WFAA reports that two men were attacked late Friday night by four suspects armed with baseball bats as the victims were walking on Throckmorton Street toward the gay bars on Cedar Springs.
According to a report posted online by the Dallas Police Department, the men were near 2727 Throckmorton St. at about midnight when the attack occurred. The location is roughly 2 1/2 blocks south and west of Cedar Springs.
WFAA reports that the suspects pushed the two victims to the ground and began kicking and hitting them with the bats. One of the victims was knocked unconscious. Despite the fact that the suspects yelled anti-gay slurs as they beat the victims, WFAA is reporting that police aren’t treating the attack as a hate crime:
“They pushed us to the ground and they had baseball bats and I heard them say, ‘Faggots, give us your fucking wallets,’” Alex recalled. “I thought I was going to die; I thought they were going to try and kill us.”
The four suspects — described only as Latin males wearing white tank tops — fled with the wallets and cell phones of Kyle and Alex.
Dallas police say they consider this attack only a robbery and not a hate crime. Alex disagrees.
“I still feel like that was why we were targeted in the first place, because we are gay,” he said. “It was like it was funny to them.”
I’m sure police will argue that the motive was robbery, but that doesn’t mean this wasn’t a hate crime. It will ultimately be up to the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office to decide whether to prosecute it as a hate crime, if the suspects are caught. However, it’s unlikely the DA’s Office would do so, because aggravated robbery is already a first-degree felony, meaning there’s no penalty enhancement available. Still, there’s no reason why police shouldn’t classify the incident as a hate crime for FBI reporting purposes.
When Jimmy Lee Dean was attacked in the same area in 2008, police classified the incident as an anti-gay hate crime even though it was technically a robbery. Dean’s attackers were not charged with a hate crime in court — again, due to the lack of any penalty enhancements for aggravated robbery. This is one of the reasons why Equality Texas has been pushing for a review of the state’s hate crimes statute, which has been very rarely used since being enacted almost 10 years ago.
Regardless of Texas law, the recent passage of federal hate crimes legislation could mean the suspects will face an additional 10 years in prison. They could be charged with a hate crime under the federal statute separately from, and in addition to, any state charges.
Incidentally, Dean’s 2008 attack occurred about two blocks from the most recent one, in the same general area southwest of Cedar Springs.
Both crimes occurred in an area referred to by Dallas police as the Cedar Springs Wycliff Target Area Action Grid. As we reported in January, the Cedar Springs Wycliff TAAG recorded the fourth-most violent crimes of any area of the city in 2009.
I’m working to get in touch with the police and the victims, and I’ll have more on this story as soon as I’m successful. Stay tuned to Instant Tea.