Looking for answers to safety problems in the gayborhood

A number of solutions have been proposed, but attacks continue and no arrests have been made


Sr. Cpl. Brittani Pilcek met with merchants and members of the LGBT community at the Round-Up Saloon on Nov.19. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)


DAVID TAFFET  |  Senior Staff Writer

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.

—  David Taffet

City bond money to be redirected to improving safety in Oak Lawn


DAVID TAFFET  |  Senior Staff Writer

At the Mayor’s LGBT Task Force meeting this week, Councilman Adam Medrano announced that $600,000 in bond money would be redirected from street improvements to neighborhood safety, after a recent rash of attacks and robberies raised concerns in the area.

In addition, Medrano said, the Dallas Police Department will install 10 cameras near the Oak Lawn entertainment district’s Target Area Action Grid. Those are already funded.

Medrano said after bond money was dedicated to Cedar Springs Road, the neighborhood rejected all plans the city developed for the area. The only thing merchants, bar owners and community members agreed on was that they didn’t want the area to become anything like Lower Greenville.

So city planners, who repeatedly refused to use input given to them during open community sessions, were searching for new ideas.

The Dallas Police cameras will be installed in high traffic areas around Oak Lawn and not where recent attacks have taken place. Medrano said the bond money would be used, in part, for additional cameras to will target those areas.

For example, two attacks have taken place near the alley behind the Valero gas station on Cedar Springs Road. One camera purchased with bond money might be placed on the library building facing that area.

Lighting will be addressed as well. On Throckmorton Street, Caven Enterprises added its own lighting to illuminate the sidewalk along it’s paid parking lot. In addition, the company cut down shrubs that were creating dark and dangerous spots along Dickason Street, where many patrons park and at least one attack has taken place.

Michael Zander from Oncor attended the task force meeting and said he’ll be working with the city to help identify dark areas and then add street lighting with some of the bond money. He also asked community members to go to his company’s website, OncorStreetLight.com, and report streetlights that are out by simply clicking on the specific light on the map or reporting the number on the light pole or the address.
Task force member John Selig suggested looking into emergency call boxes placed throughout the area. He said in a Chicago neighborhood he lived in, that cut the crime rate dramatically.

Medrano appointed a committee to discuss how the money should be spent.

The DPD cameras will be monitored at Dallas City Hall by the police. These are the locations for the 10 cameras already funded:

• Lemmon/Wycliff
• Lemmon/Douglas
• Lemmon/Oak Lawn
• Rawlins/Oak Lawn
• Oak Lawn/Cedar Springs
• Cedar Springs/Throckmorton
• Maple/Wycliff
• Maple/Kings
• Maple/Lucas
• Maple/Oak Lawn

These are already well-lit intersections, but police at the meeting said these are escape routes for criminals. While these cameras are not likely to catch an attack on the street, they’re likely to catch a shot of someone escaping the neighborhood.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 20, 2015.

—  David Taffet

Seats available for sold-out Leslie Jordan event

LeslieJordanSittingBookSeats are available for $35 for Leslie Jordan at the Majestic Theater on Saturday, Nov. 21.

The previously sold-out event secured an additional section of the theater and is selling those seats for $35. To get tickets, click here.

The event benefits Legacy Counseling Center.

—  David Taffet

Clinton in Dallas

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton appeared at Mountain View College in Oak Cliff earlier this week. Here are some pictures of the event taken by David Taffet and Josh Rudner.


—  David Taffet

CoH receives $1 million donation; establishes endowment


The Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas

A member of Cathedral of Hope recently re-engaged with the congregation and spoke to the Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas, senior pastor of the church, about what his dreams for the church are.

Cazares-Thomas shared his vision of the church as a vibrant and inclusive community engaging with city and making faith relevant.

That member came back two weeks later with a check for $1 million.

Church staff met recently to discuss the best use for the money and will establish an endowment to ensure the long-term stability of the cathedral as well as complete unfinished projects and perform long-delayed maintenance.

Half of the donation will be set aside to establish an endowment for the church. Cazares-Thomas said he hopes to see that endowment grow quickly.

Bob Shea has been appointed interim advancement director in charge of the new Five Million in Five Years campaign with half a million dollars seeding the fund. The fund will be used to underwrite operating expenses and to endow programming.

The rest of the donation will fund three projects.

Repairs that have been delayed because of a shortage of funds over the last few years will begin soon.

Acoustics in the Interfaith Peace Chapel will be fixed. When the chapel was built, sound was not addressed, because money ran out during construction.

The finished building, while beautiful, has an echo so severe it’s difficult to use for many events. Someone speaking from the stage is told to speak slowly and not too loudly to try and minimize the echo. Wiring for a sound system is also incomplete in the chapel’s main room. A sound engineer has already been engaged and has recommended solutions to the problem.

