Laura Martin, LGBT liaison officer for the Dallas Police Department, said this morning that investigators are currently discussing whether to classify an aggravated robbery that occurred in Oak Lawn over the weekend as a hate crime.
As we reported here and here, the two victims were walking toward the gay bars on the Cedar Springs strip when they were attacked in the 2700 block of Throckmorton Street. Their attackers, four Latino males, wielded baseball bats and yelled anti-gay epithets as they beat the victims before making off with their wallets and cell phones.
One of the victims was knocked unconscious and suffered a broken jaw, but both are reportedly recovering from their injuries.
Police initially said they aren’t treating the incident as a hate crime, because the motive was robbery. However, FBI guidelines clearly indicate that offenses are to be classified as hate crimes if they were motivated “in whole or in part” by anti-gay bias. And one of the main criteria for establishing bias is “oral comments” by suspects during an offense.
“It’s kind of a big deal to classify something as a hate crime,” Martin told me this morning. “All the information I have is that it’s definitely being talked about, the whole incident is being talked about by people way above my pay grade, and as soon as there is additional information it will be released.
“I don’t know if they’ll reclassify it or not, but I do know that’s it’s being looked at. It definitely has everyone’s attention,” Martin added. “I would recommend that we wait and let the investigators decide what the best course of action is, and then if the community’s not pleased, let’s go from there with our complaints. Give the department a little bit of time to respond.”
Martin said she had no suspect information other than what has already been released. The suspects are described as four Latino males wearing white tank tops. Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers at 214-373-TIPS (8477) or 1-877-373-8477.