Forum tackling black LGBT violence after NE Dallas hate crime gets positive response

Pastor Alex Byrd, left, Sr. Cpl. Laura Martin, center, and Lt. Don Ham with Dallas police respond to questions at a LGBT safety forum at the United Black Ellument March 22. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

Members of the black LGBT community voiced concerns about violence and police support at Thursday night’s forum.

The community hall-style meeting was at the United Black Ellument building in Deep Ellum in response to the March 13 northeast Dallas hate crime on Audelia Road and Forest Lane.

While police stressed the importance of reporting crimes and remaining active in neighborhood crime watches to specifically address their concerns within their community, those who attended mentioned the need for police to reach out to organizations.

U-BE program director Ruben Ramirez said the attendance of about 30 people was a positive showing despite the forum’s cancellation last minute on Monday due a power outage from weather conditions.

Ramirez said the most important thing that came from the community was the visibility of the African-American LGBT community and their communication and expectations with Dallas police, calling it “a great start to a community discussion that was long overdue.”

Senior Pastor at the Living Faith Covenant Church Alex Byrd led the forum’s discussion, which he said was “part of a greater conversation about violence against people just for being who they are.”

“These conversations are important, I think, for us to talk about it in our context and then to broaden that scope into the context of what’s happening in our various communities,” Byrd said.

Action steps were discussed at the end of the meeting to bring more awareness to the community about active black LGBT organizations by printing cards and distributing them, as well as becoming active in police diversity training.

“I think the conversation was very fluid and was definitely relevant to what’s going on in the community,” Ramirez said. “The community spoke and I believe the Dallas Police Department was able to address many of the issues.”

Sr. Cpl. Laura Martin, LGBT liaison officer for the DPD, said she thought the meeting went well because she brought police officers with her, so the group could see first-hand that more police are comfortable discussing LGBT issues and concerns.

After the meeting, she said many participants offered to volunteer to help with police training and expressed interest working with the LGBT task force. However, she said there still needs to be representation on crime watches so concerns are addressed directly to LGBT members’ communities.

Ramirez said other forums are likely to occur in the next couple of months after the action steps are worked out and greater involvement from the community is garnered.

—  Dallasvoice

Forum tonight in response to hate crime

The community is rallying together to prevent further violence after last week’s hate crime attack of two gay men in Northeast Dallas.

United Black Ellument, DFW Pride Movement and Resource Center Dallas will host a meeting at 7 p.m. today that will focus on “a community response to violence in the African-American community and the protection needed to prevent attacks,” DFW Pride Movement Executive Director Derrick Spillman wrote in an email.

Those in attendance will hear from speakers from the Urban League of Greater Dallas Young Professionals, Living Faith Covenant Church, NAACP and the Dallas Police Department.

With the hate crime March 13 involving two black gay men who were beaten with baseball bats until they lost consciousness, Spillman wrote in the email that there is an urgency of various community leaders to address the protection of youth.

“With the recent acts of violence happening to young Black men in Dallas and across the country, no time is more important to hear the voices of a population at an increased risk, young Black gay/bi/SGL men,” Spillman wrote.

The meeting will be at the United Black Ellument Office, 3116 Commerce St., Suite C, Dallas.

Sr. Cpl. Laura Martin, LGBT liaison officer for the Dallas Police Department, said police are still looking for possible suspects, described as five black men in their early 20s believed to be driving a dark four-door car with 24-inch rims the night of the assault.

Anyone with information about the incident should contact Dallas police Detective Chris Anderson at 214-671-3616.

 

—  Dallasvoice

Friendship-West rally, scheduled for tonight, moved

Sam Castleberry sent this update on the Friendship-West protest Rally for LOVE:

During the day on April 13, 2010 the Urgent Utterances Conference took certain steps to address the homophobic remarks that were made from the pulpit at Friendship-West Baptist Church, and to begin dialogue regarding LGBTQ issues in the church.

In response to this positive step, the planned protest rally scheduled for today has been changed:

Instead of protesting outside of Friendship-West Baptist Church, there will be a prayer vigil held at Living Faith Covenant Church at 2527 West Colorado Blvd, Dallas, Texas 75211, where the Apostle Alex Byrd, pastor of the church, has offered to host the event.

—  David Taffet

'Silence Equals Consent' speaking tour stops in Dallas this week

Examiner.com reports that author Tuan N’gai brings his Silence Equals Consent tour to Dallas this week. The author is using the tour to “challenge African-American gay people to collectively speak out against homophobia especially within black religious institutions.”

His speaking tour makes two stops in town. According to the post, N’gai speaks Friday at the Resource Center at 6 p.m. and then Sunday at 2 p.m. at Living Faith Covenant Church.

—  Rich Lopez