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Posts for November, 2009

Ft. Worth Officers’ Punishment Slap on Wrist

Timothy Kincaid

November 5th, 2009

FtWorthCoverUpThe Ft. Worth police department has now announced the punishment that will given to officers who stormed a gay bar on the 40th anniversary of Stonewall, harassed the patrons, and left Chad Gibson in the hospital with bleeding on the brain. They also announced the reasons for the punishment. (cbs11tv)

Thursday morning FWPD Chief Jeff Halstead held a press conference in front of the Rainbow Lounge to announce the disciplinary action. There the chief confirmed that two police officers, Officer K.Q. Gober and Sgt. R.M. Morris, will be suspended for one day and Officer J.M. Back received a three-day suspension.

The officers were suspended for a violation of police procedures during the inspection of the bar.

The officer that was suspended for three days, J.M. Back, was cited for handcuffing a person without probable cause, for releasing that person without issuing a citation, bringing unfavorable criticism to the police department and for failing to complete offense reports the night of the arrest.

Sgt. Morris was suspended for using “poor judgment in his tactics” to conduct the bar check.

Officer Gober was suspended for making a conscious decision not to complete the required offense report before the end of his shift and did not complete the offense report until his return to work the following night. Gober was also reprimanded for the negative media attention that “could have been adverted had Officer Gober completed the required offense report with the true and accurate details of events that occurred during the Rainbow Lounge bar check.

Yes, you read that correctly. They are being punished for “negative media attention” and, get this, for letting Chad Gibson go to the hospital without being issued a citation.

So far, the version of “true and accurate details of events” that the police seem to be believing is far from the version of “true and accurate details of events” that the eyewitnesses reported. These who witnessed didn’t see any groping, but they did see Gibson slammed against the floor.

I wasn’t there, so I don’t know for certain who is telling the truth. But I know that I find a random person in a bar to be a far more credible source of truth today than a sworn officer of the law.

And I do know that these officers who stormed into a gay bar with a show of force and left people hurt and afraid will collectively spend less time on “suspension” than Chad Gibson spent in the hospital.

Ft. Worth Police: We Did No Wrong in Rainbow Lounge Raid

This commentary is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of other writers at Box Turtle Bulletin

Timothy Kincaid

November 4th, 2009

I have become convinced that the sole function of police internal investigations is to provide legal defense against civil suit for excessive force or civil rights violations. I’ve ceased to be outraged and am now often amused by review boards that find the most obvious of bullies and abusers to be “within procedure” and vindicated.

So it is not surprising that the Ft. Worth Police have conducted an internal review into the raid on the Rainbow Lounge and found no wrongdoing at all. (NBC)

Fort Worth police planned to announce on Thursday that an internal investigation has cleared officers of excessive force in the controversial raid of a gay bar this summer, and no officers will be fired, said two city leaders briefed on the matter.

The long-awaited 1,000-page report is expected to fault officers for not writing a timely report on the June 28 raid of the Rainbow Lounge, but conclude officers did not use excessive force or violate other operational policies.

Nope. No excessive force.

Because that guy with bleeding on the brain who everyone present testified was slammed into a wall and floor, oh he just pirouetted and fell and hit his little fairy princess head outside in the parking lot, ya know.

I know that police think that they win when they are true blue and defend the bullies and abusers in their midst. They think that they are protecting “their own” from the perps and the faggots and the scum.

But this decision by the Ft. Worth police only serves to further bolster the mistrust and hostility with which minority communities view those who they increasingly see as the oppressor rather than the champion of justice and civility. And the respect and cooperation that police rely on as a staple in their arsenal in the fight on crime is being replaced by recalcitrance and sympathy for those who are under investigation.

Last night while driving home I heard an interview with a police officer in Richmond, CA about the gang rape of a young girl on a school campus. He just couldn’t comprehend why none of the dozens of people who knew it was going on pulled out their cell phone and called the police. The police could have stopped it sooner; they could have apprehended more perpetrators.

I find it much less difficult to understand why no one in this mostly black and Hispanic community wanted to come to the attention of police. Who would be so foolish?

Is There a Trend of Police Brutality?

This commentary is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect that of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.

Timothy Kincaid

October 6th, 2009

I’ve just finished reading the complaint of a young gay man who was cited for doing a cartwheel in Grand Central Station and then beaten unconscious for complaining about it.

