BREAKING NEWS: Oak Lawn attack reclassified as anti-gay hate crime

Laura Martin, LGBT liaison officer for the Dallas Police Department, informed me moments ago that an aggravated robbery on Throckmorton Street over the weekend has been reclassified as an anti-gay hate crime. Martin said she met this morning with her lieutenant and Assistant Chief Floyd Simpson, who’s over patrol. Simpson made the decision to reclassify the incident as a hate crime based in part on anti-gay slurs used by the four suspects when they attacked the two victims with baseball bats just a few blocks from the Cedar Springs strip.

Police initially said they weren’t treating the incident as an anti-gay hate crime, prompting concern from many in the LGBT community.

“Chief Simpson agrees that it should have been flagged as a hate crime, and so that is the way it will be investigated,” Martin said late this morning. “I think some patrol officers are probably under the impression that they can’t really designate things as hate crimes. That doesn’t mean that we can’t go through and change things. It’s just a matter of who actually does change it, so it’s being done.”

Martin said classifying the incident as a hate crime will give the investigation higher priority.

“If someone’s targeted because of who they are and they’re in a protected class, there is more attention that needs to be paid,” she said. “We don’t want people coming down in the Cedar Springs area and thinking they can just beat up and rob members of the GLBT community because it just seems like a fun thing to do. We don’t want people thinking that’s OK to do, so I can assure you that it will be investigated and given plenty of attention.”

Martin added that as of this morning, there were no suspects. Anyone with information about the incident can call Crime Stoppers at 214-373-TIPS (8477) or 1-877-373-8477.

Look for full coverage in Friday’s Voice.

—  John Wright