Stonewall In 2009? Police Raid Texas Gay Bar, Arrest Patrons for “Public Intoxication”

Jim Burroway

June 28th, 2009

Update: One serious injury was reported. See below.

Police making an arrest from inside the Rainbow Lounge (Dallas Observer)

Police making an arrest from inside the Rainbow Lounge in Ft. Worth, Texas (Dallas Voice)

No kidding? The Dallas Voice’s blog is reporting that a gay bar in Ft. Worth, Texas, was raided sometime last night:

According to [Ft. Worth Star-Telegram former critic Todd] Camp, the newly-opened Rainbow Lounge is “the only cool gay bar in town,” but the police raided it, arresting numerous patrons for no reason.

I got another perspective in my in-box this morning:

The not awesome thing was the paddy wagon of homophobic police that showed up … looking for trouble. My group and I were sitting on the back patio at a picnic table. Nobody was being wild out there. [The police] came through with flashlights, being loud asking what was going on out here, then asked why everyone was all the sudden being quiet. When one group started up their conversations again, they took one guy away. I left shortly after and as I walked through the front bar there were numerous cops with plastic handcuffs all ready to go. I [left] the bar and they [had] a big van in the parking lot and numerous cars on the street. And just so you know, it wasn\’t fire hazard crowded or seedy wild in there. … The worst part is [friends later told me] that [the police] had numerous people face down on the ground outside. I just moved to Fort Worth from Dallas, so this is such a shock to me. I know Dallas would not put up with this.  … I am still so shocked it is 2009 and this just happened.

Anyone else there last night? Write to me ( or my editor (

Other reporters at the Dallas Voice are receiving more first-hand accounts which confirm the above statement. Eyewitnesses say that some ten to twenty people have been arrested. One patron was this visitor from Santa Cruz, California:

We and a few of our friends went to the new Rainbow Lounge last night to dance and have some fun. I was in the VIP section when police officers started coming up there. The first arrest (that we saw) was right in front of me in that section.

They asked the guy if he had been drinking, and he said some, and they snidely replied, “Well, we\’ll see how much!” and plastic handcuffed him as they read him his rights The guy was doing NOTHIG [sic] wrong. It was utterly repugnant.

Once I saw this happen, I decided to try and speak with one of the police officers themselves, to go straight to the source and get their side. My sister Kelly and I simply started asking what they were doing here, stating how suspicious it seemed on this date and in this specific club, etc. This was a “State Policeman,” whose name I forgot, who tried to explain their actions by referring to “anonymous tips” and “disgruntled ex-bartenders.” We pointed out the place was open a week, so the disgruntled ex-bartender source seemed a bit unlikely! He wouldn\’t really answer my questions. although he did try to grab my hand and flirt with me (which was completely uninvited).

Patrons and officers outside the bar. Notice that the man on the left in the white shirt is handcuffed. (Dallas Observer)

Patrons and officers outside the bar. Notice that the man on the left in the white shirt is handcuffed. (Dallas Voice)

They have also received several photos taken by patrons using their cell phones. Numerous patrons report rough treatment by police. Several fled to a nearby home, fearing arrest if they tried to leave the house to get into their cars. There is one report that one man was slammed to the floor and is now hospitalized with a head injury. Another eyewitness said that police gave her the same excuse about responding to complaints from  “former bartender” at the week-old business. She also observed that police appeared to be specifically targeting effeminate men.

Local activists are calling for protests tonight. One was scheduled for the Rainbow lounge at 5 p.m. CST today, with another one set for the Tarrant County Courthouse in downtown Fort Worth at 7 p.m.

Update: The Dallas Voice has an update on Chad Gibson, the young man who was hospitalized for a head injury. The initial CAT scan showed little or no damage, but a second CAT scan performed this afternoon indicates that “the bleeding in his brain had increased.” Chad has no memory of the incident in the bar, and his memory of events today (visitors and conversations with doctors) “have been spotty.” Chad is being treated at John Peter Smith Hospital in Ft. Worth.