Of course this is his side of the story and there may be circumstances which differ from his recollection and report. But I’ve been cautious a number of times this year over assuming too much about police brutality, only to find that it was every bit as bad as originally reported.

Which has me thinking: what’s going on?

Are these just a string of independent and unrelated actions of which gay people are the victim of overly aggressive officers, or is there currently a trend of police brutality?

I grew up in a small town where you waved “hello” if you saw a police officer. They waved back. The police were your friend, there to protect you and serve you and, occasionally, nudge you back to being a good citizen and neighbor.

And it was this attitude that I brought with me to “the big city”. I thought that we all participate in the policing of our community and that officers were our allies against crime.

But I currently live in a city where you get off the street if you see an officer ahead, where you do not call the police unless you absolutely have to, and where any interaction at all with police is to be avoided. It is rare to hear anyone talk about their experience with the LAPD which was not hostile, in which the victim was not made to feel like a suspect, or in which they did not leave the interaction with the impression that the officer viewed them with contempt and was just daring them to be anything but submissive and obsequious.

I recently had a minor interaction with an LAPD squad car who, it appeared to me, pulled me and a friend over because I treated them like they were any other car while merging in traffic. Although there was nothing for which I could be hauled in or ticketed, the officers were aggressive, hostile, and intrusive. And while it was not their business where we was going (to the grocery store), I was afraid not to answer when they demanded to know. I sat there meekly taking it and keeping a smile on my face.

And although my instinct runs to support of law and order, I knew that this was just bullying. We were the enemy, the “perps”, the faggots, and we were being put in our place.

My complaint is minor. It cost me a few minutes of my life. Some who meet with the police don’t live to tell about it.

This is not to say that there aren’t wonderful officers. The sheriffs office that operates out of West Hollywood seeks to keep peace, protect residents, and serve the community. Interactions with that office tend to be friendly, efficient, and purposeful.

(What made the interaction more disconcerting was that the LAPD pulled us over in West Hollywood, where they don’t have jurisdiction.)

But the West Hollywood Sheriff’s department seems to be the exception, rather than the rule. The more I hear of law enforcement and their interaction with gay citizens – or, often, any citizens – the more I am becoming concerned that police enforcement in general is more about force and compliance and oppression and, frankly, brutality than it is about public service or civic order.

And that is very sad. I hope I’m mistaken.

Atlanta Eagle Raid Cops: “More Fun Than Raiding N***ers With Crack”

Jim Burroway

September 16th, 2009

Many police departments have someone designated as a liaison to the LGBT community. For many departments, these liasons are respected and valued officers who serve an important role in the department’s dealings with the LGBT community. For other departments, the position is nothing but window-dressing. In Atlanta, where the LGBT liaison was kept out of the loop during the raid – and didn’t even have basic information about what happened late the following afternoon, it’s increasingly clear that the Atlanta Police Department views its liaison as nothing but a prop.

More evidence has piled up now that the Atlanta Police have released nine complaints against police officers who raided the Atlanta Eagle last week. None of the bars patrons were arrested or charged with anything, but all of them were subjected to some pretty vile treatment. Here are some exerpts from those complaints obtained by Southern Voice:

One man said officers grabbed patrons who didn’t immediately lie down by the neck and forced them to the ground. The man said he was kicked in the ribs while lying down. “Then I heard laughing and giggling and saying this is more fun than raiding niggers with crack. … He also reported that one officer “said to everyone in general that all you all do is flash your asses and show your cocks.”

The raid extended beyond the club itself and into a private apartment above the Eagle:

An employee who lives in an apartment over the Eagle, who said he was not working that night, said someone started pounding on his door. He opened the door to two cops who asked if anyone was having sex there. They asked why there was a bed and he said it was because he lives there. He was made to come downstairs and was arrested with the other employees. He recalled hearing comments like “You people are despicable.”

The Southern Voice has more. That’s one classy department the Atlanta police chief is running — and a racist one too.

Rainbow Lounge Raid Proves The Dangers Of A Kiss

Jim Burroway

July 16th, 2009

We’ve covered several examples before describing the provocative temerity of a kiss. It looks like that monstrously dangerous act also played a role in the June 28 raid on the Rainbow Lounge by Ft Worth Police and agents from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. Dallas’ WFAA-TV reports:

A police radio recording revealed that an officer called for help after they went inside the Rainbow Lounge.

