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Candle Light Vigil to be Held in Honor of Man Injured by Police Raid

June 30, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Community Outreach, Featured, LGBT Action Alerts

Rainbow Lounge Raid - Chad GibsonChad Gibson had gone to the bathroom just before Ft. Worth Police and Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission Officers raided the Stonewall Inn Rainbow Lounge to arrest some gay men for public intoxication.  As Chad exited the bathroom, he was “taken down” and suffered a severe head injury.  He is still in intensive care.

The police claim that Chad fell down because he was so drunk.  Of course, the “but for” argument is valid, But for the Police Raid Chad wouldn’t have been injured (at least in the same manner).

LGBT people and their allies are pulling together showing that we are a community standing together.  Tomorrow night, Wednesday, July 1, 2009, a candle light vigil will be held.  According to the facebook event page:

The North Texas LGBTA Community will gather Wed. July 1st, 2009 at the Rainbow Lounge at 8:30pm in honor of Chad Gibson, the young man hospitalized in the June 28th raid at the same location. We must unite to show the world that what happens to one of us, happens to all of us. We must unite to show Fort Worth that this type of violence against any person will not be tolerated. But, most importantly we must unite to show Chad that his community is standing by his side.

As a side note, I spoke with attorney Julya Billhiymer, this morning.  She confirmed that her offer of pro bono criminal defense is valid and available to those arrested during the raid.  If you were or know someone who was arrested at the Rainbow Lounge, please share her contact information:

The Law Office of Julya Billhymer
608 8th Ave.
Ft. Worth, Texas
(817) 732-LAWS (5297 )

Another First Hand Account Indicates Police Targeted Gays in Ft. Worth Raid.

June 29, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Featured, LGBT News

stonewallMore and more eyewitness accounts of the police raid of the Ft. Worth gay bar, Rainbow Lounge, are being circulated, many via the Facebook page set up for information on the raid.  One account by a straight ally who was not arrested or ticketed in spite of admitting to police that she was drunk indicates:

I was appalled to read the official statement issued by the police. The allegations of assault, groping, and resisting arrest were complete fabrications. Men parted like the red sea wherever the police were. No one was groping them.

I WILL NOT SIT BACK AND BE SILENT. I WILL CONTINUE TO SHARE MY STORY AND PROTEST ALONGSIDE THE COMMUNITY THAT HAS MADE ME FEEL SO WELCOME. I ENTERED THE BAR A PATRON ON SATURDAY NIGHT, AND BECAUSE OF THE POLICE BRUTALITY AND DISCRIMINATION I WITNESSED I LEFT AN ACTIVIST.

— [Alison Egert]

Yet again, witness accounts of the evening completely contradict the police allegations of resisting arrest, groping of officers and lewd sexual gestures by patrons.

Ft. Worth City Councilman Joel Burns released the following statement yesterday evening:

We want all citizens of Texas and Fort Worth to know and be assured that the laws and ordinances of our great State and City will be applied fairly, equally and without malice or selective enforcement. We consider this to be part of “The Fort Worth Way” here. As elected representatives of the city of Fort Worth, we are calling for an immediate and thorough investigation of the actions of the City of Fort Worth Police and Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission in relation to the incident at the Rainbow Lounge earlier this morning, June 28, 2009.

It is unfortunate that this incident occurred in Fort Worth and even more so to have occurred on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall protests. Unlike 40 years ago, though, the people of this community have elective representation that will make sure our government is accountable and that the rights of all of its citizens are protected. We are working together with our Mayor, Police Chief, the City of Fort Worth Human Relations Commission, and our State Legislative colleagues to get a complete and accurate accounting of what occurred.

Rest assured that neither the people of Fort Worth, nor the city government of Fort Worth, will tolerate discrimination against any of its citizens. And know that the GLBT Community is an integral part of the economic and cultural life of Fort Worth.

Every Fort Worth citizen deserves to have questions around this incident answered and we are all working aggressively toward that end.

SOME RELATED LINKS:

Dym Sum | Stonewall Revisited?  Fort Worth, TX Gay Bar Raided

Truth and Love After 40 (via Pam’s House Blend)

The Daily Kos | Raid on Ft. Worth Bar

On Top Magazine | Hundred Protest Police Raid of Ft. Worth Bar

Feministing | Raid in Ft. Worth Bar of Rainbow Lounge

Facebook Group dedicated to the Rainbow Lounge Raid.

CNN Coverage of the Rainbow Lounge Raid.

Search of Google News for Latest Information.

It’s All Just a Little Bit of History Repeated: Ft. Worth Gay Bar Raided

June 29, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Featured, LGBT News

stonewallSaturday 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.”