Chad Mantooth | Special Contributor
Respect is earned, not given. This is a thought I had over the weekend after a night out on the town.
I go down to the Cedar Springs area often, both for work and for fun. Because of where I work (the Dallas Voice), I think I’m knowledgeable what goes on in our community, and I consider myself pretty well informed. And the 11 attacks that have happened over the last two months have me concerned, just like everyone else. I want our neighborhood to be a safe place for everyone to come and play.
This past Saturday (Nov7), I went out with friends for a night of fun and laughs — and hopefully to find the love of my life. We all had a good time, making our way up and down Cedar Springs, checking out the various bars along the length of The Strip. The bars were full, and I had no sense of foreboding, no idea that things might go wrong.
But at the end of the night, go wrong they did. After a fun-filled night of drinking and dancing, my night turned to shit.
My friends and I decided to wind up our evening by getting some pizza at Italia Express, right there at the heart of the Crossroads.
While sitting on the patio, we witnessed a group of about 10 people got into a shouting match in front of Havana next door. The group moved to the space in front of Italia Express as the dispute continued and the argument got louder and louder — until someone threw the first punch.
I looked around, searching for any security or police on the street. In the past, I’ve seen a private security guard or two on the street (especially after 2 a.m.), or the occasional Dallas Police Department cruiser driving by.
But I didn’t see anyone of authority this time.
The argument escalated, people began punching each other left and right, with no regard to traffic or any innocent passersby that got in their way. It quickly turned into a mob scene, the fight moving from in front of Italia Express to the middle of the intersection at Cedar Springs and Throckmorton, blocking traffic on all sides before migrating over in front of Hunky’s.
I pulled out my phone and called 911. The operator told me, “We’ve got officers on the way.”
The fight continued … and continued … and continued.
More people pulled out their phones, mostly to video the ever-growing fight. I was dumbfounded; the fight was getting bigger and bigger, but there were no police officers in sight. I heard no sirens, saw no flashing red-and-blue lights.
Considering all the attacks that have happened recently in the gayborhood, I really expected that there would be officers patrolling nearby. I was shocked to realize there wasn’t a police presence already in the area.
Why weren’t there officers nearby? We’ve been told by DPD that there would be increased patrols, more officers on hand. Were we lied to?
I called 911 a second time and the dispatcher told me there was already an officer “on scene.” I sure didn’t see any officers there. I didn’t see anyone of authority. And the fight continued: More punches were thrown; more hair was pulled.
The while situation had reached the level of being ridiculous and sad. Why are we in the community fighting with each other this way? Don’t we already have enough problems with threats from outside our community?
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, one DPD car came rolling down Cedar Springs. The officer drove past the fight on the corner of Throckmorton and Cedar Springs and parked behind in the lot behind the Subway. That gave the plenty of time for the drunken brawlers to scatter like roaches in the night.
To my knowledge, nobody was arrested and nobody went to jail.
I left the strip that night filled with disgust. I was disgusted with those involved in the street brawl. I was disgusted by the lack of any police presence on The Strip. I was just disgusted in general. And I was angry.
I respect law enforcement; I know the police have a hard job to do every day of the week. But still I am left feeling that we — the LGBT community — aren’t respected by those that have taken that oath to “protect and serve”?
I don’t think I anyone should ever be punched, especially someone of my own community. We need to come together and stand shoulder-to-shoulder in times like this, not toe-to-toe! If we can’t respect each other, how in the hell can we expect respect from those outside our community?
Now is the time that we must lift each other up and not punch each other down. And if this infighting and disrespectful behavior continues, my fear is the whole neighborhood will go down swinging.
Chad Mantooth is associate advertising director for Dallas Voice. He lives in the Oak Lawn area.