Schumer asks for increased funding after FBI report shows increase in anti-LGBT hate crimes

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Sen. Charles Schumer

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has called for increased funding for Department of Justice programs that prevent hate crimes and discrimination after new FBI data showed hate crimes against the LGBT community is on the rise.

“All Americans — regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, religion or race — should be kept safe from discrimination and hate and violence,” Schumer said.

According to the FBI, of the 6,727 victims of hate crimes reported by federal law enforcement agencies in 2014, 18.7 percent of victims of single-bias crimes — or 1, 248 people — were targeted because of their sexual orientation and 1.6 percent of victims of single-bias crimes — 109 people — were targeted because of their gender identity.

Schumer noted that the actual numbers are much larger, because hate crimes often go unreported “and those that are reported are often not classified as hate crimes.”

In Oak Lawn, of the dozens of attacks on gay men that have occurred since last summer, only two of them have been classified as hate crimes and will be reported to the FBI that way.

—  David Taffet

Chorale to hold free ‘healing’ concert Tuesday at COH

5-Sean-Baugh-TCC-by-HHenley-copyOn Saturday night, the Turtle Creek Chorale thought it had held its final concert of the season. It was the third consecutive presentation of Heartstrings, which celebrated love (and included nightly weddings of actual same-sex couples).

But the chorale’s work is not quite done — and for all the wrong reasons.

Following the tragedy in Orlando, TCC artistic director Sean Baugh has announced he will lead members of Dallas’ gay men’s chorus in a free concert Tuesday night. Songs for Healing will be a tribute and memorial “to help bring hope and healing in response to the deadliest mass shooting ever to occur.”

“This irrational and cruel act of terrorism strikes deeply at the very core of our community,” Baugh said. “This impact is horrible throughout our city, our state and our world. We must do what we do best — heal with the power of song — to blunt this pathetic act.”

The concert will include songs recently performed for Heartstrings, as well as a preview of some planned for the GALA Choruses Festival to be held in Denver in July.

It will take place in the sanctuary of the Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road, starting at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Admission is free.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Oak Lawn’s Legacy of Love becomes a memorial to the victims in Orlando

Legacy of Love monument

Former Dallas Voice intern Raul Oliver just sent this photo to me that he took of the Legacy of Love monument at the intersection of Oak Lawn Avenue and Cedar Springs Road. As the young woman’s sign says, what we need is “More love, less hate.”

There will be a vigil at 8 p.m. tonight (Sunday, June 12) at Resource Center, 5750 Cedar Springs Road, in Dallas, and another vigil tomorrow night (Monday, June 13) at Celebration Community Church, 908 Pennsylvannia Ave., in Fort Worth.

 

—  Tammye Nash

BREAKING: Dallas Police stepping up Oak Lawn patrols

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 10.23.30 AMDallas police are increasing patrols around gay bars and other areas in Oak Lawn in response to the mass shooting in Orlando this morning.

Dallas LGBT police liaison Laura Martin said Dallas police have been in touch with federal law enforcement partners. She said there have been no specific threats against Dallas bars, but police are increasing the patrols to support the LGBT community. The added patrols will be paid for with overtime pay.

A vigil for the victims of the Orlando attack will be held this evening (June 12) at 8 p.m. at Resource Center, 5750 Cedar Springs Road. Martin assured that there will be a good police presence to assure the safety of people planning to attend.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the victims of the attack.

—  David Taffet

Gay man attacked in SoHiP neighborhood of Oak Lawn

TakeBackOakLawnAt 2 a.m. this morning (May 26), a man was attacked at the corner of Bowser and Prescott in the neighborhood south of Highland Park. This was a different type of attack that previous ones reported and a different Oak Lawn neighborhood.

According to Fox News, someone jumped out of a red SUV, punched the victim in the eye, then jumped back in the car and sped off.

Here’s the information police released:

Assault at 5000 Bowser Avenue

On May 26, 2016 at about 2 a.m., the victim was walking home from a bar in the 5000 block of Bowser Avenue when an unidentified suspect exited a red or maroon SUV and assaulted him causing injury to his eye and ankle. Throughout the attack the suspect did not say anything, nor did he attempt to take the victim’s property. The suspect then re-entered the SUV and drove away.

