A group of prominent Fort Worth business leaders and community activists are calling for an independent investigation by private citizens of the TABC/FWPD raid at the Rainbow Lounge. Here is their letter sent today to Mayor Mike Moncrief, city council members, and city staff:
Dear Mayor Mike Moncrief, Members of City Council, City Manager Dale A. Fisseler, and Chief of Police Jeffrey Halstead.
Re; Rainbow Lounge
As members of this community, we are deeply concerned about the events which occurred at the Rainbow Lounge involving the Fort Worth police and members of the TABC. From the various local, national, and, now, international news reports, it is evident that serious discrepancies exist between the official police statement concerning these events and those of the patrons who were there. Especially given the current economic uncertainties, it is essential that Fort Worth not be perceived as an intolerant or unwelcoming community. Although you, as mayor, have quite properly proposed that Chief Halstead commence an internal inquiry, we respectfully submit that only an independent investigation can lay to rest the concerns of all citizens.
Therefore, we respectfully urge the immediate appointment of an independent citizens’ commission to investigate this incident, with full power and authority to collect evidence, render objective conclusions, and make recommendations, if necessary. Only in this way can Fort Worth be seen as having dealt with the situation openly and effectively.
The letter was signed by the following:
Maryellen Hicks (former judge and mother of FW council member Kathleen Hick)
Stephen H. Dutton (President and CEO of the Good Samaritan House)
Charlotte Sobel (Ex. Dir. Of the Fort Worth Partnership for Community Development)
James Askey (CFO for Good Samaritan House)
Tom Anable (local accountant who was at the Rainbow Lounge that night)
Jonathan D. F. Nelson (local gay attorney who has been involved in the gay/Episcopal church dispute)
Thomas P. Lang, Jr. (an executive with PlainsCapital Bank)
D. Michael Lynn (a federal bankruptcy court judge)
Joan Kline (local community activist and prominent realtor)
“We were very concerned about the public image of Fort Worth, and we all came to the consensus that an independent investigation done immediately was in the best interests of this city,” Nelson told the FW Weekly. “We have people who are calling for this from all walks of life, gay and straight.”
“I’ve lived in this city for 33 years,” Nelson continued, “and I love this city. I have not experienced any discrimination in all those years because of my sexual orientation. But when I read the extremely different account of what happened that night from law enforcement and the bar patrons, I think our only choice is to have an independent investigation. We have to act swiftly. This is all about Fort Worth being an inclusive city for all sorts of groups. But if we find members of the power structure who do not share that view, the city needs to deal with it.”
Our take on this is that those who signed this letter are some people with some pull in this community. If this was just a group of gay rights activists requesting an independent investigation, the Mayor Moncrief could easily dismiss the demand. But with judges, business leaders, heads of community outreach groups asking for this, we see Mayor Moncrief coming under a ton of criticism if he turns them down.