Saturday night, I shut jaysays.com down to honor the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots. I sat there contemplating how life has changed for LGBT people since that night forty years ago. It was midnight central time. Little did I know that in less than an hour, history would repeat itself as police raided the Rainbow Lounge in Ft. Worth, Texas.
According to the Ft. Worth Police Department, officers were doing routine raids and the Rainbow Lounge just happened to be on their list. Reports indicate that six Ft. Worth Police officers and two Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission officers participated in the raid.
Now, I’ve been inside of a straight bar during one of these routine checks. Two agents walked the bar requesting identification from patrons. In this case, one man was under age and had been served with alcohol. A citation was issued to the bar and the agents left with the underage individual, presumably taking him into custody.
In this case, EIGHT officers entered the bar and arrested seven patrons for public intoxication. The Ft. Worth Police Department claims that those arrested were obviously very intoxicated and made sexual gestures at the officers. One man is hospitalized after, as police allege, he grabbed one officer’s groin (something any gay man might do in a similar situation). However, this man was then “taken down” by police, fracturing his skull.
Eye witness accounts of the raid differ greatly from the police accounts. One person at the bar has indicated publicly that he watched as the first arrest occurred. A man standing at the bar took a drink of his cocktail and was thrust down on the bar by the officer and handcuffed [police were using plastic detention cuffs].
Another eyewitness indicated that he was sitting with friends on the patio area when officers came outside. They then asked why everyone had gotten so quiet. When one group continued their conversation, officers then arrested one of the participants.
No eyewitness account currently publish has indicated any sexual gestures or other such behavior being directed at the officers.
This raid, coincided not only with the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Inn raid, but it marked the eve of the Million Gay March in Dallas. It is reasonable to say that someone on the Ft. Worth police department would have known that a massive march was underway in neighboring Dallas. Therefore, is it too much to conclude that the timing was no coincidence?
As the day progressed, the front page of jaysays.com, which had been a tribute to Stonewall 1969, changed from a symbol of peace to a symbol of outrage – the Ft. Worth Police Department sent a message to the LGBT community last night We must repeat the message of our predecessors, “Stonewall was a Riot; Now We Need a Revolution.”