Longform

The police raid on the Rainbow Lounge has rocked the world of Fort Worth gays

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On August 18, the Fort Worth police issued a press release updating the results of its own ongoing, internal investigation, which has "revealed that a flawed policy created a situation that would not have occurred otherwise at the Rainbow Lounge." The eight-page press release states the Rainbow Lounge incident "has provided the police department with an opportunity to learn and grow" and police are committed to establishing "better communication" with the LGBT community. The department has already interviewed 35 witnesses, 10 officers and reviewed the TABC report. Yet four allegations remain under investigation against Fort Worth police officers: excessive force, unprofessional conduct, neglect of duty and failure to supervise. By law, the department has until December 28 to complete its investigation.

The Fort Worth council, meanwhile, dropped its reluctance to pursue an independent investigation and voted with little discussion on July 21 to ask the U.S. Attorney's Office to take the job. "They'd been concerned most about appearing unsupportive of the police," council member Burns says, but the mayor had received advice from the city attorney and others about the need for an outside investigation. The plan they approved was left in the air, however, when U.S. Attorney Jacks said in early August he would not conduct a separate investigation but would follow up on any violations of federal laws.

Gibson hired a lawyer and stopped giving comments to the media. A new gay liaison was installed at the police department and a diversity task force geared up at the city.

The anger and frustration Fort Worth's gay community displayed in the weeks after the raid has abated somewhat. The give-no-quarter, continual revolution of Queer LiberAction doesn't fit its style. But something has changed. It is difficult to go back to acting as though nothing is wrong.

"We've accomplished a lot," Camp says. "This city as a whole has been very live and let live. The way this thing has blown up, a lot of us have gotten to point of thinking that isn't good enough. We're asking Fort Worth for more."

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Thomas Korosec
Contact: Thomas Korosec