Anti-gay hate crimes doubled in Dallas in 2011; city saw highest number in TX

Dallas is the city that reported the most hate crimes in Texas based on sexual orientation bias, according to new a report released by the FBI.

Dallas reported 10 anti-gay hate crimes in 2011 Hate Crime Statistics report, which is double the number reported in 2010. It also had three hate crimes based on race, two on religion and one on ethnicity. The report only tracks hate crimes that were reported to police.

Houston had six crimes based on sexual orientation bias, four for race and three for religion, while Fort Worth came in third with four for sexual orientation, five for race, three for religion and four for ethnicity.

Dallas and Fort Worth both reported five hate crime based on sexual orientation for the FBI’s 2010 statistics. Houston topped the list that year with six.

Texas saw a jump from 39 hate crimes based on anti-gay bias in 2010 to 49 in the category in 2011. Racial hate crimes saw a decline from 85 to 56 reported crimes, while religion stayed at 19 and disability at 1. Crimes against ethnicity bias declined slightly from 30 to 27.

Nationally, there were 6,216 single‑bias incidents. Of those, 46.9 percent were motivated by a racial bias, 20.8 percent were motivated by a sexual‑orientation bias, 19.8 percent were motivated by a religious bias, 11.6 percent were motivated by an ethnicity bias and .9 percent were motivate by bias against a disability.

Hate crimes with a sexual orientation bias were up by 19.3 percent from 2010 national figures.

—  Anna Waugh

Crime Stoppers video offers new details in shooting of S. Texas lesbian couple

Tri-County Crime Stoppers recently released a video with more details about the June 22 shooting of lesbian couple Kristene Chapa and Mollie Olgin in Portland.

Chapa, 18, and Olgin, 19, were found shot in a park the following morning. The video mentions that the teens were walking late a night when they saw a man walk past.

A few minutes later he returned with a mask and gloves. He forced them to a secluded area before assaulting and shooting them.

Portland police have said that no evidence existed to lead police to believe the shooting was a hate crime. But after months of investigating, police received few leads.

People have donated to raise money for a reward for information, including North Texans. Currently $20,000 in reward money is being offered for information.

The suspect is described as a white male in his 20s, 5 feet, 8 inches tall with a thin build, weighing 140 pounds, with brown hair and a scruffy beard.

Anyone with information should call the Tri-County Crime Stoppers at 800-245-TIPS (8477) or submit a tip online. Reports may be made anonymously.

Watch the video below.

—  Anna Waugh

Turtle Creek Chorale members attacked, called gay slurs in apparent hate crime

Two members of the Turtle Creek Chorale gay men’s chorus were assaulted last weekend in an attack Dallas police have classified as a hate crime.

Ryan Short and Tri Truong went to a friend’s house Saturday, Oct. 27, for a game night. The two drove back to Short’s residence on Rawlins Street between 1:30 and 2 a.m. when suddenly two Hispanic men came up from behind them as they walked form the car to the apartment.

“They just kind of came up and started hitting us,” Short said.

Truong said he saw the men attack Short first and jumped in.

“It happened so fast because we were literally walking like 20 feet,” Truong said. “It started so quick we really had no chance to kind of process what’s going on.”

Truong said one of the guys hit him and pushed him against the wall of Short’s apartment. He said he remembers them both laughing during the assault. He said they fought the attackers off after a few minutes and they fled.

No words were exchanged before the attack, but both of them remember the men calling them “fags” and laughing. They said they think the men came from the Halloween Street Party because they were walking on Throckmorton Street toward Lemmon Avenue and may have been intoxicated. Neither of the men was in costume.

Short said both of them were hit in the head and his hip was sore from falling. He also had a scraped hand. Truong also had a bruises on his head, a swollen jaw and a small black eye.

Short said he called 911 after the suspects left and told the dispatcher he and Truong didn’t need medical attention. They said they told the dispatcher that the two Hispanic men were in their mid-20s or 30s with medium builds and around 5 feet, 10 inches tall. They didn’t take pictures of their injuries and said they were not serious enough to go to the hospital.

Short filed a police report Thursday, Nov. 1, which lists the assault as a hate crime and describes the attack as the men being punched multiple times while being called gay slurs.

While both men are glad their injuries aren’t more serious, they still wonder why the assault happened because the men never demanded money from them, only attacking them and running off.

“They were not trying to rob us. They didn’t ask us for a phone or wallet or keys, nothing,” Truong said. “That’s what’s so mind-boggling. It was just laughing, gay slurs and after a minute they just bailed out.”

—  Anna Waugh

Hate crime victims find home, hope from LGBT community’s support

Joshua Harrison and Jeremy Jeffers

The Clarendon gay couple who found a death threat on their front porch Oct. 1 have now found a home with the help of the LGBT community.

