Crime | Dallas | Fort Worth | Gay Bar | News | Stonewall

Gays in Texas Arrested for Public Intoxication in Stonewall-Style Raid



Saturday night, on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in NYC, police reportedly entered Fort Worth's Rainbow Lounge gay bar and began arresting people with unnecessary force for public intoxication. Multiple first-hand accounts suggest that the arrests were random and unwarranted.

Fortworthprotest In all, seven were arrested and one remains hospitalized with a brain injury that occurred during the incident: "About 18 hours after officers with the Fort Worth Police Department and agents with the Texas Alcoholic Beverages Commission raided a Fort Worth gay bar, about 150 to 200 people gathered on the steps of the Tarrant County Courthouse in downtown Fort Worth Sunday night, June 28, to protest the raid."

Video of protest, AFTER THE JUMP...

The individual with the brain injury has been identified as Chad Gibson, the Dallas Voice reports: "The statement said that while some officers were outside dealing with the vomiting suspect, another officer inside requested assistance in handling an intoxicated patron who was resisting arrest, and that this person was 'placed on the ground to control and apprehend him.' This person was apparently Chad Gibson (pictured above??), who was knocked unconscious and is now hospitalized with a brain injury. Eyewitnesses to that incident said Gibson, who is 'maybe 160 pounds soaking wet,' did not resist arrest but that he did stumble after the first officer grabbed his arm. 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 Houston Chronicle, the Star-Telegram, and Dallas Morning News have all filed reports.

Police Todd Camp, a former critic for the Star-Telegram, gave a first-hand account to the Dallas Voice: "From what he said, it appears police were there arresting people who appeared to have had too much to drink. Todd said that although he saw no one resisting the police, the officers were quite rough in the way they handled people, and that he saw several people shoved rather violently to the ground and handcuffed (with the plastic zip-tie handcuffs)."

The Dallas Observer writes: "This morning, Michael Piazza, dean of Dallas's Cathedral of Hope, released a statement condemning the event, which has led to two protests planned for tonight -- one at 5 p.m. in front of the bar, and another at 7 p.m. in front of the Tarrant County Courthouse. Said Piazza, "After more than a generation of progress, this action shows that there is still much work to be done to ensure that all Americans enjoy 'equal protection under the law.' It is tragic that lesbian and gay taxpayers are still abused by the very people who are paid by our taxes."

Daily Kos notes, there's now a Facebook page: Rainbow Lounge Raid.

Video of protest, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. this used to happen all the time in a bar i used to frequent in Tulsa...but that was in 1976 not 2009. wow.

    Posted by: psgoodguy | Jun 28, 2009 7:00:05 PM

  2. It would help if there was a mention in the first paragraph or anywhere in this article as to what city is under discussion.

    Posted by: Mike | Jun 28, 2009 7:14:47 PM

  3. I don't understand. You can't be in a bar drinking, where it's leagal, and be intoxicated? Were they disorderly? Why did the police enter the bar?

    Posted by: Oppressed American | Jun 28, 2009 7:16:00 PM

  4. Haterosexuals. Haterosexuals. GODDAMN haterosexuals.

    You can bet these haterosexual male cops sat together and decided to arrest a few gay men to up the gay quotient in jail and add a few dollars to the police department.

    Haterosexuality and systematic discrimination are connected.

    Posted by: Bill | Jun 28, 2009 7:45:44 PM

  5. It looks like this happened in Dallas where there is a large and established LGBT community. I'm not familiar with this lounge, but I know that after 2am they have to stop serving alcohol, perhaps it is this particular law what the police used to carryout their abuse. Regardless of their justification, this shouldn't happen anywhere and I hope the local police department gets served with law suits from all the parties involved.

    Posted by: Rafael | Jun 28, 2009 7:48:54 PM

  6. an a heterosexual woman was also trampled by a police horse during the gay pride parade in Houston last night with the police justifying it as "police doing their job" because she didn't move fast enough out of their way.

    Posted by: Zo | Jun 28, 2009 7:51:36 PM

  7. This happened in Fort Worth near the southside historic district. There is a smaller LGBT community in Fort Worth than Dallas but we are vocal and will demand answers.

    Posted by: Kathy | Jun 28, 2009 8:12:57 PM

  8. I have been reading several articles and postings on this. It seems that they came in looking for people who were drunk (public intoxication.) I can't believe it is illegal to be drunk in a bar. The excuse is that they might drive home drunk. I take it now that it is illegal to be drunk in Texas anywhere.

