Thursday, July 2, 2009

Rainbow Lounge Raid

This one has set my insides on FIRE and I need to blog it out FAST!!! This week was the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Inn Riots. As a tribute to the violence and hate of that time, a few Fort Worth, Texas police officers took matters into their own hands in an effort to recreate those events. In what the officers are calling a “routine inspection” of a local Fort Worth gay bar called the Rainbow Lounge, officers descended upon and created havoc inside of the bar. The officers claim that the patrons of the bar made sexual advances towards them and therefore were restrained.

A 26 year old bar patron named Chad Gibson was brutally beaten. He remains in intensive care with extensive brain injuries due to this incident. So if he assaulted a police officer, which is the claim, why was he not arrested? Instead he was brutally beaten to the point of a massive head injury.

Chad Gibson

Fort Worth Police Chief, Jeff Halstead had this to say:

"You're touched and advanced in certain ways by people inside the bar, that's offensive," he said. "I'm happy with the restraint used when they were contacted like that."

And that translates to: "Them faggots in that thar bar touched mah officers and now they're complainin' about some rough stuff and one little ol' faggot with a brain injury? Those perverts should be grateful they're alive." ---courtesy of SLOG 6/30/09 written by Dan Savage of Savage Love

A few first hand accounts from other bar patrons:

"They were hyped up. They were loaded for bear," said Todd Camp, a veteran journalist who was there celebrating his birthday with friends. "They were just randomly grabbing people, telling them they were drunk."
Camp told me he has been in bars during TABC/police "checks" before, "and it was never anything like this." Usually, he said, officers discreetly walk through, looking for anybody who has had too much. This was different. "They were shoving patrons," Camp said, "asking, 'How much have you had to drink?'"
"[Gibson] was taken down hard," said Camp, with "four or five" officers wrestling him to the floor inside the club. Cell phone photos shot by patrons and posted to blogs show a person being held facedown by officers in a short hallway inside the club, then show a dent in the wall where his head was apparently banged.

Bar owner, J.R. Schrock:

"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. "That is a lie, and I am appalled by it."

I have been struggling with this news for the last 5 days. Today I was reading SLOG, Dan Savage’s blog and he gives the e-mail addresses for Fort Worth’s local elected officials. I have attached my e-mail to them for your pleasure. If you agree with me, send a shout out of your own. We have to take a stand if we are going to see equality prevail.

Subject: Shocked and appalled

Which one of you is going to take a stand for Chad Gibson? Police brutality is a sick and twisted element of why our judicial system has been on a downward spiral for a long time. I hope that every politician in Fort Worth is not a backwards bigot but I am hard pressed to find people willing to stand up for something that is a violation everything this country stands for. With a police chief that condones the unnecessary beating of innocent people, how do you expect the citizens of Fort Worth to feel safe?

"You're touched and advanced in certain ways by people inside the bar, that's offensive," he said. "I'm happy with the restraint used when they were contacted like that."-----Chief of Police Jeff Halstead (this man should be fired immediately)

I am not just speaking of gay citizens but everyone in the City of Fort Worth. I don't see proof of the inappropriate touching that these officers spoke of but I do see proof of police brutality. There is video, photo and journalistic proof that this was not your run-of-the-mill "inspection". That is not "restraint" as quoted by your chief of police. That is brutality pure and simple. If Chad Gibson assaulted a police officer, why was he not cuffed and charged? Instead he clings to life with blood on his brain because the police officers that represent your fine city feel like it is OK to beat people senseless because of their sexual orientation. I am sad for Forth Worth and politicians such as your self. I hope the entire country stands up to take notice of the injustice that you have allowed in your town. Not one of you has been strong enough to take a stand. I hope that an example is made of you and your fine little city, most of all your bigot police chief. I truly hope your mothers feel shame for the people they have put on this earth; people who can stand by and let injustice take place; people who clearly don't value human life or the rights of each individual in this country to be who and what they are. I hope that the gay community shames your city into action. Your actions, or rather inaction, should show us all that this country has a long way to go to equality for all people. That road begins with our elected officials and their ability to lead and set an example for what is right. You have failed miserably at your job. I can only hope that someday you find compassion in your heart and you are able to forgive yourself for this complete lack of responsibility and honor. I also hope that Chad Gibson recovers fully and sues the shit out of the City of Fort Worth. I will be making a donation to Chad Gibson’s legal team. I do hope your time as a representative of Fort Worth and the great state of Texas is short and that someday you see the error in your ways and the hate that lives in your heart. You can always step up and do the right thing. Any one of you can do it today. I wish to see your police chief relieved of his duties immediately and reprimands put on all of the officers involved in this senseless tragedy. At the very least, you owe the people of your city an investigation and a heartfelt apology for your inaction and lack of compassion. I hope that one of you has the strength to make this right.


Toni Crosby
Gay Lover/Friend/Advocate

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