North Texas mourns for Orlando, plans for preventing a similar attack here
DAVID TAFFET | Senior Staff Writer
“We’ve been screaming from the top of our lungs,” Michael Dominguez said. “We’re being hunted down in the streets.”
Dominguez survived an attack in Oak Lawn last October and co-founded the group SOS–Survivors Offering Support in response.
While the LGBT community around the country has been grieving all week, the Orlando massacre in which 49 people were murdered in a gay bar was particularly difficult for survivors of the Oak Lawn assaults.
“It stirred up residual emotions,” Dominguez said.
Dominguez was attacked from behind on Cedar Springs Road with a bat and a knife. He said word of the massacre set him back emotionally to the days right after he was attacked.
“It could easily have been me,” he said. “My heart went out. Had he used a gun instead of a knife, I wouldn’t be here.”
Had the carjacker who attacked Michael Redman outside the Tin Room days later pulled the trigger, he wouldn’t be here, Dominguez said.
“My emotions are all over the place,” Dominguez said. “I know what the survivors [in Orlando] are going through.”
More than 1,000 people gathered in pouring rain at Resource Center’s new LGBT Community Center on Cedar Springs Road on Sunday night, just hours after the attack at the Orlando gay nightclub Pulse.
Former and current elected and appointed officials joined the crowd, including half the Dallas City Council members who stood with Mayor Mike Rawlings. County Judge Clay Jenkins, County Commissioner Teresa Daniel and County Treasurer Pauline Medrano represented Dallas County.
As flags flew at half-staff at Dallas City Hall, Rawlings said he secured a $1 million donation to cover counter-terrorism operations around Oak Lawn and pay overtime hours for police protection around LGBT bars, businesses and community organizations.
Rawlings called the massacre “an illustration of what our LGBT community fears everyday” and said each crime against the community in Oak Lawn is “an individual act of terrorism.”
Referring to a tweet sent by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick condoning mass murder by blaming the victims, Rawlings said,
“Words matter. Words that come out of our mouths make a difference.”
As word of the massacre was being announced on the news, Patrick tweeted, “Do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”
Resource Center CEO Cece Cox responded to Patrick’s attack on the LGBT community at the vigil.
“When we hear messages of hate, we must speak up,” Cox said. “We need to call out Dan Patrick. We’re going to call you out.”
“My job is hate,” said Alia Salem from the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “Not to hate but to address hate against all communities. While this day has brought us so much heartache and grief, we spit in the face of criminals and say, ‘You only make us stronger.’”
In Fort Worth, about 500 people attended a vigil at Celebration Church on Monday night
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price spoke of overcoming the kind of evil that lies at the root of the Orlando massacre.
Newly-appointed Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald pledged that his department would take every effort to keep similar attacks from happening there, and asked the community to always contact his department with any concerns.
Fitzgerald also introduced a member of FWPD’s Code Blue Training program who then spoke of her nephew, who was killed in the Orlando shooting.
In Dallas, churches with active LGBT membership also responded to the attack.
Episcopal Bishop George Sumner joined members of St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church on Inwood Road for a prayer vigil on Monday.
St. Thomas member Fred Ellis said Sumner has been struggling with the marriage equality issue. In the Episcopal Church, the bishop decides whether or not same-sex marriages may take place in that diocese. Sumner has not allowed marriage in Dallas.
But Ellis said on an issue like the Orlando massacre, the bishop stood with members of St. Thomas to express his own grief over the violence.
Ellis said he heard from other churches in the diocese including the conservative St. Andrews Episcopal Church in McKinney, which sent the message that they lit a candle in memory of the Orlando victims, saying, “We’re there with you in spirit.”
At Northaven United Methodist Church, the Rev. Eric Folkerth reworked his Sunday sermon to include information about the massacre. He said for many people in the congregation, it was the first they had heard about it.
