The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

News story from 1969

Just kidding, though it seems like this could be from Stonewall. No, this is from last week—on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall raid, no less—and does not reflect favorably on the good people of Central Texas:

The short version is this: About 1 a.m. Sunday, two Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents and six [Fort Worth] cops showed up at the [Rainbow Lounge, a gay] club for an inspection.

These checks, which have gotten a lot of attention in the last few years, target bars in search of patrons who are obviously intoxicated.

...[P]olice said they encountered hostile, argumentative drunks, some of whom "made sexually explicit movements" (my imagination runs wild) toward the officers. One young patron allegedly "assaulted [a] TABC agent by grabbing the TABC agent's groin."

OK, hold on. First, witnesses say the officers showed up ready to make arrests, their fists full of plastic zip-cuffs.

"They were hyped up. They were loaded for bear," said Todd Camp, a veteran journalist who was there celebrating his birthday with friends. "They were just randomly grabbing people, telling them they were drunk."

Police Chief Jeff Halstead[1] clarified, sort of:

"You're touched and advanced in certain ways by people inside the bar, that's offensive," he said. "I'm happy with the restraint used when they were contacted like that."

To which Dan Savage says, essentially, "bullshit:"

Allow me to translate the chief's comments: "Them faggots in that thar bar touched mah officers and now they're complainin' about some rough stuff and one little ol' faggot with a brain injury? Those perverts should be grateful they're alive."

This is a classic example of the Gay Panic Defense. In the very recent past all a straight man who brutally murdered a gay man had to say was, "He made a pass at me!", and the jury would ignore the evidence and let the murderer off. The Gay Panic Defense doesn't fly in many courts of law these days but it still has currency in the court of public opinion. And the chief of police in Forth Worth, a major U.S. city, is attempting to use the Gay Panic Defense to convince the citizens of Fort Worth to ignore the evidence—to ignore photographic evidence and credible eyewitness accounts—and let his officers off.

(Empahsis in original.)


We should call this what it is: a violent, homophobic raid to persecute and physically assault gay men, with some witnesses saying that they targeted the smaller and more effeminate men. We need a full investigation and in the meantime the police chief and all those cops who launched this raid need to be suspended until this is cleared up. No police chief should remain in his position after offering the gay panic defense for brutal beatings by cops.

I concur.

[1] The other irony here, of course, is that North Halsted Street is Chicago's gay neighborhood. Maybe the Chief has something he'd like to tell us?