Fort Worth Mayor apologizes for gay bar raid

Wed. July 15, 2009 12:00 AM by

fort worth mayor mike moncrief

Fort Worth, TX - Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief apologized for a raid on a gay bar that left one man hospitalized,, an NBC affiliate reported Tuesday.

About 400 people crowded into city council chambers and lined hallways to hear the mayor speak about the June 28 raid on the Rainbow Lounge that has left the city facing a public relations nightmare.

Someone in the crowd called out for an apology.

"If you want an apology from the mayor of Fort Worth: I am sorry about what happened in Fort Worth," Moncrief said. Audience members, clearly elated, rose to their feet and applauded loudly.

Earlier, seven gay activist were escorted out of the building after they demanded the mayor move discussion on the bar raid to the top of the council's agenda. The mayor refused. Blake Wilkinson, founder of Queer LiberAction, continued to argue with the mayor and people in the hallway began chanting "Hear us now!" Wilkinson and six others were escorted out of the building.

The inspection at the recently reopened Rainbow Lounge has drawn loud protests from the gay community which has called the raid "police harassment."

The inspections, carried out jointly by the Fort Worth Police Department and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, are under internal investigation by both agencies. Police officers involved have been desked. And Police Chief Jeff Halstead has announced suspension of all joint operations between the two agencies.

But the department's initial defense of the raid – the inspection was routine, and patrons sexually groped officers – has lead to wider calls for an outside investigation.

City Councilmembers Kathleen Hicks and Joel Burns, who is openly gay, were the first to call for an outside investigation. Tuesday Mayor Moncrief reiterated that he backs a federal review of the police department's investigation.

Police Chief Halstead announced earlier in the day that he has appointed Officer Sara Straten as a liaison to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. Straten is to lead a diversity training program for officers, Halstead said.

Seven men were arrested during the raid, and patrons at the bar said the police used excessive force.

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