On Tuesday, Cathedral of Hope hosted the Turtle Creek Chorale for an evening of Songs for Healing. The concert was put together quickly from material from the Chorale’s existing repertoire. The music included “I Love You More” from Tyler’s Suite, a piece commissioned by the Chorale about the death of Tyler Clementi, who committed suicide after being bullied on the Internet. The song is about the emotional trauma of a mother who loses her son.
Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology and the SMU Office of the Chaplain and Religious life hosted A Midday Service of Lament and Prayer in Response to the Tragedy in Orlando on Wednesday in Perkins Chapel.
Pride at City Hall had already been scheduled for Wednesday by members of the Mayor’s LGBT Task Force.
Rawlings used that occasion to announce that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban made the $1 million donation on Sunday. The mayor said the city will use that donation to leverage more funding for counter-terrorism purposes to protect the LGBT community.
“I know the atrocities in Orlando have created stress in Dallas and across the country,” Cuban told Dallas Voice in an email, explaining why he made the donation. “I owe a lot to Dallas and wanted to try to help a little bit.”
Omar Narvaez, Jesse Vallejo and Dallas Police Department Sr. Cpl. Brittani Pilcik read names of the dead at the City Hall event that also recognized groups such as SOS and Take Back Oak Lawn for their work to help attack survivors and create a safer Oak Lawn.
Tyler Area Gays, East Texas PFLAG, Pineywoods Voice/Tyler Transgender Support Group, East Texas Islamic Society and Life Covenant Church joined forces to hold a memorial on Thursday in Bergfeld Park in Tyler. That was the site of a 1993 anti-gay murder that marked a turning point in how hate crimes against the LGBT community were handled in Texas when police pursued the murderers and the district attorney prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Target, which lost two employees in the massacre, held a moment of silence in all of its stores on Tuesday.
A vigil is planned for 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 20, at the Henderson County Courthouse in downtown Athens, Texas.
SAFETY IN DALLAS
Michael Doughman, executive director of the Dallas Tavern Guild, said Dallas clubs are already better prepared for an attack than bars in most cities as a result of the Oak Lawn attacks.
“All of the bars have beefed up security, lighting, added cameras,” he said.
In addition, the city has placed monitored police cameras at key intersections in the gayborhood.
Doughman said each bar has put an emergency plan into place in case of an armed intruder, explosion, fire or other incident. Those plans include detailed instructions on who’s responsible for doing what.
“They’re as prepared as they can possibly be,” he said of the city’s LGBT nightclubs.
Doughman said his best advice for keeping the bars safe is, “If you see something, say something.”
Because bartenders may be busy serving throughout the night, patrons are more likely to see or hear something suspicious. Doughman said patrons should report any suspicious activity to a bartender or doorman. They’ll know the procedure to act on that suspicion.
“Be prepared to report and point out the person,” Doughman said.
He said Dallas bars already ban backpacks, which the Orlando shooter used to bring his weapon into Pulse.
As for this year’s Pride parade, Doughman said he’s confident security will be in place. Since assuming his position, he said the number of police officers along the parade route and in the festival park has increased from 40 to more than 100. Cuban’s donation will allow a record number of officers to protect parade-goers.
Over the summer, Doughman will talk to Homeland Security about recommendations for any additional security needed and plan with DPD to keep the event safe. Since most Pride celebrations are in June, Homeland Security will have time to learn from events around the country before the Dallas event in September.
Charles Bassett, AT&T’s senior public relations manager, said, “AT&T wireless customers can text ‘Orlando’ to 20222 to donate $10 to Orlando Regional Medical Center Level One Trauma Center to help with on-going medical support needs.” No text message fees apply.
SOS–Survivors Offering Support collected $5,000 during the vigil at Resource Center to send to the Orlando LGBT Community Center for victims’ families and survivors.
Equality Florida set up a GoFundMe page that had raised $4.7 million by press time through donations from more than 100,000 people. GoFundMe waived all transaction fees for this fundraiser, so all money will go to the survivors to cover medical expenses or to families to cover funeral expenses.
To make a donation to victims of the Orlando massacre, visit GoFundMe.com/PulseVictimsFund.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 17, 2016.