Monday, June 29, 2009

Police "inspection" of Fort Worth gay bar reminds me of outright police harassment in Dallas in 1980, when I lived there

CNN is reporting in a video that a few patrons of a new gay bar, the Rainbow Lounge, in Fort Worth Texas were injured, one severely in the ICU, when police “inspected” a bar that had been open only a short while. Media reports indicate that the purpose of the "raid" was an ABC liquor inspection.

The “raid” was the subject of a pride march in Dallas yesterday.

I lived in Dallas from 1979-1988. In 1979 and 1980, police sometimes made false arrests in gay bars in Dallas, charging people with public lewdness. Charges were sometimes dropped, but others were plea bargained, and one man was threatened with jail if he didn’t leave Dallas. Many of the arrests were traced to one police officer by the Dallas Gay Alliance, at the time led by Bill Nelson and Terry Tebedo (who also operated the Crossroads Market on Cedar Springs – with several very cuddly cats – for years). Finally one particular defendant (a computer operator for ARCO) fought the charges and won in court, and the harassment stopped.

In 1982, Judge Jerry Buchmeyer overturned the Texas sodomy law 21.06 in the Baker v. Wade case, but his ruling was vacated by the Fifth Circuit. All of this is overridden by Lawrence v. Texas in 2003.

Attribution link for Wikimedia Commons picture of downtown Fort Worth with Tandy Center here.

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