The Ft. Worth Star-Telegram has more details. Seven people were reportedly arrested at the Rainbow Lounge. Ft. Worth Police are offering a sort of a “gay panic defense, claiming that patrons made “sexually explicit moves” toward the police. The bar’s general manager and other patrons dispute that:

The general manager of the Rainbow Lounge and several patrons disputed the police account, saying officers used excessive force to make arrests.

“He was just walking to the bathroom when an officer grabbed him and shoved him against a wall and pulled his head back,” said Chris Hightower of Fort Worth, a friend of the injured patron. “He (the injured man) was then thrown to the ground and three other officers were on him.”

Several patrons claimed that the officers were never assaulted.

“I have friends who are cops and I know what to do when officers are working,” Camp said. “No one was acting aggressive to officers.”

Camp said that he has been attending bars for years in Fort Worth when TABC conducts raids.

“Usually, they’re very orderly and respectful – they work with the bar staff and check IDs, it’s quick and painful and then it’s over and then they’re out,” Camp said. “This was not that. This was harassment, plain and simple.”

General manager Randy Norman said the bar had just been open a week and they had complied with all ordinances.

“Officers just don’t come in armed with zip ties and a paddy wagon for a routine check of a bar,” Norman said.

KTVT, the Dallas CBS affiliate has this:

Raymond Gill was at the bar early Sunday morning.  He says one of the TABC officers targeted him.  “I asked him why I was pulled outside. He stated it was because the way I was walking. He said I looked like I was drunk. But as I stated, I got to the bar 30 minutes before they got there. I sat down had not got up before police got there. No one saw me walk.”

…Fort Worth police arrested seven people for reported public intoxication, and for reportedly inappropriately groping an officer. It’s an allegation witness Chuck Potter disputes.

“I can guarantee there wasn’t a man in this bar that would’ve touched one of those officers, knowing they were arresting people.”

Chad Gibson

Chad Gibson

WFAA, the Dallas ABC affiliate confirms that Chad Gibson is in the Intensive Care Unit at John Peter Smith Hospital in Ft. Worth with bleeding on the brain. Chad was ticketed but not arrested:

Danny Crockett said he saw four officers detain Gibson.

“They choked his head back, pulled him back and then slammed him against the wall,” he said.


June 28th, 2009

Stonewall was unique from all the antigay police raids because the patrons fought back. These queens fled to a nearby home!


June 28th, 2009

On DKos a person who says he was a bar manager in Fort Worth is saying that he’s seen this sort of thing happen before.

It seems that in Texas when bars stop, er, contributing financially to the wellbeing of the local police, these raids seem to happen. It’s a remarkable coincidence.


June 28th, 2009

Only in Fort Worth, I am ashamed to say I live here. I am sorry for the one that is hospitalized. What, we have to be scared that we are gay if we live in Fort Worth?? This must not be allowed!!!!! Shame on the P. D. Go get criminals.


June 28th, 2009

Don’t just protest — SUE THEIR FU**ING A$$ES! This has “class-action” written all over it.


June 28th, 2009

To Tom ,your post is stupid.
Stonewall was a totally different situation. Saying these queens fled ,and what would you have done , this is 2009 not 1969 , the cops were dead wrong and as usual playing the gay homophobe defense. I hope they get their asses sued and people fired. most cops are such prick teases in bars anyway , seems to me if there was any groping they initiated it. hello lawsuit


June 29th, 2009

This is a total disgrace and I hope it gets national coverage.

This is gestapo-style thuggery, and I hope they get sued. A march on the police station would be in order, too.

My thoughts are with the LGBT community of Fort Worth.


June 29th, 2009

Gasp! Public intoxication inside a bar that serves alcohol? Next thing you know they’re will be fist-fighting in schools and women taking jobs outside the home!


June 29th, 2009

Regardless weather they faught or ran, the police had no business going in there. It seams to me like the police just wanted to shut down another gay bar. The police are PIGS!

William Westwork

June 29th, 2009

You know you guys at this website do decent work but I’m probably not alone in noticing that you never seem to include even a brief list of phone numbers or e-mail addresses of politicians and administrators relevant to particular articles.