    Here is a link to the Fort Worth Star Telegram retelling of the story. Remember this is a conservative town and this is a conservative paper.

    Posted by: Marlin Bynum | Jun 28, 2009 8:17:46 PM

  9. Hi there...

    I'm reading you in Leipzig, Germany, and I think it's great that Towleroad is picking up this story.

    Just wanna share some thoughts with you that I had reading about the Texas arrests.

    I find the in-depth account on the incident very very disturbing. Thanks for providing the link to the post!

    I'm just in from a night on the town with my buddies, and during the course of the evening we had a conversation about police violence.

    Police violence that each of us has witnessed at some point: Here in East Germany, when we were kids back in the 80s, under the Communists. (We were around 15 at the time.)

    Reading about the arrests in Texas and having in mind our conversation that we had about supression 20 years back, before liberty was won,

    Made me think:

    We have achieved a lot since 1969 and 1989, and there is so much to be proud of.

    And there is much more to be won in our common struggle:

    The freedom to be who we are. Equality. And every human being's dignity in a peaceful world.

    Iyon in Germany, 32

    Posted by: iyon | Jun 28, 2009 8:20:24 PM

  10. Elizabeth Pax (One of the organizers for the Million Gay March in Dallas, Texas today) reports:

    from what I heard...

    it was suppose to be a standard thing where 1 TABC and 1 police officer checked some stuff out. instead 6 TABC and 6 Police came in and went nuts. They were rough with the patrons and arresting people for no reason.

    The FT Worth police chief has issued an apology and has said that the offending officers are going to be disciplined.

    Posted by: Marlin Bynum | Jun 28, 2009 8:48:40 PM

  11. I urge everyone to contact the governor's office and demand an investigation. Also, write editorials in every newspaper in your area. If you sit silently by, you are as guilty as the officers who perpretrated these hate crimes.

    Posted by: David Tucker | Jun 28, 2009 8:52:38 PM

  12. I hope EVERY gay person who lives within an hour of that bar PROTESTS, emails, calls, writes and shows their opposition. IT'S TIME TO FIGHT. Get off your asses unless you want this treatment to continue.

    Writing our sassy zingers on a blog does.........nothing. Actually getting out there, outside of our Weho comfort zones is where progress is made. The real kind.

    Posted by: Bayley | Jun 28, 2009 10:04:01 PM

  13. A couple of thoughts:

    1. This is outrageous. You would think this happened in 1969, instead of on the 40th anniversary of Stonewall.

    2. What the police did was perfectly legal.

    Under sec. 49.02 of the Texas Penal Code, a person commits "the offense of public intoxication if the person appears in a public place while intoxicated to the degree that the person may endanger the person or another. For the purposes of this section, a premises licensed or permitted under the Alcoholic Beverage Code is a public place."

    Since the newly opened Rainbow Lounge is licensed by TABC, it is a public place.

    The only debatable point is whether the arrestees were intoxicated to the degree that they might endanger someone, but I assure you that police have incredible discretion in these matters. Even if an arrestee is later found to have low blood alcohol content (and not intoxicated), the arresting officers still would have had probable cause since the arrestee was in a bar and presumably drinking something alcoholic.

    3. Sexual orientation isn't a protected class in Texas, so while it may suck that the gay bar was singled out, it wasn't illegal. I doubt there is a city ordinance that covers this sort of thing.

    4. This has yet to be covered by the Dallas Morning News, the larger newspaper in the region. I see that the Star-Telegram and Dallas Voice picked the story up. I'm not holding my breath; DMN is a crappy paper.

    5. Happy Pride?

    Posted by: gay TX attorney | Jun 28, 2009 10:11:21 PM

  14. 6. Now reading some stories about a patron who was injured and hospitalized. He might have a claim for excessive force, but he'd still have to show the officer's actions were "objectively unreasonable." This is a hard standard to meet.

    Posted by: gay TX attorney | Jun 28, 2009 10:20:16 PM

  15. I believe this is an extremely new bar that just opened in Ft Worth (and it might have been their opening weekend). There are few gay bars in Ft Worth. And it would not surprise me that this bar was a target for police action. I did pass thru town and saw some media trucks around the courthouse - the site of a planned protest tonite.

