A Fort Worth gay bar marked the one-year anniversary of a controversial police raid Monday with a barbecue, and this time, the police were invited guests.
Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead and more than a dozen officers attended the anniversary event at the Rainbow Lounge in a show of unity.
"I know a year ago, a lot of things went wrong,” Halstead told the crowd, speaking into a microphone on the bar’s dance floor. “I have said publicly at City Council, and I have talked to a lot of my friends here, that I was sorry for what went wrong."
On June 28, 2010, seven Fort Worth officers and two agents from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission entered the bar and began arresting patrons on charges of public intoxication.
The raid made headlines across the country and sparked outrage in the gay community.
The department disciplined two officers and a supervisor, expanded diversity training and appointed an openly lesbian officer as liaison to the gay community.
And now, both sides describe the relationship as excellent -- the opposite of the distrust and tension in the weeks following the raid.
“We have become friends and partners in a greater endeavor, which is community service and safety,” Halstead said.
Openly gay council member Joel Burns agreed that a lot has changed in the past year.
"I am so proud of Fort Worth -- not only the city government, but the community -- and how much progress we've made in the course of one year," Burns said.
A police review found officers involved in the raid were heavy-handed, rude and had no business going into a bar without a history of complaints. The Rainbow Lounge had opened one week earlier.
Although the raging controversy that exploded after the raid is over, some aspects of the event remain unsettled. At least one lawsuit is expected to be filed soon.
Criminal charges are still pending against the customers arrested that night.
One of them, Chad Gibson, was charged with assault after a state agent said Gibson groped him. Gibson denied it.
Gibson was hospitalized for several days after he received a serious head injury. The internal police review concluded that he hit his head when he fell outside. Some witnesses said he was injured inside during an initial scuffle with officers.
Adam Seidel, Gibson’s attorney, said Monday his client has asked for a trial date but that one has not been set.
Halstead said he has asked city prosecutors to carefully review each case for “strength of prosecution.” Amid a backlog of thousands of cases in municipal court, he said the delay is no surprise.
Thomas Anable, the leader of Fairness Fort Worth, a gay rights group formed after the raid, agreed the city has made huge strides in relations with the gay community the last year.
But he also said the city should simply drop the charges.
"I would say if we have a trial, I know the community will bring in thousands of protesters,” he said. “And it's not something the city is going to want to see."
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