Friday, July 17, 2009

Something Still Isn't Jibing

Not quite 20 days have passed since the TABC and the Fort Worth police department conducted a joint raid on the Rainbow Lounge, a newly-opened gay bar, on June 28. The raid sent one man to the hospital with a life-threatening brain injury, and left a community divided over whether the incident was a case of police brutality and homophobia, or just a routine bar check gone very, very bad. But so far, all that's really happened is a circular firing squad between the TABC and the Fort Worth PD. The police have quit going on these raids with the TABC, and both point the finger at the other - when they're not busy pointing it at apparently lascivious gay people. Because, as we all know, gay people are so gay they have lost all common sense, and will indeed grope policemen as they enter a bar. At least, that's what this police report would like you to believe. But then you have eyewitness accounts told to the Dallas Voice - eyewitness reports that differ quite a bit from the police report. And just when all of this comes out - the police report was published today - the Voice publishes this scoop: TABC Administrator Alan Steen admits his officers breached policy, and the raid was botched. Steen minces no words, either: "If our guys would have followed the damn policy, we wouldn’t even have been there. … We have these conversations all the time, and we don’t participate in those kinds of inspections when there’s not probable cause or reasonable suspicion or some public safety matter to be inspected.” So what was the impetus for the raid? Two other bars were scheduled to be checked that night - one with numerous violations. According to Steen, the raid on the Rainbow Lounge was conducted after one person had been arrested for public intoxication three days earlier. The Rainbow Lounge - at the time of the raid - had only been open a little more than a week, hardly enough time to actually become a nuisance to anyone. If, by the TABC's own admission, there wasn't actual probable cause for the June 28th raid, was the impetus homophobia on the part of a group of TABC agents and the Fort Worth PD? While none of us can look into the hearts of those agents and officers, I think we can all say with a certain amount of certainty that the timing of the incident couldn't have been more insensitive, since it was also the anniversary of the Stonewall riots in 1969.