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

Legacy of Love monument vandalized

The Legacy of Love monument, located at the intersection of Oak Lawn Avenue and Cedar Springs Road and dedicated to the memory of those who have died of AIDS, was defaced by vandals sometime early Sunday morning, according to reports. Someone used red spray paint to mark the base of the monument with the numbers “666,” a number commonly considered to be the “mark of the beast,” or Satan.

A group of volunteers from the community turned out Sunday afternoon to clean the graffiti off the monument.

The 35-foot-tall monument, maintained by the Oak Lawn Committee, which has spent more than $15,000 in recent years to repair damages to the monument after it was damaged in car crashes.

—  Tammye Nash

SMU vote inspires Harvey Milk Day celebration on Cedar Springs

Harvey Milk DayDallas Mayor Mike Rawlings issued a proclamation to Hope 4 Peace and Justice, naming Thursday, May 22, 2014, as Harvey Milk Day.

Harvey Milk Day Dallas organizer Todd Whitley said H4PJ was inspired to create a celebration by LGBT students at Southern Methodist University who were recently denied representation in the Student Senate.

“We’re still having this fight today? Seriously?” Whitley said. “Harvey’s message is needed now more than ever.”

He said organizers thought of the SMU students and elderly LGBT folks who have fought homophobia their entire lives.

Sammi Partida was one of the SMU students who campaigned for LGBT representation in the Student Senate. He said Harvey Milk is a voice for those who have been suppressed.

“His approach was comprehensive,” he said, covering issues from child care to affordable housing to senior citizen.

He said Milk had a passion that’s hard to match.

“When coming in as city supervisor, he knew he was putting down his life for countless people,” Partida said. “He’s so inspiring.”

Whitley said coming out saved his life.

“I was dying, unable to be the authentic me,” he said, “and doing so completely changed my life.”

Whitley agreed and said Milk’s legacy spoke to him personally.

“Gone far too soon, Harvey Milk inspired a generation to ‘bust down those closet doors’ and ‘come out,’ a vital, life-saving action it would take me 38 years to finally do myself. … That’s what his legacy is to me,” Whitley said.

Milk’s call to come out is as relevant today as it was when he was killed in 1978.

Whitley challenged straight people to honor Harvey Milk Day by coming out for equality as well.

“If you’re straight — particularly a straight Christian — and believe that LGBTQ folks are equal to you, come out so people know where you stand and can use your example to eliminate their own bigotry,” he said.

Milk has a special connection to Dallas. In 1957, he briefly lived in Dallas, according to the San Francisco library, before returning to New York. He was transferred here in 1969 by Bache & Co. where he was a securities analyst and lived at 2525 Turtle Creek Blvd. before moving to San Francisco.

In honor of Milk, the U.S. Postal Service will issue a Harvey Milk stamp Thursday.

A community celebration of Harvey Milk Day takes place at the Legacy of Love Monument on Cedar Springs Road at Oak Lawn Avenue on May 22 at 8 p.m. The celebration features speakers which include SMU student Sammi Partida and Cathedral of Hope Interim Pastor Jim Mitulski, a musical performance by Chris Chism, an excerpt of the H4PJ production Dear Harvey and a spoken word performance by local activist Meg Hargis followed by a candlelight march down Cedar Springs Road and cake and ice cream at Sue Ellen’s.

—  David Taffet

Oak Lawn monument damaged again by car

The Legacy of Love monument was damaged again on April 17 by another car wreck
The Legacy of Love monument was damaged on April 17 by another car wreck

A PT Cruiser jumped the curb on the curve on Oak Lawn Avenue on Saturday, April 17. The estimate of damage to the property is more than $10,000.

According to Oak Lawn Committee President Michael Milliken,the car was traveling south on Oak Lawn Avenue. The Oak Lawn Committee owns and maintains the monument.

The car went airborn, hit the tree in the triangle of land and came to rest along the Frank Caven Memorial Wall. Two plaques on the wall were knocked off and the car destroyed the electrical box that controls the lighting and sprinkler system.

Milliken arrived at the corner of Oak Lawn Avenue and Cedar Springs Road just as the car was being loaded onto a tow truck.

He said that the officer told him that another officer had taken the driver home. We haven’t seen a police report, but that would indicate she was not suspected of drunk driving. Saturday evening was rainy and streets were slick.

Milliken said he is also hoping that she carried insurance. Oak Lawn Committee spends about $3,000 per year to insure the monument and Milliken is hoping they don’t have to make another claim.

Last year when a car damaged the Legacy of Love monument, the driver carried no insurance. Milliken’s afraid that if they have to make a claim again this year, their premiums will skyrocket.

—  David Taffet

Motorist plows through Oak Lawn Triangle, damaging Legacy of Love Monument

    Michael Milliken, right, president of the Oak Lawn Committee, and local LGBT activist Jesse Garcia survey the damage on Friday morning.
Michael Milliken, right, president of the Oak Lawn Committee, and activist Jesse Garcia survey damage to the Legacy of Love Monument on Friday morning.

A motorist plowed through the Oak Lawn Triangle at Cedar Springs Road and Oak Lawn Avenue sometime early Friday, causing extensive damage to the three-year-old Legacy of Love Monument.

Based on the damage, it appeared as though the motorist jumped the curb while traveling southwest on Oak Lawn Avenue. The vehicle then struck the wall in front of Frank H. Caven Memorial Gardens, dislodging a plaque, before upending two of the pillars that surround the main monument.

Pieces of plastic and metal from the vehicle could be seen Friday morning amid the crumbled concrete that was strewn across the Oak Lawn Triangle. Rebar was sticking up from the ground where the pillars stood, and plaques that adorned the tops of the pillars were lying flat on the pavement.

Sr. Cpl. Janice Crowther, a spokeswoman for the Dallas Police Deparment, said the agency’s computer system was down so she was unable to immediately retrieve any information about the accident, assuming it was reported to police. A manager from nearby Walgreens said he reviewed security video from last night and determined that police and a tow truck responded to the accident at about 2:40 a.m.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said Michael Milliken, president of the Oak Lawn Committee, which erected the $250,000 monument using private donations as a tribute to the area’s diversity. “It’s heartbreaking because of all the work and donations that went into building this.”

Milliken said the monument was completed in October 2006. Fortunately last night’s accident didn’t damage the main structure, and Milliken said he was unsure how much repairs would cost. He also said he didn’t believe the damage was intentional or a hate crime.

“I don’t think so, but anything’s possible,” Milliken said. “Nobody in their right mind would have suffered the damage this would have caused to their car.”

Milliken said he was tentatively planning a volunteer day beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday to clean up the damage. He also said people could donate to the nonprofit fund that’s been set up for maintenance of the monument by going to www.oaklawncommittee.org.

More pics after the jump.

—  John Wright