DSYD succeeds in effort to ‘Light Up Oak Lawn’

Councilwoman Angela Hunt, left, and DSYD President Jared Pearce

Group notified this week that 45 new lights will be erected in the area within 60 days

DRACONIS VON TRAPP | Intern
intern@dallasvoice.com

After a year of pushing the city for more streetlights in Oak Lawn, Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats saw their efforts pay off this week when city officials announced plans to install 45 new lights in the area.

“We’re excited and think it’s a great thing for the community,” DSYD President Jared Pearce said. “We decided to take on the challenge of improving the street light situation in Oak Lawn because many of us have friends who have been victims of crime in this area. The fact that city officials have listened to us and are taking action to resolve this problem gives us even more drive to make changes that can benefit the entire community.”

The Oak Lawn neighborhood has been afflicted with a disproportionately high crime rate and lack of appropriate street lighting. After a series of muggings in the neighborhood, DSYD got together as a board and the topic of street lighting came up. They then created what is now known as the “Light Up Oak Lawn” campaign.

DSYD then held another meeting at JR’s with members of the community and local businesses to rally support, deciding to take the issue to the City Council, namely District 14 representative Angela Hunt and District 2 representative Pauline Medrano.

Volunteers went on foot around the Oak Lawn area one night and did their own preliminary audit, recording the number of broken streetlights and places that were cloaked in darkness, also taking note of foot traffic and the proximity of residential and business housing.

Along with their audit, DSYD vols also did research on the correlation between street lighting and crime in other cities around the U.S. and the U.K., trying to make as convincing a case as possible. They then took all their blood, sweat and tears and got in contact with Hunt and Medrano.

Nearly seven months later, nothing had been done. DYSD reached out to remind city officials of nearly every mugging that happened in that area — but still no cigar.

“We didn’t want to count on the city for funding,” DYSD Communications Director Michael Maldonado said. “So we went to the city officials to determine what we would need to do and how much it would cost.”

City officials told the group they needed a more thorough audit of the area in which they wanted streetlights erected. So, DSYD volunteers went out and did it all again, making sure to leave no streetlight unchecked and no dark corner unrecorded.

They contacted the city officials again with their new information and finally started to see some progress.

Maldonado said that he doesn’t think the crime in the Oak Lawn area is necessarily LGBT-related, but that there’s “genuinely a lot of traffic in that area,” making it an ideal site for criminals to strike.

In April, the city’s Street Services Department received the DYSD audit and promised look it over and give recommendations.

After an article published in Dallas Voice about yet another mugging, DSYD members finally got the approval to have streetlights posted at every location noted in the audit.

Oncor, the corporation responsible for the lighting in Dallas, was given a work order to put up 45 streetlights within 60 days. The lights will improve visibility and hopefully decrease the night time crime rate in the area bounded by Oak Lawn Avenue, Lemmon Avenue, Wycliff Avenue and Maple Avenue, Maldonado said.

Hunt said she believes the new lights will increase safety not only for the LGBT community of Dallas, but also the residential and business communities that make their home in the Oak Lawn area.

“This is a terrific example of the community and City Hall working together to improve a vital area,” Hunt said.

—  John Wright

Just when you thought it was safe: Violent robbery reported 1 block from Cedar Springs

Earlier we mentioned that violent crime is down 29 percent so far this year in the area surrounding the Cedar Springs strip. But here’s a good reminder that you shouldn’t let your guard down: Those numbers don’t include a particularly violent attempted robbery that occurred late Monday near Throckmorton and Hall streets.

According to a police report, the victims were walking east, away from Cedar Springs, in the 3300 block of Throckmorton Street at about 11:30 p.m. when they passed the two suspects. One of the victims greeted the suspects by saying, “How are you doing?” The suspects didn’t respond, and after walking past the victims, they immediately turned around and confronted them. One of the suspects displayed a black, semi-automatic pistol, pointed it at one of the victims and said, “Give me your money, bitches!”

The suspect then hit the victim twice with the gun in the left side of his face. The victim managed to knock the pistol out of the suspect’s hand, and it fell into the street, where they continued to struggle over it. The suspect punched the victim several times, knocking him to the ground, and the second suspect picked up the pistol. The suspects then started to flee before one of them stopped and yelled to the other, “Let’s check his pockets.”

The suspect approached the victim, who was still on the ground, and attempted to check his pockets. But one of the other victims, fearing the suspect would shoot his friend, came over and began yelling at the suspects, who finally fled north on Hall Street.

Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse, a spokesman for the Dallas Police Department, said Wednesday morning there have been no arrests in the case, and no suspects have been identified. “Detective is still investigating it,” Janse said in an email.

—  John Wright

Violent crime down near Cedar Springs strip, but vehicle burglaries help fuel overall increase

The Wycliff-Maple TAAG is shown in blue. (Source: DPD)

Violent crime was down 29 percent in the first half of 2011 in the roughly 1-square-mile hotspot that encompasses the Cedar Springs gay entertainment district, according to statistics obtained this week by Instant Tea. However, nonviolent property crimes are on the rise, jumping 23 percent near the strip during the same time period.

The Wycliff-Maple Target Area Action Grid (TAAG), previously known as the Cedar Springs-Wycliff TAAG, recorded 51 violent offenses from Jan. 1 through July 11 of this year, down from 72 offenses year-to-date in 2010, according to the statistics provided by the Dallas Police Department. Violent crimes include murder, rape, aggravated assault and robbery. Of those offense types, only aggravated assaults have seen an increase this year in the Wycliff-Maple TAAG, going from 14 in the first six months of 2010 to 17 in 2011. Robberies of individuals, considered the main crime issue for club-goers in the area, fell from 46 last year to 27 this year.

But when it comes to nonviolent crimes, the area has seen big increases in two categories — business burglaries and motor vehicle burglaries. The number of business burglaries nearly doubled, going from 13 in 2010 to 25 this year, while motor vehicle burglaries jumped from 119 to 192. Vehicle thefts stayed the same at 63, while residential burglaries dropped from 62 to 55, and “other thefts” fell from 58 to 53. All told, the number of nonviolent offenses jumped from 315 last year to 388 this year in the Wycliff-Maple TAAG.

Combined with the violent crime numbers, it adds up to a 13 percent increase in what are known as Part 1 offenses in the Wycliff-Maple TAAG this year. The area has seen 439 Part 1 offenses so far in 2011, up from 387 year-to-date in 2010.

That puts the Wycliff-Maple TAAG at No. 5 for Part 1 crimes on a list of 27 similar crime hotspots citywide. The No. 1 crime hotspot in Dallas? Ross-Bennett, which has recorded 695 Part 1 offenses this year. Overall, the 27 TAAGs have seen a combined 15 percent drop in Part 1 crimes.

—  John Wright

Trio robbed at gunpoint in Oak Lawn

A lack of adequate street lighting is being blamed for another robbery near the Cedar Springs strip.

Shane Cain said he and two female friends, all members of the LGBT community, were walking from their vehicle to their apartment complex in the 2900 block of Throckmorton Street at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday when they were robbed at gunpoint by two suspects.

Cain, who lives in the Gardens Apartments at 2910 Thorckmorton, said the first suspect pressed a gun against his face while the second pointed one at his friends and demanded their purses. The suspects then fled on foot.

“We need to get more lighting on Dickason and Throckmorton. It’s just too dark,” Cain told Instant Tea today. “I’ve lived there for four years and nothing’s been done in four years. What does it take, one of us getting killed? If something is well lit, that can act as a deterrent for somebody.”

One of Cain’s friend, Skyy Boopsma, said the suspect “pulled out a gun and said ‘Give me your purse bitch’ and pulled it off my arm.”

According to a police report, the purse and its contents are valued at more than $3,000.

“Everything I own was in my purse,” said Boopsma, who also lives at the Gardens.

Cain said his other friend resisted and attempted to throw her purse over the fence of the apartment complex. The suspect pulled her to the ground and dragged her across the concrete but didn’t get the purse. Cain said the suspects, two black males wearing white T-shirts, took off running toward Dickason Avenue.

Boopsma said she doesn’t believe the incident was an anti-gay hate crime.

Cain said when police responded, they used GPS to track Boopsma’s stolen cell phone to a residence in the vicinity of Knight Street and Lemmon Avenue. He said he believed authorities were trying to obtain a search warrant for the residence.

Sr. Cpl. Sherri Jeffrey, a spokeswoman for DPD, said there had been no arrests as of this afternoon.

Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats has been working to improve street lighting in the Oak Lawn area through it’s Light Up Oak Lawn campaign.

—  John Wright

Another trans person murdered in Houston

Houston police have released a composite sketch (right) of a suspect wanted in the murder of a transgender victim whose body was found behind a trash bin at an apartment complex early Monday.

The vicitm, identified as 44 year-old Nathan Eugene Davis, was wearing a red dress, makeup and a wig when found shot to death at about 12:30 a.m., the Houston Chronicle reports. KPRC Channel 2 identifies Davis in a headline as “a cross-dressing male prostitute.”

