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Gay Activists Kicked out of Council Hearing on Rainbow Lounge Raid.

July 15, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination, Headline, LGBT News

While there is no reason the average person should watch the entire 6+ hours of the City Counsel meeting during which the Ft. Worth raid of the Rainbow Lounge was discussed, it does have its dramatic moments. City Council Woman, Kathleen Hicks, delivered an eloquent speech around the 0:13:50 mark.

As a council representative of the club in which this unfortunate incident took place and as an African American female who experiences discrimination every day of my life, I fill it is incumbent upon me to stand up, not only for the citizens I represent, but for all.  I want to thank each and everyone of you that have emailed or called me regarding this incident.

***

I also feel very strongly that not only the police, but all city employees, including myself, must receive education on diversity and inclusion and acceptance of all within our community.

Thereafter, District 9 Councilman, Joel Burns, advised that he has received over 1,000 emails and telephone calls indicating concern over the raid.  While he believes the Chief Police is doing a thorough job, he agrees an independent investigation is necessary.

But the real fun began shortly after the 25 minute mark when the mayor attempted to move away from the Rainbow Lounge talks and continue with the agenda items.  Much to the dismay of many present, the City of Ft. Worth had placed the Rainbow Lounge raid last on the agenda.  Audience members, frustrated that LGBT issues are last again, interrupted the mayor to request that the Rainbow Lounge Raid be moved to the front of the agenda.

The mayor advised that there are many other important things on the agenda that must be discussed prior to the alleged human rights violations.  A review of the agenda indicates that an Agreement for Auction Services, the purchase of a truck, veterinary supplies and other such items took precedence.  The LGBT activists present then began chanting, “Hear us now!”

Discontent amongst those present continued to esculate and ultimately resulted in the removal of two men from the meeting by marshals.  The request to move the Rainbow Lounge discussions to the front of the agenda was denied.

Upon being asked to apologize for a man [Chad Gibson] being hospitalized.  The mayor responded by saying:

If you want an apology from the mayor of Fort Worth: I am sorry about what happened in Fort Worth.

Three hours later, Jonathan Nelson, a Ft. Worth attorney, opened the discussions on behalf of the LGBT community.  He began by reading an email he received calling him a “meth head” and “fudge backer” which email further asked how he can find time to sodomize his partner while doing interviews with the Dallas Voice, working with the LGBT Chamber and picking up “rent boys.”  He explained:

That is what it can mean to be gay in Ft. Worth.

Many more speakers followed, all with their own stories and experiences.  The investigation into the incedent is still underway.

Since the raid, Officer Sara Straten has been appointed as a liaison to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.  Perhaps progress is being made.

VIDEO OF THE ENTIRE MEETING:


Launch in external player

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 )