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Candlelight Vigil Planned as Police Chief Floats 'Gay Panic' Defense in Violent Bar Raid in Fort Worth, Texas


Here's an update on activity following the Stonewall-style raid on the recently-opened Rainbow Lounge bar in Fort Worth, Texas which resulted in seven arrests for "public intoxication" and a massive head injury to one of the patrons of the bar.

Tonight, there is a candlelight vigil at 8:30 pm at the Rainbow Lounge (651 South Jennings Ave), where the raid occurred, in honor of injured victim Chad Gibson (more on his condition below). Gibson's arrest pictured, below right.

Gibson's mother speaks out, AFTER THE JUMP...

Rainbow Here's the sickest bit of news about it I've read so far, a statement by Fort Worth police chief Jeff Halstead (via Dan Savage): "Monday, police chief Jeff Halstead said the officers' actions are being investigated. However, he also said that officers that entered the bar during the scheduled inspection were touched inappropriately. '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.'"

Read that last sentence again. As Savage translates: "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."

Classic gay panic defense.

The Fort Worth Police also say that Gibson, at the time of his arrest, was in the custody of a State Police officer, not one of the FWPD.

The Rainbow Lounge Raid's Facebook page is growing at a steady rate. An article in the Star-Telegram highlights new media's role in getting the word out about this incident.

Hicks Fort Worth Mayor Pro Tem Kathleen Hicks has called for an immediate and comprehensive investigation:

"I join with Councilman Joel Burns in wanting all citizens of Texas and Fort Worth to know and be assured that the laws and ordinances of our City will be applied fairly, equally and without selective enforcement or targeting. As an African American I understand the distrust and fear that grows throughout a community when the belief that there is no recourse or protection is allowed to grow and fester."

Equality Texas has demanded that Mayor Moncrief and all Fort Worth City Council members call for an investigation. They have provided a FORM LETTER that will be sent to municipal officals.

An update on Chad Gibson, the man who sustained a head injury during the raid, from his sister Kristy Morgan:

"Kristy said the most recent CAT scans have shown that the blood clot on Chad’s brain has stopped growing, which is good news, but he is not out of the woods yet. She said doctors told the family that as long as the clot remains — whether it is growing or not — there is the chance that all or some of it could break loose and cause severe damage or death, or that the bleeding could start up again. At this point, Kristy said, doctors are not talking about having to do surgery to repair the bleed or remove the clot. They believe that the clot will eventually dissolve and be reabsorbed into the body, but that could take anywhere from six months to two years. Chad will likely be hospitalized at least for the rest of this week, and will then have to have follow-up appointments and consultations with a neurosurgeon."

Chad Gibson's mother speaks out, AFTER THE JUMP...

Halstead There was a public forum with Fort Worth Police Department chief Halstead:

"After the meeting had started, Chief Halstead announced that the director of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission had just issued a statement acknowledging that Chad Gibson, who has been hospitalized with a head injury since the incident, was injured while in the custody of TABC agents. Chief Halstead said that determining who was responsible for Gibson’s injury has been the priority of his department’s investigation so far. Now that that is settled, the chief said, the focus for his department will turn to getting as much information as possible regarding the actions of FWPD officers during the incident. To that end, he is asking that anyone and everyone who was at the bar that night and was an eyewitness to the events contact Capt. Garcia at 817-392-4270 to give their account. He said it is vital to a thorough investigation to get as much information as possible from those who were there."

Chad Gibson's mother speaks out, AFTER THE JUMP...

And a report from

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  1. I was at the public forum last night and Chief Halstead seemed much more open to moving forward. I still call upon everyone that was present to contact the Police Department (817-392-4270) and let them know what you saw. I truly believe they want the truth.

    Also there was a statement released last night by the Texas Alcoholic Beverages Commission about the incident, which the chief read from. I tried to get a copy of this release but was told: The Chief of Police read an excerpt from a draft of a press release that should be finalized and distributed tomorrow, and posted on our website. I will add your e-mail address to our distribution list, and make sure you receive a copy as soon as it is released.

    Carolyn Beck
    Public Information Officer

    The chief said he would like to have a GLBTQ liason officer and hoped that someone would volunteer for that position soon.

    Please also listen to the comments from the forum from last night that were recorded by a friend who was at the forum:

    I agree the chief is making some major mistake in this. I don't think he is culturally aware of the offensiveness of the things he is saying. He is in a mode of defense and we need to work in a mode where we can work together. It is time to change the whole tenor of this discussion or we will never move forward.

    We have a right to be angry. I am very angry. I spent twenty years in he closet because of crap like this. But I know that there comes a time when we have to sit down with our enemies and try to at least find peace. Let's keep up the pressure. But lets also give them time to try and find some answers and find a solution.

    If they don't find a solution then I say lets increase the pressure. If we feel that there were civil rights violations then lets get those kinds of lawyers in here to bring pressure. But let's not just make this a screaming match. Let's make this a dialogue.

    Posted by: Marlin Bynum | Jul 1, 2009 10:52:20 AM

  2. Based on the level of gay panic implicit in Chief Halstead's defense of the actions of the officers, I'm surprised he didn't change his name long ago.

