FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - Nearly three years after a police raid at a Fort Worth gay bar, a new documentary is bringing the incident back into the spotlight. The documentary ‘Raid at the Rainbow Lounge’ premieres tonight in Sundance Square.
In 2009, officers from the Fort Worth Police Department, there without their supervisors’ knowledge, and agents with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) converged on the Rainbow Lounge and began making arrests.
Many of the patrons at the bar claimed excessive force was used. One man was sent to the hospital, in critical condition, with a head injury.
The film ‘Raid at the Rainbow Lounge’ recounts the events surrounding the widely publicized and controversial raid.
North Texas filmmaker Robert Camina interviewed dozens of people for the film, including police and Rainbow Lounge clientele at the club on the night of the raid.
In the film, one person interviewed said, “It was very clear from all the positioning of the Mayor and the Fort Worth police chief that they wanted nothing to do with what happened at the Rainbow Lounge. Our goal was to stand up for ourselves as a community.”
One bar patron described to Camina what happened after officers started to approach him. “He grabbed the guy in front of me, grabbed him by the shoulder and turned him around, told him that he was drunk, put him in zip tie handcuffs and then dragged him off in front of me,” he said.
The raid drew national attention and resulted in several changes within the City of Fort Worth – including the creation of a diversity task force aimed at improving the relationship with the gay-lesbian-bisexual and transgender community.
A Fort Worth police officer interviewed for the film said, “These are things that have all begun because of this incident.”
There was even more outrage in the GLBT community since the raid happened on the anniversary of New York’s Stonewall riots in 1969 – which some say marked the start of the gay rights movement in America.
Many of those interviewed told the Dallas filmmaker they still have fear because of what they witnessed at the Rainbow Lounge.
One man said, “I had never seen violence like that in person before.” Another man commented that, “Those officers took something from me that I may never get back. They took my safety and security and they had no right to do that.”
Several city leaders, witnesses to the raid and activists are expected to attend tonight’s premiere.
The documentary “Raid on the Rainbow Lounge” is opening to a sold out crowd at the AMC Theater in Sundance Square.
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