This morning, as I read additional reports about the raid on the Rainbow Room in Fort Worth I am becoming more, not less, troubled. There are deeply troubling questions that remain unanswered….
1) Why conduct this raid on the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall uprising??
My GLBT friends are rightly concerned about the timing, as are those of us who are their friends and allies. The irony of a raid in Fort Worth happening on the very night of events in New York 40-years-ago is not lost on many observers.
In a letter to Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief, Rev. Steve Sprinkle says this:
“I find it difficult not to believe that this raid was deliberately carried out on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion to create fear and consternation among gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people.”
The police have issued a statement claiming that they were not specifically targeting the Rainbow Room, and that this raid was a part of greater raids conducted on that night in several locations. They appear to be insinuating that no malice was intended, and that the timing is simply an unfortunate coincidence they would have avoided had they known of the significance of the day.
If so, that still begs a second question…
2) Why are the Fort Worth police so completely ignorant of GLBT issues to *not* know and understand the significance of Stonewall?
Assuming the “best case” scenario –that this was all just unfortunate timing– why did nobody in the Fort Worth Police Department know enough about GLBT issues to suggest that a “routine raid” be conducted on a different day?
At best, it shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the GLBT community by the Fort Worth police. Efforts should quickly be made to provide for education and training for the Fort Worth police so that they might understand and appreciate this important population.
3) What is the status of Chad Gibson, one of those arrested during the raid?
Reports are that he may need surgery to reduce swelling around his brain. This seems another shocking development in this case. What justifiable police action would end in this result? It seems hard to fathom. A full accounting of what led to his injuries is needed, and I join people of faith everywhere in praying for his recovery.
The seriousness of his condition adds fuel to the paranoia that this raid was more than a simple unfortunate coincidence.
The Fort Worth police have much they still need to explain about this raid. Their initial statement is a helpful first step, but much more is needed from them. As Rev. Sprinkle has suggested, a clearer apology, a fuller explanation of events of the evening, and far more training and eduction are needed. I call on the Forth Worth police, and the Mayor, to provide all these things.
GLBT persons are citizens that deserve the same rights and privileges afforded all our citizens. They are also deserve our love, support, and embrace as God good children. As Rev. Sprinkle reminds us Christ’s “Golden Rule” is a good measure of thumb for all our actions in relation to fellow human beings. So is Jesus’ admonition to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Let hope that some learning can emerge from this within the Fort Worth police department, and that some healing may occur within the greater community, in the coming days and weeks.
2 thoughts on “Concerns Raised by the Rainbow Room Raid”
Great questions Rev. Folkerth. I just got off the phone with Shane who witnessed the event. His description was one of chaos perpetrated by the same people who according to the law are entrusted to make judgement calls as to whether a person is capable of doing no harm, to themselves or others. Thank you for caring and sharing.
I want to correct one thing you said, Eric. I would think that SOMEONE in the police department or mayor's office would know about the signficance of Stonewall.However I was 24 and wild 40 years ago and homophobic. I have certainly changed positions and feelings about gblt rights since then; but none of my gay friends or acquaintances have ever told me about it nor have I read about it. (Honestly, I saw articles about Stoneway at one point and thought it was talking about some of the AA riots of 1969, so I didn't read them since I remember living them.)I lived in Appalachia at the time; and being gay was very dangerous in 1969 if anyone in power knew about it (or some good old boys THOUGHT you were gay).It is a good article, though; and I still trust that this was not completely an accident.Have you heard of any other locations that were raided that night?