Finally, Cazares-Thomas said a new entrance to the Cathedral of Hope campus will be constructed from Cedar Springs Road, including proper signage.

Currently, the entrance from Cedar Springs Road is through a doggie daycare parking lot. Two other entrances to the campus are off Inwood Road. One is down Nash Street, a road that was once residential. Those houses were converted to offices before being torn down. Now, two fast food restaurants form the gateway to the church through that entrance.

The second Inwood Road entry winds through a car dealership.

Referring to the lack of a formal entrance, Cazares-Thomas called Cathedral of Hope “the best kept secret in Dallas.”

He said the new entrance will include proper signage to get people onto the campus without thinking they’ve made a wrong turn into an unrelated business.

Since Cazares-Thomas’ arrival, attendance has grown and with it donations.

“There’s a great spirit of energy around this place,” Cazares-Thomas said.

He said he’s positioning the church as a vibrant, inclusive community.

“In an era when people are tired of religious extremism, we’re reclaiming hope and faith,” he said. “We’re reclaiming the values of Jesus.”

Cazares-Thomas said his goal is to make faith relevant. He cited the  Transgender Day of Remembrance service held at the cathedral on Nov. 15 and upcoming World AIDS Day commemorations as examples.

Resource Center is building its new home on land adjoining Cathedral of Hope and Cazares-Thomas said he’s looking forward to it opening, giving the church new opportunities to engage in programming with other sectors of the LGBT community.

“Church is not just a Sunday experience,” Cazares-Thomas said.

To participate in the Five Million in Five Years campaign, contact Bob Shea at Cathedral of Hope, 214-351-1901.

—  David Taffet

Don Huffines wants to recall the ‘bathroom ordinance’ … except we don’t have one


Marcus Bachmann, I mean Don Huffines

Don’t you hate when Highland Park residents interfere in Dallas politics?

Dallas resident Keith Hobbs recently wrote to state Sen. Don Huffines, R-Highland Park, challenging his stance on the Dallas nondiscrimination ordinance.

The ordinance has been in place since 2002, but last week the Dallas City Council voted unanimously to fix some of the language. While gender identity has always been part of the ordinance, it was included as part of the definition of sexual orientation. Gender identity and sexual orientation were added to the city charter by a vote of 77 percent in 2014 after supporters expended exactly $0 campaigning for it.

Huffines has been making an ass of himself since the council’s vote last week, appearing at Dallas City Hall to speak (he’s not a Dallas resident and, therefore, has no right to address the council) and threatening to recall the ordinance.

He’s also threatening a bill that would prevent any Texas city from having a nondiscrimination ordinance.

Since Huffines won’t talk to Dallas Voice (and has blocked some of us on Twitter), here’s what Hobbs wrote to Huffines:

Mr. Huffines,

As a member of the LGBT community, or as you refer to us “a vocal minority,” I feel compelled to point out a few errors in your response to previous email. First, the ordinance does not create an imbalance—it does the opposite: it insures that all citizens are treated equally (in other words, LGBT people are not discriminated against). Second, NOTHING in this ordinance allows men to go to women’s bathrooms and this has not been a problem during the years this ordinance was in place. Third, this ordinance was debated 13 years ago when it was enacted. In addition, we modified our city charter to protect LGBT city employees last year by 75%. This is indicative of the fact that Dallas is a very fair-minded and accepting city that welcomes all its citizens. I sincerely hope you are not trying to change that.

I think you should talk to Adam Medrano on the Dallas City Council to get a better Idea of this ordinance and meet with Cece Cox at the Resource Center in Dallas to learn about an important constituent block that you represent.

Keith Hobbs

And the response from state Sen. Marcus Bachmann … uh, I mean Don Huffines. Notice Huffines keeps referring to the ordinance, which protects people in employment, housing and accommodations (hotel and car rentals, access to public spaces such as stores, restaurants and sports facilities) as the “bathroom bill.” There is no bathroom bill, so if he tries to repeal it, he’ll be repealing nothing. Or is he talking about the city charter? Who the hell knows:

Dear Mr. Hobbs:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me to voice your opinion about the City of Dallas non-discrimination ordinance, which is colloquially known as the “LGBT ordinance” or the “bathroom ordinance”. Active constituents like you, who engage with their state government on policy issues, help me to serve the constituents I represent more effectively.

My first priority as your State Senator is to serve the families and individuals who reside in the City of Dallas, and also the entirety of Senate District 16. That requires a balancing of interests. In the case of the City of Dallas LGBT ordinance, I have two specific concerns. First, the ordinance seemingly creates an imbalance in favor of a vocal minority, to the potential detriment of families (specifically women) and the prerogatives of business owners. Allowing men into women’s restrooms is very concerning from a policy standpoint, as is the definition of “perceived gender identity or expression” and what that means for law enforcement, our judiciary, and others. Second, regardless of when the substantive policy provisions were first enacted, I believe that the residents of Dallas deserve the opportunity to have a robust and respectful public debate and civil discourse on the ordinance and it’s potentially far-reaching repercussions.

