Banks Appointed to Citizen Police Oversight Board

Kris Banks

Kris Banks

On Wednesday the Houston City Council confirmed Mayor Annise Parker’s appointment of Former Houston GLBT Political Caucus President Kris Banks to the Independent Police Oversight Board.  The Oversight Board provides a way for Houstonians to have input into allegations against police officers involving use of excessive force, discharge of firearms, serious bodily injury or death or mistreatment of citizens.  The Board also makes recommendations on recruitment, training and evaluation of police officers; and considers community concerns regarding the Department.  Houstini talked with Banks about his new role:

[Houstini] Why have you agreed to serve on the Oversight Board?

[Banks] I believe the Oversight Board performs an important and vital function that benefits all involved. Police officers are granted extraordinary powers over their fellow Houstonians. They can, under legally sufficient circumstances, detain people against their will, walk into other people’s homes without their permission, and even use physical force to make people comply. We grant police officers these powers because they are necessary for the officers to do their jobs. However, with these great powers come great responsibility, and the Oversight Board exists as a check on those powers, thereby protecting the public against the very rare officer who uses her or his powers irresponsibility or excessively. It also benefits the police department. With the assurance that the Board is providing oversight, members of the public can be more confident of the police department, and form a better working relationship with officers.

[Houstini] What do LGBT Houstonians who have concerns about police behavior need to know about the mission of the Oversight Board?

[Banks] Historically, the LGBT community has had concerns about very broad and obvious police harassment, like bar raids. Incidents like these still occur (see Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth), but they tend to not be the focus of issues that exists between the LGBT community and the police department. Concerns between the community and the police department now tend to be over specific incidents that sometimes come to light and sometimes do not. That being said, the IPOB will review internal police investigations for complaints of excessive force, any discharge of a firearm, any time there is a death or serious injury, or any matter the police chief refers to us. We make recommendations, and the chief has ultimate discretion. What I want to highlight here is that a complaint has to be made for the IPOB to have any role. Complaints have to be sworn, either by the complainant, or, if the complaint is anonymous, by the person taking the complaint.

LGBT Houstonians should also know that I take my role as a community representative very seriously. I will not only take my perspective as an LGBT Houstonian to the police department, I will also take the knowledge I gain back of police procedure back to the community. For instance, I mentioned anonymous complaints above. In the training I have received so far, I learned that organizations can be deputized to take anonymous complaints (LULAC and the NAACP are both deputized). Anonymous complaints are, unfortunately, a big concern for our community. Whether because our congress has failed to pass job protections, family concerns, or any other personal reason, there are still many, many people in the closet. But being in the closet does not mean that a person is not protected. I will learn more about the deputizing community groups and take that back to organizations in our community like the Caucus, Community Center and Transgender Foundation so they can begin that process (as a caveat, I do not have a full list of deputized organizations and any of these organizations may already be deputized).

—  admin

Log Cabin Republicans member assaulted, called ‘faggot’ during convention at Hilton Anatole

A Log Cabin Republicans member was assaulted and called a “faggot” early Saturday during an altercation inside a bar at Dallas’ Hilton Anatole hotel, where the gay GOP group is holding its National Convention, according to Dallas police.

Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse, a spokesman for DPD, said the incident isn’t currently being treated as a hate crime because the suspect’s use of the word “faggot” was provoked by the Log Cabin member and his friends.

Janse said both the Log Cabin member and the suspect were intoxicated when the incident occurred at about 1 a.m. The Log Cabin member and his friends were whistling at the suspect, who got offended and shoved the victim, Janse said.

The Log Cabin member suffered minor injuries, described as a cut to his nose. The suspect was cited for class-C misdemeanor assault but was not taken into custody.

“Two groups of intoxicated individuals got into a verbal argument,” Janse said in an e-mail Saturday afternoon. “Supposedly the victim and his friend were whistling at the suspect, who took offense and shoved the victim. Officers interviewed both parties and made a class-C assault. Which is not a jailable offense if the two parties can be separated, which they were. Detectives are interviewing all parties as we speak but there is no indication of a hate crime based on what both parties are telling detectives. Just two drunk people.”

Asked to confirm rumors that the suspect used the word “faggot,” Janse said: “Yes. that word was used, but it was provoked.” Asked whether he meant that the word was provoked by the whistling, he said: “Yes. And comments about them ‘looking good.’”

Laura Martin, the police department’s LGBT liaison officer, said detectives were conducting follow-up interviews today with the suspect, the victim and witnesses. She added that the use of the word “faggot” doesn’t automatically make the incident a hate crime.

