FWPD plans Zero Tolerance teams, undercover officers after protesters from Kingdom Baptist Church were cited for disorderly conduct last year
FORT WORTH — Fort Worth police plan zero tolerance of foul language or other disruptions at the Tarrant County Pride parade and festival on Oct. 6.
Last year several protesters affiliated with Kingdom Baptist Church in the Johnson County town of Venus were cited for disorderly conduct for harassing Pride attendees.
FWPD Sgt. Kathi Jones, an honorary grand marshal of this year’s parade said she’s arranged for two police Zero Tolerance teams and undercover intelligence to assist traffic officers hired by the Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association.
Jones said Chief Jeffrey Halstead agreed to provide the extra officers because of what happened last year.
“I have never seen so much hate in my life from someone who claims to be Christian,” Jones said.
She said this year, protesters will receive only one warning before being arrested.
Contacted this week, Kingdom Baptist Church Pastor Joey Faust seemed to be looking forward to the parade as much as members of the LGBT community. Asked by Dallas Voice whether he would attend, Faust said: “Of course. We wouldn’t miss that.”
Parade director Tina Harvey said this week, “Protesters last year made me more resolute that this year’s parade will be bigger, better and more respectful of our community.”
Harvey said she wanted openly gay service members to lead the parade, but was unable to find any who were willing to participate.
While active-duty gay and lesbian service members have attended Pride celebrations around the country, many are still fearful, Harvey said.
“They felt higher-ups would still try to get rid of them,” she said, despite the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Instead, Cowtown Leathermen will lead the parade with a color guard, followed by two of three grand marshals and four honorary grand marshals.
Thomas Anable, who was named grand marshal before his death in August, will be honored with a riderless car followed by members of Fairness Fort Worth, the group he helped form in 2009 after the Rainbow Lounge raid.
Fairness Fort Worth’s David Mack Henderson said so many of his group’s members are active in other groups that he expects only a few to walk behind the car.
“It’s important to honor Tom’s contributions and just as important to look ahead,” he said.
Candi Carroll aka Randy Moore and William Dotson are the two other Grand Mashals. Both have raised money for Tarrant County nonprofits for years.
Honorary Grand Marshals are performer Tim Smith, hate crime victims Kim and Mandy Lovering, and Jones.
Although Fort Worth Mayor Becky Price will not be in the parade this year because of a scheduled appearance at a broadcast TCU football game, Harvey said Pride organizers have developed an excellent relationship with the city.
“The city of Fort Worth has given us such great support,” Harvey said.
Jessica Dowdy of the Fort Worth Visitors and Convention Bureau said her organization is promoting the parade and picnic via social media.
“We did a push Monday and we’re planning another on Friday,” Dowdy said midweek.
Among the new entries in the Fort Worth parade is Pride San Antonio Inc. James Poindexter, the group’s secretary, said he expects three to five people to come to Fort Worth for the weekend to represent the Alamo City.
The group already participates in the Houston and Austin parades and this year adds Fort Worth and next year Dallas.
“We need to strengthen and support each other statewide,” he said and invited Dallas and Fort Worth parade participants to come to San Antonio’s Pride festival in June.
Another new entry in the Fort Worth parade is Trinity River Equality in Education, the gay-straight alliance at the new downtown campus of Tarrant County College.
Club President Gail Lockwood said TREE has grown from five members last year to 45 this semester.
“This year, we’re trying to make our presence known,” Lockwood said. “We’re networking with other GSAs and hope to be a resource for high school GSAs.”
Last year, the parade moved downtown and this year adds a larger festival in General Worth Square at the end of the parade route, running until 6 p.m.
On Sunday, the Pride picnic in Trinity Park includes entertainment by Valerie & Kickback and 3 Drunk Monkeys. The afternoon features events including a tug of war and sack races. More than 25 food and beverage vendors will be at the park.
Dianne Dunivan, who chairs the picnic, called it the perfect family event.
“I showed my niece 10 years ago that this is what gay looks like,” Dunivan said. “Every year, she brings another friend.”
Pride parade, festival, picnic
The Tarrant Pride parade begins at noon Saturday, Oct. 6, and runs along Main Street from Weatherford Street to 7th Street. The parade is followed by a festival in General Worth Square, between 8th and 9th streets. The picnic is from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday in Trinity Park. Parking for the picnic will be at Farrington Field.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 5, 2012.