On June 28, 2009, slightly after one o'clock in the morning, agents of the Texas Alcohol Beverages Commission and Fort Worth police raided a gay bar called The Rainbow Room. This event took place precisely on the anniversary of a similar raid on the Stonewall Inn, which led to the Stonewall Riots and the birth of the modern gay movement. See eyewitness testimony regarding the raid on the Rainbow Room.
While police and TABC agents described the raid as "routine," witnesses testify that the police, and particularly the TABC agents, were unnecessarily rough with customers and brutal with several. One customer suffered broken ribs; another a broken thumb. A third, Chad Gibson, was beaten and hospitalized with a concussion and skull fracture. Reportedly, while handcuffed, his head was shoved into a wall and, as police forced him to the floor, they slammed his head again into the floor. At the time of this writing, his condition has just been upgraded from "serious" to "fair."
Within two hours of the incident, more than a hundred protestors, and some say as many as two hundred and fifty, appeared on the steps of the Tarrant County Courthouse. Larger protests followed in the days to come. At present, two separate investigations of the event are under way, one by the Fort Worth Police, who have severed their relations with the TABC, and another conducted by the TABC, itself, into the conduct of their officers, who have been placed on administrative desk duty.
One observer described the "routine" incident this way:
"I have been in the bar business for a long, long time and any inspection of my place of business never included heavily armed officers with zip tie hand retraints and two paddy wagons,an EMS crew and a fire truck. There was nothing routine about this at all."
Some activists have called for a boycott of Fort Worth, but I don't support this. Rather, I would hope that the gay community - and particularly the Dallas community - could help to strengthen and reinforce the visibility of the gay community through events and educational seminars, and through other means. The police chief of Fort Worth has called for a special liaison between the gay community and the police force. It's imperative that such an individual be found.
However, the police and the TABC must not be let off the hook for these brutal criminal assaults. These investigations must not be swept under the rug. Feet must be held to the fire. Further, I hope that Chad Gibson and the other individuals will sue the city, the police department and the individual officers for every penny they are worth.