    Posted by: Acronym Jim | Jul 1, 2009 11:06:21 AM

  3. They only care because they are in the glare of the media -- less attention would mean a MUCH different answer.

    Posted by: tikihead | Jul 1, 2009 11:22:35 AM

  4. Let's see....the vice squad enters a bordello and one of the prostitutes touches him inappropriately (because, what, he's a fundamentalist christian or something) and he beats the crap out of her -- sending her to the hospital with a brain injury. Boy is she lucky to be alive after that. She should know better.

    Yeah, I don't see that happening. What I do see happening is a multi-million dollar lawsuit, a termination or recall of this police chief and a firing of those involved in the raid...oh, wait, it's Bush Territory--no brains needed.

    Posted by: woodroad34 | Jul 1, 2009 11:29:08 AM

  5. LOL @Marlin "Welcome to Boystown Mr. Halstead..."

    Seriously, so when can we do "gaybash panic" and shoot someone coming right towards us we think are going to gaybash us?

    Posted by: zeddy | Jul 1, 2009 11:29:38 AM

  6. Every generation needs a Bull Connor. We have this asshole.

    Posted by: MikeMick | Jul 1, 2009 11:38:56 AM

  7. Well, I'm not their little faggot...and I'M NOT SCARED of the cops...SO COME on people stand up. IF this ever happens in CA...I swear I'll be the 1st to jump on the officer and beat the shit out of them/him...doesn't matter how injured I get...IF one of my brothers/sisters go down I'LL GO DOWN with them too.

    I HOPE justice comes through...IF NOT WATCH OUT!

    Posted by: Bosie | Jul 1, 2009 11:40:03 AM

  8. As far as I am concerned this department needs to be under federal investigation. To start with what was he purpose in raiding this bar. Second of all; what justifies this level of violence.

    Posted by: Jim Shoup | Jul 1, 2009 12:11:18 PM

  9. This is a perfect example of why police have the nickname, pigs.

    Posted by: D | Jul 1, 2009 12:15:47 PM

  10. Zeddy,

    I have jokingly said a similar thing on my facebook page.

    The next time a woman touches me I will have a heterophobia attack and see what happens. The only time that I have ever kissed a woman, it was out of the blue. If only I would have thought to have a heterophobia attack.

    I do believe that this was gay panic. I do believe it was an over-reaction. But I also believe that until all the evidence is on the table we won't be able to hold the officers/departments/agencies responsible.

    This can be a great opportunity for the Texas GLBTQ community to move our agenda forward. We need to educate people more and more. The ignorance about gay people is overwhelming.

    As I said, I spend twenty years in the closet because of this kind of homophobia. I even bought into it myself, as a gay man. It takes time to change. The first time I went into a gay bar, it was with a homophobic mind set. It has taken me a great deal of time of self-education to realize how ignorant I was.

    So gay men and women of Texas, this is our time. Come out Come out wherever you are. Tell your freinds and family. Stand up for your gay family in whatever community you live in. It is scary as hell, I can promise you, but in the end you will feel better about yourself.

    I lost my career by coming out, but I don't regret it for that. I love holding people to the fire now, when they do homophobic things. Move the agenda forward.

    Posted by: Marlin Bynum | Jul 1, 2009 12:17:33 PM

  11. what's with all the freakin' candle light vigils? it's time to kick some ass. candle light vigils are for pussies.

    Posted by: alguien | Jul 1, 2009 12:35:23 PM

  12. Forget what I said about Bull Connor. At least he was up front about what he did. Halstead is a fucking liar, a homophobic bigot and an assdrooling swine. Like the timing of the raid was a coincidence. Yahoo asshat, get real. We'd have to be as dumb as you to believe that.

    Posted by: MikeMick | Jul 1, 2009 12:35:39 PM

  13. dear andy....
    the sad part -- after years of reading your blog -- in consideration of an equal amount of time on the road, is the account of gay men supporting a certain form of theater that has ultimately not culminated in something that i find very impressive taking into account the supposed world class educational and arts institutions. reducing the caliber of much through a scripted facade -- i am more mildly entertained than informed in certain cases. that is the degree by which the integrity of new media has been compromised in some circles. due to the fact that i have observed the queer community humored by the violent acts in other circumstances rather than stepping up to the plate in san francisco, los angeles, new york, and perhaps other locations -- it begs the question, to what degree do you find yourselves complicit in hindering a much larger progression beyond happy hour gluttony??

    thank you.

    Posted by: ricardo | Jul 1, 2009 12:49:08 PM

  14. Gay panic? I've had women put the moves on me. Was I wrong not to beat them up and claim straight panic?

    Posted by: Mike in the Tundra | Jul 1, 2009 1:22:15 PM

  15. Alguen said "what's with all the freakin' candle light vigils? it's time to kick some ass. candle light vigils are for pussies."

    Well we had a protest march in Dallas on Sunday afternoon (not directly caused by this but it was mentioned). Then there was a protest on the steps of the Tarrant County Court House (Fort Worth is the county seat). Then some of us went to the public forum last evening to speak to the police about the situation.

