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On 40th Anniversary of Stonewall Raid, Anger Over Arrests at Fort Worth's Rainbow Lounge

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Forty years to the day after the raid on the Stonewall Inn, the unofficial birthplace of the gay-rights movement, the Dallas Voice's Instant Tea blog has been full of updates Sunday concerning last night's Fort Worth police raid on the Rainbow Lounge on 615 S. Jennings Ave. There are myriad first-hand accounts, including one from former Star-Telegram critic Todd Camp, who happened to be celebrating his birthday at the recently opened gay bar; wrote Camp in the comments, "This looked like random harassment, plain and simple. It's sad that in this day and age, on the anniversary of one of the most important days in gay rights history that the Fort Worth and State police would choose to attack gays in such an aggressive and unjustified manner." There are also pictures from last night's arrest.

Unfair Park's had no luck getting in touch with FWPD's spokesman, Sgt. Pedro Criado. But Carolyn Beck, spokesperson for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, did tell Unfair Park moments ago that, yes, "there were TABC agents there, but other than that I don't know anything." She said that the captain in charge "is pulling together more information, and he'll call you tomorrow with more."

This morning, Michael Piazza, dean of Dallas's Cathedral of Hope, released a statement condemning the event, which has led to two protests planned for tonight -- one at 5 p.m. in front of the bar, and another at 7 p.m. in front of the Tarrant County Courthouse. Said Piazza, "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." As Daily Kos has pointed out, there's now a Facebook page about the incident: Rainbow Lounge Raid, created by Camp.

Patrick Michels was at the Million Gay March Texas in Oak Lawn this afternoon, where the raid was, of course, the hot topic. He'll have more from the march later; till then, Blake Wilkinson, founder of Queer LiberAction, told Unfair Park about last night's raid, "It's disgusting."

Update Monday at 8:30 a.m.: The Star-Telegram confirms that one of the men arrested Saturday night is in a Fort Worth hospital with a fractured skull. Police dispute eyewitnesses' accounts of excessive force, and a council member has called for a full investigation.

Update Monday at 2:49 p.m.: Carolyn Beck at the TABC called back moments ago and says the agency still has no official statement concerning the raid on the Rainbow Lounge. "We are still pulling together facts so we can answer questions or release a statement," she told Unfair Park. In other words, "we don't have anything to say yet." But she promises to forward along an official response as soon as one becomes available.

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