Raid in Fort Worth Bar on the Anniversary of Stonewall

On the 40th anniversary of Stonewall, June 28, Fort Worth police raided The Rainbow Lounge and made numerous arrests. Here’s an excerpt of an eye witness account:

My name is Kayla Lane. I am a Ph.D. student at UC-Santa Cruz, staying with my sister, Kelly Lane, for the summer. We and a few of our friends went to the new Rainbow Lounge last night to dance and have some fun. I was in the VIP section when police officers started coming up there. The first arrest (that we saw) was right in front of me in that section.
They asked the guy if he had been drinking, and he said some, and they snidely replied, “Well, we’ll see how much!” and plastic handcuffed him as they read him his rights The guy was doing NOTHIG wrong. It was utterly repugnant.
Once I saw this happen, I decided to try and speak with one of the police officers themselves, to go straight to the source and get their side. My sister Kelly and I simply started asking what they were doing here, stating how suspicious it seemed on this date and in this specific club, etc. This was a “State Policeman,” whose name I forgot, who tried to explain their actions by referring to “anonymous tips” and “disgruntled ex-bartenders.” We pointed out the place was open a week, so the disgruntled ex-bartender source seemed a bit unlikely! He wouldn’t really answer my questions. although he did try to grab my hand and flirt with me (which was completely uninvited).
After this, we saw the policemen go into the men’s restroom, pull out at least two guys from handcuffs from there, and pull one onto the ground before forcefully removing him. What were they doing in there? Raucously disposing of their waste?! There was no reason for ANY of those arrests, at all. These people were NOT drunk, or even overly happy or silly.
I am incensed and horrified by the way everyone at this location was treated. I hope this will get as much publicity as it deserves, and that a myriad of challenges and complaints will be made to the FWPD and other media sources.

Read more about the incident, and the follow-up protests here.

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19 Comments

  1. MzBitca
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    This is just absolutely disgusting. The fact that they did this on the or because of the anniversary of the Stonewall riots show just how far our country has yet to come in giving the GLBT community any semblance of equal rights.
    The excuse that they heard the bar was overserving is ridiculous as they would not be arresting patrons.
    Also, it appears one of the victims of this horrible rage is in ICU and has severe brain injury and bleeding.

  2. llevinso
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    I feel like throwing up reading this garbage. Public intoxication? Yeah fucking right! And that poor man whose brain is now bleeding because of these jackasses. I’m soooo angry right now I don’t even know how to respond.

  3. preppy
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    I wouldn’t even give these police officers the credit of KNOWING that it was the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. They’re probably too ignorant to even know what they was. But I do believe their actions are disgusting and targeted to ‘punish’ people of the LGBT community.

  4. TeenMommy
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    I’m fucking shocked about this. I don’t even know what to say.

  5. Kat
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    The victim’s condition is worsening :(
    http://dym-sum.com/2009/06/29/no170/

  6. llevinso
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    The thing is I’m NOT shocked by this. That’s the sad part. I’m horribly upset and saddened and enraged. But shocked? Unfortunately no.

  7. Ruby
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Apparently, this has been happening in Texas and in Fort Worth for awhile now–raiding bars to arrest people for public intoxication. I don’t know if there’s been any on this level anywhere else though. Just before they got to the Rainbow Lounge they raided a place called the Rosedale Saloon and Cowboy Palace and made 9 arrests. Is that also an LGBT bar? I think it’s in the same neighborhood so it could be.
    But regardless, the officers’ defense of their behavior in the bar (i.e. arresting people for apparently no reason, using excessive force) is classicly homophobic–the patrons were making lewd sexual advances at them and grabbing for the officers’ groins. Wow. What bullshit.
    Aside from the fact that that’s probably completely false (I haven’t heard any eyewitness testimony to support those claims) it really just boils down to the “gay panic” defense. “I had to beat him up, he questioned my manhood!” That’s so disgusting.

  8. anteup
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Shit like this makes it really hard for me to love my state.

  9. cattrack2
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Many of you will find this hard to believe but this is actually not uncommon in TX, and its not just targeted at the LGBT community but at a wide variety of establishments serving alcohol. There was, in fact, a case widely reported here where the state police arrested people at a hotel bar following a wedding there. The actions are really targeted more at drinking than at homosexuality.
    Not that I agree with arresting people for drinking, and I certainly disdain the police brutality that resulted in this man’s hospitalization, but we should be clear when there is LGBT discrimination & when there is not.

  10. dancerjess
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    How is it illegal to be drunk in a bar? I don’t understand.