    The candlelight is in support of Chad. We are continuing to set up events. Gay Liberaction as a milk box event coming up in Sundance and several of us plan to attend the next city council meeting.

    I don't even live in Fort Worth but I am trying to help support our community. I agree we need to stand up. But I don't think you are being fair to the community to act like we are not doing something.

    Posted by: Marlin Bynum | Jul 1, 2009 1:26:06 PM

  16. Texas is known for it's hillbilly, redneck, hick law enforcement, that's why I couldn't wait to get the fuck outa there, but this is 2009 and there is no longer any room for this kind of selective ignorance. They know better given all that has come before. They did this deliberately to harass and attack people they do not like or agree with. It is no different than a lynch mob.

    Posted by: tooboot | Jul 1, 2009 1:47:38 PM

  17. Ricardo,
    I loved you in The Matrix 2. That scene where you explained the history of the matrix blew my mind.

    Posted by: crispy | Jul 1, 2009 2:01:46 PM

  18. Olbermann made Abbott the worst person in the world last night, and said all of the FWPD would remain there until they did something about Abbott.

    Posted by: CJS | Jul 1, 2009 2:03:46 PM

  19. Didn't these cops get any training in handling stressful situations? Grabass and crotch caressing are certainly not the brightest things to do when you're in the midst of a raid, but the level of response says a bunch about what to expect if the local police are ever faced with a REAL confrontation--a riot with people shooting at them, throwing rocks or gasoline bombs.

    Posted by: gregorybrown | Jul 1, 2009 2:07:09 PM

  20. So, if it was just TABC would they like to explain that photo showing a FW police officer hold him down and the bloody give shown of another officer when the two TABC agents that were present at the raid are clearly shown in the photo?

    It seems pretty obvious to me that at very least two FW police officers were involved in the detainment, but I only have a photo to go by and the police chief has the word of officers that left the victim with a brain injury.

    Posted by: John M | Jul 1, 2009 2:15:23 PM

  21. @ ricardo...HUH?

    Posted by: sonofabutch | Jul 1, 2009 2:33:52 PM

  22. Sad to say, this is in Texas, the same people who not only gave us bush, but think he is intelligent. That is why it is called Tex-ASS.

    Posted by: Reggie | Jul 1, 2009 3:59:53 PM

  23. Below you will find the TABC press release.

    For Immediate Release

    July 1, 2009

    TABC and FWPD Joint Inspections Result in Multiple Arrests

    In the early morning hours of Sunday, June 29, 2009, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) agents and officers from the Fort Worth Police Department, conducted joint inspections of three TABC-licensed locations in Fort Worth to ensure compliance with state alcoholic beverage laws and local ordinances: The Rosedale Saloon located at 150 W. Rosedale, Cowboy Palace located at 160 W. Rosedale, and the Rainbow Lounge located at 651 S. Jennings.

    The Fort Worth Police Department arrested 15 individuals for public intoxication, including nine males at the Rosedale Saloon and the adjacent Cowboy Palace, one male at an unlicensed location, and four males and one female at the Rainbow Lounge.

    At the Rainbow Lounge, TABC agents placed one individual under arrest, Chad Gibson who was injured while in the agents’ custody. Mr. Gibson was released to paramedics for treatment of alcohol poisoning and a head injury and transported to a local hospital.

    “We are saddened that this incident occurred and extend our sincere hope that Mr. Gibson recovers quickly,” said TABC Administrator Alan Steen. “I have initiated an internal affairs investigation to answer questions about how these locations were chosen, to review the agents’ actions, and specifically to establish the facts surrounding Mr. Gibson’s injury."

    Anyone who witnessed employee misconduct is asked to contact Lt. Andy Pena, Acting Director of the Office of Professional Responsibility, at or call 512-206-3405. Information about how to file a complaint against a TABC employee, and about agency policy on employee investigations, can be found on TABC’s website at

    “I take seriously all allegations concerning inappropriate or illegal behavior by our employees. We have in the past, and we will in the future, take action against any employee found to have violated agency policy or the law,” continued Steen.

    TABC conducts approximately 128,000 inspections of approximately 40,000 licensed locations statewide each year, looking for violations of the law. One of the agency’s key performance measures is to inspect at least 78.5% of licensed locations each year. During a 12-month period, typically about 96% of licensed locations in Texas are inspected at least once. Licensed locations that have complaints filed against them or previous public safety violations may be visited more frequently.

    Contact: Carolyn Beck, Public Information Officer, 512-206-3347

    Carolyn Beck
    Public Information Officer
    Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission

    Posted by: Marlin Bynum | Jul 1, 2009 7:11:57 PM

  24. Ugh. Why won't these people just leave us the fuck alone?

    Posted by: Matthew | Jul 1, 2009 10:12:44 PM

  25. I hope this kid pulls through. I must say though that people were going bat sh*t over words in DOMA brief that aren't going to have a practical effect on anyone when this is the type stuff that really needs to inflame the community. Maybe we should refocus on basic right, i.e. not marriage, until we've got them.

    Posted by: BMF | Jul 2, 2009 12:44:02 AM

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