Monday, June 29, 2009

History Repeating

Queen Square Gay Street Bath England
In what seems to have been somebody's idea of a sick practical joke, Fort Worth police and alcoholic beverage regulators staged a violent raid early Sunday morning on a recently-opened gay bar, arresting at least seven people and sending one unfortunate victim to the hospital with a severe head injury.

Partying like it's 1969, the raid took place on the 40th anniversary of a similar raid on the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, a raid that led to days of rioting and demonstrations that are popularly believed to have launched the modern gay-rights movement.

Perez Hilton has a superficial report on Sunday's action, with a photograph from on the scene. Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin has two posts that gather information from across the MSM and the blogosphere, plus an update on the seriously hurt patron, Chad Gibson. The Institute for Southern Studies reblogs Pam Spaulding's report. Fort Worth's acting mayor has called for an investigation. (I wouldn't be surprised if the inquiry turns up evidence that police or regulators demanded baksheesh that the bar owners refused to pay.)

Oddly, the police claimed that the raid was launched based on complaints from "disgrunted ex-bartenders," a curious thing, given that the Rainbow Lounge (the target of the police, who came equipped with handcuffs and a paddy wagon) had only been open for about a week.

David Link has a glass-half-full commentary at the Independent Gay Forum. There is already a Facebook group dedicated to the incident. I hope Radley Balko catches wind of this story, for his next book and his lecture notes.

UPDATE: Jim Burroway raises a significant question: Why were the police who staged the raid on the Rainbow Lounge wearing uniforms from a non-existent law enforcement agency?

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