    Posted by: Will | Jun 28, 2009 10:30:33 PM

  16. GAY TX ATTORNEY: There are eyewitness reports - sober ones - that said the force was excessive. The Dallas Voice is saying the poor injured guy is still critical, with bleeding on the brain. There may not even be a claim for excessive force if he ends up dead tomorrow.

    I've been following this since about 3pm, and it gets more disturbing with each twist and turn. The police statement contradicts virtually everyone else's statements. It's just not good.

    Posted by: Dave | Jun 28, 2009 10:39:54 PM

  17. You can be arrested, inside a bar, just for being drunk, in Texas? Do I understand it correctly? Holy crap.

    Posted by: John in Boston | Jun 28, 2009 10:40:48 PM

  18. You can be arrested for being drunk inside a bar in Texas? Holy crap.

    Posted by: John in Boston | Jun 28, 2009 10:49:16 PM

  19. gah! thankyou so much for covering this story, because nobody else seems to! I've only been able to find it in the Star-Telegram and the Dallas Voice, which is very disappointing. i'm fucking pissed, to say the least. where are the riots? there was only a twenty minute protest in ft. worth tonight, and that's it? what the hell, dallas morning news? this is a big story. Especially considering on what day it happened. i didn't get a chance to go to the million gay march in dallas today, but hopefully this issue was present there, and there'll be a larger turnout at the protest this sunday in ft. worth.

    Posted by: Nicholas | Jun 28, 2009 10:52:10 PM

  20. I've asked this before, and I'll ask it again, with Texas' anti-homosexual history and laws (not to mention the political families that Texas has spewed out), why is there a large gay population in Texas??? I have seen more and more homosexual friends move to Texas, and I find it bewildering. I realize in order for progress to be made, there shouldn't be a mass exodus and we should stand up and fight. Yet at what cost? More hate crimes against homosexuals and other minorities occur in Texas than any other state (from the statistics and passing news I have read), why the hell are we increasingly moving to a state that does not want us? Fuck Texas, I won't set foot in that state and it won't get a penny of my money. Fuck Texas.

    Posted by: Cj | Jun 29, 2009 1:15:44 AM

  21. Considering this isn't being covered my any major news outlets I am just now finding out about this. I actually live about twenty minutes away and was in that part of town earlier and hadn't heard a thing. This a very new bar as me and my partner has never heard of it so no suprise that it was targeted. I will be paying more attention to the local small news and report anything I hear or find. Thanks Towleroad!

    Posted by: Stephen | Jun 29, 2009 1:16:25 AM

  22. CJ: I can certainly understand your thought process; although I vehemently disagree. I refuse to let Conservative Christian lawmakers control where I live. Here in South Florida, there is a huge gay community. This community is here in spite of numerous laws that attempt to take away our Constitutional rights.

    Like it or not, there are few places that are utopia for the LGBT community. California used to be viewed as a bastian of progressivism. Even New York City, which is cosmopolitan, has gay bashing, as shown with an article today on this site. If we don't fight for equal rights in every corner of this country, we might as well give up the fight.

    (Please note, I'm not trying to discredit your post, CJ. I firmly believe you are entitled to your opinion...and, I certainly understand your point of view. I just wanted to offer a constrasting opinion.)

    Posted by: alex | Jun 29, 2009 1:43:37 AM

  23. Alex, I agree with you, except more anti-homosexual behavior has existed in Texas, and at the hands of law enforcement. This is much more apparent today.

    Posted by: Cj | Jun 29, 2009 1:58:25 AM

  24. Welcome to Texas. I lived there for 8 of the longest months of my life last year. It is an absolutely horrible place to live, especially if your gay. The day I left that place was the happiest day of my life. I was so relieved to be leaving. I hope and pray I never have to step foot in that place again. This just reinforces it.

    Posted by: Jeff | Jun 29, 2009 7:09:11 AM

  25. Yeah, I agree that this sucks big time but what is with all the Texas bashing? These incidents have been happening at an alarming rate all over the country, especially NY from what I've seen on Towleroad.

    This isn't a perfect state by a long shot but there are a lot of really great people here (especially Austin) but we don't deserve all of these gross generalizations (didn't vote for Bush but hell, California gave us Reagan).

    Posted by: RONTEX | Jun 29, 2009 7:49:16 AM

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