No jail or fine for Sheridan in graffiti case

sheridanRich Sheridan formally pleaded no contest to charges he spray painted the Legacy of Love monument with “666” and painted graffiti at Cathedral of Hope.
Because of his targets — a public monument and a church — the charges carry a penalty for two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Under the plea agreement, Sheridan will spend no time in jail and won’t pay a fine. Instead, he received deferred community supervision for two years in each of the two cases, served simultaneously. If he violates terms of his probation, he’ll have to pay $2,000 in fines.

“If Rich Sheridan violates the terms of his community supervision he can also be sentenced to confinement,” Assistant District Attorney Craig NeNeil said.

Oak Lawn Committee, which maintains the monument and the triangle where it sits at the corner of Oak Lawn Avenue and Cedar Springs Road spent several thousand dollars cleaning and restoring it.

The Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas of Cathedral of Hope said damage to church property wasn’t expensive to clean.

“We believe in second chances,” Cazares-Thomas said. “If he breaks that second chance, he will have to pay recompense.”

He said for a crime like this, community service would be an appropriate punishment.

In addition to the two charges filed, Sheridan tagged property in front of the Dallas Morning News, D Magazine and Dallas Observer offices. He also painted over Dallas Voice distribution boxes and marked graffiti in the Dallas City Hall underground parking lot. Charges were not filed in those cases.

The district attorney’s office couldn’t comment on the case until formal sentencing on April 15.

Updated with information from Asst. D.A. Craig McNeil on Feb. 29.

—  David Taffet

Richard Sheridan given probation and provide restitution in graffiti cases

Legacy graffiti

2014 graffiti at Legacy of Love monument

Former Dallas City Council candidate Richard Sheridan has been given felony deferred adjudication probation in 2014 graffiti cases that targeted the LGBT community.

Sheridan entered the first half of his plea to graffiti charges on Thursday, Feb. 11. His case was reset for a pre-sentence investigation and evaluation. A restitution hearing will be held on April 15 to determine the amount of restitution to be paid as a condition of probation.

Sheridan was arrested in March 2015 for spray painting “666” on the Legacy of Love monument on the corner of Cedar Springs Road and Oak Lawn Avenue in June 2014. He also was accused of tagging Cathedral of Hope property and sidewalks in front of The Dallas Morning News, D Magazine and The Observer. Dallas Voice distribution boxes were defaced as well. Tagging attributed to Sheridan was later found in Dallas City Hall’s parking garage as well.

According to Assistant Criminal District Attorney Gary McDonald, Sheridan is being placed on felony deferred adjudication probation for a period of two years in each case, as charged.

“This means his plea is to ‘Graffiti of a Monument/Church with the Hate Crime allegation,’ a third degree felony,” McDonald wrote. “He will be fined $1,000.00 in each case, but the fine will be probated because he is indigent.”

Sheridan will be prohibited from contacting either location as a condition of community supervision. As part of the pre-sentence investigation, he will be referred for a mental health/dual diagnosis evaluation to determine appropriate conditions of community supervision in each case.

The amount of restitution to Cathedral of Hope has not yet been determined. The church cleaned the graffiti at its own expense. The Oak Lawn Committee cleaned the monument. Defacing a public monument or a church carries higher penalties than other targets. Hate crime charges can be attached to those as well since they specifically targeted the LGBT community.

—  David Taffet

More tagging damage found and one political gadfly suspected

Political gadfly Richard Sheridan has emerged as a suspect in the tagging incidents that occurred in Oak Lawn and more graffiti was found.

Resource Center spokesman Rafael McDonnell said they found a “666” painted on the Youth First building on Harry Hines Boulevard today. The marking has probably been there since the weekend like the others that were found on Sunday at Cathedral of Hope, the Legacy of Love Monument, on two Dallas Voice distribution boxes and in front of the Dallas Morning News, Dallas Observer and D magazine buildings.

McDonnell said the graffiti has already been removed.

Many people in the community, including D magazine, linked Sheridan to the crime because he is well known for his blatant homophobua. In his recent run for DISD board of trustees, Sheriden’s campaign printed a homophobic flier found stuffed in copies of Dallas Voice at several distribution sites.

Police have not confirmed that they have evidence linking Sheridan to the vandalism, but they are investigating the graffiti as a possibly bias-motivated crime.

