Arlington man sentenced to 14 months for hate crime arson at mosque

Henry Clay Glaspell

U.S. District Judge Terry R. Means this week sentenced Henry Clay Glaspell, 34, of Arlington, to 14 months in prison after Gaspell pleaded guilty to a hate crime charge in connection with an arson fire at the children’s playground at the Dar El-Eman Islamic Education Center in Arlington in July 2010, according to this report from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Means ordered Glaspell, who has been free on bond, to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on Nov. 21.

Glaspell also admitted that he had stolen and damaged some of the mosque’s property, that he had thrown used cat litter at the mosque’s front door and that he had shouted racial and ethnic slurs at people at the mosque on several occasions. Glaspell said his actions were motivated by hatred for people of Arabic or Middle Eastern descent.

Texas legislators passed the James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act, which allows enhanced penalties to be assessed to those convicted of hate crimes. But while hate crimes are frequently reported and labeled as such by law enforcement, prosecutors rarely take hate crimes charges to court for fear that it would be too hard to prove a perpetrator’s bias-based intent to a jury.

—  admin

Trio robbed at gunpoint in Office Depot parking lot early Sunday after visiting Cedar Springs

The parking lot of Office Depot on Oak Lawn Avenue — a popular place for Cedar Springs club-goers to park after hours — has also become a hotspot for criminal activity.

In the latest incident, three people from East Texas were robbed at gunpoint and carjacked early Sunday in the lot at 2929 Oak Lawn Ave., near the intersection of Dickason Avenue.

According to police reports, it was at least the fourth aggravated robbery in the Office Depot parking lot in the last three months. Reports show there have also been numerous vehicle break-ins and other offenses reported during the same time period.

“We’ve definitely had a problem at that location,” said Laura Martin, the Dallas Police Department’s LGBT liaison officer.

In the latest case, the three victims had returned to their vehicle at about 3 a.m. Sunday when the two suspects pulled up behind them in a white Dodge Avenger, according to reports. The suspects, described as two black males wearing hooded sweatshirts, got out, pointed handguns at two of the victims who were standing in the parking lot and said, “Get on the ground, give me your money.”

—  John Wright

Oak Lawn is now officially lit up

Jared Pearce

Back in July we told you that the Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats had finally convinced the city to install 45 new streetlights in the Oak Lawn area, in response to the group’s Light Up Oak Lawn safety campaign.

This morning, DSYD President Jared Pearce informs Instant Tea that he’s received word from the city that all of the new streetlights have now been installed.

“We are excited that, after much time was spent evaluating the need, conducting resarch, auditing the neighborhood and working with our elected leaders and city officials, we are able to finally see the results of what DSYD started a year and a half ago and, most importantly, a safer community in which we can all live and play,” Pearce said.

—  John Wright

Victim says robbery suspect asked directions to JR.’s, but police call report ‘very shaky’

Earlier we reported that undercover officers working the area of Douglas and Congress in Oak Lawn ended up capturing a murder suspect last week. Laura Martin, LGBT liaison officer for the Dallas Police Department, told us plainclothes officers have been assigned to the area regularly in response to “issues with robberies.” And, according to police reports, another aggravated robbery took place two nights later and two blocks away — at Congress and Throckmorton. However, a police spokesman on Tuesday questioned the validity of the report, saying the victim waited 19 hours to file it and only did so because he needed it for his lost phone.

The victim, a 20-year-old Latin male, told police that he and a friend were walking from their parked vehicle toward the nightclubs on Cedar Springs in the 2800 block of Throckmorton at about 12:45 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 24. That’s when the two suspects approached and asked for directions to JR.’s. The suspects said they were visiting from New Orleans and hinted that they were performers of some type, according to a police report.

As they crossed Congress on Throckmorton, one of the suspects pushed the victim into a secluded area off the sidewalk, pointed a handgun at him and stated: “You know what this is. Give me everything in your pockets.” The victim handed over his cell phone and wallet, and the suspect reached into his back pocket and removed some cash. The victim told police he believed the other suspect was robbing his friend at the same time.

Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse, a spokesman for the Dallas Police Department, said Tuesday afternoon there have been no arrests in the case. Asked whether the victim’s friend ever contacted police, Janse said: “No, his whole story was very shaky. He waited 19 hours to call us only after his cell phone company said he needed a report for his lost phone. The witness was never heard from.”

