Texas gay community outraged at nightclub raid

(RAW STORY)   Forty years to the day after Stonewall — when a police raid of a New York gay club led to riots and launched the modern gay-rights movement — police in Fort Worth, TX, are being accused of repeating the incident.

Early Sunday morning, Fort Worth police, accompanied by agents of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, raided the Rainbow Lounge, a newly-opened gay club in Fort Worth.

According to CBS 11 News, “seven people were arrested for public intoxication and at least a dozen more were restrained. The incident was captured on camera and posted on local blogs. The scene was the topic of conversation at Sunday’s Million Gay March in Dallas.”

Police say they were investigating allegations that the club was over-serving its customers. They also allege one of the officers was “groped” during the raid, an allegation that witnesses dispute.

The Dallas Voice blog quotes an eyewitness identified only as Alison, who says the police “only arrested men and seemed to be targeting effeminate men.”

CBS 11 News quoted a witness, Raymond Gill, who said he was pulled aside by officers “because of the way I was walking. He said I looked like I was drunk. But … I got to the bar 30 minutes before they got there. I sat down had not got up before police got there. No one saw me walk.”

According to the Dallas Voice, one man has been hospitalized with a brain hemorrhage after being thrown to the ground by police officers. Pictures of the incident have made their way to the Internet, sparking further anger among the gay community.

“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,” said Joel Burns, a Fort Worth city councilman and Tarrant County’s first openly gay elected official, at a protest against the raid Sunday.

On Sunday, the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, which bills itself as “the world’s largest lesbian and gay church,” released a statement on the raids:

“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,” the statement reads in part.

According to a poll commissioned by the Texas Lyceum Association, 57 percent of Texans support the recognition of civil unions or gay marriages.


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