Sheridan

—  David Taffet

UPDATE: ‘666’ graffiti widespread in neighborhood

Legacy graffiti

Dallas Police Det. Laura Martin, DPD’s liaison to the LGBT community, said Monday morning that a detective has been assigned to investigate all cases related to graffiti “tagging” done at a number of locations in Oak Lawn early on Saturday morning. The number “666” — a number linked to Satan through the Book of Revelations in the Christian Bible where it is called “the mark of the Beast” — was spray-painted onto the base of the Legacy of Love monument on Oak Lawn Avenue at Cedar Springs Road, onto the driveway at two different parking lot entrances at Cathedral of Hope UCC and at a building on Oak Lawn at Maple Avenue that houses, among other businesses, the Dallas Observer.

There have also been reports that the “mark of the Beast” was spray-painted onto the Cedar Springs Road bridge over the North Dallas Tollway, on buildings at a housing development on Lucas Street and onto at least two Dallas Voice magazine racks.

Martin said police are looking into the possibility the graffiti is part of a hate crime. Police are holding a media briefing at 2 p.m. today regarding the incidents, so stay tuned for more information.

—  Tammye Nash

UPDATE: Police investigating hate as possible motive for graffiti as more taggings found

Janse.Kevin

Det. Kevin Janse at Dallas Police headquarters

Dallas Police are looking into hate as a possible motive for graffiti found early Sunday around Oak Lawn on buildings housing print media offices.

The Legacy of Love Monument and Cathedral of Hope were targeted by taggers with “666” in red spray paint. The Cedar Springs bridge over the tollway was also tagged, as were at least two Dallas Voice distribution boxes.

Chris Kelley, spokesman for Cathedral of Hope, said the church was tagged in two places — on its sign along the street and in the parking lot. By Sunday afternoon, the paint at Cathedral and on the monument had been removed by volunteers.

The Dallas Morning News, Dallas Observer and D magazine buildings were also tagged. Ironically, the building housing Dallas Voice was not touched.

Det. Kevin Janse said police have no leads but hope as word spreads about the graffiti, someone will come forward and provide some clues. He said he hopes whoever did this will start bragging about it when he sees the coverage it’s getting and someone will contact police with a lead.

The spray painting occurred late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. Janse said police checked video from the Exxon station on Oak Lawn Avenue, but its video did not catch activity at the Observer building across the street.

Officer W.C. Humphrey, who attended the press conference, told Dallas Voice that graffiti is not uncommon, but the particular “666” message at the specific sites is unusual.

Janse said anyone with information about these or additional taggings should contact Dallas LGBT police liaison Laura Martin at 214-490-0541.

Legacy graffiti

—  David Taffet

Old Oak Cliff Conservation League to host neighborhood symposium Saturday

Michael Amonett

On Saturday, the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League is hosting a symposium at Turner House and will distribute grants to neighborhood groups for area improvements.

Last year, OOCCL distributed more than $20,000 in money raised from the Tour of Homes and other events. This year the group plans to hand out more.

Michael Amonett, the gay president of OOCCL, emphasized this is not a gay event, even though most of the 30 neighborhood organizations are headed by members of the LGBT community. He insisted the event is for everyone in Oak Cliff.

“Really,” he said. “We just all work together so well over here. … Really.”

He said representatives from the city, local arts organizations and community activist organizations will be on hand. Neighborhood projects that the organization will consider for funding include signage, security, web design and landscaping in parks and medians or other public areas.

Amonett said they will address topics including graffiti, animal control, researching the history of your home, organizing a neighborhood, achieving 501(c)(3) status. There will be information on area parks, community gardening, the better block initiative and local arts programs. The graffiti task force was started by City Councilwoman Delia Jasso.

The cost is $5 for OOCCL members and $20 for non-members. Lunch will be served.

He said that others from around the city may attend, but the money OOCCL distributes will stay in Oak Cliff. People from around the city may be interested in attending to learn how the city’s oldest and most successful collection of neighborhood groups works together. (Here’s one clue — the gay is a really important part of it, but the straight has been a huge contributor, too).

