FW police will investigate attack as hate crime

After a story appeared in Friday’s Dallas Voice about an attack on a gay couple, Fort Worth police have decided to look into the assault as a possible hate crime.

Several members of Fairness Fort Worth contacted the office of Chief Jeffrey Halstead.

Fairness Fort Worth’s David Mack Henderson wrote, “Marvin Vann, a local GLBT teacher and parent in FW reached out on his own to make inquiries with the FWPD. Tom Anable has been doing the same in more direct channels, of course, discussing criteria for hate crimes investigations, officer and paramedic conduct, etc. Marvin just got these email responses today from Halstead’s chief of staff, Paul Henderson (no relation to David).”

Here’s what Paul Henderson wrote to Vann:

Thank you for your email. Our Major Case investigators (this unit investigates Hate Crime) reviewed the details of the case to determine if the assault meets the criteria to be classified as a “Hate Crime.” There are two distinct forms of hate-type incidents.

One is a Hate Crime which falls under the definition provided by the Department of Justice and basically states that in order for a crime to be classified as a “Hate Crime” it has to be “motivated” by prejudice against a particular person or group because of their culture, beliefs, or other factors.

The other form is considered a Hate/Biased Incident. This stems from a crime that is committed (such as a robbery, assault, homicide, destruction of property) for other motivations that are not necessarily connected to culture, beliefs, etc… If a suspect commits a crime, let’s say assault, due to an altercation as a result from a traffic accident or because the suspect felt an individual was looking at his girlfriend (which was the circumstance in the case you have referenced) and the suspect yells a slur during the process, this is considered a Hate/Biased Incident because it does not meet the criteria for a Hate Crime under the DOJ definition.

Hate crimes are filed and prosecuted federally therefore agencies must adhere to the definition provided by the DOJ. I would encourage you to go to the FBI’s website and click on information regarding Hate Crimes. The assault you reference is being investigated as a Hate/Biased Incident. Once the investigation is complete and evidence is revealed that would classify this as a Hate Crime, the FBI will then review and make a determination whether or not to file the federal charge.

I hope this helps! Thank you for your interest and your support in fighting all types of hate crime and hate/biased incidents.

In another email to Vann, Henderson wrote, “As a follow-up, I just learned that Major Case is accepting the investigation and will investigate as a Hate Crime. Thanks again for your email.”

—  David Taffet

Top 10: FW changes continued in wake of Rainbow Lounge

Rainbow.Lounge
FROM PROTEST TO PARTY | The Rev. Carole West, left, and David Mack Henderson, right, both of Fairness Fort Worth, are shown with Chief Jeffrey Halstead during a barbecue at the Rainbow Lounge on June 28 to mark the one-year anniversary of the raid. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

No. 8:

View all of the Top 10

When the Fort Worth Police Department  and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage raided the Rainbow Lounge on June 28, 2009 — the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion — it sparked outrage around the world and enough headlines to fill newspapers for the rest of the year.

But the story didn’t end with 2009, as repercussions from the raid continued this year.

Publicity from the raid undoubtedly helped punch up business for the Rainbow Lounge, enough so that by January, the bar’s owner, J.R. Schrock, announced that he had a second bar — Percussions — in the works, as well as a third club and possibly a fourth.

In February — despite acknowledgments from both TABC and FWPD that the raid should never have happened — officials with the Fort Worth city attorney’s office said they were going ahead with efforts to prosecute those arrested in the raid, including Chad Gibson, the young man who suffered a lasting brain injury while in TABC custody.

One of Fort Worth police Chief Jeff Halstead’s first acts after the raid was to appoint openly gay officer Sara Straten as his department’s first full-time liaison to the LGBT community.

On June 28, as a way of highlighting the progress the city had made in the year since the raid and improved relations between the police department and the LGBT community, Rainbow Lounge held a party attended by Halstead, Straten and many of the officers who patrol the area in which the bar is located.

Despite the progress though, in July anti-gay forces packed the City Council chambers to once again protest the council’s vote the previous November to amend Fort Worth’s nondiscrimination ordinance to offer protections to transgenders and other initiatives proposed by the City Manager’s Diversity Task Force.