I greatly appreciate you taking the time to contact my office. I am grateful to have served in the 84th Legislature and look forward to continuing to serve my constituents. Please do not hesitate to contact my office if you have any other concerns.

In Liberty and your employee

Don Huffines

State Senator

—  David Taffet

State Rep. Celia Israel files for re-election


State Rep. Celia Israel

Austin, TXRep. Celia Israel (D-Austin) filed for re-election today (Wednesday, Nov. 18). Israel is one of two lesbian members of the Texas House of Representative. Mary Gonzalez (D-El Paso) is the other; she filed last week.

Israel said in a press release that she chose today to file today because this marks the 1,000th day since she began her first campaign for Texas House Representative by naming a campaign treasurer and filing with the Texas Election Commission.

“It only seems fitting that, today, I file my candidacy for re-election,” Israel said. “Every moment I’ve spent as a representative, I’ve thought about the thousands of families and individuals I’ve been called fight for. I’m proud of my office and the work that we have done and will continue to do for Texas.”

In her first term in the Legislature, Israel was named Freshman of the Year by the Legislative Study Group and a Champion of Equality by Equality Texas. In the last legislative session, Israel passed three laws, including HB 735, which directs the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles to report the number of alternatively fueled vehicles in Texas, and HB 1140, which brings greater accountability and transparency to pregnant inmate care.

Israel serves on the House Transportation and Elections Committees, as well as the Transportation Sub-Committee on Long-Term Infrastructure and Planning. She is also a member of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, the Women’s Health Caucus, and the Legislative Study Group. Rep. Israel has represented House District 50 since Feb. 2014. Her district includes northwest Austin to Pflugerville and the eastern edge of Travis County to Webberville.

—  David Taffet

Funeral service set for Frank Folkerth


Frank Folkerth

Frank Folkerth, father of Northaven United Methodist Church senior pastor Eric Folkerth, passed away on Nov. 16.

A visitation with the family will be held at the Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park on Thursday, November 19, from 6-8 p.m.

Funeral services will be at 4 p.m. on Friday, November 20, at Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, the Rev. Frank Rahm presiding.

Memorial gifts may be made to UT Southwestern Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Research.

The full Dallas Morning News obituary is here.

—  David Taffet

Hillary Clinton speaks at Mountain View College


Hillary Clilnton speaking at Mountain View College (Josh Rudner/Dallas Voice)

About 1,500 people packed into the gym at Mountain View College in Oak Cliff to hear presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speak. This was her first public event in Dallas in this election campaign.

Clinton asked the crowd to become part of the campaign as she listed what her campaign embraces.

“That includes defending LGBT rights,” Clinton told a cheering crowd. “The right of people to be safe from gun violence.”

The 30 minute speech began late, because Clinton’s plane was delayed due to heavy rain. She began her day in Dallas with a fundraiser at the home of Regina Montoya and Paul Coggins.

State Sen. Royce West introduced Clinton noting her first public appearance in Dallas was held south of the Trinity River. Oak Cliff is historically Democratic.

In her speech, Clinton touched on a number of themes. She used the terrorist attacks in Paris to highlight a difference between herself and Republicans who are calling for closing our borders to Syrian refugees who are also victims of ISIS. She called for compassion for refugees while being vigilant in screening immigrants.

She touched on healthcare, noting Texas remains the state with the highest rate of uninsured people and the second highest health insurance rates. She said Gov. Greg Abbott should be doing everything possible to increase the number of people with health insurance, criticizing his refusal to expand Medicaid and his call to turn healthcare decisions over to the state.

“I’d be a little worried about turning healthcare over to Greg Abbott,” Clinton said.

Clinton said no one who works full time should live in poverty, calling for a higher minimum wage. She also proposed profit sharing when corporations are profitable, saying executives and shareholders aren’t the only ones who should be profiting.

—  David Taffet

Cathedral marks Transgender Day of Remembrance

Cathedral of Hope marked Transgender Day of Remembrance on Sunday, Nov. 15, with a ceremony that included laying a rose in a basket for each transgender person murdered in the U.S. this year and a carnation for each transgender suicide.

CoH Senior Pastor Neil Cazares-Thomas welcomed those who attended and offered an apology to members of the trans community who were not fully welcomed to the church in the past. He welcomed those who wished to join to be “full members and become leaders and participate in every part of the church.”

Cammie Perkins, a 16-year-old who was profiled in Dallas Voice earlier this year, told the gathering, “I’m not transgender. I have a transgender condition.”

Moderator Oliver Blumer echoed those words when he introduced himself as “a man of transgender experience.”

—  David Taffet