“I need help in here,” he could be heard saying. “I’m by the restroom.”

That call came when officers said a customer blew a kiss at the officer, and then struggled with police as they tried to arrest him. The customer told News 8 his arm was injured.

The same report suggests that the Rainbow Lounge may have been singled out because of a public intoxication arrest two days before:

Ever since Chad Gibson was injured and others arrested in a raid at the gay bar, one of the biggest questions for many was why did officers target the Rainbow Lounge in the first place?

According to police records, a cruiser video showed a man arrested for public intoxication two days before the controversial raid. In a police report, officers said they saw the man leave the lounge very intoxicated earlier in the evening and told him to get a ride.

Ft. Worth Mayor Apologizes For Rainbow Lounge Raid; LGBT Police Liaison Announced

Jim Burroway

July 15th, 2009

About two dozen LGBT citizens and allies spoke before the Ft. Worth city council last night about the June 28 raid on the Rainbow Lounge by Ft. Worth police and agents from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. They were there to ask city council members to apologize for what happen and ensure that such a raid will never happen again:

One woman said she had traveled some 1,500 miles from San Francisco to lend her support. A few speakers said they were not gay, but that they wanted the council to know that it was not just the gay community concerned about the actions of Fort Worth and TABC officers that night.

One woman described in detail what she saw during the inspection.

“That was the first time I was ever afraid of the police,” said Sarah Bryant, who had been at the bar with her boyfriend that night. “After that, I was overwhelmed with disappointment and I guess a little bit disturbed. … We just need your help to move on.”

The violent raid on the Rainbow Lounge took place on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion. Chad Gibson was severely injured with a head trauma which resulted in him being sent to intensive care with bleeding in his brain. His full recovery may take as long as two years. FWPD and TABC are both conducting separate internal investigations into the raid, and the acting U.S. Attorney James Jack will independently review those investigations when they are completed. Meanwhile FWPD has suspended all cooperative activities with the TABC pending the outcome of these investigations,

One woman in the audience asked Ft. Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief why he hasn’t apologized for Gibson having to be hospitalized, “If you want an apology from your mayor, I am sorry for what happened in Ft. Worth. I am sorry,” Moncrief replied. According to the Associated Press, the crowd stood and applaused. The Star-Telegram merely said the apology drew “some applause.”

More than 250 people packed city council chambers for the meeting, with another 150 people gathered outside watching it on television monitors.

The meeting got off to a bad start when seven Dallas-based protesters from Queer LiberAction tried to disrupt the meeting. Those protesters were angry because the Rainbow Lounge discussion was placed last on the open discussion portion of the city council agenda — a normal spot when a particular topic is known to be of high interest and will likely generate a lot of discussion. Putting it last ensures that the other topics are discussed and gotten out of the way before the big one begins. But I guess there are always some people who are more interested in theater than action, demanding that their oppressed voices be heard when the topic is already right there on the agenda. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed:

While the outbursts from protesters brought a smattering of support, most at the meeting seemed bothered by the interruptions and broke out in applause when marshals escorted the men out and thanked Moncrief for working with the gay community.

DeeJay Johannessen approached the microphone and said he understood putting such speakers at the end of the meeting is a common practice.

“We are willing to wait. We’re going to be here. We look forward to talking to you. We looking forward to resolving this issue with you,” he said, prompting some to give him a standing ovation.

Real progress was made at the meeting. In addition to the Mayor’s apology, Ft. Worth Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead announced the appointment of Officer Sara Straten as liaison to the city’s LGBT community. Officer Straten is a 17-year veteran of the police force. Meanwhile, the internal investigations continue, with the FWPD considering theirs a high-priority investigation, and have so far interviewed 33 eyewitnesses since the start of the investigation. They expect to complete the investigation in 30 days.

Rainbow Lounge Raid Inspires Police Improvements

Timothy Kincaid

July 14th, 2009

The raid on the Rainbow Lounge in Ft. Worth, Texas, has yeilded some positives. Inspired by the community outrage, Police Chief Halstead has gone from defending the action as having “restraint” to a finding solutions and preventing further abuse.

