Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Fort Worth Pulls in its Horns: Charges Against Rainbow Lounge Raid Victims Dropped

Police and TABC subdue Chad Gibson during Rainbow Lounge Raid (Chuck Potter cell phone photo)

Fort Worth, Texas – Dallas Voice reports that charges against all the victims of the Fort Worth Police and TABC Raid against the Rainbow Lounge have been dropped by the city.  The infamous Raid took place on June 28, 2009, the 40th anniversary of an eerily similar bar bashing that took place at the Stonewall Inn in New York City’s Greenwich Village.  To recap: Officers of the Fort Worth Police and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission raided the newly-opened Rainbow Lounge, intimidating patrons, arresting men on charges of intoxication, and arresting Chad Gibson on a charge of assault against an officer.  Gibson was seriously wounded by arresting officers who slammed him to the concrete, and caused a brain hemorrhage.  Gibson has subsequently recovered.  The raiders contended that Gibson “groped” an officer in the course of the arrest.  While the TABC acted to discipline its officers, firing some of them for breaking policy during the raid, the Fort Worth Police have never admitted any wrong-doing in an incident that gave Fort Worth bad press throughout the nation and the world for colossal insensitivity at the very least, and, in the eyes of many, outright police brutality.  Chief Halstead of the FWPD made homophobic remarks that boomeranged on him and the city in the wake of the raid.  Dallas and Fort Worth LGBTQ communities protested the raid, drawing media attention for weeks.  In February, eight months after the raid, the city of Fort Worth pressed charges and scheduled trials for the gay men arrested that night.  Now, in a 180 degree reversal of direction, all charges against the Rainbow Lounge Raid Five have been dropped.  Jason Lamers, official spokesperson for the city of Fort Worth, issued this statement to the press: “The Class C misdemeanor charges from the Rainbow Lounge against George Armstrong, Dylan Brown, Chad Gibson and Jose Macias were dismissed yesterday by the city. As it is our official policy not to discuss municipal court prosecutions or litigation, the city will have no further comment.” The public intoxication charges against Armstrong, Brown, Macias, and Gibson were dropped, as well as the assault charge lodged against Gibson.  While something less than a full vindication of the victims of the raid, the action of the city amounts to an admission that the charges and the raid were without merit and were unjustified in the first place.  Fairness Fort Worth, Queer LiberAction, and many more activist groups which protested the raid have been proven right by this retreat on the part of the city.  “The Fort Worth Way,” the behind-the-scenes management of the city of Fort Worth by an oligarchic group of landed gentry and wealthy families, can also claim some degree of victory in this action, as well.  The FWPD never admitted wrong-doing, Mayor Mike Moncrief, a scion of one of the city’s leading families, never apologized, and political cover remains intact for the way the raid was handled.  But this abrupt decision, to drop all charges against men who were enjoying a summer night on the town in a gay bar, signals that Cowtown has gotten the message from the LGBTQ citizenry of North Texas: they will not tolerate bullying and oppression anymore.  In a Texas-style stare-down, the queer community did not blink–Cowtown did.

November 20, 2010 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Blame the victim, Fort Worth Police Department, gay men, harassment, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Latinos, Law and Order, police brutality, Protests and Demonstrations, Rainbow Lounge Raid, Social Justice Advocacy, Stonewall Inn, Texas, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Anti-Gay Murder, Texas Style: Pearland Teen Bludgeoned to Death, Then Burned

Joshua Wilkerson, 18, bludgeoned to death and partially burned

Pearland, Texas – Joshua Wilkerson, 18, missing for 24 hours after leaving a Pearland school, was found deceased, his body partially immolated in an overgrown field off a desolate stretch of road in Fort Bend County.  Hermilio Moralez, 19, was charged Thursday with the murder, according to a report in the Dallas Voice.  Moralez confessed that he hit Wilkerson with a large wooden rod until “he didn’t move anymore.”  Then Moralez said that he loaded up the corpse, drove the victim’s truck down to Fort Bend County, and attempted to burn the body.  After torching Wilkerson’s remains, Moralez drove to a strip mall where he dumped Wilkerson’s shoes and backpack in a trash receptacle.  When law enforcement officers discovered Wilkerson’s partially burned body, they found his hands and feet bound.  Investigators also found a large amount of blood on the patio of Moralez’s home, and a large, bloody wooded rod nearby.  The youths had been acquaintances at school for over five years, and at the time of the murder were classmates at the Pace Institute, an alternative education school.  Wilkerson had offered Moralez a ride home from Pace, as school sources say he often did.  The only account of a motive for the murder is from Moralez, who contends that Wilkerson “made a pass” at the older teen, which sparked the fight leading to the murder.  ABC News 13 reports that Moralez was apprehended as he suspiciously hung around Wilkerson’s abandoned vehicle.  At the time of his arrest, Moralez refused to give his full name or address to police.  “The things that he said weren’t adding up,” said Pearland Police Officer Lt. Onesimo Lopez. “He gave the officers some false information and the decision was made at that time to take him into custody for failure to identify.”  Under interrogation, Moralez admitted the murder, and lead the authorities to the overgrown roadside where he attempted to burn Wilkerson’s body.  ABC News 13 also reports that Moralez attempted to grab a police officer’s pistol as he led the law enforcement officers into the area where the charred remains of his victim lay.  As of this writing, Moralez is being held in a Pearland jail on $30,000 bond for the weapon offense.  There has not yet been any bond placed on Moralez for the murder charge.  While hate crimes charges have not been made in the case, which is still under investigation, the sexually charged allegations of the suspect, and his well-known homophobic attitude toward gay people make anti-gay hatred a possible motive for the homicide.  Texas has a hate crime statute on the books including sexual orientation as a protected class, but police have been resistant to invoking the law, and conservative district attorneys have avoided using the hate crimes act in their prosecutions.  A bill is pending in the Texas Legislature to mandate the use of the hate crimes law in cases such as this one, where homophobia is a possible motive.  Wilkerson’s family has expressed thanks to searchers and law enforcement for the swift way the search was carried out.  Pearland Independent School District released this statement to the press:  “Pearland Independent School District has learned that a missing student has been found dead.  PACE Center student Joshua Wilkerson disappeared after school on Tuesday, Nov. 16. The Pearland Police Department and Texas Equusearch volunteers launched a search in Pearland after Wilkerson’s parents reported his disappearance. The search ended when investigators discovered a body overnight believed to be Wilkerson. PACE Center is providing counselors to speak with students and staff today and as long as needed. Pearland ISD offers its deepest sympathy to Wilkerson’s family.  ‘We will all miss Joshua. He was a polite, dedicated student. At school, he worked hard to accomplish his tasks, and each day he left with the same resolve to conquer any challenge that lay ahead,’ Julia Hall, PACE Center principal, said.” KHOU News 11 reports that members of Wilkerson’s family contend that Joshua was not gay.  Officials now suspect that Moralez may have not acted alone, since someone put up a bogus Facebook page claiming to be Wilkerson after the time Moralez was taken into custody.

November 20, 2010 Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Blame the victim, Bludgeoning, gay teens, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, immolation, Latino and Latina Americans, Latinos, Law and Order, Legislation, Mistaken as LGBT, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Anti-Gay Murder, Texas Style: Pearland Teen Bludgeoned to Death, Then Burned


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