Between 150 and 200 people gathered on the steps of the Tarrant County Courthouse Sunday, June 28 — the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion — to protest a police raid on a Fort Worth gay bar, The Rainbow Lounge, at about 1 a.m. that day. Gay Fort Worth City Councilmember Joel Burns told the protesters he has called on Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead to conduct a thorough investigation into allegations of harassment and police brutality against bar patrons during the raid. One man remains hospitalized with a brain injury after, witnesses said, several officers threw him to the ground while arresting him.
Sources have said that seven people were arrested in the raid although witnesses at the scene said many more people were handcuffed with zip ties and taken out of the bar.
One man, identified by his sister as Chad Gibson, was in the intensive care unit at Fort Worth’s JPS Hospital with bleeding in his brain after officers threw him to the ground and used zip-ties to handcuff him.
The raid happened on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall rebellion.
Joel Burns, Fort Worth’s first and only openly gay City Council member, was in Houston for the weekend, but came back to Fort Worth in time for the rally at the courthouse.
“We want all citizens of Texas and Fort Worth to know and be assured that the laws of ordinances of our great state and city will be applied fairly, equally and without malice or selective enforcement,” Burns said at the rally, reading from a prepared statement.
“We consider this to be part of ‘The Fort Worth Way’ here. As elected representatives of the city of Fort Worth, we are calling for an immediate and thorough investigation of the actions of the city of Fort Worth police and Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission in relation to the incident at the Rainbow Lounge earlier this morning,” Burns said.
In an e-mail communication before noon on Sunday, Burns said he had already talked with Fort Worth Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead who had promised an investigation into the matter. Burns also said at that time that Mayor Pro Tem Kathleen Hicks, who represents the district where the Rainbow Lounge is located, and City Manager Dale A. Fisseler were also already aware of the situation.
The suspicion is that “elements of the law enforcement community selectively targeted a recently opened gay and lesbian establishment for selective enforcement and harassment.”
Not much commentary at this point. I’m just watching this one.