From PoliTex:

  • Internal affairs investigators have conducted interviews with 33 attendees at the Rainbow Lounge and expected to complete the investigation in approximately 30 days.
  • The Fort Worth police consider the investigation a priority, taking some internal affairs investigators off other cases to focus on the Rainbow Lounge incident, he said.
  • Halstead expects to update the police department’s policy regarding bar raids, after taking input from the community.
  • Soon after the incident, Halstead said he decided he needed a police officer to serve as a liaison to the city’s gay/lesbian/bisexual community, just as the department has people serving in a similar position for other minority communities. Officer Sara Straten, a neighborhood officer in north Fort Worth and 17-year veteran of the department, volunteered for the position.

Meanwhile our community must stay vigilant and follow up to be certain that those who abused their power are held accountable.

El Paso Police Chief Disavows Prior Statements, Pledges To Enforce Anti-Discrimination Ordinance

Jim Burroway

July 12th, 2009

El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen has issued a statement “to correct and clarify prior statements” concerning the eviction of five men from an El Paso restaurant after two of them kissed. The new statement calls prior statements an “incorrect recitation of the law” and recognizes the police department’s responsibility to enforce the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance. That 2003 ordinance bans discrimination in public accommodations based on sexual orientation.

This statement is in response to public outcry over actions by police officers who were called to Chico’s Tacos restaurant after a security guard threatened to remove five male customers because two of them kissed. The guard told the group to leave, saying that “faggot stuff” wasn’t allowed. The men called police over their pending removal, but instead of enforcing the city’s anti-discrimination law, a responding officer threatened the cite the kissing couple for violating a nonexistent law against “homosexual conduct” — one that presumably would go so far as to ban something as radically “faggotty” as a kiss. Later, an EPPD spokesperson compounded the problem over the non-existent law by saying that the five men at Chico’s Tacos could have been charged with criminal trespass instead.

Chief Allen’s statement now recognizes the police department’s responsibility to ensure “the opportunity of each person to obtain goods and services in all process of public accommodation without fear of discrimination.” The new statement “recognizes the negative impact that discrimination can have on a community”and requires that all police personnel “be courteous and respectful in their official dealings with the public.” Chief Allen requires EPPD personnel to “maintain a level of competence” in enforcing the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance, and warns that failure to do so “will result in appropriate discipline.”

Click here to read the El Paso Police Department Statement

Throw the Book (of Mormon) at Them

Timothy Kincaid

July 10th, 2009
Get fit in Salt Lake... unless you're gay.

Get fit in Salt Lake... unless you"re gay

It seems that the police in Texas are inspiring the Salt Lake Police Force. The story involves a couple walking along what used to be a public street.

In 1999 the City sold a block of Main Street to the Church. Because all public policy statements and documents emphasized the need for pedestrian traffic on this downtown grid, the City retained an easement for public passage and access. The Church placed restrictions on speech and behavior on the plaza.

Courts struck down these restrictions, so in 2003, the City of Salt Lake transferred the Main Street Plaza easement to the Mormon Church so as to facilitate their desire to eliminate criticism from that public thoroughfare. Now those that use this public thoroughfare are on private property. And gay people had better remember it. (Salt Lake Tribune)

Aune said the incident started when he and Jones were walking back to his Salt Lake City home from a Twilight Concert Series show at the Gallivan Center. The couple live just blocks away from the plaza in the Marmalade district of the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

The pair crossed the plaza holding hands, Aune said. About 20 feet from the edge of the plaza, Aune said he stopped, put his arm around Jones and kissed him on the cheek.

This kiss resulted in being thrown to the ground by security guards, hand-cuffed, and being issued trespassing citations when the police arrived. Oh, and they are banned from all church property for six months – including that which had previously been public streets owned by the taxpayers.

Now the Mormon Church will tell you that it doesn’t hate gay people. It loves them, but disapproves of their sin just as they would the sin of an adulterer or fornicator.

I don’t find that argument convincing.

Update on “Chico’s Five”

Timothy Kincaid

July 10th, 2009

The story of the five gay men kicked out of Chico’s Tacos in El Paso because they were gay has picked up momentum.

National news outlets, civil-rights lawyers from El Paso to Austin, El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen and City Council representatives all chimed in on the Chico’s five.

Also additional information has been presented.

