With National Stonewall Democrats ‘struggling,’ Dallas chapter marks its 15th anniversary

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas will celebrate its 15th anniversary tonight, during the group’s regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. at Ojeda’s on Maple Avenue.

“October marks the 15th anniversary when founders Bill Fry, Christy Kinsler, Gary Fitzsimmons & Michael Milliken gathered in a living room and created our organization,” the group wrote in an email Monday. “I don’t know if they realized where we would be today, but I sure am glad they did it! A warm hearted thank you to our founders, and especially to each and every one of you who has made SDD grow and develop into what we are today!”

Featured speakers at tonight’s meeting will be Dallas County Elections Administrator Toni Pippens-Poole, who’ll talk about the new voter ID law, and County Democratic Party Executive Director Steve Tillery, who’ll talk about constitutional amendments on the November ballot. And yes, there will be cake!

Meanwhile, National Stonewall Democrats Michael Mitchell announced his resignation Monday after two years in the position. Mitchell, almost laid off earlier this year due to budget problems, told Metro Weekly the national group is “struggling” to raise money due to the bad economy and the fact that the mainstream Democratic Party has become so pro-LGBT. National Stonewall currently has only six of 15 board positions filled (including Erin Moore of Dallas), but the group’s leaders insist there’s still a place for the organization — largely because of the 70 local chapters like Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. From interim executive director Jerame Davis: “It doesn’t matter how good the DNC is on LGBT issues, if, for instance, the Democratic Party in Mississippi is horrible and they elect a Democrat to Congress that doesn’t care about the LGBT community. The work is never-ending, regardless of how things might look in Washington or however many successes we might have on a national level, there’s still a lot of work to be done in the various states.”

 

—  John Wright

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

Oak Lawn Committee seeking donations to help repair Legacy of Love Monument

Oak Lawn Committee President Michael Milliken, right, and activist Jesse Garcia survey damage to the monument a few hours after the Nov. 13 wreck.
Oak Lawn Committee President Michael Milliken, right, and activist Jesse Garcia survey damage to the monument a few hours after the Nov. 13 wreck.

Donations are being sought to cover the cost of repairing the Legacy of Love Monument, which was heavily damaged last month when a motorist plowed through the structure at Cedar Springs Road and Oak Lawn Avenue.

Representatives from the Oak Lawn Committee, which built and maintains the monument, were hoping Dallas police would identify the motorist, who abandoned his vehicle and fled the scene on foot.

But that has not happened, so the committee is filing a claim with its own insurance company to cover the estimated $5,000 in damage.

“We’re going to just turn it over to our insurance company and let them fight it out and try to go after the driver of the car, who may or may not be the owner of the car,” said Michael Milliken, president of the Oak Lawn Committee.

“Unfortunately when we file a claim with our insurance company, that means we have to cover the $2,500 deductible. So we’ll be looking for donations to help us pay for the $2,500 deductible. We figure it’s going to cost us $5,000 to put it back the way it was.”

Sr. Cpl. Janice Crowther, a spokesman for the Dallas Police Department, said recently that police had contacted the owner of the vehicle that was abandoned at the monument. But Crowther said the owner told police he wasn’t driving the car at the time of the accident. Crowther said police were attempting to locate a friend whom the owner said was driving the car.

To make a tax-deductible contribution to the Oak Lawn Committee’s monument fund through the nonprofit Communities Foundation of Texas,  go here.

—  John Wright

UPDATE: Motorist who damaged Legacy of Love Monument fled scene on foot

Monument3

Turns out I misread slightly a police report over the weekend about the incident early Friday that damaged the Legacy of Love Monument at Oak Lawn Avenue and Cedar Springs Road. Sr. Cpl. Janice Crowther, a spokeswoman for the Dallas Police Department, clarified today that the suspect who ran into the monument fled the scene on foot, not in their vehicle. Crowther said when police responded to a call about the incident, the vehicle was still there, but the suspect was gone. The vehicle, a 1999 Lincoln, was towed to the city pound.

“We’re looking for the owner or the suspect,” Crowther said. “We don’t know if the owner is the suspect.”

Crowther said anyone who witnessed the incident or has additional information should call DPD’s vehicle crimes division at 214-670-5816.

Michael Milliken, president of the Oak Lawn Committee, said today that 10 volunteers from the committee and from Stonewall Democrats of Dallas helped clean up debris from around the monument on Saturday morning. Milliken said he’s still awaiting an estimate on how much the repairs will cost. He said the Oak Lawn Committee has insurance on the monument, but would prefer to have the person who damaged the monument pay for the repairs so the committee’s premiums don’t go up. To contribute to a fund set up to pay for maintenance of the monument, go here.

—  John Wright

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