Five Eyewitness Accounts Of The Rainbow Lounge Raid

Jim Burroway

June 29th, 2009

The Dallas Voice’s Tammye Nash has been doing a great job reporting on last weekend’s raid on the Rainbow Lounge by Ft. Worth police. Her latest report includes eyewitness reports from five different people who didn’t know each other. She found their descriptions remarkably similar. Todd Camp went to the Rainbow Lounge to celebrate his birthday with friends:

Camp said an officer “shoved me out of the way to grab the guy in front of me” in line at the bar. The officer “told the man, ‘You’re drunk,'” and took him out of the bar, Camp said. …Camp said straight friends who were there with him were frightened to the point of tears by what they saw.

Justin McCarty was working security at the Rainbow Lounge when an officer asked him how much he had to drink.

“I told him I was working and hadn’t had anything to drink, and that’s when he told me, ‘Then you need to make yourself scarce.’ So I did. I went to the back out of the way. I took that as a threat that if I didn’t, I would be arrested, too,” McCarty said.

McCarty said that he saw officers throw Chad Gibson to the floor, adding that, “There were people standing there watching it happen and crying. They were scared. It was just brutal.”

At last report, Chad Gibson is in intensive care for treatment of a brain injury.

One thing that many longtime gay bar patrons have noticed is that gay bars are very popular with young straight couples that’s often where they’ll find the best DJ’s and dance floor in town. That’s what drew Brandon Addicks and his girlfriend and some of her friends to the Rainbow Lounge. But they saw more than just a fabulous dance floor:

“I saw a cop walk up behind a guy who was sitting at a table. The cop told him to stand up, and when the guy asked what for, the cop said, ‘You\’re intoxicated,\’ Addicks said. “Then there was that guy getting the crap beat out of him there in the back. I have been in bars before when police have come in, and I have never seen anything like this,”

Another patron, Alison Egert, told an officer that she had had several drinks, but she had a designated driver. The officer let her go despite her admission of “public intoxication.” When police threw Chad Gibson against a wall, that’s when she noticed that police were only arrested men and “they seemed to be targeting the smaller men.”

General manager Randy Norman had a strange conversation with one of the officers. The officer denied that the bar was singled out because it was a gay bar, but added, “I don\’t partake in being gay, but I don\’t care if you do.” That sounded like a very odd statement to Randy. Sounds strangely defensive to me.

If you’re in the Dallas area, Todd Camp and another eyewitness, Chuck Potter, will speak at BuzzBrews on Lemmon Avenue tomorrow at 8 p.m. But if you’re in Dallas, you should already know this because you’re keeping track on the Dallas Voice’s indispensable Instant Tea blog, right?

Richard W. Fitch

June 29th, 2009

Two new statements have been posted to Instant Tea, the blog page for the Dallas Voice, that are worth mention. One is from HCR. A second is from the city council member who represents the district where the Rainbow Lounge is located.
A phone contact is listed for those who care to become more involved.

Bruce Garrett

June 29th, 2009

A commenter on the Dallas Voice article by Tammye Nash titled, “What they saw at the Rainbow Lounge” remarks that the raid in Ft. Worth happened at exactly the time that the raid on the Stonewall took place 40 years ago. To the day, to the hour. If that’s true, it’s a mighty suspicious coincidence.

I would also like to know how many “routine” TABC checks involve paddy wagons and lots of zip-tie handcuffs ready and waiting.

Bruce Garrett

June 29th, 2009

I just did some quick checking. The raid at the Stonewall Inn happened at 1:20am the morning of June 28, 1969. The raid a the Rainbow Lounge seems to have happened around 1am. It’s surely not impossible that this is a coincidence, but you have to wonder. The Ft. Worth police say they did routine checks of two other bars beforehand with no trouble. Did they do it with the same number of policemen and the paddy wagon and the zip-ties I wonder…


June 29th, 2009

I’m glad I live in Canada. The U.S. is obviously on the decline.


June 29th, 2009

Decline? this is Texas, we had to be dragged kicking and screaming by the supreme court into decriminalizing homosexuality in 2003. Its pathetic I know but the fact that they have to make up a reason to arrest a gay guy is an improvement.

Christopher Waldrop

June 30th, 2009

The coincidence is frightening. I hope I’m being overly paranoid, but it makes me wonder if the police aren’t preparing a “this was all staged” defense. Stonewall, after all, became a rallying point. The police may claim that gay patrons are trying to turn this into one as well.

Please don’t misinterpret my remarks, and I sincerely hope I’m wrong. There’s plenty of evidence that the bar’s patrons had nothing to do with any of this, and I don’t believe the young man with the head injury wanted to be thrown to the ground any more than anyone in the bar wanted to be harassed or arrested.

Unfortunately I’ve seen bigots jump on this sort of thing before and blame the victims. I hope that doesn’t happen here–I think the bar’s patrons have suffered more than enough already–but it won’t surprise me.

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