Davis’ is the latest of several murders in Houston involving transgender victims over the last few years.

In March, a homeless man was arrested and charged in two of the murders.

Anyone with information about Davis’ murder should call the Houston Police Department’s homicide division at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at at 713-222-TIPS.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Suspect arrested in murder of gay E. Dallas couple found in burned apartment

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A 23-year-old homeless man has been arrested in the murder of a gay Dallas couple found dead inside their burned-out apartment last month, The Dallas Morning News reports. The suspect, Oscar Mirelez Young, told police that one of the victims picked him up for sex and that he and an accomplice planned to rob the couple. Mike Humphrey, 59, and Clayton Capshaw, 61, were found dead in their apartment in the 11200 block of Woodmeadow Parkway on April 27, after the apartment was set on fire to cover up the crime. Humphrey reportedly had a habit of going to the Bridge, Dallas’ homeless shelter, and picking up men for sex. Young was captured in Uvalde, west of San Antonio, after being pulled over while driving a stolen vehicle, and admitting that he killed two people in Dallas. Young faces a charge of capital murder. The second suspect is still being sought.

Ed Oakley

2. We’ll have more on last night’s LGBT mayoral forum at the Cathedral of Hope in a bit, but for now I wanted to point you to this clever headline in the DMN: “Peace, love and understanding mark Dallas mayoral debate at Cathedral of Hope.” The DMN also reports that openly gay former Dallas City Councilman Ed Oakley has endorsed Mike Rawlings for mayor. Oakley previously backed Ron Natinsky, who didn’t make the runoff. Oakley was defeated in a runoff for mayor by Tom Leppert in 2007.

Joel Burns

3. Anti-bullying language is included in standards of care for Fort Worth’s youth programs adopted by the City Council on Tuesdsay night, according to the Star-Telegram. Gay Councilman Joel Burns applauded the ordinance adopting the standards for children ages 5 to 13, which mirrors language in an anti-bullying bill that passed the Texas House on Tuesday night. The House voted 118-26 to concur with changes to the bill, HB 1942, and it now proceeds to Gov. Rick Perry’s desk. The bill, by Rep. Diane Howard, R-Arlington, is Equality Texas’ top priority in this year’s legislative session.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Arsonist strikes the gayborhood

This Jeep was destroyed in the parking lot of the apartment complex at 3901 N. Hall St. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

Authorities are looking for a suspect who they believe intentionally set two fires — and attempted to set a third — near the Cedar Springs strip early Wednesday.

The fires broke out around 2 a.m. at 3901 N. Hall St. and 3829 N. Hall St., on either side of Reagan Street less than a block from Cedar Springs. The first fire destroyed a Jeep that was parked in the lot of the apartment complex at 3901 N. Hall St. The suspect also tried to set fire to the apartment complex itself – by sticking a burning item through the front door — but someone extinguished it, according to reports.

Across Reagan Street, a blaze that broke out moments later destroyed the contents of a detached garage and apartment behind a residence at 3829 N. Hall St. No one was living in the second-floor apartment.

A second fire destroyed the contents of a detached garage across Reagan Street at 3829 N. Hall St. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

“They [investigators] do believe that the same person caused all three of these fires,” Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman Jason Evans told Instant Tea today. “They interviewed several witnesses including the owner of the Jeep and his girlfriend and several other witnesses. They have a [suspect] description from credible witnesses that they’re going off of now.”

Evans said investigators aren’t releasing the suspect description or additional information about the blazes. However, he said they don’t believe the fires were set by the driver of a yellow Volkswagen Bug, as suggested earlier by one witness.

Shane Brown, who lives in the apartment complex at 3901 Hall and was awakened by the blazes, said he thinks the incidents may have been a hate crime.

“Most people, even if they’re from out of town, know what area this is,” Brown said. “Something in my gut tells me it was definitely hate-crime orientated, so hopefully they catch them.”

Omar Semper said he owns the house at 3829 N. Hall St. and has lived there with his partner for the last 13 years. He said they used the garage — as well as the upstairs apartment — for storage.

“Everything’s destroyed,” Semper said. “Everything.”

Anyone with information about the fires is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 877-373-8477. For more photos from the fires, see our previous post.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Maryland Senate kills gender identity bill; anti-gay hate crime at UNC

Quinn Matney was attacked and severely burned in an anti-gay hate crime at the University of North Carolina.

