This blog was written by Eric Ross, a Join the Impact organizer in the East Bay of California. He is also the founder of Students for Equality, an organization dedicated to getting high school and college students more involved in LGBTQ Activism. He can be found on facebook and twitter as @LGBT_Activist
In the early morning hours of Sunday, June 29, 2009, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) was accompanied by officers from the Fort Worth Police Department (FWPD) to conduct what they called a routine check at a gay bar called the Rainbow Lounge. A total of three bars were inspected that night (the other bars were the Rosedale Saloon and the Cowboy Palace); however the “routine inspection” at the Rainbow Lounge resulted in one person (26 year old Chad Gibson) being hospitalized with a head injury, and witnesses at have been claiming that excessive force was used with many customers at the bar. Witnesses are saying that even though 7 people were arrested, many more were dragged out of the bar. People are actually calling the event a “Police Raid”. What makes the story even more interesting is that the incident just happened to fall on the 40th anniversary of Stonewall. Is this a coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.
Stories have been popping up all over the internet claiming that police came armed with zip ties and were overly aggressive to the people in the bar (you can find links to some of the stories toward the bottom of this article). An early statement by the police said that they encountered hostile and argumentative drunks that made “sexually explicit movements” and even “assaulted a TABC agent by grabbing the agent’s groin.” Witnesses claim that these allegations are false and the police harassed people for no reason. Regardless of whether or not the above allegations are true, a man was still admitted to the hospital with a brain injury and there is no excuse or justification for that.
People are outraged with the FWPD, but the interesting thing is that Fort Worth was one of the first cities in Texas to pass a non-discrimination ordinance including LGBT people. The State of Texas does not currently have a non-discrimination ordinance that includes LGBT people, and the TABC (a state organization) are the ones that arrested Chad Gibson. Another interesting thing is that Fort Worth Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead has become proactive by saying he’ll add LGBT liaison and sensitivity training. So far the TABC has not stepped up to offer improvements in their organization. Is it needed? What really happened at the Rainbow Lounge? A thorough investigation is needed to find out exactly what happened, and who is responsible for the hospitalization of Gibson.
Here are some things that you can do to help out:
1. A facebook group has been created and is called “Rainbow Lounge Raid”. It mentions that an account has been set up at Frost Bank to benefit Gibson and people can make donations to Q Cinema for the benefit of Chad Gibson (the donation is through Q Cinema in order to be tax deductible). The account number is 608439230. Make checks out to “Q Cinema FBO Chad Gibson. It also mentions that the ability to make online donations will be coming soon.
2. You can also send emails to Fort Worth councilmembers to demand a full and independent investigation into the appalling raid on the Rainbow Lounge. The key word here is “Independent” to ensure the investigation is not biased. So far, only Joel Burns and two of his colleagues have called for a swift, thorough, open and transparent investigation.
• Councilmember W.B. “Zim” Zimmerman
• Councilmember Danny Scarth
• Councilmember Frank Moss
• Councilmember Jungus Jordan
• Councilmember Carter Burdette
• Mayor Mike Moncrief
3. Call and send emails to thank the people who have supported a thorough investigation:
• Councilmember Joel Burns
• Senator Wendy Davis
• House Representative Lon Burnam
4. Upcoming events for people in or near Fort Worth, TX:
• 7/03/09 – 9 p.m. Benefit Show for Chad Gibson, Rainbow Lounge
• 7/14/09 – 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 14: Fort Worth City Council Meeting, Fort Worth Municipal Building
1000 Throckmorton St.
This blog was written by Eric Ross who is a Join the Impact organizer in the East Bay of California.
Follow him on:
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/people/Eric-Ross/843099482
Twitter – @LGBT_Activist
Here are some articles regarding the Rainbow Lounge Incident:
The Dallas Voice – http://www.dallasvoice.com/artman/publish/article_11521.php
Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission’s Statement – http://www.tabc.state.tx.us/public_information/notices/2009/multipleArrests.asp