Jeremy Jeffers and Joshua Harrison told Dallas Voice two weeks ago they planned to move to Amarillo, which is 60 miles north of Clarendon, as soon as they could get their finances in order.

The couple was struggling financially because they had lost their jobs and were facing discrimination from locals who had heard their story.

Harrison said that over the last few weeks, the LGBT blog Owldolatrous Press set up donations to help the couple move, raising about $2,700 from donors around the country.

He said Whitney Kelly, Equality Texas Foundation board chairman from Amarillo, has helped the couple find a home where they could keep their two dogs and two cats. Kelly gave them the check today. The couple will be moving Sunday.

“The gay community really came together and helped us out,” Harrison said. “I’m really grateful they helped us.”

Harrison’s partner Jeremy Jeffers was offered a job in Amarillo Friday and starts work next week, so Harrison said things have begun to look up for them.

“Things have been getting better,” he said. “People have really gone the extra mile to help us and we really appreciate it.”

Harrison said he and Jeffers hope to stay in Amarillo if the community is safe and accepting during the next year as they adjust to their new home.

—  Anna Waugh

Charges dropped against gay man who claims he was fleeing hate crime

Justin York’s arm a few days after the Oct. 6 incident at Southwest Auto Tow. He said he suffered a concussion and a dislocated jaw.

Dallas police have dropped charges against a gay man who was arrested for robbery after fleeing what he alleged was an anti-gay hate crime.

Justin York was arrested Oct. 6 after he ran his vehicle into a metal gate trying to leave Southwest Auto Tow. York told Instant Tea he was trying to run from being assaulted by two men at the towing company.

Police arrested York for robbery and later changed the charges to criminal mischief because the company dropped the assault charges.

York told Instant Tea that all of the charges have now been dropped because the company’s insurance is paying for the damage to the gate.

However, York said he still plans to file a police report and press charges against the two men at the towing company, who he said assaulted him and called him anti-gay slurs, prompting him to run to his car and drive through the gate.

—  Anna Waugh

Gay Dallas man arrested for robbery says he was fleeing hate crime

Justin York’s arm a few days after the incident at Southwest Auto Tow. He said he suffered a concussion and a dislocated jaw.

A Dallas gay man claims he was the victim of a hate crime while trying to retrieve his items from a towing company on Oct. 6.

Justin York said he was moving into an apartment when his car and his friend’s car were towed in the early hours of Saturday, Oct. 6. He said his landlord hadn’t processed their vehicle information yet, so the towing was a misunderstanding.

York and his friend went to Southwest Auto Tow, at 11211 Goodnight Lane, to get items out of their cars around 5 a.m. He said he didn’t want to pay $200 to get his car back since it was towed because of a mistake by his landlord.

York said he turned on his car for heat because of the chilly weather that weekend. A few minutes later, he said he saw two men at the company pick up his friend’s car with a wrecker while the friend was still inside and begin to swing the car from side to side. York said he left his car running and ran toward the men to stop them.

He said they then punched him in the head and his friend ran off. He said one of the men sat on him while the other kicked him repeatedly and yelled anti-gay slurs and comments about gay sex. He fought back to protect himself.

“I may be gay, but I’m still a man no matter how feminine I am, so I fought back,” he said. “I literally started whooping his ass with my purse.”

—  Anna Waugh

Study shows high rate of discrimination against transgender people in Texas

Mara Keisling

Transgender Texans generally face even higher levels of discrimination than transgender people nationwide, according to a state-level breakout from a national study conducted last year.

Equality Texas and the Transgender Education Network of Texas released the state-level figures Tuesday from the study by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and National Center for Transgender Equality. The full national study is available online, and results from the Texas study are below. The national study included 266 Texas respondents.

In Texas, transgender people faced higher rates of harassment and assault in school. Nationally, 78 percent reported being harassed, but in Texas 85 percent faced harassment. Physical assault was also higher in the state at 46 percent compared to 35 percent nationally. Sexual assault in school was comparable at 12 percent nationally and 9 percent in Texas.

Texas doesn’t have LGBT-inclusive employment nondiscrimination or anti-bullying laws. The state’s hate crimes law covers gays and lesbians but not transgender people.

Equality Texas called the rates of workplace discrimination in the state “alarming.” Chuck Smith, Equality Texas interim executive director, said the report graphically demonstrates the discrimination faced by transgender Texans.

“In our state, where the right of self-determination is so valued, it is unconscionable that anyone would be denied the ability to earn a living, to live where they choose or to be educated,” Smith said. “Equality Texas calls on the members of the Texas Legislature to join us in working to ensure that all Texans are given the ability to live as their authentic selves.”

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said some states have made a lot of progress toward ensuring safety, jobs and homes for transgender people. But she said “this research points out persistent gaps in the fair and equal treatment of transgender people.”

According to the report:

—  David Taffet

Bartender suffers fractured eye socket in attack outside Rainbow Lounge

Adam Granados

A bartender at the Rainbow Lounge said he was attacked in the parking lot of the Fort Worth gay bar early Monday.