At the end of the public comments section of the meeting, Mayor Mike Moncrief told the crowd that while “there is room for all of us” in Fort Worth, “What’s in the Bible or what isn’t in the Bible, that’s not our job. Our job is to maintain the quality of life in our city, and that’s what this [diversity] training is all about.”

As the year continued, more examples of the changes in the city emerged: The police department reached out to the LGBT community in looking for new recruits. Halstead announced plans to start a hate crimes unit. The annual Tarrant County gay Pride celebration expanded, adding a block party and holding a parade and picnic far larger than in years past.

In September, the council quietly approved adding domestic partner benefits for lesbian and gay city employees, and in mid-November, the city attorney’s office announced that all charges against those arrested in the raid were being dropped.

Perhaps one of the most welcome results of the Rainbow Lounge raid, however, was the emergence and continued growth of Fairness Fort Worth.

Formed quickly in the wake of the raid to offer assistance to witnesses who wanted to testify during investigations into the raid, the group has morphed into an active LGBT advocacy organization complete with officers and a strategy for the future — filling a void that has long existed in Tarrant County’s LGBT community.

— Tammye Nash

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 31, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

FWPD, Chief Halstead to host Diversity Forum

FWPD Chief Jeff Halstead, center, with LGBT community leaders the Rev. Carol West and David Mack Henderson

The Public Relations Office of the Fort Worth Police Department is hosting a Diversity Forum on Tuesday, Aug. 31, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at the Hazel Harvey Peace Center for Neighborhoods, 818 Missouri Ave., in Fort Worth. It will feature FWPD Chief Jeff Halstead.

Topics up for discussion include recruiting for employment, strengthening communication and partnerships and patrol bureau realignments. There will be a question-and-answer period at the end.

According to an e-mail I got about the forum, the purpose of the meeting is “to make a difference.” The e-mail said:

“The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect, which is the police department’s motto: ‘Service with Respect, Dedicated to Protect.’”

—  admin

Fort Worth PD wants victims of recent crimes near the Rainbow Lounge to come forward

Fairness Fort Worth, the LGBT group formed in the wake of last June’s raid of the Rainbow Lounge, sent out a community alert last night on behalf of Sara Straten, the Police Department’s LGBT liaison officer. Last weekend, a man was found beaten to death in his vehicle a few blocks from the Rainbow Lounge, but Straten says the alert may or may not be related to that incident. We’ll have more on this shortly, but for now here’s Straten’s message in its entirety:

“FWPD is attempting to locate anyone that has been robbed, ‘rolled’ or otherwise assaulted by a WHITE MALE in the general area of Rainbow Lounge. I understand there may be community members that for one reason or another did not make a police report at the time of the offense. We NEED to talk to ANYONE who may have information on these crimes. Community members can talk to me first if they prefer, but I have a good friend who is working Homicide and has asked us for our help. This may or may not relate to current investigations that are ongoing. We need to work together on this and while I cannot discuss much at this point, I will the second that I have information that I can talk about. We just have to maintain some privacy in order to successfully prosecute when we get this investigated to its conclusion.

“Please put my [phone number] 817-475-3630 out in any way FFW deems necessary. I will return every call (or text) I get. Thank you so much for working with us on this.”

Fairness Fort Worth adds that those who don’t feel comfortable calling Straten or the police should e-mail the group at FairnessFtWorth@aol.com.

—  John Wright

Chief Halstead: 'I will find you and I will fire you' (unless, apparently, you raid a gay bar)

Wesley Lamb
Wesley Lamb

“To those very, very select few who think that you can stand against policy, that you can violate the public’s trust, I will find you and I will fire you,” Fort Worth Police Chief Jeff Halstead told a news conference yesterday, according to The Star-Telegram.

No,  he wasn’t talking about the officers who raided the Rainbow Lounge. He was talking about the latest string of scandals to hit the department including this week’s arrest of officer Wesley Lamb.

Lamb was arrested for smoking a doobie — in uniform — in his patrol car.

Not kewl, dude.

—  David Taffet