Why would a police supervisor, six officers and two TABC agents knowingly risk their own careers, the reputations of their departments and a public relations nightmare WITH THE JEWISH COMMUNITY by engaging in targeted or overly aggressive enforcement against a RELIGIOUS minority group? We’re not sure they would, but as we said, there are more questions than answers at this point.”

Excuse me while I go throw up my breakfast–INDEED.

For the original editorial from the Star Ledger, identical with mine, except for the Jewish references, courtesy of Mark Reed, posted on July 3rd, 2009 at 7:27 am, click here:

http://www.dallasvoice.com/instant-tea/2009/07/03/letter-from-chief-halstead/#comment-11934

From today’s editorial section of the Star Telegram:

“The Police Department informed Rainbow Lounge management in advance that an inspection would take place that night. Why didn’t the managers educate the officers about the date’s significance? That’s need-to-know information for uniformed law enforcement officers showing up at a gay bar on that date.

It’s also need-to-know for any bar patron that laying a hand on a police officer will result in a quick trip to jail.

Drinking to the point of intoxication is a crime even in a bar. Officers tasked with enforcing alcohol laws must make sure local and state statutes are observed regardless of the date on the calendar. The residents of Fort Worth who share the streets with bar patrons throughout the city expect as much.

Law enforcement officers also must follow agency procedures to make sure inspections are conducted professionally and legally.

Why would a police supervisor, six officers and two TABC agents knowingly risk their own careers, the reputations of their departments and a public relations nightmare by engaging in targeted or overly aggressive enforcement against a sexual minority group? We’re not sure they would, but as we said, there are more questions than answers at this point.”

JBoston

July 6th, 2009

“This practice of charging people without evidence goes against the very foundations of our country’s system of justice”
However it’s what this country is built on. You can’t deny that! Be proud of our pseudo-fascist society!

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