For all of their ignorance prior to the problems, I have to hand it to the Fort Worth Police Department--they've been trying to get a grip on things and make amends to the LGBT community if Ft. Worth since the Rainbow Lounge Fiasco. They underestimated the fall-out from this botched 'code check.' They reacted insensitively at first, and the Police Cheif was downright patronizing on his first press conference on the matter, when he told everyone to "take a deep breath."
However, the FWPD has kept the communications line open with the press and the gay community, and hasn't gone a day without making some sort of mea culpa. First it was the announcement of the creation of the LGBT liaison. Then there was the announcement of a suspension of "bar checks" and finally cut ties with the Texas Alcholic Beverage Commission. Which begs the question: What has the TABC done for us lately?
The TABC motto is "service, courtesy, integrity and accountability," does that look at all right to you? While the LGBT community rakes FWPD Cheif Halstead over the coals, it seems that a cabal of cops are wiping their foreheads in Austin, knowing they've dodged a bullet, and happy to let the FWPD take the heat.
There have been dozens of photos published from that night, countless accounts, and--though the FWPD needs to take responsibility for poor planning, bad excuses, and not trying to forge a better relationship with the LGBT community before this sweep--from what we've seen and heard, the TABC needs a much closer inspection.
The biggest for instance that I can think of is Chad Gibson, who was hospitalized because of the injuries he received that night. He was not harmed under Police Cheif Halstead's arms--he was harmed when he was mercilessly bodyslammed by TABC officers. Look at all of the pictures, and you'll come to my conclusion. There were officers in blue uniforms and tan uniforms--FWPD and TABC respectively. Whenever boys in blue are pictured, they are standing, talking calmly to folks--albeit folks in cuffs. When someone is being shoved to the floor under the weight of a pack of huge, bulky agents, what color are the officers' shirts? Tan.
But over the course of the week, we've seen bloggers' snarky responses to Cheif Halstead's releases, belligerent gay media coverage of anything FWPD, but have we seen anyone take the TABC to the cleaners like that? In the same post where he broke the news that the TABC had taken responsibility for Chad Gibson's horrible and long-term injuries, one very prominent LGBT blogger goes on to continue slamming the FWPD and calling for everyone's jobs there--narry another word about the TABC.
The TABC have, in fact, done little more than post a press release on their main web page, and occasionally return a phone call from Mainstream Media--ignoring MOST questions, mind you. However, 26 hours after the fiasco occurred, I received a return call from the FWPD responding to my questions. Me. Some little insignificant blogger in Illinois. A Sargent spent about 30 minutes on the phone with me trying to communicate the department's regret that this had blown up like this. I'm sure there would have been little regret had it NOT blown up, however, the gesture still does not deserve to go unrecognized. Not to mention THEY called ME. I didn't have to call multiple times, I called once, Sunday night, and Monday morning (very early) I was getting my answers. I'm still waiting for my call from the TABC.
Its time we shift our spotlight off of the FWPD for a while and put it where it belongs--squarely in the faces of the TABC and the angry, violent agents that hospitalized a man. Let the FWPD work out their crap in peace for a bit. Lets get the TABC to put even an OUNCE of the same effort to correct this that the FWPD has put in.
You can call the TABC main switchboard at 512.206.3333. Open records is 206.3491. You can email them at email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org OR BOTH. Or, if you're a queer in Austin or nearby, you can show up with a news crew at their headquarters at 5806 Mesa Dr. and ask them where THEIR outreach is. Don't swear, don't threaten, don't call names, and don't get personal--but ask them what the deal is? Why has the FWPD said so much on the matter, while the TABC has remained virtually silent. What will they do to reach out to the LGBT community and create a better relationship?
Most importantly, don't let them off the hook. Keep calling until you get an answer. Let them know noone gets away with a Hate Crime--not even cops!