—  John Wright

Drunken driver jumps curb on Cedar Springs and strikes hot dog vendor, breaking his leg

A Cedar Springs Road hot dog vendor suffered a broken leg early Saturday when he was struck by a drunken driver whose vehicle jumped a curb near Reagan Street, according to Dallas police.

The driver, 27-year-old Thomas David Morgan, was arrested and charged with intoxication assault, a third-degree felony.

Morgan, driving a silver 2004 Pontiac Grand Am, was eastbound on Reagan Street approaching Cedar Springs at about 12:30 a.m., according to a police report. He turned when it was unsafe, veered to the left and jumped the curb. His vehicle collided with a metal post, the hot dog stand and the vendor.

Morgan told police he fell asleep at the light before turning left into the hot dog vendor, but the report notes that there are no signal lights at the intersection. An officer at the scene determined that Morgan was under the influence of alcohol.

One witness heard the vehicle coming and jumped out of the way, while two others saw Morgan approaching and ran, the police report states.

The hot dog vendor was taken to Parkland to be treated for a broken left fibula.

—  John Wright

Woman pleads guilty in case of videotaped beating of trans woman at McDonald’s

Teona Brown, 19, has pled guilty Thursday, Aug. 4, to first degree assault charges and a hate crime charge in connection with the beating of transgender woman Chrissy Polis last April in Towson,

Chrissy Polis

Md. The attack was captured on video by a McDonald’s employee — who filmed the assault rather than step in and try to stop it — last April. The video went viral online and was used, along with new footage from a surveillance camera, in court hearings this week. CBS Baltimore has this report on the plea.

Conviction on a first degree assault charge carries a maximum sentence of 25 years, and a hate crime conviction could add another 10 years. Because Brown pled guilty to the attack, prosecutors are recommending that the judge sentence her to five years in prison. A sentencing hearing has been set for next month.

Polis was present in court on Thursday, but told reporters she was nervous about being there and had no comment. “I just want to lay low and keep my life as normal as possible,” she said.

A second person charged in the attack was 14 at the time and has been charged with assault as a juvenile. Because she is a minor, her identity has not been released.

Below is a video of a news report aired on the Washington, D.C., Fox news program when the attack happened. It includes video of the attack and, as State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger said this week, “The severity of the beating is much easier to understand when you see a video. They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. Well, a video’s worth a million.”

—  admin

POLICE BLOTTER: Suspect flashes gun, swipes condoms from Walgreens on Cedar Springs

Dallas police are investigating an aggravated robbery in which the suspect flashed a handgun in the process of stealing two packs of Trojan Magnum condoms from the Cedar Springs Road Walgreen’s early Tuesday.

The suspect, described as a black male, walked into the store at 3802 Cedar Springs at about 12:20 a.m. and asked a manager where the condoms were, according to a police report. After grabbing the condoms, the suspect began to walk out of the store.

When the manager asked the suspect whether he planned to pay for the condoms, he lifted up his shirt and displayed a black handgun. “You don’t want to fuck with me,” the suspect told the manager.

The manager told police he didn’t pursue the suspect because he was in fear for his life. The suspect fled on foot northbound on Cedar Springs — the same direction as the bars.

The two packs of Magnum condoms were valued at $31.98. Walgreen’s planned to provide video of the incident to detectives, the report states.

Sr. Cpl. Gerardo Monreal, a spokesman for DPD, said Wednesday afternoon there had been no arrests in the case.

—  John Wright

Is former Texas Longhorn Cedric Benson gay?

Cedric Benson, left, and alleged victim Charles Clavens

Mark S. King at the Bilerico Project wants to know after Benson, a running back who played at UT and is now in the NFL, was arrested this week for beating the crap out of his “roommate” in Austin. NBC Sports reports that Benson was charged with assault causing bodily injury to a family member:

“According to the affidavit, the roommate [Charles Clavens] was talking on a cell phone on a street corner at 5 a.m. when Benson approached him. Benson allegedly told him they ‘need to talk about their problems’ and then repeatedly hit him in the face. The police report said the roommate was bleeding from the mouth and possibly lost teeth.”