—  David Taffet

Illinois ‘Straight Pride’ High School Hit With Homophobic Graffiti

A week after students at St. Charles North High School in Illinois caused an uproar by wearing "Straight Pride" tees (adorned with kill-the-gays Biblical messages) to class, a new bout of homophobia: the school was tagged with spray-painted graffiti that said not terribly nice things about the gays.

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—  admin

Salt Lake City LGBT Center Hit with Anti-Gay Graffiti

Utahpridecenter  

The Utah Pride Center, an LGBT community center in Salt Lake City, had its onsite coffee shop, Lady Marmalade, vandalized with anti-gay graffiti, the Salt Lake Tribune‘s LGBT FYI blog reports. As you can see from the provided photo, the word “FAGS” was sprayed in paint across the shop’s sign.

Said Valerie Larabee, executive director of the Utah Pride Center: “We realize that often times the purpose of these actions are to cause widespread fear among the members of our community. That is why today we are speaking out. This will not be swept under the rug. We will not be scared into silence by acts of intolerance.”

The Salt Lake City police department is investigating.

Report from KSL, AFTER THE JUMP

Video Courtesy of KSL.com


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

Hate rears its head on the lake

Anti-gay vandalism is a reminder that hate can hide in even the most accepting communities

David Webb The Rare Reporter

It’s taken a while for the ugly specter of anti-gay hate crime to rise over Cedar Creek Lake, but it was probably inevitable.

With two gay bars and large numbers of gay and lesbian couples living together in full-time residences and weekend homes, the community has become highly visible over the past couple of decades. For the most part the straight community has always seemed tolerant, but it is a conservative religious area.

To the best of everyone’s recollection, no one on the lake had ever reported being harassed, threatened or beat up or having their property vandalized because they were gay —until June 20.

That’s when a gay male couple living in Payne Springs woke up to find extensive damage to their truck.

They found the windshield busted, all four tires slashed, parts ripped off the truck and anti-gay graffiti — including the words “Die Fag” — scrawled all over the truck. The damage was so bad that the vehicle will be unusable for several weeks, and the couple cannot really afford to rent a car in the meantime.

Initially, the couple posted a message on their Facebook page with pictures of the damage. But they later took it down and asked for privacy. They said they just wanted to move on and did not want to become a cause for the community to rally around.

It is likely the men are suffering from psychological trauma. Hate crime researchers point out that victims are often left terrified, fearing retribution and feeling vulnerable to more attacks if there is widespread attention drawn to them.

The possibility exists that there may have been other anti-gay hate crimes committed on the lake, and they were never reported because of those same fears.

According to the FBI’s most recent “Hate Crime Statistics” report, almost 18 percent of all hate crimes occurring in the U.S. are attributed to sexual orientation bias. The crimes occur all across the country in cities and towns of all sizes and demographics.

In addition to the impact on the victims, hate crimes reportedly also have an intimidating effect on the entire community to which the victims belong.

That’s why it is important for the community to rally behind such victims and to band together in speaking out against hate crimes. Usually, there are supportive straight people who want to join the cause, and that is already happening on the lake.

Immediately after hearing about the crime, a straight couple sent an e-mail volunteering to be a part of any activities that might be undertaken to promote tolerance and discourage hate crimes.

That’s what is happening now, too, in Savannah, Ga., where two Marines from a South Carolina military base were arrested recently on charges they allegedly assaulted a gay man because they thought he winked at them. The LGBT community held a rally this week in the square where the gay man was found unconscious.

It’s also a good idea to take steps to combat hate crimes with community events because they rarely are isolated incidents. The perpetrators of hate crimes often begin with lower-level types of crime such as harassment and vandalism and go on to more violent activity when they don’t suffer any repercussions from the earlier crimes.

Just about everyone realizes now that June is celebrated across the country as Gay Pride Month, and that draws more attention to the LGBT community. The national debate about gay rights, such as the proposal to abolish “don’t ask, don’t tell” has the same effect.

If nothing else, everyone needs to be aware of the danger of hate crime activity in an area and to be careful. It can happen to anyone at anytime, almost anywhere.

David Webb is a former staff writer for the Dallas Voice who lives on Cedar Creek Lake now. He is the author of the blog TheRareReporter.blogspot.com. He can be reached at davidwaynewebb@embarqmail.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 25, 2010.

—  Dallasvoice