Protests continue against Fort Worth police raid

Posted on 09 Jul 2009 at 7:49pm
By David Taffet Staff Writer

Queer Liberaction holding rally Sunday on courthouse steps

Queer Liberaction is organizing a protest for a third consecutive weekend in response to the June 28 raid of the Rainbow Lounge that left one man was hospitalized for a week with head injuries.

The rally begins at 7 p.m. at the Tarrant County Courthouse located at 100 E. Weatherford Street in Fort Worth.

Four speakers are expected, including Dr. Stephen V. Sprinkle, an associate professor of practical theology at Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University. The Rev. Carol West, pastor of Celebration Community Church in Fort Worth; Chuck Potter, a Rainbow Lounge patron who witnessed the police and Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission raid; and local radio personality Rick Vanderslice will also speak.

Queer Liberaction organizer Blake Wilkerson said, "The Fort Worth Police Department along with the TABC used excessive force in carrying out a routine liquor license check. We in the LGBT community are particularly disgusted by these events, especially given that it took place on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellions.

"LGBT people should be indignant about how the Fort Worth Police Department and the TABC has so brazenly trampled upon the rights of LGBT Americans," Wilkinson said. "We demand accountability, explanations and action, and we demand them now."

Wilkerson pointed out that while arrests were made at two earlier bar inspections that day, harsh intimidation techniques were only used at Rainbow Lounge and, he says, only the Rainbow Lounge raid resulted in injuries.

To publicize the rally, Queer Liberaction held two poster-making parties on July 9, one in Dallas and one at the Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth.

Over the weekend, teams will hang posters and distribute fliers around Dallas and Fort Worth. In Dallas, a group will meet at Buli on Cedar Springs on Friday, July 10 and Saturday, July 11, both at 8 p.m. A Fort Worth group will meet both Friday and Saturday at Rainbow Lounge at the same time.

Wilkerson said that anyone interested in participating is welcome to join the group at Buli or Rainbow Lounge to help distribute fliers.

On July 5, the group staged a Milk box protest at Sundance Square. Representatives of the ACLU, Stonewall Democrats, Fairness Fort Worth spoke at that event, as did activists Hardy Haberman, Sprinkle, Potter and Vanderslice.

The Milk box events, named for slain San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk as well as the crate they use, engage passersby on issues of homophobia and civil rights.

In addition to eyewitness accounts of the raid, speakers said that pressure must be kept up on city and police officials to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident.

"It’s very encouraging that we are coming together as a community to stand up for ourselves and not let this issue be swept under the carpet," Wilkinson said. "We’re staying out in the streets, keeping the issue on the front burner and demanding accountability."

E-mail taffet@dallasvoice.com

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