“The crime has to be motivated, has to start, because of the suspect’s bias,” Martin said. “‘In and of itself, calling a name during a fight doesn’t necessarily indicate that it was motivated by bias.”

Dallas Voice is withholding the names of both the suspect and the victim until more information becomes available.

UPDATE: Martin said late Saturday that the victim has opted not to press charges, meaning the case will be dropped.

Also, the victim contacted Dallas Voice via email Sunday morning and gave us his side of the story. The victim asked that his name continue to be withheld:

“I don’t want this to get more publicity but am concerned that your version, which is based on an inaccurate and misleading police report, is going to get more attention than it should,” the victim wrote. “The police treated this as a standard bar fight when instead the guy came up behind me and smashed my face into a glass tumbler while I was seated at a table with several other guys. I declined to prosecute because the suspect apologized in person and seemed to be sincere — plus it was clear any court experience would be a long and arduous process. … (As a side matter, I can’t believe how many commenters already are taking the position that I deserved it.)”

—  John Wright

Council incumbents discuss election issues

Angela Hunt, from left, Delia Jasso and Pauline Medrano

Medrano, Hunt face challengers; Jasso unopposed but still plans ‘get out the vote’ effort in April

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Three incumbents — Pauline Medrano, Angela Hunt and Delia Jasso — running for re-election have forged close ties with the LGBT community. All are running for reelection, they said, because they love their jobs and each highlighted particular community issues and economic development in their districts.

The one thing all three mentioned was making Dallas more bike-friendly. Two of them — Jasso and Medrano — returned from an urban biking conference in Seville, Spain last week with ideas on how to accomplish their goal.

 

Pauline Medrano

“Crime reduction, economic development and quality of life issues” are what Medrano said she has been focused on for the past six years on the council.

Running for her fourth term as District 2 councilwoman, she said, “I take my job very seriously. I put in an eight-hour day, and I love it.”

Although she said that people in her district know her well, she is taking nothing for granted as she faces an opponent in her bid for re-election. She said she talks to people around the district daily about what she’s done and what she still plans to do.

Neighborhood watch groups have been a key to crime reduction in the district, Medrano said. She touts the 10-70-20 plans that the police department helps implement — 10 percent of a neighborhood are non-tolerant and actively report crimes, 70 percent are tolerant and uninvolved, while 20 percent make up the criminal element.

By involving more of that 70 percent, Medrano said, one neighborhood reduced crime by more than 30 percent.

Medrano said she always has her eye on the neighborhood. She said she’s out five nights a week and constantly reports street lights that are out.

“If I’m in someone else’s district, I pass on the information,” she said.

Medrano is excited about development coming to her area, including two new Krogers — one at the current Elliot’s Hardware site and another at the former Loew’s Theater site. Both neighborhoods lack convenient grocery shopping and residents asked for her help in bringing the stores to the area.

Medrano noted that Elliot’s is staying in the area and is relocating to a space across from Inwood Station that was formerly a Carnival supermarket.

The CityPlace development will also include new housing units and an LA Fitness.

Medrano called the Green Line expansion that cuts through her district the best economic engine in the area.

She said that with construction of the new Parkland Hospital, the challenge has been to keep traffic in the area moving, but once the rail line is complete, employees can walk over to the new Kroger, shop and then hop on the Green Line to get home.

Medrano said she would like to integrate an idea she got in Spain to her district’s new DART service. She called them docking stations: Run a card through the docking station to get a bicycle. Ride to DART and return it to the docking station there before boarding a train. Take the train to another station and pick up another bike.

Medrano said she talked to someone who runs the bike share program in Seville who told her it was a way of life there.

Medrano called her job a seven-day-a-week job and her work on the council a privilege and an honor.

Angela Hunt

The incumbent that attracted the most opponents in her race for re-election is Hunt, with five. One of them, Chad Lassiter, will appear on the ballot but has dropped his campaign.

Hunt’s delay in deciding whether to run for mayor or for re-election to her current seat may have been a factor in attracting those opponents. In her last two races, she was unopposed.
Hunt said she was surprised she hasn’t had opponents in the past and thought every race should have a choice of candidates, saying a choice of candidates is healthy.

Hunt said she decided to run for the council rather than mayor because, “I don’t think this council can best be run by someone from the council.”

Hunt has her eye on citywide issues like the 2012 bond package, the budget and redistricting. But she has spent a lot of her time on neighborhood issues.

“We need to be focused on more bike-friendly streets and make neighborhoods more walkable,” she said. She wants to add streetcars to downtown. She said the Katy Trail, which runs through her district, has become more than a linear park and is now used as a transportation device. She said she’d like to see the 2011 bike plan fulfilled.

