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Texas Agencies to Investigate Allegations of their Own Misconduct

July 03, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

Chief HalsteadIn the fight to obtain federal hate crimes legislation, one argument we hear from opponents of the law over and over again is, “a crime is a crime.”  But what people making that argument don’t realize is that the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act isn’t just about criminalizing bias based crimes, but also about protecting suspect classes from those who are supposed to protect them.

As previously discussed, on June 28, 2009, the Rainbow Lounge in Ft. Worth, Texas was raided by Ft. Worth police officers and Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission officers.  Ft. Worth police chief, Jeff Halstead, has indicated that the Ft. Worth Police Department is investigating allegations of excessive force and police brutality in the raid. Now, TABC has indicated that an investigation has been launched by their agency into the allegations.

Have you noticed the problem with the investigation yet?  The agencies that are accused of the abuse are the very agencies investigating themselves for the alleged abuse.  Imagine for a moment you are accused of a crime.  Police tell you, “It is alleged that you are a serial killer.”  You then turn to police and advise them, “Don’t worry, my husband/wife will be investigating the allegations and we will let you know whether or not I’m guilty.”  That would never be allowed to occur.  The reliability of such investigation would be questionable, at best, and likely completely corrupt.  Would the police trust you to investigate yourself?

Enter the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (the Matthew Shepard Act).  Hate crimes legislation on the federal level already exists for many suspect classes.  The new Act being proposed simply adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the existing law.  It would also allow a federal agency authority to investigate bias crimes committed by local law enforcement rather than the local agencies investigating the allegations for themselves.

During the police raid that night, Chad Gibson, while in police custody, received a severe head injury.  This injury isn’t just about police brutality or the raid of a gay bar.  The question that must be answered is whether or not this raid, conducted on the 40th anniversary of police raids of the Stonewall Inn which sparked riots and the gay rights movement as we know it today, was intended to send a message to the community, “You are not wanted here.”  It must be investigated as a hate crime.  Unfortunately, religious ideology, conservative theory and the belief that gays are less of humans than straights have prevented such legislation from being passed.

So, when the TABC claims their investigation indicated they did nothing wrong, when the Ft. Worth Police Department’s investigation of its actions indicate they did nothing wrong, remember – they are investigating themselves because our feirce ally and representatives in the Senate can’t seem to pass a simple, yet necessary law.

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 )