  11. ikkin
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    I used to the be Chair of the Texas Young Stonewalls and many of my members live in Ft. Worth. We just don’t even know how to react to such a horrible display.
    A couple years ago, I was in a gay bar in Killeen, TX called “The Closet.” Killeen is a military town located next to Ft. Hood, the largest base in The United States. While we were drinking and dancing, cops came in looking for soldiers, essentially asking everyone if they were in the armed forces. Unfortunately, it seems that this behavior still common in the Great State of Texas. From my experience, it’s practically illegal to be different anywhere but Austin.

  12. Tabitha
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    I live in a major metropolitan area in Texas and this type of police behavior is NOT the norm. We have a very active and vocal gay & lesbian community, many churches that welcome ALL people, and plenty of gay/lesbian bars. There IS a strong police presence in the areas with the bars but it is for the protection of the customers (not to arrest them).
    Texas is a very big state. In any large area, you can find incidents of police abusing their power. So please, if you don’t want people stereotyping women or gay/lesbian/transgender people or people of color and so on–don’t stereotype a very large state that has all different kinds of people with a wide variety of opinions.
    BTW Austin is a great place but not the only great place. They also use their untraditional image for very traditional purposes (to boost tourism $$$).

  13. ikkin
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    There are a couple Metropolitan areas of Texas (Houston, Austin, and sometimes Dallas and El Paso) that are tolerant, progressive areas. However, coming from a rural area of Texas, I know exactly how much work we have as LGBT activists. The majority of the Texas population lives in rural areas. I was trying to highlight how much work there is to do, how far we really do have to go. I prefer to believe that Texas will not be drug out of the dark ages, kicking and screaming, but that will likely be the case for rural areas who will be unhappy with the changes we are likely to see over the next few years.

  14. cattrack2
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Its not that its illegal per se, rather its a hamfisted attempt by the state to reduce DWI by catching people at the bar before they even get in the car. That’s the charitable view. The uncharitable view is that its an attempt to discourage drinking, period, by bible belters (TX still has “wet” and “dry” counties. Even Dallas, the 9th largest city in the country, is mostly “dry”).
    The reason they can get away with this is the public intoxication laws are subjective, not objective. DWI has an objective, .08 standard but it only applies behind the wheel. With public intoxication the standard is “is the person a danger to themselves or the community?” So the police have greater latitude in acting, the only check on them being the court which ultimately tries the case. In fact if you’re arrested for a DWI and request a breathalyzer, they aren’t even required to conduct one…or a field sobriety test for that matter.

  15. omphaloskeptic
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    thanks for posting about this and for the links.

  16. llevinso
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Public intoxication is tricky. The only time I’ve ever heard of anyone being arrested for it is when they’ve been disorderly in some way. Like if they’re being extremely loud and abusive in a bar (or outside), wrecking property, that kind of thing. It’s an extremely subjective law as cattrack pointed out. But from reading the eye witness reports, none of this seemed to be the case. Police were just arresting effeminite gay men in a bar for no apparent reason claiming it was for public intoxication. It’s completely unacceptable.

  17. Citizen Lane
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    Point of order, DWI is just as subjective as PI. You can prove DWI by three means: BAC over .08, loss of normal mental and physical faculties, or an ingestion of alcohol or a dangerous drug into the system. These are entirely up to the jury.
    Here’s the kicker, though: PI is just a class C misdemeanor. Arrests for PI should be rare, although the criteria for arrest is whether someone is so intoxicated in a public place that they pose a danger to themselves or others. Still, at most, PI is worth a $500 fine and court costs… it’s definitely not a handcuffs + take the ground offense (unless someone is violent, in which case, resisting arrest is a more likely charge).
    I find the timing and reported vehemence of this… uh… raid to be unsettling, and I’m a Texas law enforcement official. I won’t start leaping to conclusions just yet, but I’ll be following how this all pans out.

  18. Kat
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Cops are claiming that the victim fell down and hurt himself because he was drunk. http://crimeblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2009/06/fort-worth-police-identify-off.html
    Also city officials want an investigation.
    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_GAY_BAR_RAID?SITE=TNKNN&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

  19. Siveambrai
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    This is true. I live in a college town that’s well known for being a “party school” and PI arrests aren’t that uncommon here. However, they’re almost always done reactively. The police will wait in well know areas for drunk college kids to walk through but they won’t just go around arresting people. Usually there has to be some type of action by the individual (i.e. urination, picking fights, walking into traffic, etc) before the police step in and make an arrest.
    For police to be going into bars and arresting what sounds like mostly sober people seems more like discrimination than attempts to reduce DUI.

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