Waymon Hudson

Fort Worth Gay Bar Raid: Stonewall Redux

Filed By Waymon Hudson | June 29, 2009 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Chad Gibson, Fort Worth, gay bars, Joel Burns, police brutality, Rainbow Lounge, Stonewall, Texas

Over the weekend, Fort Worth police raided a new gay bar in a move reminiscent of the Stonewall Raid that sparked the modern gay rights movement in 1969.

raid-on-eve-of-stonewall-001.jpgThe newly opened Rainbow Lounge was hosting a birthday celebration for Todd Camp, the founder of Q Cinema, and screening documentaries about the Stonewall Riots to commemorate the 40th anniversary of one of the defining moments in LGBT history. Witnesses say the police showed up with a paddy wagon and began to roughly arrest men, focusing mainly on "effeminate men."

One bar patron, Chad Gibson, is in a local hospital with a fractured skull and brain hemorrhage after being "choked, pulled back, then slammed into a wall" by police during the raid. Police say he was resisting arrest and made "sexual advances to officers", a claim witnesses dismiss as outright lies. They say Gibson, who weighed "maybe 160 pounds soaking wet", did not resist and merely stumbled when police grabbed him by the arm.

In total, seven people were arrested for public intoxication and at least a dozen more were restrained.

Video and more after the jump...

Not surprisingly, the raid has been met with outrage from both local leaders and the entire community across the country. Joel Burns, a Fort Worth city councilman and Tarrant County's first openly gay elected official, attended one of the rallies at the Tarrant County Court House protesting the raid and had this to say:


Rest assured that neither the people of Fort Worth nor the government of the city of Fort Worth will tolerate discrimination against any of its citizens.

Burns is also pushing for a full investigation into the raid. The Cathedral of Hope in Dallas also released a statement against the violent raid.

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.

There is a FaceBook Group set up with ongoing information about the raid, first hand accounts, and organizing the protests in response to it.

All of this occurred on the exact date of the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Raid and ensuing riots. The similarities are eerily similar- targeting a gay bar, the excessive violence used by officers, and the simmering outrage from the community.

It seems the more things change, the more the stay the same...

Protests are continuing to be organized in Fort Worth and more updates are expected as the news spreads. The local LGBT community has been checking on Chad Gibson in the hospital and reporting on his condition via Facebook.

Here's the video from CBS 11 News in Dallas about the raid:

(h/t Pam's House Blend & Raw Story for the video, as well as Chuck Potter of The Dallas Voice for the pictures)

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Thank you for posting this. Perhaps someone will pay attention now. So much brutality is happening as people are responding to Gay Pride Month... it's very tragic.

"It seems the more things change, the more the stay the same..."

Can't you just hear them all howling at FWPD headquarters about planning this ME TOO Raid.. couldn't even come up with a novel gay hassle? after 40 years?

I surely hope the ACLU is on it for brutality cases etc. Will see if KO or RM have anything tonight.

Thanks for heads up. (and that is NOT a hairdo joke)

Witnesses say the police showed up with a paddy wagon and began to roughly arrest men, focusing mainly on "effeminate men."

This is precisely why gender variant and transgender people should not be left out of gay rights efforts. They are always the easy target for bigotry and picked on because they aren't alpha male types and easy victims.

Absolutely, Christie! I couldn't agree more!


You are correct, but the only real answer is equal rights for all so that gender, gender identification, sexual orientation, masculinity, effeminacy, or any other physiological, psychological, or whatever, category can no longer be used to single people out.

I'm 1000% behind equal rights for "gender variant and transgender people" and I suppose we'll have to continue to make lists in our laws because that's the way we do it.

I'm hoping for the day when the importance of these traits has significance in the lives of individuals, their families, and friends, but no importance at law because discriminating against someone based on their gender identification will be as ridiculous as discriminating against someone based on their hair color, or how many toes they have.

I want for all human beings to be grateful for what we have in common, to enjoy the differences, and to celebrate our common humanity.

This is horrendous. Even so, I did see a headline that sums up my cynicism with just the right dose of sarcasm:

"Fort Worth Police celebrate gay rights Texas style"


Seriously, we're American's, we have rights and we should stand as one when our rights are being challenged.

As a sailor in the US Navy I was in a lot of bars. Some were just bars, some were topless, some had dancers that were all nude. Cops never came in asking to see ID. Not ever.

If you're in a bar and everyone there is GLBT and the cops show up for no other reason than to hassle the clientle then EVERYONE NEEDS TO STAND AS ONE! You need to stand for your FREEDOM, you need to stand for LIBERTY.