Where is the Sherriff’s office number? Where is the number of the Fort Worth mayors office? Where is the number of the Congressional reps from the area? The city council members etc. Do some basic footwork for Pete’s sake and actually help your readers bring some pressure to bear rather than just preaching to your choir.

Richard W. Fitch

June 29th, 2009

Here is a link to the blog page for the Dallas Voice. There was a comment last nite that includes 20-30 contact nbrs and addresses of govt agencies to call regarding the Rainbow Lounge “inspection”. I tried to find it again but their server is having problems handling all the traffic generated by this event. It will be worth pursuing later for updates on the condition of Chad Gibson, the patron who was assaulted by police resulting in a serious brain injury.

Richard W. Fitch

June 29th, 2009

Here is the listing from Dallas/Fort Worth:
MPetrelis Says:

June 28th, 2009 at 4:52 pm
to whom should i direct my complaint?

Contact Us – Headquarters
By E-Mail

Please include an e-mail address and phone number in the text of your e-mail to ensure that you receive a response.
For reporting violations of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code and Rule.
For general inquiries about credit law or for wholesalers to report Notices of Default or Notices of Payment.
For educational information on preventing underage drinking.
For questions about who is required to file monthly excise reports or taxes on alcoholic beverages.
For information regarding grant programs.
For information about job opportunities with the TABC.
For questions regarding label approval registration in Texas.
For questions about laws regulating the marketing of alcoholic beverages (i.e., advertising, promotions) and marketing relationships in the industry.
For open records requests regarding TABC.
To report complaints against TABC employees regarding allegations of illegal acts and/or employee misconduct.
For questions about the personal importation of alcoholic beverages and cigarettes from Mexico into Texas.
For general inquiries or comments and questions about the TABC.
For questions regarding programs dealing with the training of employees in the laws of selling and/or serving of alcoholic beverages.
For computer related problems or comments about the TABC website.

To e-mail an individual at the TABC: first name.last (e.g., to e-mail John Smith, address your e-mail to:
By Mail:

Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission
PO Box 13127
Austin, Texas 78711

Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission
5806 Mesa Dr
Austin, Texas 78731
By Telephone or Fax:
TABC Telephone Numbers Office Voice Fax
Main Switchboard 512-206-3333
Complaint Line 888-843-8222
TDD 512-206-3270
Executive 512-206-3221 512-206-3203
Enforcement 512-206-3400 512-206-3449
Compliance 512-206-3300 512-206-3349
Credit Law 512-206-3301 512-206-3329
Education and Prevention 512-206-3290 512-206-3316
Excise Tax 512-206-3342 512-206-3321
Fiscal Services 512-206-3225 512-206-3248
General Services 512-206-3254 512-206-3274
Grants 512-206-3430 512-206-3316
Human Resources 512-206-3220 512-206-3350
Information Resources 512-206-3450 512-206-3281
Legal 512-206-3490 512-206-3498
Licensing 512-206-3360 512-206-3399
Marketing Practices 512-206-3411 512-206-3349
Office of Professional
Responsibility (Internal Affairs) 512-206-3405 512-206-3207
Open Records 512-206-3491 512-206-3226
Ports of Entry 512-206-3351 512-206-3348
Server Training 512-206-3420 512-206-3316


June 29th, 2009

I guess living in Texas is like living in Nazi Germany.

Not like I have room to talk, living in Virginia. “Virginia is for lovers.” Just don’t get married.

My step-mother is 1/4 jew and hated wearing the star in the late 30s. She was 5 and other kids would beat her up. Oh, what a world.

Laughing Man

June 29th, 2009

It is asinine for this to be happening anywhere in America in this day and age. So here is the information on the police department. If this story upsets you please call them and let them know that we find this unacceptable in this country. Flood their mailbox and snail mail with complaints (not threats, that should go without saying but some people’s emotions are running high about this). Whether you be LGBT or just a supporter of equal rights like myself let them know that this behavior is appalling and there is no room for it in today’s world.

