Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fort Worth Mayor Apologizes for Police Raid on LGBT Bar

Forth Worth, Texas mayor Mike Moncrief apologized for the police raid on LGBT bar Rainbow Lounge that resulted in controversy and claims of police brutality. One bar patron, Chad Gibson, incurred a head injury that kept him in the hospital for a week.

At Tuesday's meeting, 250 people packed City Council chambers while another 150 overflowed into the hallway and other rooms as city officials discussed the raid.

Someone in the audience called out for an apology. The mayor then said: "If you want an apology from the mayor of Fort Worth: I am sorry about what happened in Fort Worth." The crowd erupted in applause and stood.

The Houston Chronicle reports:
Two council members called for independent investigations into the raid, after which Moncrief started to discuss other items on the meeting agenda.

Blake Wilkinson, founder of Queer LiberAction, interrupted and said those who wanted to comment on the raid shouldn't have to wait. Moncrief tried to explain that public comments are always last on the agenda.

But Wilkinson and another person kept arguing with the mayor, and several people in the hallway started shouting, "Hear us now!" "Hear us now!" Wilkinson and six others were then led out of the building.
See local news affiliate KTVT news video report or WFAA report.

The Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission and Fort Worth Police Department are investigating the raid, which was conducted jointly by their agencies, but the community is demanding an independent investigation.

Also on Tuesday, Fort Worth police chief Jeff Halstead said he appointed Officer Sara Straten as the department’s liaison to the LGBT community.

Straten stated her main goal is to improve communication with the LGBT community and that she would meet with them to "try to make things better." Though the police department has said that they will have its officers undergo diversity training, she did not say if she would be leading it.

"It's a huge job, but it's doable," Straten said of her new position.

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