TABC Chief Apologizes For Rainbow Lounge Raid, Says Agents Failed To “Follow The Damn Policy”

Jim Burroway

July 16th, 2009

Update: The Dallas Voice has posted audio of the interview. Please go and listen. It’s a very rare and wonderful example of a public official having the cojones to step up and take responsibility.

TABC Administrator Alan Steen

TABC Administrator Alan Steen

Some amazing new information on the ongoing investigations over the June 28 Rainbow Lounge raid in Ft. Worth are reaching the light of day. The Dallas Voice has an exclusive scoop:

In an exclusive phone interview with Dallas Voice on Wednesday, July 15, TABC Administrator Alan Steen also said the supervisor directly responsible for the two agents — a sergeant in TABC\’s Fort Worth district office — announced his retirement last week in the wake of the raid and amid an ongoing internal investigation. Steen didn\’t identify the sergeant or the agents by name.

“I don\’t think you have to dig very deep to figure out that TABC has violated some of their policies,” Steen said. “We know that, and I apologize for that. …”

Steen told The Dallas Voice that he doesn\’t believe there was sufficient cause for the “inspection”. He also said that the eight officers and a paddy wagon likely constituted an excessive show of force. With all that, he said that TABC had no business conducting an inspection at the Rainbow Lounge that night. Steen added in characteristically Texan fashion, “If our guys would have followed the damn policy, we wouldn\’t even have been there.”

"State police" (Dallas Voice)

"State police" (Dallas Voice)

And those “State Police” uniforms that we asked about, knowing that there is no such thing as a “State Police” agency in Texas? It turns out that those are “special events uniforms” which TABC policy prohibits during bar inspections. Steen said that agents are typically in plain clothes during inspections.

Steen also suggested that the TABC was interested in appointing a liason to the LGBT community, similar to the position recently announced by the Ft. Worth Police Department.

You can read all the details of the interview with the TABC Administrator at The Dallas Voice.

Lindoro Almaviva

July 16th, 2009

I would not allow the agent to retire until the investigation ran its course. With he retiring he effectively shielded himself from any disciplinary action and loosing pension. Not fair.

I hope he gets sued for violation of civil liberties. He needs to be held accountable one way or another.

timothy kincaid

July 17th, 2009

A high ranking official that is owning resposibility, refusing to cover, admiting blame, and looking for solutions? I’m imppressed.

GreenEyedLilo

July 17th, 2009

I agree with Timothy. Right before Pride in NYC this year, Seymour Pine, who authorized the Stonewall raid, said in an interview that he still thinks they did the right thing. Alan Steen is, thankfully, not like that.

Alex Karan

July 17th, 2009

Tim, Lilo,
I too agree. The sargeant should not be allowed to retire until after the investigation is complete, and only if there is no cause found to fire him outright. One would presume that, if fired, said sargeant would not receive any of the benefits afforded to him in an “honorable” retirement.

Norm!

July 17th, 2009

Judging from the clearly uncomfortable and hostile attitudes in Texas, Steen’s admission is courageous.

I think I visited the Rainbow Lounge a few years ago while visiting Fort Worth for a wedding. My friend and I were short on time and didn’t know the name of the bar, so we walked and drove through Fort Worth’s downtown nervously asking people where the gay bar was.

EVERYONE knew there was a gay bar in town, but no one admitted to knowing exactly where it was. Most responses we received began with a disclaimer like, “I’m not a homosexual, but I heard there is a gay bar over . . .”. We did find the small bar. Although I don’t frequent bars, I could certainly see how the Rainbow Lounge is an attractive, friendly refuge.

BTW, as I recall, the bar is in a industrial area that seemed abandoned and seedy (no trendy lofts and only suspicious folks on the corners). So, it’s incredibly doubtful anyone would complain of public intoxication. At the time, we noted the only other place open near the bar was the police station which we (mistakenly) thought would be a safe place to go for directions. Thankfully, we found the bar before trying the police station.

The whole trip just re-affirmed my bias against anything Texan. :)

Richard W. Fitch

July 17th, 2009

The City Council of Fort Worth is finally moving in the right direction. here is an excerpt from the Jul 21 agenda:
===========================
CITY COUNCIL AGENDA
FOR THE MEETING AT 10:00 A.M. TUESDAY, JULY 21, 2009
CITY COUNCIL CHAMBER, CITY HALL
1000 THROCKMORTON STREET, FORT WORTH, TEXAS

——————————————————————————–

I. CALL TO ORDER

II. INVOCATION – Reverend Karl Travis, First Presbyterian Church

III. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

IV. CONSIDERATION OF MINUTES OF REGULAR MEETING OF JULY 14, 2009

V. SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS, INTRODUCTIONS, ETC.

1. Presentation by Kid’s Who Care

2. Recognition of International Leadership Academy

3. Presentation of Proclamation for National Day of the American Cowboy in Fort Worth

VI. ANNOUNCEMENTS BY CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS AND STAFF

1. Upcoming and Recent Events

2. Recognition of Citizens

VII. ITEMS TO BE WITHDRAWN FROM THE CONSENT AGENDA

VIII. ITEMS TO BE CONTINUED OR WITHDRAWN BY STAFF

IX. PRESENTATIONS BY THE CITY COUNCIL

1. Changes in Membership on Boards and Commissions

X. PRESENTATIONS AND/OR COMMUNICATIONS FROM BOARDS, COMMISSIONS AND/OR CITY COUNCIL COMMITTEES

XI. RESOLUTIONS

1. A Resolution Requesting an Independent Investigation by the United States Attorney’s Office Regarding the Rainbow Lounge

2. A Resolution of the City Council of the City of Fort Worth, Texas, Canceling and Changing Some Regularly Scheduled City Council Meetings for the Months of August Through December 2009

3. A Resolution Supporting Implementation of the Nature Center Master Plan Through Establishment of a Permanent Fund Dedicated to the Nature Center with Future Mineral Lease Proceeds Up to $62 Million

4. A Resolution of the City Council of the City of Fort Worth, Texas, Appointing a Member of the Board of Directors of the Fort Worth Crime Control and Prevention District to Fill an Unexpired Term
=============================
Pressure has been applied from many quarters and finally require response.

Burr

July 17th, 2009

Kudos for manning up.

Honestly more than anything else this just highlights the stupidity of having enforcement agencies like the TABC. They don’t do anything worthwhile and thus are prone to abusive actions like this.

CB

July 17th, 2009

Backpeddling. I hope that those injured and/or arrested go for a civil suit against the supervisor who is suddenly retiring. Actually, I hope a civil lawsuit is filed against all law enforcement involved. Even if it fails, they will think twice about trying to strong arm gays.

Hmmmmmm, if the Matthew Shepard Act had been in effect, would this have constituted a hate crime???

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