TMZ, for what it’s worth, adds: “Clavens claimed he and Benson began to talk and argue about their living arrangements when all of the sudden Clavens was struck on the left side of his face with a closed fist thrown by Benson. Clavens went on to say that Benson continued to strike him with several more closed fists all over Clavens face resulting in severe injury to his face. Clavens told police he was experiencing severe bleeding from the mouth, possible loss of teeth and massive swelling of the left cheek.”

Benson’s attorneys later alleged an extortion attempt, saying Clavens had threatened to go to the media (with what?) if Benson doesn’t settle.

The Daily Texan notes that this marks the sixth arrest for Benson, a running back who was the fourth overall pick in the 2005 draft and now plays for the Cincinnati Bengals. And the Bilerico Project’s King wonders why Benson can’t stay out of trouble:

Here we have a man in a heterosexual-dominated field, who has a long time male roommate, who has problems with drugs and alcohol, and real anger issues when it comes to “talking out his problems.” Things that make you go “hmm.”

Do we try to understand Cedric Benson, because he may be a panicked gay man trapped in a living lie, or blame this on a culture of homophobia (internalized and otherwise), or mind our own damn business?

—  John Wright

The Top 10 hotspots for violent crime in Dallas (which no longer includes the Cedar Springs strip)

Last week we told you that violent crime was down 29 percent in the first six months of this year in the roughly 1-square-mile sector that includes the Cedar Springs gay entertainment district and much of Oak Lawn. At the time, we didn’t have a list of violent crime numbers for all 27 of the Dallas Police Department’s Targeted Area Action Grids (TAAGs), which are essentially the city’s worst crime hotspots. But DPD Administrative Sgt. Moises Ochoa followed up by forwarding those statistics on Friday, and they contain more good news: The Wycliff-Maple TAAG (shown above), previously known as the Cedar Springs-Wycliff TAAG, ranked 11th for violent crime among the TAAGs from Jan. 1 through July 11. DPD officials have cautioned against ranking the TAAGs, because they vary somewhat in geographic size and population density. But when we first started reporting on the TAAG statistics two years ago, the Cedar Springs-Wycliff was No. 3 on the list. Below are the top 10 worst hotspots for violent crime in the city of Dallas during the first six months of 2011, according to the statistics provided by DPD. To view the raw data, go here. And for a map showing all the TAAGs, go here.

TAAG: Number of violent offenses

1. Five Points: 100
2. Ross-Bennett: 94
3. WebbChapel-Timberline: 75
4. JuliusSchepps-Central: 73
5. Forest-Audelia: 72
6. Loop 12-Jim Miller: 66
7. Greenville-LBJ: 62
8. Lake June-Buckner: 59
9. JohnWest-Buckner: 57
10. Overton-Illinois: 54
11. Maple-Wycliff: 51

(Based on number of violent offenses recorded Jan. 1 through July 11, 2011. Violent offenses are murder, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault.)

—  John Wright

WATCH: Dallas police seek help identifying suspect in robbery on Wellborn in Oak Lawn

The info below, along with the video from a home surveillance camera, just came across from DPD. Note that police do not believe this robbery is related to one that occurred the night before on Throckmorton Street. Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse told Instant Tea that the suspect descriptions from the two incidents don’t match. There have been no arrests in either case, and both remain under investigation. From DPD:

Armed Robbery Caught on Tape

Dallas Police Robbery Detectives are asking for the public’s assistance in identifying and locating several aggravated robbery suspects who stole a victims property at gunpoint as he was walking down the street. This offense took place on July 12, 2011 at 11:40 pm in the 2700 block of Welborn. The offense was captured on surveillance video and was documented on case #183542-Y.

In the [below] video, the suspect vehicle, described as a small white 4 door vehicle, is seen driving slowly down the street. The vehicle pulls over just out of view and the passenger gets out with a gun. This suspect is described as a black male about 20 -25 years old, standing 6’1”-6’2” and wearing a grey or white tank top. The suspect walks up to the victim and demands his shoulder bag. The second suspect was the driver and never exited the suspect vehicle.

Crime Stoppers will pay up to $5,000 for information called into Crime Stoppers which leads to the arrest and indictment for this felony offense or any other felony offense. If you have information about this crime or these suspects, please call (214) 373-TIPS (8477) or the Dallas Police Department Robbery Unit at (214) 670-4414.

—  John Wright