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A Texas Style Stonewall Brings LGBT Attention.

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

Stonewall, Texas StyleSo many conflicting stories are floating around about what happened at the Rainbow Lounge.  A lot of attention has been placed on the injury to Chad Gibson.  Some say that it constitutes police brutality.  While it very well may does, police had gone too far before well before Chad was injured.

Josh Taylor and his friend Dylan had been at the bar that evening for about an hour.  Josh was on his third drink when the raid began.  Officers entered the VIP lounge and arrested Dylan first.  Josh stopped one of the officers and asked why they were arresting his friend.  The officer pointed at Josh and said, “P.I.”  Josh was then taken into custody.

Did you know Police and TABC officers can arrest on suspicion of public intoxication?  Not only were sobriety tests not performed, but they are not required for the arrest.  This is more than a “gay issue,” this is a human rights issue.

Further, I asked Josh directly whether he, or anyone else to his knowledge, groped or otherwise made sexual gestures at police.  As suspected, Josh answered that he saw no one perform anything as such.

That seems consistent with other reports from witnesses.  Seems no one at Rainbow Lounge that night, except for the TABC officers and Ft. Worth Police Department,  saw any such gesturing or groping.  But why then would the police claim they were groped?

The Gay Panic Defense.  Perhaps the most ridiculous, yet successful, defense for beating or murdering gays yet.  The defense was first used by Jonathan Schmitz for killing Scott Amedure after Scott declared his love for Jonathan on The Jenny Jones Show.

The murders of Matthew Shepard initially claimed this as their defense.  However, in Wyoming, the Judge ruled such a defense constitutes either “a temporary insanity defense or a diminished capacity defense,” both of which are bared under Wyoming Law.  Not the case in Texas where a good ole boy can claim “self defense” for a killing a gay man for coming onto him and a jury would acquit the guy.

However, in this instance a nation of voices has said “ENOUGH” to Texas.  Calls and letters and questions came in from around the nation.  The result? The Ft. Worth Mayor has requested that the Federal Government monitor the investigation into the allegations against the Ft. Worth Police Department and the Police Chief, Jeff Halstead, has suspended bar raids in collaboration with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (“TABC”).

In spite of this progress, there is more work to be done.  While the TABC has indicated they are investigating the allegations and that they have placed the agents involved on the day shift (desk duty) they have not yet requested any oversight by the federal government.  Thus, there is still reason for us to stand together as a nation.  Help this Texan out.  Please contact Senators and Representatives in Texas, the TABC and Texas U.S. Representatives and Senators.  Demand federal oversight of the TABC investigation, demand state policy changes, protect human rights.  Together, we can build a safer Texas for ALL people.

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.

Police Raid Lesbians’ Home with Derogatory Comments

May 11, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination, Featured, LGBT News

San Antonio Police DepartmentOver the past several months, the San Antonio Texas Police Department has come under scrutiny for abuses to LGBT people.  This comes as no surprise considering their history – including incidents involving yours truly, a brutal beating of a couple at a local mall during an arrest due to the women “kissing” in public, and two incidents involving gay men on San Antonio’s Main Street [the “gay” district].

The latest episode involves an “anonymous” tip from a neighbor of a lesbian couple indicating the two women had a meth lab in their home.  Although untrue, police were able to secure a warrant and entered the couple’s home by knocking the door down on April 28, 2009.

The couple, Carolyn and Lindsey, were settling in for the evening.  Lindsey was already in bed and Carolyn had just come in from taking their dogs out when the police broke threw the front door of the house saying, “We have a warrant.”

Police handcuffed Carolyn before one policeman entered the bedroom and found Lindsey hiding her naked body under the covers.  The officer asked Lindsey if she were nude, and upon her positive response, he laughed at her then grabbed a t-shirt from the closet and tossed it over to her.  A second male officer entered the room and handed Lindsey a pair of pants.  Then a third officer entered and watched smiling as Lindsey struggled to dress without revealing herself to the male officers.

When Lindsey stood up, one of the officers grabbed her, turned her around and asked, “What man lives here?”  Lindsey answered that there was no man living in the house; however, the police did not believe her because the house contained “male” items such as a samuri sword, knives and a bow.  Lindsey advised that the items did not belong to a man, but rather to Carolyn, and that they are a lesbian couple.  All of the officers in the room with Lindsey then laughed at her.  One of the officers responded:

See, I knew that about you. I knew that y’all were lesbians. I had someone who was in here last night, they described your house and your girlfriend in there. We’re going to bring in a drug dog and if we find a small stash, we’re going to let that slide. But if we find anything like a lab or anything like that, we’re taking you and your girlfriend in.

According to Lindsey, two other officers were talking about how they liked quirky women because they were freaks in bed.  She further expressed the couple’s humiliation caused by the rude comments and laughter of the officers noting that the interrogation went far beyond ordinary police work.

The officers did not find any narcotics or meth lab in the house.  They did; however, take the time to lay several personal items belonging to the girls on the bed, including books and videos with sexual connotations as well as several of Carolyn’s bras.

Emails to the San Antonio Police Department were not responded to prior to publication.  You may contact the San Antonio Police Department’s Gay and Lesbian Community Liaison, Capt. Jose Banales, via email to jose.banales@sanantonio.gov.

QSanAntonio has done a wonderful report which includes the names and badge numbers of all San Antonio (and Leon Valley [suburb]) Police Officer’s names and badge numbers.