The individual that suffered this attack so far has been unable to provide any additional information. It is early in the investigation and the detective will be canvassing the area for video and potential witnesses.  Anyone with information regarding this offense is encouraged to contact Detective McKnight-Bell at (214) 671-3600.

—  David Taffet

Weddington files lawsuit against XTC Cabaret

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Cory Weddington after attack in XTC Cabaret

Attorney Kasey Krummel filed a lawsuit on behalf of Cory Weddington against XTC Cabaret on Sunday, May 1 for damages stemming from an incident that occurred at the club on April 2 in which Weddington alleges he was assaulted by XTC employees.

Weddington is asking for at least $200,000 in compensation for  damages of any kind, penalties, costs, expenses, pre-judgment interest and attorney fees.

The suit alleges that an employee of the club shoved Weddington twice, the second time pushing him to the ground, after which four employees “delivered repeated blows to plaintiff’s head, neck, back, face, shoulder and hips, causing Cory severe and irreparable injuries including a fractured jaw, broken nose, abrasions, and a seizure disorder caused by trauma to the back of the head.”

The lawsuit also charges that employees then refused to call for emergency help, and that “Defendant’s employees and agents made public statements on social media that Cory is a criminal and deserved to be attacked.”

Weddington alleges in suit that the attack was bias-motivated because employees called him a “queer” and told two women who were with him at the club to “get that faggot out of here.”

In addition to discrimination and assault, Weddington is suing for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Weddington has no criminal convictions but does have a case, which is not settled, pending from an incident four years ago.

The suit is filed against the club because, “XTC had actual knowledge of the hostile condition on the premises that was riddled with complaints of violence and aggravated assaults.” It alleges negligent hiring and supervision that included “actual knowledge of convictions, pending investigations, charges, warrants, and even simply histories of violence among its employees, and intentionally failed to address the matter.” The suit also claims that emergency assistance is routinely called to the location and incident reports are filed.

The defendants have been given 50 days to respond to questions of discovery and the suit asks for a jury trial. Criminal assault charges have not been filed against any XTC employees yet.

The case has been assigned to Judge Tonya Parker.

—  David Taffet

Man attacked near ilume over the weekend classified as hate crime

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Craig Knapp, a resident of ilume on Cedar Springs Road, was attacked between 4:10 and 4:15 a.m. on Saturday morning (April 30) as he was walking his neighbor’s dog.

Knapp told WFAA Channel 8 that the two men who attacked him on Douglas Avenue near his building used anti-gay slurs. One of the attackers hit him in the face, and he said even though he offered him his wallet and his phone to keep them from hurting him, they took nothing.

Knapp also told WFAA this is the second time he was attacked. We have not spoken to the victim yet and haven’t found another recent police report on an earlier attack.

Detectives canvassed the area after the attack was reported, and have asked businesses in the area if their cameras caught footage of the attack or attackers.

From the Dallas Police blog, here is a fuller description of the attack and of the suspects:

On April 30, 2016, at about 4:30 a.m., a male victim was walking his dog in the area around the 3000 block of Douglas Avenue. The victim was approached by two suspects, a Black male 6’1” with a gold tooth wearing “skinny jeans” and a Latin male of unknown description. The Black male suspect asked the victim what the dog’s name was and when the victim answered, the Black male suspect made a derogatory comment about the victim’s perceived sexual orientation and shoved the victim to the ground causing scrapes to the victim’s face.

Both suspects then fled the location in an unknown direction. The comments made by the suspect indicate this was a crime of bias and will be classified as such. The assault itself is a Class A Misdemeanor and this is the third bias crime reported in the Oak Lawn area since September 2015.

Detectives from the Assaults Unit followed up with the victim over the weekend and canvassed the immediate area looking for video and witnesses to the offense.

Anyone with information regarding this offense or these suspects is asked to contact the Dallas Police Department’s Assaults Unit at 214-671-3584. Callers who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 214-373-TIPS (8477).