The phrase the security guards used was, “Si seguian con sus payasadas, los vamos a sacar de aqui, no permitimos que anden haciendo cosas aqui de jotos.” Jotos is a pejorative term perhaps best translated as “faggot”.

Mirroring the situation in Ft. Worth, the police tried to defend their discriminatory actions – only making the situation worse.

But El Paso Police Detective Carlos Carrillo defended the officers actions, telling the paper that every business has “the right to refuse service to whoever they don’t want there.”

Well as it turns out, no the restaurant cannot refuse service due to sexual orientation discrimination. (El Paso Times)

Lisa Graybill, legal director of the ACLU of Texas, said a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court case determined that places of public accommodation cannot refuse to serve someone based purely on discrimination and must establish a reasonable basis for turning someone away.

Gay men and women have an additional protection in El Paso, where in 2003 the City Council adopted an ordinance that prohibits restaurants and other businesses from discriminating based on sexual orientation, she said.

Local civil rights groups are upset and some gay people are protesting.

Word of the altercation between the gay men and the security guard spread quickly through El Paso. A text-message and e-mail campaign on Thursday urged people in the gay community and others to participate in a peaceful protest at 5 p.m. today in front of the Chico’s on Montwood. Thursday night, about 35 people protested outside the Chico’s Tacos. Several held signs that read, “Equal rights,” and “I want to kiss in public” and “It was only a kiss.”

More Bigotry From Texas Police

Timothy Kincaid

July 8th, 2009

What is it about law enforcement in Texas?

Last Sunday night, Carlos Diaz de Leon and some friends stopped to have a bit to eat at Chico’s Tacos. Two of the guys kissed each other, which seemed to annoy the rent-a-cops.

“We went, sat down to eat our food and security guards came and said that if they kept doing that, they were going to throw us all out of the restaurant.”

Carlos said he then asked them why? Their response, according to Carlos: “They said ‘we didn’t allow that gay stuff to go on here.’ “

Carlos mistakenly thought that he and his friends have the right in Texas to be treated the same as straight people. So he called the police. But he didn’t get the response he expected. Rather than come to the support of Carlos and his friends, they were threatened with citation.

“Told us it was against the law for two males and two females to kiss in public, that they could cite us for homosexual activity.”

While there is a homosexual conduct ordinance in the state’s penal code, “We don’t enforce that law, there’s been court decisions about Texas’ law on that. We don’t enforce it and what happened there wouldn’t have even have met the elements of the offense, even if it had been enforceable,” said El Paso Police Department spokesman Chris Mears.

The police department admits the situation was not handled properly by a rookie police officer, but deny it was discrimination.

“Did he make a comment that he shouldn’t have made? Yeah, he did…but that comment I don’t think was discriminatory in nature, I think it was poor understanding of the law,” Mears said.

No, Mr. Mears, it isn’t just “poor understanding of the law.” If was official police harassment of a citizen of El Paso based on that citizen’s sexual orientation. It was discrimination. It was intimidation. It was bigotry.

In 2003 the Supreme Court of the United States told a state that its sodomy laws contrary to the US Constitution. And what state was that? It was Texas. It is simply not credible that there is a police force in the State of Texas that was not fully aware of Lawrence v. Texas and what it means.

Prior to the Court’s decision, it wasn’t as though the state was much in the habit of enforcing the law. They didn’t put folks in jail. That wasn’t its purpose.

The intent of the sodomy laws in Texas were to create a culture of intimidation, to leave gay persons under threat of being criminalized, to allow harassment without recourse, and to make it very clear that the State of Texas “didn’t allow that gay stuff to go on here.”

It seems to me like things haven’t changed much.

In light of the recent police brutality in a gay bar in Ft. Worth, it’s time to ask some questions.

  • Why don’t the police in Texas know that they don’t have enforceable sodomy laws?
  • Why does Texas still have sodomy laws on the books after they have been told by the Supreme Court that such laws are discriminatory and unconstitutional?
  • Why doesn’t El Paso’s Police Department consider the blatantly bigoted response of the officer to be discrimination?
  • Why would officers with the Texas Alcohol Beverage Control and with the Ft. Worth Police Department think it was “restrained” to bust heads, break ribs and thumbs, and harass 20 people selected arbitrarily and not associated with any obvious intoxication just because they were patrons of a gay bar?
  • And why is it still perfectly legal for Chico’s Tacos in El Paso, Texas, to refuse service to Carlos and his friends based solely on their sexual orientation?