On one issue, Hunt remains a holdout against the rest of the council:

“I’m still against pouring millions of tons of concrete into our floodway,” she said, adding that she wants to see “the parks the voters were promised,” which she said would be an economic generator.

Hunt called improvements to the Trinity River levee system a public safety issue.

Hunt said she has been working with police, business owners and neighborhood groups to solve problems on Lower Greenville Avenue. She said that the city would invest in streetscape improvements this summer, including planting trees and making the strip more walkable.

New zoning will require businesses to obtain city permits to remain open after midnight to lower the concentration of bars.

Hunt said she worked with neighborhood groups and the landlord to change zoning for a property on Oak Lawn Avenue. Neighborhood groups didn’t want another convenience store or liquor store on the street, and the landlord needed additional options for the space. Rezoning will allow the owner to lease the storefront as an office, a restaurant or a variety of other new possibilities.

On the other side of her district, Hunt said that while the city is investing a half-billion dollars to modernize Love Field, she’s working to address noise issues with neighborhood groups when the Wright Amendment goes away in three years.

Delia Jasso

After 20 years of trying, Oak Cliff’s Bishop Arts neighborhood finally has taken off during the two years Jasso has been in office.

“I’ve liked being able to affect Bishop Arts,” Jasso said.

And, she said, she hopes to bring that success to other parts of her North Oak Cliff district.

Jasso said she is working with the city to come up with solutions to improve tricky intersections on Westmoreland Avenue and hopes to bring some of the sparkle back to Jefferson Boulevard.

But while Jasso wants to spread some of the Bishop Arts success, she is keeping a close eye on the successful area.

“I don’t want Bishop Arts to go the way of the West End,” she said.

One difference, Jasso said, is that West End developers worked hard to keep out LGBT-owned businesses while those businesses are an important ingredient in the Oak Cliff success.

Jasso said that during her first term she learned a lot and spent quite a bit of time helping small businesses navigate the city’s complicated permit and inspection process.

“Lucia is a perfect example,” she said.

Without her intervention, that new restaurant, which has already received a five-star rating, would have had a more difficult time opening.

Jasso said she would like to see some of that process streamlined.

Also recently back from the bike conference in Seville, Jasso said, “It’s amazing how easy it is to put in bike lanes. We make it hard on ourselves.”

She said studies show that women are less likely to ride bikes as transportation without buffer zones protecting them from vehicular traffic.

Jasso has become a biking enthusiast herself. She’ll be leading Bike Friendly Oak Cliff on a ride to City Hall on May 22 in honor of International Bike Day, and said she would ride in this year’s Lone Star Ride in September. Among the Lone Star Ride beneficiaries is AIDS Services of Dallas, which is in her district.

In her first two years, Jasso spearheaded an anti-graffiti campaign funded by a $100,000 donation from Mark Cuban. She initiated the GLBT Task Force to update policies and procedures and begin diversity training for Dallas Fire and Rescue. Working with a wide cross-section of animal advocate groups, Jasso also started Dallas Loves Animals.

“We need pet adoptions and [to be taught] how to treat our pets,” she said.

Although she wasn’t on the council when ExxonMobil paid the city $30 million for drilling rights inside the city limits, Jasso said she’s very concerned about the process of  frakking and what goes into the air and water.

Although she faces no opposition in the May election, Jasso said she’s running a “get out the vote campaign” in April to keep people used to voting for city council members every two years.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 1, 2011.

—  John Wright

TABC renews contract with RCD

Carolyn Beck

Beck says center will provide diversity training for about 50 new TABC employees

JOHN WRIGHT  |  Online Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

AUSTIN — A spokeswoman for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission confirmed this week that the agency plans to continue LGBT diversity training for its employees, which she called “one of the positive things that came out of the Rainbow Lounge.”

TABC spokeswoman Carolyn Beck said Thursday, March 17 that the agency has signed a new contract for LGBT diversity training with Resource Center Dallas.

A few months after the raid of the Fort Worth gay bar in 2009, TABC paid Resource Center $14,212 to train all of the agency’s roughly 700 employees — in a series of 24 two-hour sessions in 11 locations across the state.

This time, Resource Center will train the roughly 50 TABC employees who’ve been hired since the initial round of training was completed last year. The second round of training, at a cost of $2,700, will take place during sessions in Dallas, Houston and Austin between March and July.

“We thought it was important at the time for our employees to receive diversity training like this, and it’s still important for the same reasons that it was before,” Beck said. “It really only makes sense if you continue the training. … The training is one of the positive things that came out of the Rainbow Lounge.”

