Fort Worth City Councilmembers continue to push for Rainbow Lounge raid investigation
More than a month after Fort Worth police officers and officials with the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission raided the Rainbow Lounge, the fallout from the highly controversial raid continues to unfold.
A series of high-profile public protests have continued unabated with groups such as Queer Liberaction and Fairness Fort Worth demanding the authorities involved be held accountable for their unusually aggressive actions.
City Councilmember Kathleen Hicks, in whose district the Rainbow Lounge is located, issued a press release the morning after the event that called for an independent investigation into the matter. She and fellow Councilmember Joel Burns made the formal request for an independent investigation into the raid at Rainbow Lounge at the City Council’s July 14 meeting (audio of the meeting can be heard at www.fortworthgov.org.)
"As the council representative of the club in which this unfortunate event took place and as an African-American female who experiences discrimination every day of my life, I feel it is incumbent upon me to stand up not only for the citizens I represent but for all," Hicks said in her initial press release.
Burns told the Dallas Voice after the meeting he feels a "federal intervention would reassure the gay community that the police investigations are credible."
Hicks added she and Burns both recognized the significance that since "stage officials and the Fort Worth police were involved, we needed an independent" voice to reveal "what exactly occured."
The acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas announced it is currently interviewing people who were inside the Rainbow Lounge on the night of the raid and gathering information from the TABC and Fort Worth police officers.
"They want to get to the bottom of what occurred there that night," Hicks said.
She stressed she does not want to "see a rush to judgment," but she added she wants a full investigation into what happened.
"From the first blush, I have some concerns about what might have occurred that night," Hicks said. "No matter what people say, a young man ended up in the hospital with brain injuries. The point was to ensure people weren’t over served alcohol. It didn’t include people getting hurt."
No matter what conclusions are reached by the U.S. Attorney’s investigation, Hicks emphasizes the importance of what happened at the Rainbow Lounge as "not just an isolated event, but one that we learn from."
"We can’t go back and make it go away, but we can learn from it and make it something positive for this city going forward," she said.
To that end, the very first meeting of the City Manager’s Diversity Task Force was held on July 23 at City Hall. Jonathan Nelson, co-founder of Fairness Fort Worth was among those who attended.
Nelson hopes the newly formed group will soon see results through the implementation of diversity training, the creation of LGBT liaisons and greater public safety in "the areas where we socialize and congregate.
"The city is very serious and very positive about these issues," he said. They want to work with the community."
Nelson lamented, however, the fact he feels conversations about what happened at the Rainbow Lounge would not happen without local and national attention. Hick concurred.
"It’s unfortunate that this event had to take place for that group (the Task Force) to be formed," she said. "I had suggested some people to be a part of it, and I think they will be very candid in the suggestions they make."
Hicks further suggested the city’s 6,000 employees should undergo diversity training.
"I hate to use the word ’tolerance,’ but as an African American female, I want everyone to be educated on acceptance and inclusion as we move forward-not just the Police Department," she said.