Eyewitness accounts contradict statements from police on what happened at Rainbow Lounge Sunday morning
A number of eyewitnesses have given their descriptions of what happened at the Rainbow Lounge around 1 a.m. Sunday morning, June 28.
Most of these accounts are very consistent, even though they come from different people who do not know each other.
Here are a few of the eyewitness reports of the incident, as reported to Dallas Voice.
Todd Camp, founder of Fort Worth’s LGBT film festival Q Cinema, had gone to Rainbow Lounge Saturday night with friends to celebrate his birthday. He said he was standing in line at the bar when "seven or eight cops," some wearing Fort Worth Police uniforms, others wearing clothing identifying them as "state police."
Camp said an officer "shoved me out of the way to grab the guy in front of me" in line at the bar. The officer "told the man, ‘You’re drunk,’" and took him out of the bar, Camp said.
He said there were "about six police cars" and a "paddy wagon" waiting outside the bar, and that officers had several people in zip-tie handcuffs lined up on the sidewalk.
"No one I saw appeared to be highly intoxicated, and the way they were choosing people just appeared to be random harassment," Camp said. "They were pretty violent in grabbing people, and one guy was shoved to the ground and handcuffed.
"I was absolutely stunned. They are saying this was a routine check by TABC. I have been in plenty of bars before when TABC checks happened, and this was not like anything I have ever seen before," Camp added. "People were just grabbed randomly, told they were drunk, spun around, put in handcuffs and taken out."
Camp said straight friends who were there with him were frightened to the point of tears by what they saw.
Justin McCarty said he was working security for the Rainbow Lounge at the time of the raid early Sunday morning. He said an officer approached him and asked how much he had had to drink.
"I told him I was working and hadn’t had anything to drink, and that’s when he told me, ‘Then you need to make yourself scarce.’ So I did. I went to the back out of the way. I took that as a threat that if I didn’t, I would be arrested, too," McCarty said.
McCarty said that he saw officers throw Chad Gibson to the floor, adding that, "There were people standing there watching it happen and crying. They were scared. It was just brutal."
Brandon Addicks said he had brought his girlfriend and "some of her friends" to the Rainbow Lounge on Saturday night to dance. At first, he said, they noticed "a small trickling of cops" coming into the bar, one of which "was wearing a shirt that said ‘Vice’ on it." Then the trickle grew.
"I saw a cop walk up behind a guy who was sitting at a table. The cop told him to stand up, and when the guy asked what for, the cop said, ‘You’re intoxicated,’ Addicks said. "Then there was that guy getting the crap beat out of him there in the back.
"I have been in bars before when police have come in, and I have never seen anything like this," he added. "It all just had a really nasty vibe to it. They seemed to be specifically singling out certain people to arrest. It was really unnerving."
Randy Norman is general manager for the Rainbow Lounge. He said he saw a man on the dance floor, dancing, who was approached by police officers.
"They threw him down, put the zip ties on him and took him out," Norman said. "He told them he was not drunk, and asked that they do breathalyzer on him. But they refused."
Norman said that after the bar had closed Sunday morning, an officer came back in and gathered the club’s employees on the dance floor. The officer told them police and TABC had been there for a routine check and that they club was not being targeted because it caters to the LGBT community.
"He said, ‘I don’t partake in being gay, but I don’t care if you do,’" Norman said. "I don’t know about you, but I can’t see why someone would say something like that."
Alison Egert said several members of her family have been in law enforcement, and that she has learned over the years that if you treat a police officer with respect, that officer will treat you with the same respect in return. But that’s not what she saw Sunday morning at Rainbow Lounge.
Egert said when she first noticed an officer in the club she "made a point of going up to him to tell thanks for coming out to make sure we’re safe. ‘This is kind of a rough neighborhood, and we appreciate you.’ But he told me, ‘That’s not why we’re here.’"
When Egert asked why the officers were in the club, she said he told her they had received a tip from "a disgruntled former employee" who claimed the club’s bartenders were over-serving customers.
At that point, Egert said, she told the officer that she had had several drinks herself, but that she had a designated driver. The officer, in return, told her she had nothing to worry about.
It was shortly after that conversation, Egert said, that she saw a patron in the bar "thrown against the wall" and then pushed to the floor. (That man was later identified as Chad Gibson.)
"Here you had this gay man who looked like he weighed about 100 pounds thrown to the floor with six cops on top of him," she said. "That’s when I started noticing that they were only arresting men, and they seemed to be targeting the smaller men."
Egert said her experience that night was proof the officers in the bar were there specifically to harass gay men.
"They said they were arresting people for public intoxication. I told them I was intoxicated, but they left me alone," she said. "It was disgusting."
Egert also said she didn’t see anyone make sexual advances toward any of the officers and that she didn’t see anyone grope any of the officers.
"The people in there were scared. They were all getting out of their [police officers'] way," she said. "No one resisted arrest. They were singling out specific people, the men who seemed more effeminate. It just seems like it was a deliberate jab at the community."