TABC, whose agents raided the bar along with officers from the Fort Worth Police Department in June 2009, later fired three employees for policy violations related to the incident.

TABC Commissioner Alan Steen has publicly apologized for the raid on at least two occasions.

TABC reportedly is the first state agency in Texas to conduct comprehensive LGBT diversity training for all of its employees.

Beck, who also serves as TABC’s liaison to the LGBT community, said she doesn’t believe diversity training would have prevented the Rainbow Lounge raid.

However, she said the training has been beneficial to the agency.

“The one thing about it, across the board, it creates a lot of discussion, which I think is in itself a positive thing,” Beck said. “The training pushes some people’s boundaries, which I believe is the intent.”

Rafael McDonnell, strategic communications and programs manager for Resource Center Dallas, said the new training contract is the culmination of efforts that began last spring, when TABC solicited input on its strategic plan.

“I think this shows that TABC is committed to treating the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community with respect and dignity by having all of its employees learn about who we are,” said McDonnell, who helps conduct the LGBT diversity training.

“We did surveys and proved that there was a demonstrated increase in knowledge about the LGBT community among the employees who took part in the training,” McDonnell added. “It shows that what we did is making a difference throughout the state, and that’s extremely gratifying.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

President Obama appoints 1st male, 1st openly gay White House social secretary

Jeremy Bernard (Photo by Karen Ocamb)

Jeremy Bernard, a native Texan formerly on staff at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, today became the first male AND the first openly gay person to serve as social secretary in the White House,according to this report in the Los Angeles Times.

Bernard worked in the financial industry in California and was a consultant for Obama’s 2008 campaign. He also served on the LGBT Advisory Committee for the L.A. County Sheriff’s Office, the L.A. Police Department and the mayor’s office. And he’s done work on behalf of A.N.G.L.E — Access Now for Gay and Lesbian Equality — and the National Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.

In appointing Bernard, President Obama said, “Jeremy shares our vision for the White House as the People’s House, one that celebrates our history and culture in dynamic and inclusive ways.”

—  admin

Fort Worth Police Department bans ‘bias-based policing’ against LGBT people, other groups

Chief Jeffrey Halstead

The Fort Worth Police Department has a new policy prohibiting “bias-based policing” — including bias against LGBT people — and officers who violate the policy are likely to be fired, according to FWPD officials who spoke to the Star-Telegram.

A police spokesman said the policy is not a response to any specific incident, but acknowledged that the department’s raid of the Rainbow Lounge gay bar in June 2009 was “on our mind.”

FWPD suspended three officers for a total of five days for their actions related to the raid, but determined that they didn’t use excessive force.

Jon Nelson, a founder of Fairness Fort Worth who once called the suspensions “absolutely inadequate,” praised Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead for the new policy.

“This policy would not exist but for the chief of police,” Nelson told the Star-Telegram. “He sets the tone and he made this decision and I think that this Police Department is significantly different because of his leadership.”

Halstead signed a special order enacting the new policy on Friday. It will be distributed to employees next week and takes effect immediately.

The policy specifically prohibits bias based on “race, color, gender, age, national origin, religion, disability, economic status, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, transgender status, membership in a cultural group or other individual characteristics or distinctions.”

—  John Wright

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

In defense of Fort Worth’s response to the Rainbow Lounge raid

Jon Nelson

By Jon Nelson  |  Fairness Fort Worth

I read with interest the Rev. Stephen Sprinkle’s commentary contrasting the Atlanta outcome with Fort Worth’s after raids at gay bars in each city. He concludes that “Factors contributing to the non-resolution of the Fort Worth police raid may include a less-than-robust defense of bar patrons by the Rainbow Lounge ownership at the time of the bust, and the less aggressive approach Fort Worth gay leaders employed to bring the city and the police department to account.”

The headline contrasts the $1 million settlement with none in Fort Worth. Although the Rev. Sprinkle doesn’t mention this as a contrast, I’ll deal with it anyway. The Atlanta suit was filed by a private attorney on behalf of 19 patrons of the club and no such lawsuit has yet been filed in Fort Worth .The LGBT community formed Fairness Fort Worth at the outset and stepped forward to represent the community. The injustice experienced was against the patrons and not the bar owner nor any employees of the bar. This contrasts sharply with the facts in Atlanta where the police targeted both the bar and its patrons.

The Rev. Sprinkle’s one striking contrast is his belief that the Fort Worth Police Department has never issued an apology and Atlanta has. I have attended at least three meeting where Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead has publicly apologized; the last one was in front of the Rainbow Lounge at a news conference held on Nov. 5, 2009.

