One person is in the hospital after Fort Worth, TX Police raided The Rainbow Lounge, a local gay bar, on Saturday night, arresting seven patrons for “excessive intoxication.” Officials from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) say the raid is part of a controversial new policy targeting patrons who “pose a clear danger to public safety,” but witnesses say officers grabbed patrons and used excessive force, including throwing one patron, Chad Gibson, to the ground and knocking him unconscious. Gibson is in a Fort Worth hospital, and may need surgery to stop bleeding in his brain.
Police say the raid was part of a larger sweep Saturday night, but previous coverage of the policy doesn’t include stories like the one DailyKos blogger lostboyjim pulled from the comments section of a Dallas Voice blog post on the raid:
I was one of the dance entertainers last night at Rainbow Lounge. I was dancing on a box in the VIP lounge and was looking right at the first guy that was arrested. The male patron was standing at the bar doing nothing but having a having a drink and a fun time (like people do in bars) when an officer entered that section of the club and made a beeline straight towards him. The officer forcefully spun the man around, shoved him against the bar and placed plastic restraints on his wrists. The officer then marched the man out the club. The guy was stunned and obviously really scared…
Police claim patrons grabbed at their crotches, and made other “sexually explicit moves” towards officers, but Dallas Voice Senior Editor Tammye Nash posted comments from one witness saying patrons were not resisting officers.
Around 200 members of the Dallas/Ft. Worth LGBTA community rallied in front of the county courthouse yesterday afternoon to protest, but it is unclear what next steps will be taken. Police have promised an investigation into the incident, and Ft. Worth’s first openly gay city councilman has said he is working with the Mayor, state legislature, Police Chief, and the Fort Worth Human Relations Commission to get “a complete and accurate accounting of what occurred.”
(picture: Dallas Voice)
Update (6/30/09, 12pm): Ft. Worth police are claiming Gibson fell because he was intoxicated, but the symptoms of serious head injury can look quite similar if you’re out looking for drunks. The Box Turtle Bulletin lays out the similarities.