A number of solutions have been proposed, but attacks continue and no arrests have been made
While police try to convince the community that extra protection is being provided, the community and business leaders in Oak Lawn continue to question just how seriously the city is taking the situation in the gayborhood, where several men have been attacked and robbed since the first of September.
Lee Daugherty, owner of Alexandre’s, walked out of an Oak Lawn Crime Watch meeting, with officers for the Dallas Police Department’s Central Patrol Division, on Wednesday, Nov. 18 after hearing what sounded more like attempts to placate the community rather than efforts to actually address the problems.
“We need to focus on rebuilding the community and taking back the streets because these are our streets,” Daugherty said. “We must fight complacency.”
Daugherty has added cameras to cover parking lot as well as the alley behind his bar at 4026 Cedar Springs Road. Two of the recent attacks have taken place at the end of the alley behind Alexandre’s.
Daugherty suggested that anyone who sees people who don’t look like they belong in the neighborhood should call 911.
“If they don’t respect this community, they won’t be here,” he said defiantly.
At the crime watch meeting, activist Cd Kirven questioned why only one attack was being treated as a hate crime.
That attack, which took place the day of the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade on Sept. 20, is classified as a hate crime because the victim, a young man who has asked to be identified only as Blake as long as his assailants remain at large, remembers being called “faggot” while being beaten.
Some other victims, whose attacks began with sharp blows to the head from behind, don’t remember much of what happened when they were assaulted.
Kirven argued with police that if someone comes to the neighborhood looking to target gay men because they’re seen as soft targets, hate is the motivation and those crimes should be investigated that way.
But Kirven said she wasn’t trying to be confrontational. She wanted information that could help the community help the police.
“I feel like police are doing their job,” Kirven said. “This kind of violence toward the community will take police, business and the community going above and beyond” to stop it.
Michael Redman works at Alexandre’s. On Nov. 1, he was walking from the Tin Room to his car on Hudnall Street with two friends. As he approached his car, he was carjacked.
Although his car was impounded on Nov. 4 after police recovered it following a high-speed chase from Grand Prairie to Oak Cliff, Dallas police never contacted Redman to let him know the car had been found abandoned in Deep Ellum. Instead, a Fox 4 reporter told him on Nov. 10 that she had gotten that information from Dallas police.
Redman said he spoke to the detective handling his case once after he picked up the car. He said he was told police found fingerprints, but the prints didn’t match the ID of the suspect. The detective told Redman he assumed the car was sold after it was stolen.
“There were tons of clues in the car,” Redman said.
Daugherty collected the clues — including items like a Louis Vuitton purse, synthetic marijuana, a pizza menu — and put them in a box in the trunk. Redman said he called the detective again to let him know where the items were, but he never heard back from police.
Because of damage to the car, the insurance company said it would probably total it.
On Thursday, Nov. 19, Northwest Division Sr. Cpl. Brittani Pilcek met with Cedar Springs merchants and the public, saying police “have made some progress in some of the assaults and robberies,” Pilcek said. “Some of the victims were hit from behind and in dark areas and couldn’t give a good description.”
There have been no arrests.
Pilcek said she was looking for ways the community and business owners could work together to make the area safer. She encouraged anyone who is a victim of a crime or who sees something suspicious to call 911.
One person said many people without legal immigration status are afraid to report crime.
“We are Dallas police,” Pilcek said. “We are not immigration. We could care less what your status is. Give us your name, your phone number, and we’re going to investigate it like anyone else.”
Councilman Adam Medrano announced that $600,000 of the bond money that was to be used for beautification on Cedar Springs Road would be diverted to safety (See story, Page 16). Several of the bar owners and merchants objected.
“I feel it’s the city’s responsibility to take care of safety,” said Matt Miller, owner of Woody’s.
Activist Michael Robinson countered, “The business community hasn’t stepped up to meet the needs of the community.”
Tin Room owner Lonzie Hershner related his experience with calling 911. He said a drunk driver side-swiped a car outside his bar. He called police five times and when they finally arrived, the driver wasn’t arrested for drunk driving. Instead, police allowed the woman in the car with the man to drive him home.
One woman who lives in a condo in the area blamed merchants for not partnering with area homeowners associations.
Caven Entertainment President Gregg Kilhoffer said his company is spending $160,000 a year on private security to patrol the block where its clubs are located.
“Security doesn’t leave the block until the last manager is gone,” he said.
The company has also recently added lighting on the sidewalk along its paid parking lot, and had shrubbery trimmed. But zoning requires them to maintain shrubs that are at least six feet tall around parking areas.
“We’re adding extra cameras and have signage up everywhere,” Kilhoffer said.
Round-Up Saloon owner Alan Pierce said he has cautions broadcasting on screens throughout the bar. He’s also adding cameras in front of his club and in the parking lot behind his bar.
“Our door people are talking about safety with people as they leave,” Pierce said.
Last weekend, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were at the Round-Up passing out cards containing safety information that also had whistles attached.
The idea, Pierce said, is that patrons walking back to their vehicles or to their homes can blow the whistles to attract attention and help if they see a problem.
Meanwhile, several attacks more were reported last weekend, including one late-night stick-up at the Bank of America ATM on Cedar Springs Road. Dallas Voice is waiting for details on those incidents.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 20 2015.