The Rev. Sprinkle writes that there has been a “non-resolution” of the raid on the Rainbow lounge. Let me share with you what has happened since the raid and, in the words of the Rev. Sprinkle, “You be the judge”:

—  admin

Pearland police say there’s no reason to believe murdered teen Joshua Wilkerson was gay

Hermilo Moralez

Pearland police say they have no reason to believe 18-year-old murder victim Joshua Wilkerson was gay — despite suspect Hermilo Moralez’s claim that Wilkerson made a sexual advance toward him.

Moralez, 19, is charged with murder in the death of Wilkerson, whose partially burned body was found Thursday in an overgrown field.

According to court records, Moralez told Pearland police the pair fought after Wilkerson “began to come on to him in a sexual manner.” But Lt. Oneismo Lopez, a spokesman for the Pearland Police Department, told Instant Tea on Monday that detectives have found no evidence to support Moralez’s claim.

“There’s no indication that he was anything but straight right now,” Lopez said of Wilkerson, adding that detectives have interviewed Wilkerson’s family, friends and some former girlfriends. “What it comes down to, they talked to a couple of girls that he was intimate with. … They did not get any indication that he was gay at all. He [Moralez] probably made it up to minimize his own responsibility, to try to put it off on Joshua.”

If anything, Lopez said, it’s possible that Moralez made a sexual advance toward Wilkerson, although detectives haven’t been able to confirm this.

“We’re looking at all possibilities, and that’s one of them,” Lopez said, adding that the motive for the murder is still unknown.

Services for Wilkerson were held this morning in Houston.

Moralez remains in the Brazoria County jail, charged with murder, failure to identify himself by giving false information to an officer, attempting to take a weapon from an officer and tampering with evidence.

Federal immigration officials have also placed a hold on Moralez, a native of Belize who came to the U.S. 11 years ago. Lopez said no further information was available about Moralez’s immigration status.

“I know that usually when they put a hold on someone like that, that means the person is here illegally,” Lopez said. “We’re not exactly sure what his status is.”

—  John Wright

BREAKING: Fort Worth city attorney drops charges against Rainbow Lounge patrons

This photo, taken by Chuck Potter inside Rainbow Lounge on June 28, 2009, is believed to show TABC agents arresting Chad Gibson

A spokesman in the office of Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief has just confirmed reports we received earlier this morning that the city attorney’s office has dropped all charges against Chad Gibson and George Armstrong in connection with the June 28, 2009 raid on the Rainbow Lounge.

The spokesman said the city would release a statement later this afternoon, so watch Instant Tea for updates.

Gibson was hospitalized for a head injury he incurred during the raid, although questions remain about whether Gibson was injured when an agent with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission slammed him against a wall in the club and then threw him to the floor, or when Gibson fell on the sidewalk outside while he was handcuffed.

Armstrong, who said he suffered severe bruising and a muscle strain when police arrested him, was charged with misdemeanor public intoxication.

Gibson was charged with misdemeanor public intoxication and misdemeanor assault on a law enforcement officer after TABC Agent Chris Aller said Gibson groped him while he was attempting to arrest Gibson. However, Aller and the second TABC agent involved in the raid, as well as their supervising sergeant, were fired after TABC officials conducted an internal investigation and determined that the agents should not have raided the bar in the first place.

An internal investigation conducted by the Fort Worth Police Department also indicated that FWPD officers involved in the raid had violated procedures, and three officers were suspended for a total of five days as a result.

Adam Seidel, attorney for both Gibson and Armstrong, said he had received a notice from the court earlier this week that Gibson’s case had been set for jury trial on Dec. 7. Shortly afterward, however, he was notified by the court clerk that the charges had been dismissed.

“I am glad they did the right thing and dropped their charges against these two victims. It shows a commitment to move forward,” Seidel said.

Gibson suffered bleeding in his brain and is still receiving treatment for his injuries, according to Tom Anable, president of Fairness Fort Worth.

FFW was formed in the wake of the raid initially to help witnesses give testimony for both FWPD’s and TABC’s internal investigations. The organization has since become more formally organized and has been directly involved in negotiations with city officials that played a role in the vote to add protections for transgenders to the city’s nondiscrimination policy and in the recent vote to offer partner benefits to the city’s LGBT employees.

Anable said Thursday that Fairness Fort Worth is pleased with the city’s decision to drop the charges against Gibson and Armstrong.

“I think they finally just realized that the facts of the case didn’t support the charges,” Anable said. “I think this is a real positive step forward. It’s a show of good faith as we continue to resolve the issues related to the incident at the Rainbow Lounge.”

—  admin