I believe the answers to these questions are all the same.

Chad Gibson Calls For Prosecutions

Jim Burroway

July 6th, 2009
Chad Gibson (WFAA-TV)

Chad Gibson (WFAA-TV)

Chad Gibson, the patron who was severely injured during the June 28 raid on the Rainbow Lounge, spoke to a Dallas ABC affiliate yesterday and called for prosecutions of those who injured him.

Gibson was released Saturday after a spending week at John Peter Smith Hospital in Ft. Worth, suffering from bleeding in the brain. There is still a blood clot in his brain, behind his right eye. “I’m scared that something might happen,” Gibson said. “It might start bleeding.”

Gibson spoke to WFAA-TV yesterday, called the action by the city of Ft. Worth a cover-up. He’s particularly angry that the Ft. Worth police department used the blame-the-victim tactic in defending their actions:

Gibson said the city and officers have pointed the blame in the wrong direction.

“They have blamed it on me, that I was drunk [and] that I hit my head,” he said. “I groped the officer. I did this. I did that.  You know what, no … Accept responsibility.”

Gibson said he is also frustrated at the city pointing the blame at the TABC.

“Even if the Fort Worth Police didn’t touch me, they watched it,” he said. “They watched other people do that to me.”

Gibson denies groping the police officer. Several eyewitnesses at the bar that night say they didn’t see anyone make any sexual movements toward police officers. Police also say that Gibson received his injuries because he was so drunk when they arrested him that he fell. Gibson told a Dallas CBS affiliate that his doctors don’t buy it:

“A lot of the doctors I’ve talked to say you can’t get this kind of blow to the head from just falling, if I had just fallen like they said I did.”

Gibson is as surprised as anyone about the exercize of police brutality which took place at the bar:

?I was at the bar buying drinks for my friends and I. The next thing I remember is waking up in the ICU,” Gibson said. “I’m just appalled that they took it to the level that they did.”

…”It shouldn’t have happened to me and it shouldn’t happen to anyone else.”

Meanwhile, local activists protested for the second Sunday in a row, this time at Ft. Worth’s Sundance Square. Another protest is scheduled for next Sunday in front of the county court house.

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.

Ft. Worth Mayor Asks For Federal Review Of Rainbow Lounge Raid

Jim Burroway

July 3rd, 2009

While the Ft. Worth Fort Police Department and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission continue their own internal investigations into Sunday morning’s raid on the Rainbow Lounge, Ft. Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief has asked acting U.S. Attorney James Jacks to independently review those investigations once they are completed.

Moncrief said, “I have confidence that Chief (Jeffrey) Halstead is leading a thorough and professional investigation,” but he wants to make sure that the department “has thoroughly and impartially carried out its obligation to all the citizens of Fort Worth.” He also encouraged the TABC to do the same. City spokesman Jason Lammers reiterated that the mayor’s action should not be taken as a sign of a lack of confidence on the police department’s ability to conduct fair investigation.

FWPD Suspends Operations With State Agents After Rainbow Lounge Raid

Jim Burroway

July 2nd, 2009
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)

The Ft. Worth Police Department is now trying to disentangle themselves from the mess they created when FWPD officers joined agents from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission on their Sunday morning raid of the Rainbow Lounge. Already, Ft. Worth Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead has announced that Chad Gibson was injured with a severe head injury while in TABC custody. In fact, he was adamant that “They were not my employees,” even though a photo taken while Gibson was being handcuffed appears to show a Ft. Worth Police officer with three other officers holding Gibson down while he was being handcuffed. Now we learn that FWPD has sent out a press release announcing that it has suspended all operations with the TABC until the department gains a “better understanding” of the events surrounding the raid.

As I pointed out, the whole program of arresting individuals for Public Intoxication is a complete mess, as well as an open invitation for unchecked abuse with no accountability. It looks like FWPD is starting to see it the same way:

In an effort to establish ‘clearly defined roles and responsibilities’ of each organization, the chief will conduct meetings with TABC officials in the coming weeks. Halstead said the intent is to better serve the community in conducting inspections.  FWPD is also taking steps to ensure that multiculturalism training is provided to all police employees, specifically toward the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

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