Jeffrey Halstead
Chief of Police

Police Administration (817)392-4200

Media Contact
(Sgt. Criado) (817)392-4214

Internal Affairs
(complaints on officers)(817)392-4270

350 W. Belknap St.
Fort Worth, TX 76102


June 29th, 2009

I want to put in a word of support for our hosts. They give us their research and time and thoughts free of charge. It’s their blog. We can read it or not. There’s no obligation from anyone or to anyone except respectful speech.

It’s wonderful that some folks have responded to William’s concern, anyone of us could have done that (no complaining needed) . . . we all have access to the same internet.

Thanks Jim and Timothy et al., for providing an excellent source of thoughtful LGBT news and opinion.


June 29th, 2009

Ditto, Lurker. It is a good thing to have our say. Love, jim.

Jim Burroway

June 29th, 2009

Thanks lurker.

Let me add another note. This web site is an all volunteer effort. In fact, everyone here has full-time day jobs. This is something we do on the side. We’re passionate about what we’re doing, so we find the time necessary to get this information out there, but in the end, there’s only so much time we can free up to do this. We feel it’s important though because I think we’re filling a few small niches that others miss.

We can’t be all things to all people. There just isn’t time to do that, as much as I would like to. So that’s why we have comments, so that you, our readers, can drop in additional information and updates.

We appreciate everyone’s help and contributions via comments in making this web site a success.

Christopher Waldrop

June 29th, 2009

I’d just like to add an additional note of support to all the people responsible for making this blog the fascinating, thought-provoking, and enjoyable place that it is.

Timothy Kincaid

June 29th, 2009

We do appreciate the help, tips, contributions, perspecive, and even corrections that we receive.

And along that line, I have a few questions for our Texas readers:

In California we don’t have “bar checks”, that I know of. Police come into bars if there is a problem, if they have been called, or if they are investigating a specific situation at a specific bar (e.g. a drug den).

Even then, I’ve never heard of anyone being arrested in California for being intoxicated inside a bar. Even if they stumble out of the bar and get in a taxi there’s no issue.

So my questions are:

1. Is it illegal to be intoxicated inside a private establishment – like a bar – in Texas?

2. Is it customary for police to do “bar checks” and arrest people for the crime of being drunk in a bar?

3. Does this occur in mainstream popular bars or is it limited to gay bars, dive bars, alternative bars, and the places in which “undesirables” congregate?

4. Is it illegal in the state of Texas to make “sexually explicit movements”? Is this a crime if these “movements” are made towards police officers?

Jim Burroway

June 29th, 2009

To Timothy’s point, I have a question I’ll call “4a”: Do Texas police have a history of arresting women in straight bars who make “sexually explicit movements”?

I’m still looking for that press release but haven’t found it. If someone could help me out, I’m sure there’s one around there somewhere.


June 29th, 2009

I am ashamed of the Fort Worth Police department in their evil homophobic move. I am a gay law enforcement officer and I must say I am sorry for each and every patron who was abused at that bar. My suggestion to them is write down everything you remember and sue the hell out of the officers of the Fort Worth Police Department individually. They are clearly not upholding the oath they took to protect and serve those in their community. In any case, God will hand them their judgement as they handed us theirs.


June 29th, 2009

like i said on the website, the officer who said he was “groped” is probably still in the closet or is homophobic. this raid was bs and the police know it .nobody should be treated this way. i agree about the straight women comment, especially when i have wanted to kick their ass when they do that to my man, then i would have been the one to go to jail. i think all these cops and tabc were homophobes or in the closet, and wishing they could be out too.


June 29th, 2009

also my prayers are with chad gibson. i would be looking for an attorney, maybe with the aclu, if i was his family member.

Scott P.

June 29th, 2009

Just curious, if the police can arrest you for being drunk in a bar, which I assume is not a public place, can they arrest you in your home for the same reason? Do the Ft. Worth police ever arrest patrons of straight bars for public intoxication?


June 29th, 2009

try not being gay… thats a start?

Ryan Thompson

July 18th, 2009

The police involved haven’t been punished, either, just quietly shuffled to desk jobs (for the time being).

The victims need to get with the program and call Lambda Legal. NOW.

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