YOU need to stand, WE need to stand or they'll take everything we all hold dear.

Maybe the cops needed dates but were too shy to just come out and ask?

I am reserving judgement on all but the brutality, breaking a man's skull goes far beyond appropriate restraint. Since there was TABC along I would have to wonder about the liscensing or possible underage drinking. Believe it or not, now a days most police agencies are far too smart to create this type of PR hassle without a great deal of probable cause.

Not even the LAPD is this stupid, and they are about the dumbest of the lot.

An amazing step backward. I'll be watching this closely.

tobyhannabill | June 30, 2009 12:28 AM

It's very strange to me how seemingly tolerant police officers lose it each time any group celebrates their independance. In February and March (After celebrating Martin Luther Kings's Birthday, The Obama Inauguration, and Black History Month) at age 49 after never being stopped by the police in my life I was suddenly stopped 4 times. At one point I was pulled from my vehicle and handcuffed.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | June 30, 2009 1:54 AM

This is not a 'Texas' problem.

The deepening and very public hostility of Obama’s administration to the GLBT communities, from "gawd's in the mix" to comparing us to pederasts hasn't gone unnoticed. That hostility coupled with his endorsement of rabid bigots like Warren sends a clear signal.

It tells uniformed bigots and thugs that's it open season on the GLBT communities. It tells street thugs that its open season for harassment, intimidation and violence.

This police attack ought to be met with legal challenges claiming damages for false arrest and by demonstrations and protests. Otherwise there will be more of the same. Texas officials should be asked to condemn it.

Those who advocated voting for Obama really did us no favors and it seems the worse he gets the more they clam up about their political bungling.

What they ought to do is examine their theory that the Democrats can be reformed a bit more closely. It's absurd. But here's a test of that theory. All those friends of Obama should demand that he issue a statement critical of this attack. Demand a DOJ/FBI investigation of the bigots who run the FWPD.

Let us know how that works.

What we should all be doing is approaching celebrities, politicians and cult leaders to get statements critical of this attack and passing them on to our folks in FW.

This is not a 'Texas' problem.

That's right, Bill. It had nothing to do with inbred prejudices and a culture of violence, militias and rough "justice." It's Obama's fault.

*rolls eyes*

This is a blatant display of anti-gay violence; to try and turn it for political use to bash a politician is senseless and doesn't help anything.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | June 30, 2009 11:54 AM

Just Texas, Bil? Are you sure?

According to Amnesty Internationals 2006 Report Stonewalled – Still demanding respect

“Thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people across the USA are victims of a system that fuels discrimination and facilitates torture, ill-treatment and impunity…”

The report “is based on interviews conducted by Amnesty International (AI) between 2003 and 2005 with members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community, victims of gender-based violence, survivors of police abuse, activists, lawyers and law enforcement officials across the US.

The interviews reveal a very clear and worrying pattern. Cases of beatings, sexual violence, verbal abuse, harassment and humiliation by law enforcement officials against LGBT people take place on any given day in detention centres, prisons, in the home, and on the street.”

And now in bars. Again. And egged on by the Official Bigotry of the Bigot in Chief and his friends like Warren.

Bil, you seem to forget, as did so many Democrats who supported Obama, just who is bashing who.

Did the MCC compare his marriage to incest or pedophilia? Was it the ACLU, Lambda Legal and the NCLR who decided indefinitely postpone efforts to repeal Clinton's codified military injustice bill (DADT) and Clintons codified anti-SSM bill (DOMA)? Was it Gene Robinson who decided to legitimize and reward southern baptist super bigot Warren with an invite to speak before an audience of billions. And was it LGBT folks in California who said that it was ok to for bigots to voted for Prop 8 because “gawd’s in the mix”?

He’s doing the bashing, not us, and those who helped put him in the White House now own the fact that Obama’s not such a lesser bigot after all.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | June 30, 2009 5:12 PM

Bil asks if "It had nothing to do with inbred prejudices and a culture of violence, militias and rough "justice."

I don't get it, Bil. Nobody said anything about Kent State. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gv4u5dIRouM

This may be good pr for us. It dramatizes our plight in a way the public can't help but see. But all the more should we care for the guy who got his head bashed. He's a queer hero, and we should pray for him every day.

Horrifying -- thanks for posting, Waymon.

At least people are protesting -- here in San Francisco, I wonder if anyone would even pay attention.

Thanks for posting on this, Waymon.

