It's vital that Fort Worth know what really happened at the Rainbow Lounge on June 28, the night that officers from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and the Fort Worth Police Department came into the gay bar and arrested some of its patrons. In the process, Chad Gibson, 26, received head injuries that left him hospitalized for a week.
National news reports of the incident have put the city in a bad light, and pleas for action must not be ignored.
Several witnesses have said that the officers used excessive force, while the agencies involved describe it as a routine bar inspection. No one should be satisfied until all the facts are known.
The first step must be thorough internal affairs examinations by the TABC and Fort Worth police. The results of those examinations must be made public as soon as possible.
There's been a lot of jumping to conclusions because of what may have been coincidental timing: The bar serves a gay clientele, and the incident took place on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York, a key event in the gay-rights movement. So far, no evidence has been made public that the officers involved knew the significance of the date or that the bar was targeted because of its clientele.
More importantly, questions about whether police and TABC officers were overly aggressive in their handling of Rainbow Lounge patrons are legitimate and deserve answers.
TABC's practices have been the subject of much speculation. There are allegations that its agents have a "cowboy attitude" in bar inspections in this and other parts of the state, that bar patrons often are mistreated and that bar owners’ business rights are not respected.
To read the complete editorial, visit The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.