—  David Taffet

DA Hawk schedules another Oak Lawn Town Hall

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Dallas County DA Susan Hawk

Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk will hold a second Oak Lawn Town Hall meeting on Monday, April 25, 6 p.m. at the Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road. Hawk held the first town hall in mid-December to address the rash of attacks happening in the gayborhood and to hear residents’ concerns and questions.

In a press statement released today (Monday, Aug. 18), the D.A. said she is holding the April 25 meeting because, “I wanted to meet with Oak Lawn area community members, again, to follow up with them regarding the safety concerns they presented at our December Town Hall meeting, Our office wants to remain a consistent resource for our community, and to do that we can’t just show up once. We have to keep the lines of communication open and continue to have a presence.”

Hawk said she will update the community on office initiatives and on programs and resources in place to help the LGBT community and Dallas County in general. She will also address ongoing concerns about the attacks last fall. No arrests have been made yet in any of those assaults.

Hawk said at that December meeting that she lived in the Oak Lawn area and had often walked her dog near the location of one of the attacks. Because of that, she added, the attacks in the area “are personal.”

—  Tammye Nash

Equality Texas premieres hate crime video at Dallas Police HQ

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Michael Dominguez, from left, Burke Burnett, Councilman Adam Medrano, D.A. Susan Hawk, Sheriff Lupe Valdez, Equality Texas Executive Director Chuck Smith and Equality Texas board chair Steve Rudner at Dallas Police Headquarters to introduce a new hate crime video.

Equality Texas Executive Director Chuck Smith introduced a new video in a press conference at Dallas Police headquarters this morning (Monday, April 11) to mark the beginning of National Crime Victims Rights week. The five-minute video focuses on last fall’s rash of attacks on gay men in Oak Lawn.

Survivor Michael Dominguez and Burke Burnett, who was attacked in a hate crime in Paris, Texas in 2011, are featured in the video and were on hand to talk about the group SOS created to help area crime victims.

Smith said the first murder of a trans person in the U.S. this year took place in Austin. Another was killed this weekend in Houston. He pointed to campaign rhetoric and discussions going on in state legislatures related to anti-LGBT discrimination laws as contributing to the violence.

Referring to the video, Dallas City Councilman Adam Medrano said, “They haven’t caught anybody. That bothers me.” But he pointed out positive steps that have been taken including the creation of SOS, the increase of people participating in Volunteers on Patrol in Oak Lawn from 5 to 25.

“We work best when we work together,” Sheriff Lupe Valdez said. “No one deserves to be a victim. A beating, abuse is never acceptable.”

“The DA’s office will not accept violence against any group whatsoever,” District Attorney Susan Hawk said. “If we believe we can prove a hate crime, we will prosecute.”

Michael Dominguez said he’s seen the community work with police over the last six months and said the city functions better when groups work together. Dominguez has been the most vocal of SOS members.

“I refuse to let this happen in the city where I chose to live,” Dominguez said. “No one should live in fear.”

Maj. Max Geron of the DPD credited an increase in patrols with a decrease in the violence. He said the unreported attacks are concerning.

“Give us an opportunity to hear what you have to say and investigate the crime,” he said.

OAK LAWN HATE CRIMES (with bug, lower 3rd supers) from RED MEDIA GROUP on Vimeo.

—  David Taffet

XTC Cabaret spokesman responds to allegations in Weddington case

XTCThis morning, Dallas Voice received the following statement via email from attorneys for RCI Management Services that runs XTC Cabaret. The statement is in response to a story run earlier this week about a fight that took place at the club:

Based on the story you authored on April 5, I wanted to make sure you received the following statement from a representative of our client, XTC Cabaret (Dallas), relating to the Cory Weddington incident:

We are aware of an altercation that occurred in the early morning hours of April 1, 2016 at XTC Dallas.  As a member of the LGBT community myself, I can assure you that we are taking this matter very seriously and are fully investigating the circumstances.  It is our understanding that the Dallas Police Department is also conducting an independent criminal investigation into Mr. Weddington’s alleged assault of one of our employees that precipitated the events of that morning.  We continue to cooperate with DPD and are awaiting the results of their investigation.  Until the investigation into this matter is fully concluded, it would be inappropriate to comment further.

Scott J. Sherman
General Counsel
RCI MANAGEMENT SERVICES, INC.

—  David Taffet