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. For a third straight week, LGBT advocates plan to speak during the Dallas County Commissioners Court’s meeting today and call on commissioners to add transgender employees to the county’s nondiscrimination policy. Last month, commissioners voted to add sexual orientation but not gender identity to the policy. The Commissioners Court meets at 9 a.m. in the County Administration Building, 411 Elm St.

2. The Maryland Senate on Monday voted to kill a measure that would have protected transgender people from discrimination in housing, employment and credit — but not public accommodations. The vote marks the second major disappointment this year for LGBT advocates in Maryland, where the House thwarted a marriage equality bill last month.

3. A University of North Carolina freshman says he was attacked and severely burned in an anti-gay hate crime on the school’s campus last week. The UNC administration, which failed to notify students until a week after the attack occurred, now says it plans to report the incident as an anti-gay hate crime to the federal government.

—  John Wright

NC: Gruesome hate crime in Hickory – man on 911 call claims Mucinex, gay panic made him do it

Not. Again. And the novel addition is that the cough medicine made him do it.

In the 911 call a suspect made after the death of his roommate, he claims he overdosed on cough medicine, causing him to kill him and mutilate the body.

At about 4:45 a.m., 19-year-old Michael Anderson called 911, saying he murdered his roommate, Stephen Starr, at the home they shared on Ruth Road in Mountain View.

In the call, the teenager told the telecommunicator, “I did some things to his body that you don’t want them to see. You’re not going to know who it is.”

…”I Od’d on Mucinex DM. Dextromethorphan makes me feel a little weird and I took too many,” Anderson said.

That this is going to be the defense is laughable if it wasn’t so digusting – he’s basically saying he has an gay “on-off” switch. And when it’s off, apparently he’s violent.

About 4 minutes and 30 seconds into the call, the telecommunicator asks what sparked the attack. Anderson said it was because he was straight, and Starr was gay. According to him, the two met at a gay club. Anderson said he was straight, but went to the club to experiment.

“I met him and went to his house and he took me in and I turned straight again. And he wanted to touch me and stuff and I wouldn’t let him, and he kept trying. And I waited until he went to sleep and then I shot him three times. And I mutilated him very badly and I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Oh God, please help me.”

Good luck with that defense, Anderson; even in Hickory, that sounds like a flaming pile of crap. The comments at the news site are interesting, btw. Here’s the call.

H/t, SNT.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  David Taffet

FBI Releases 2009 Hate Crime Report

According to the 2009 hate crime statistics report released by the FBI yesterday, there were 1,436 reported hate crime offenses based on sexual orientation bias in 2009.  Hate crimes based on sexual orientation made up 18.5% of all hate crimes reported to the FBI during this period.  This is a slight increase in percentage over 2008 (17.7%).

However, the numbers in the 2009 report show that the total number of hate crimes reported to the FBI, as well as the total number of hate crimes based on sexual orientation bias reported to the FBI, dropped in 2009.  While this is promising news at first glance, it is important to understand that the FBI’s hate crime statistics report does not provide a complete picture of the number of hate crimes occurring in America. 

The FBI’s hate crime statistics report only represents a sample of the actual number of hate crimes that occurred in 2009.   A crime is included in the report only if a law enforcement agency decides to report it to the FBI.  Reporting to the FBI is voluntary.  Countless incidents are unreported by both victims and agencies.  Thus, the FBI’s hate crime statistics report only gives us a glance at a portion of the hate crimes that occur in any given year.  A drop in the number of hate crimes reported to the FBI does not necessarily signify an actual decrease in crimes.  Instead 2009 report only tells us that there were “at least” 1,436 hate crimes based on sexual orientation bias in 2009.

As in past years, the vast majority of the participating state and local crime reporting agencies (85.9%) reported that zero hate crimes occurred in their jurisdictions.  This does not mean that they decided not to report hate crimes; it means that they affirmatively reported to the FBI that there were no hate crimes in their jurisdiction.  This is difficult to believe – several large cities reported no crimes within their jurisdiction.  In addition, thousands of police agencies across the nation did not provide statistics at all.   Because participation is not mandatory and some agencies fail to report, the 2009 report fails to cover approximately 30 million Americans.  In order to have a more accurate snapshot of hate crimes in America, state and local law enforcement authorities must be pressed to provide hate crime data to the FBI. 

The 2009 report included data regarding crimes motivated by race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity/national origin, and/or disability.  However, as a result of the 2009 enactment of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the FBI has a new mandate to begin collecting information on hate crimes motivated by gender identity and gender.  While the 2009 report does not include statistics on gender identity or gender, HRC is working with the FBI to revise the hate crime statistics collection guidelines to account for this new mandate.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin