I, along with Rev. Dr. Russell K. Elleven, the minister of Westside Unitarian Universalist Church in Fort Worth, have sent the following letter to the Fort Worth Star Telegram and all Fort Worth area media outlets:
Tarrant County Unitarian Universalist Congregations Stand on the Side of Love
FORT WORTH, TX – At this point, as we write, it is unclear exactly what occurred in the Rainbow Lounge this past Sunday morning, the 8th of June. When we found out about the incident we were attending the closing worship service for the annual Unitarian Universalist General Assembly, this year, in Salt Lake City (it was held in Fort Worth in 1994 and 2005).
Unitarian Universalists are committed to standing on the side of love. Because of this we promote respect for the inherent worth and dignity of every person and believe that no person of any immigrant status, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or political view should be dehumanized through acts of violence, exclusion, or oppression. We at Westside and Pathways see this as an integral part of our mission as Unitarian Universalist LGBTQ Welcoming Congregations.
We hope and pray there will be an honest and thorough external investigation into this incident. If it is found the Fort Worth Police Department was out of line in their conduct, we hope that not only will those persons be held responsible, but that there will be an increase in the awareness of homophobic actions; an increase that began in earnest 40 years ago because of police brutality.
We believe there is little chance the anniversary of Stonewall Inn raid and the search at the Rainbow Lounge was a coincidence. We believe it was meant to send a message. For it not to be so is like the United States invading another country without understanding the difference between religious sects.
We invite all of the people of Fort Worth to stand on the side of love and hold our police department accountable to the highest standards the citizens of Fort Worth deserve. All of them.
Dr. Russell K. Elleven
Westside Unitarian Universalist Church
901 Page Avenue
Fort Worth, TX 76110
Rev. Tony Lorenzen
Pathways Church, a Unitarian Universalist Community
525 S. Nolen Drive, Suite 300
Southlake, TX 76092
Equality Texas has responded to the Rainbow Lounge incident.
Fort Worth City Council Member Joel Burns has issues this statement:
I want all citizens of Texas and Fort Worth to know and be assured that the laws and ordinances of our great State and City will be applied fairly, equally and without malice or selective enforcement. I consider this to be part of “The Fort Worth Way” here. As an elected representative of the city of Fort Worth, I am calling for an immediate and thorough investigation of the actions of the City of Fort Worth Police and Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission in relation to the incident at the Rainbow Lounge earlier this morning, June 28, 2009.
It is unfortunate that this incident occurred in Fort Worth and even more so to have occurred on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall protests. Unlike 40 years ago, though, the people of this community have elective representation that will make sure our government is accountable and that the rights of all of its citizens are protected. We are working together with our Mayor, Police Chief, the City of Fort Worth Human Relations Commission, and our State Legislative colleagues to get a complete and accurate accounting of what occurred.
Rest assured that neither the people of Fort Worth, nor the city government of Fort Worth, will tolerate discrimination against any of its citizens. And know that the GLBT Community is an integral part of the economic and cultural life of Fort Worth.
Every Fort Worth citizen deserves to have questions around this incident answered and I am working aggressively toward that end.
Fort Worth City Chief of Police Jeffrey W. Halstead issued this press release Sunday:
DETAILS AND SEQUENCE OF EVENTS LEADING TO A BAR CHECK AT THE RAINBOW LOUNGE:
On Thursday evening, June 6, 2009, a TABC Agent entered into NPD2 and teamed up with a patrol officer in order to conduct alcoholic beverage code inspections of area clubs. While they were out, they performed these inspections into the Friday morning hours. At approximately 10:00 p.m., Thursday evening, they stopped by the Rainbow Lounge located at 651 S. Jennings in anticipation of conducting an inspection as this club is newly opened and has not received an inspection before this date. While waiting on the supervisor to arrive, which is standard operating procedure, the owner of the Rainbow Lounge approached the officers asked if there was a problem. The TABC agent explained they were waiting on a patrol supervisor to make the scene before conducting an inspection of his establishment. An inspection at the Rainbow Lounge was not conducted on this date (Friday). Other locations, however, were inspected as a continuing effort to educate and enforce over serving alcohol to intoxicated individuals.
On Saturday morning, June 27, 2009, a person identifying himself as the owner of the Rainbow Lounge called the local police station and spoke with a supervisor to ascertain if there was a problem at the Rainbow Lounge. At approximately 3:30 p.m., a Fort Worth Police sergeant spoke with the owner of the Rainbow Lounge and explained they were conducting alcoholic beverage code inspections in the area. The owner advised the sergeant officers were welcome anytime to conduct an inspection of his establishment. The sergeant advised the owner of the Rainbow Lounge that officers would return to the area this evening to continue inspections and would inspect his establishment.
On Sunday morning, June 28, 2009, at 12:30 a.m., six (6) Fort Worth Police Officers, two (2) TABC agents and a supervisor conducted inspections at 160 W Rosedale (Rosedale Saloon and Cowboy Palace). This inspection resulted in nine (9) arrests. Once the inspection was completed at these locations, officers proceeded to the Rainbow Lounge.
Officers arrived at the Rainbow Lounge to conduct the scheduled inspection. Some officers remained outside while some entered the club. While walking through the Rainbow Lounge, an extremely intoxicated patron made sexually explicit movements toward the police supervisor. This individual was arrested for public intoxication. Another intoxicated individual also made sexually explicit movements towards another officer and he was arrested for public intoxication. A third individual inside the lounge assaulted the TABC agent by grabbing the TABC agent’s groin. He was escorted outside and arrested for public intoxication. The decision was made to release him to paramedics due to his extreme intoxicated state as he was repeatedly vomiting. While dealing with this person, another officer requested assistance from inside the club as he had an intoxicated individual that was resisting arrest. This person was placed on the ground in an effort to control and apprehend. A total of seven (7) arrests were made from the Rainbow Lounge during this inspection. The total arrest count for the entire evening totaled 16.
Alcohol beverage code inspections are conducted frequently at establishments located within the city limits of Fort Worth. These are conducted in order to ensure a safe environment for all. A thorough internal investigation into the allegations made is being conducted as all allegations against officers are investigated.