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June 29, 2009


At approximately 1:00 am on June 28th, the Ft Worth Police department along with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) entered the Rainbow Lounge, a new gay bar open only a few weeks, to supposedly conduct a "routine" alcohol beverage code inspection.

These inspections have been done before but they were always handled in a low-key manor. A couple of police would come in, look around and then ask the owner or bartender a few questions before filling out their forms. If there was no overly loud music and no fights or loud arguments going on and no one was making out in the bathrooms, they simply left without incident. This one however, turned out to be anything but routine.

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

Witnesses say that police arrived at the nightclub about 1 a.m. Sunday and arrested seven people and that one of those arrested suffered a fractured skull during the takedown and is at a Fort Worth hospital.

That person is Chad Gibson who was knocked unconscious and is in serious condition with an injury that has caused bleeding on his brain. This may very well require delicate and dangerous brain surgery to alleviate.

In their written report, the police claimed that Gibson was "resisting arrest" and had to be “placed on the ground to control and apprehend him.” But The general manager of the Rainbow Lounge and several patrons disputed the police account, saying officers used excessive force to make arrests.

Chris Hightower of Fort Worth, a friend of Gibson who was with him that night, said:
"He was just walking to the bathroom when an officer grabbed him and shoved him against a wall and pulled his head back. He was then thrown to the ground and three other officers were on him."

The police report also claimed that many of the patrons verbally harrassed them and one patron even assaulted a TABC agent by grabbing his groin while another made “sexually explicit movements towards another officer.”

To counter those claims, the GLBT publication Dallas Voice reported:

Rainbow Lounge owner J.R. Schrock said claims that patrons made sexual advances to the officers and that one patron groped an officer were lies.

“The groping of the police officer — really? We’re gay, but we’re not dumb,” Schrock said to the crowd that gathered at the bar Sunday afternoon [for a demonstration against the incident]. “That is a lie, and I am appalled by it."

Other eyewitness accounts said that the police were very loud and abrasive as they moved through the lounge, clearly trying to intimidate the patrons.

Having lived through the era of having only mafia owned gay bars to go to and then having to deal with indiscriminate police raids, I find this incident to be doubly appalling. First, because it even happened at all and second, because they chose to do it on the anniversary of the Stonewall riots which, I'm absolutely sure, could not have been an "accident" or "coincidence."

I'm hoping that the officers and supervisors involved in this overtly homophobic raid don't just get a slap-on-the-wrist reprimand but are suspended without pay and/or outright fired. This is not something that should be happening in a large metropolitan city, or anywhere else for that matter, in 2009.

Unfortunately I just learned that the Dallas Voice just published a report that said:

Senior Editor Tammye Nash is just now leaving the hospital in Fort Worth where she spoke with Chad Gibson’s family. Gibson is in intensive care after reportedly suffering head trauma when he was thrown to the ground by police early Sunday during a raid of the Rainbow Lounge. Nash said she visited with Gibson’s mother and his sister this morning, and they told her that his condition has worsened. Gibson reportedly has a brain bleed — also known as intracerebral hemorraghing — and the clot inside his skull has gotten larger and shifted, which is a bad sign. Gibson is scheduled for another CT scan at 10 a.m. today. After that, doctors will decide whether the clot can be shrunk with medication or whether they need to perform surgery. Stay tuned, and keep Gibson in your thoughts and prayers.

I now amend my last comment to say that I hope that the subhuman, homophobic police who are responsible for Chad's injuries be given the maximum penalties possible under the law. They could not have been operating under any kind of "approved" police procedures and should be held criminally responsible!


Rebecca said...

Absolutely they must be held criminally responsible. Great summarizing of the story.
This has me sick to my stomach and madder than hell too.
There is a very ugly undercurrent in this country right that is really beginning to surface and not just towards our community, I only hope people wake up and realize it before it is too late.

Steve Krotz said...

You're right Rebecca. There is a rising tide of violence. So much so that the Department of Homeland Security released a report in April entitled "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment." So you can rest a little easier knowing that these people ARE being watched and attention is being called to it on a national level.

The best thing that we can do is, as I've said many times before, be careful out there. The more successful we become, the more frustrated and dangerous the homophobes become.

Always be aware of your surroundings and, whenever possible, travel with a friend or group of friends. These people are basically cowards and they almost always look for the most vulnerable.