Adam Granados said he’d just gotten off work and was in the parking lot at about 1:15 a.m. when he was attacked from behind.

“Someone hit me in the back of the head and knocked me down,” Granados said. “When I got up, he hit me in the face.”

Granados, who suffered severe cuts and a hairline fracture to his eye socket, said he doesn’t know if the incident was a hate crime, a simple assault or an attempted robbery. He doesn’t remember the assailant saying anything. Since the attack occurred at the end of Fort Worth’s gay Pride weekend, and he was wearing a Pride T-shirt outside a gay bar, he said he may have been targeted for his sexual orientation.

Fort Worth police spokeswoman Sharon Neal said the incident isn’t being investigated as a hate crime because no epithets were spoken and no evidence such as spray-painted slurs was left, although she said hate may have been the motive. No suspects or witnesses have come forward.

On Saturday, two protesters were arrested at the Pride parade in downtown Fort Worth. No other incidents related to Pride were reported.

Granados said the attacker tried to grab his phone but didn’t get it. He doesn’t know whether the suspect was trying to steal the phone or prevent him from calling for help. The attacker fled by car as Granados made it back inside the bar.

Someone in the Rainbow Lounge called 911. Granados filed a police report and was taken to John Peter Smith Hospital.

A CT scan revealed a hairline fracture under his eye socket. He needed two stitches on the corner of his eye and three under his eye. He also suffered scrapes and bruises. Today, he said, he has been able to open his eye slightly.

Anyone with information about the incident should contact the Fort Worth Police Department at 817-335-4222.

—  David Taffet

WATCH: Surveillance video of Austin hate crime during Pride weekend

The man pictured in the center with a baseball cap and glasses is the attacker Austin police are still trying to identify.

Austin police released surveillance footage this morning of an assault on two gay men during Austin Pride weekend on Sept. 21.

The video shows Nick Soret ordering pizza when a man speaks to him, then knocks his pizza out of his hands. His friend, Andrew Oppleman, intervene and the suspect begins punching Oppleman. Oppleman lost six teeth and suffered a fractured jaw in the attack.

The video was obtained from the pizza truck owner.

The video shows another man who walks up with the attacker. Police arrested Jin Yung Park, 31, that night for public intoxication, but since the incident, he has moved and hasn’t returned police phone calls, Austin’s KVUE reports.

The attacker is described as an Asian male in his late 20s or early 30s and is about 6 feet tall with a muscular build.

Police are still looking for witnesses and are investigating the incident as an anti-gay hate crime.

“It’s crucial. The high-quality security video shows the assault as plain as day,” APD Cpl. Anthony Hipolito told KVUE. “You can see it even though it is dark outside. The assault was clear. You can see who this guy is.”

GetEQUAL TX is planning a March Against Hate event tomorrow morning where participants will march to the state Capitol and hear from victims of hate crimes, including Oppleman.

Watch the video below.

—  Anna Waugh

Teens won’t face hate crime prosecution for anti-gay graffiti in Arlington

Four teens who were arrested in June for a graffiti spree in an Arlington neighborhood and painted anti-gay remarks on a lesbian couple’s SUV won’t be prosecuted for a hate crime.

Daniel Sibley, 18, John Austin Cartwright, 17, Seth Stephen Hatcher, 18, and Morgen Rae Aubuchon, 18, were indicted Sept. 25 for a state jail felony of graffiti causing $1,500 to $20,000 in damage. The fifth person believed to be involved was a 16-year-old girl. She will undergo a process for juveniles.

Kim Lovering and her partner’s vehicles had “queer and faggot” spray-painted on them alongside a decal showing two moms with a child and pet, shown above.

Tarrant County Assistant District Attorney Betty Arvin, who is the prosecutor for the four adult cases, said the incident of anti-gay graffiti could have been separated and charged as a misdemeanor. But the DA’s office instead chose to combine the cases — which include 13 individual incidents involving public signs, garage doors and vehicles — to obtain a state jail felony charge.

“We felt like we would have more flexibility and more options if we aggregated the cases so that’s what we did,” Ardin said. “But for a hate crime you’ve got to prove that the people involved specifically targeted a person or their property due to together their sexual orientation or their race, and we suspect it but we can’t prove that. Well, we certainly can’t prove it on all 13. … We can’t prove it on all of them and keep it a felony.”

The punishment for a state jail felony is 180 days to two years in jail and up to a $10,000 fine. Ardin said if bias could have been proven in all the cases, the hate crime enhancement would have made the cases a third-degree felony and, if convicted, the teens could’ve faced two to 10 years behind bars in addition to the fine.

The four indicted have court dates scheduled for Oct. 24, but Ardin said their cases are still being processed so she is unsure when a trial date will be set.

—  Anna Waugh