UPDATE: Seven protesters were removed from Tuesday night's City Council meeting after they refused to allow the meeting to continue until the Rainbow Lounge presentation was moved up to the top of the agenda. More details here.
A large turnout is expected at tonight’s Fort Worth City Council meeting as activists plan to attend in droves, intent on keeping the spotlight on last month’s Rainbow Lounge Raid.
Both Fairness Fort Worth and the ACLU are encouraging supporters to attend. Many are expected to speak their mind to the council. John Nelson, an attorney with Fairness Fort Worth, has arranged to make a citizen’s presentation about the incident and the investigation.
During the pre-council meeting this afternoon, Fort Worth Police Chief Jeff Halstead gave the council an update on his investigation of the June 28 raid, when state and local police conducted a bar inspection at a gay bar and made six arrests, severely injuring one patron. The incident has galvanized the gay community.
Some key points from Halstead’s presentation:
--Internal affairs investigators have conducted interviews with 33 attendees at the Rainbow Lounge and expected to complete the investigation in approximately 30 days.
--The Fort Worth police consider the investigation a priority, taking some internal affairs investigators off other cases to focus on the Rainbow Lounge incident, he said.
--Halstead expects to update the police department’s policy regarding bar raids, after taking input from the community.
“I don’t want a police officer to say, ‘I’ve never been in that bar. Let’s do an investigation,’” Halstead said.
--Soon after the incident, Halstead said he decided he needed a police officer to serve as a liaison to the city’s gay/lesbian/bisexual community, just as the department has people serving in a similar position for other minority communities. Officer Sara Straten, a neighborhood officer in north Fort Worth and 17-year veteran of the department, volunteered for the position.
“I plan to work hard to heal the community as a whole, both the police department and the GLBT community,” Straten told the council.
Mayor Mike Moncrief and council members praised Halstead but added they support the current plan to have the US Attorney’s office review the police investigation.
“While June 28 was a difficult day, I’m pleased to hear that we are moving forward and not backward,” Mayor Mike Moncrief told Halstead. “This city is an inclusive city. This is not an exclusive city”