This is intense. But, ironically enough, stopping this sort of thing isn't part of "full equality now." And considering how fast this was related back to marriage in the comments here, it's looking like many people don't really know how to interpret the fact that we still have a long ways to go on LGBT issues.

It's great that they protested too. I loved that tool in the video who said that the city government doesn't tolerate discrimination against any minority. HA! We'll see how they tolerate this, taking action against the police only if the situation becomes unbearable.

Absolutely Alex, it seems the community has forgotten about everything but marriage which does little to nothing to protect people from the fear and violence they are facing on the ground and continue to ignore the folks living furthest in the margins. As Dean Spade says, social justice does not trickle down.

Rick Sours | June 30, 2009 11:14 AM

For starters my Partner said he finds it very
interesting that this bar raid occurred on the
40th Anniversary of Stonewall.

I honestly thought that the era of bar raids was in the past. I came out in a college town in 1972.
I remember the routine "inspections" by the local
law enforcement. It was a given that when a police
office entered a bar, all dancing stopped, one
made sure they were not touching any one else and
that they did not have a drink in their hand.

It was also a given that the police officers was
sit in their cars and wait for bar goers going
or coming from their cars. I remember one evening
that as I was walking to my car, a police car came
up beside me. They talked with me and I was very polite. I told them that I had cousins who were
cops and firemen; they rolled up they window and left.

In August of 1973, there was a bar raid at one of the local bars. I was out of town when it occurred. A group of police officers simply walked into the bar and arrested everyone.
Everyone was charged with two generic charges:
lewd behavior and vagrancy.

Everyone who was arrested had their names, addressed, and place of employment listed in the two local newspapers.

Of course when it got to court the police's
version was totally different from what individuals who were arrested had to say.
Regardless of what they said in court, everyone was found guilty and got large fines.

I thought those days were in the past.

My thoughts and prayers go out to those arrested.

Thanks for posting, Waymon! I saw this yesterday afternoon and started a blog post about it and finished today giving credit to ya:


My original post on Stonewall, http://theworldofhowey.wordpress.com/2009/06/28/remembering-stonewall/
is worth a read too.

While I was not at the bar that night, I was at the protest the following night.

We had attended a march honoring the Stonewall riots in Dallas on June 28th when we heard the news about the Rainbow Lounge.

After marching over a mile in 100°+ heat, many participants drove the hour to Ft. Worth to join in the outrage.

I would be hesitant to give the police "credit" for knowing it was the anniversary of Stonewall. I think it was more bubbaism about those queers in a new gay bar flaunting themselves.

As City Councilman Joel Burns said, unlike 40 years ago, we have elected officials who are with us and will not tolerate this type of injustice.

We will hold those responsible accountable or there will be another uprising...Texas style.

One word comes to mind to describe the so-called officers who participated in this raid:

The FWPD has a history of picking on defenseless groups who they feel are vulnerable and prone to abuse. It is packed with the KKK element and Neo-Nazi wannabees, and minority officers have no ability to tamp down the discrimination for fear of their careers and harassment against them. Consequently, they go along with the KKK element in the department.

There is a built in conflict of interest in law enforcement. The FWPD is beholden to the criminal defense lawyers for petty criminal offenses who rely on the PD for "business". The Judges, PD and Lawyers are in a triangular relationship which relies on these bogus arrests for "income". Consequently an investigation can only be conducted by the DoJ which is questionable since they also have a vested interest in not disrupting the steady, orderly flow and application of "the law".

I was arrested by the FWPD for "public intoxication" which was just an excuse to "generate income" for the triangular system of fraud. I told the Police Officer I was going to file a Federal Racketeering lawsuit against him, the department and the Judge (the county judiciary) and would dismantle their fraudulent operation. He tried to intimidate me by pointing to the camera inside his vehicle and saying, "You're comments are being recorded". I said, "Good, I want the Police Chief and the Judge to see this tape so they know based on your actions and this fraudulent arrest, I am going to haul them into Federal Court under federal racketeering law, Civil R.I.C.O. alleging damages beyond their ability to pay. Needless to say, even though I was compliant and orderly on the way to jail and in jail I got roughed up pretty bad (civil rights violations) for my comments. A Judge was called in, in the middle of the night and asked me to enter a plea which was not guilty. I was released on the spot and waited for the summons for trial. You guessed it. Now all records of the arrest, and my plea of not guilty etc has disappeared and no summons ever came in the mail. So you see entire thing (arrest) was a complete scam to generate income for a bunch of greedy racist (anti gay) chronic underachieving frauds.