BREAKING NEWS: 2 arrested possibly in connection with Oak Lawn robberies

Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 2.49.29 PMDallas Police have just announced that two suspects were arrested about 2:30 this morning who might be linked to a series of attacks that have happened in Oak Lawn since the first of September.

Deon Fridia and Donedwin Maxie, both 18, have been charged with one count of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon.

In a 2 p.m. press conference at Dallas Police headquarters today (Sunday, Dec. 6), Maj. Max Geron said patrol officers spotted two teenagers in the 4000 block of Cedar Springs Road — that’s at the intersection of Cedar Springs and Throckmorton — driving a car that had been stolen earlier from a woman in a parking garage at Parkland Hospital. The woman had been robbed and pistol-whipped. Geron, suggesting that the teens appeared to be looking for another victim as they cruised Cedar Springs, said the patrol officers pulled the suspects over at convenience store in the 3700 block of Maple Avenue, and arrested them there.

Geron said police will be investigating further to determine whether Fridia and Maxie are connected with the recent spate of robberies/attacks in which several gay men have been injured.

 

—  Tammye Nash

BREAKING: Oak Lawn’s Kin Kin closing, will soon reopen as Bite

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IMG_3187Kin Kin Urban Thai, the Southeast Asian-themed restaurant from Fort Worth’s “Chef Eddy” that opened along Oak Lawn in the old Cyclone Anaya’s space this past summer, has closed, but neither it, nor the space, are gone for good.

The Kin Kin concept will relocate to Preston Forest, as well as Richardson’s CityLine area. And the Oak Lawn space will reopen as Bite on Dec. 9.

“Bite [will allow] me to cook a wide variety of cuisine, not just Thai food,” Chef Eddy says. “We feel that Bite better serves our clientele locally.”

I was about to publish a full review of Kin Kin, which I enjoyed. Hopefully some of the recipes — as well as the excellent drink menu — will stay put at Bite.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Friday night in the gayborhood: The mayor, police make their presence known

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Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, right, speaks with staff and patrons inside Alexandre’s on Friday night.

After an assault on Thursday night, Nov. 19, made Geoffrey Hubbard the 12th person attacked in Oak Lawn since Sept. 1, Dallas police announced a plan for increasing police presence in the gayborhood to try to stem the rash of violence.

As these photos from Dallas Voice Associate Advertising Manager Chad Mantooth show, Dallas police were a very visible presence in the area on Friday night, Nov. 20, one night after the attack on Hubbard. And Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings joined the effort, walking the Cedar Springs Strip and visiting with patrons in various nightclubs.

“Anytime, any one neighborhood has an intensity of crimes like this, you’ve got to take it very seriously,” Rawlings said.

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—  Tammye Nash

Chamber, ilume developer pledge reward funds for info on Oak Lawn attacks

crosland veddaOfficials with the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce announced today (Friday, Nov. 20) that the chamber has pledged $2,500 to be added to the reward offered by Crime Stoppers for information leading to the arrest and conviction of suspects responsible for recent robberies and assaults in the Oak Lawn gayborhood. Luke Crosland, owner of The Crosland Group that developed the two ilume complexes on Cedar Springs Road, has promised to match that with another $2,500.

Chamber President and CEO Tony Vedda said he is optimistic that the additional reward money will motivate anyone with information on the 12 crimes that have occurred here in the last three months to come forward.

“It is our shared hope that we can come together as a community with our voices and our resources to catch whomever is perpetrating these crimes,” Vedda said in a statement released this afternoon. “Our businesses, patrons and residents have a vested interest in preventing further incidents.”

Crosland said he, too, is committed to finding justice for the victims, and that he wants the community to remain vigilant.

“We have continued to invest in private armed security for our properties, as safety is a top priority for our members, tenants and customers,” Crosland said. “This neighborhood is a wonderful place to live, shop and celebrate, and we are dedicated to finding the culprits.”

The money from the chamber and Crosland will be added to $10,000 in reward money already pledged to Crime Stoppers with help from Resource Center and Dallas City Councilman Adam Medrano.

—  Tammye Nash

Rally planned Sunday outside DPD headquarters to protest lack of response to Oak Lawn attacks

Light UpDaniel Scott Cates, one of the main organizers for the Nov. 1 Light Up Oak Lawn march down Cedar Springs, announced today (Friday, Nov. 20), that activists are planning another rally to call for an increased police presence in Oak Lawn following a wave of robberies and assaults over the last three months.

The rally will be held at the DPD headquarters, 1400 S. Lamar St., at 7 p.m. Cates said those attending should bring “signs, flags, drums, people, voices.”

“Since Sept. 20, there have now been 15 reported violent assaults on gay men in Oak Lawn,” Cates said in a Facebook post announcing the rally. “Survivors have been beaten with bats, stabbed with box cutters, pistol whipped and pummeled with fists. In several of these attacks, homophobic language has been used by the assailants.”

Despite Dallas Police promises to increase patrols and visibility in the gayborhood, Cates said “such an increase has been spotty and largely invisible.” He also noted that no arrests have been made in connection with the assaults.

In contrast, Cates noted that within two weeks of a weekend-long spate of armed robberies on the Katy Trail, there were “cruisers driving the path, mounted patrols, bicycle units and arrests. Uptown gets visible, swift action for a handful of crimes while the LGBTQIA community lives for months in terror behind 15 violent attacks!?”

Dallas Police released a statement earlier today detailing the department’s plan to increase patrols and police presence, including the formation of a task force. Read about it here.

—  Tammye Nash

‘Hate’ crimes or not, recent attacks are bias crimes

Tammye NashOf the 12 — or more — attacks on gay men in Oak Lawn since the first of September, only one has been classified as a possible hate crime. That’s because that is the only one of the robberies/assaults in which the victim was able to say definitively that the men who robbed and beat him used anti-gay slurs while they were robbing and beating him.

These other attacks, according to the way the hate crimes law works, can’t be investigated or classified as hate crimes — at least not at this time — because no one can say there was anti-gay language used. And since the victims were robbed — or at least, their assailants tried to rob them — police can’t say that anti-gay sentiment played any role in the motives for the crimes.

But guess what: That doesn’t mean it doesn’t either. Perhaps the “primary” motive was just robbery. But I would be willing to bet that some form of homophobia or anti-gay hatred played a part in whom these assailants chose to rob.

And no, I am not just saying that to try to sensationalize the sensation and “create headlines” for Dallas Voice. I am saying that based on what two men who have been convicted and executed for crimes against gay men told me.

Who remembers Nicholas West? You know, the young gay man who, in November 1993, was kidnapped from Tyler’s Bergfeld Park and taken to a gravel pit near Noonday, where he was beaten and then shot to death. A man named Donald Aldrich was arrested less than a month later, and in his confession, he bragged about killing West because West was gay and Aldrich hated gay people.

Two years later, in July 1995, I drove down to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Ellis Unit, just outside of Huntsville, to talk to Aldrich face to face. He had agreed to the interview because he wanted to tell me — so I could tell the LGBT community — that he didn’t really hate gay people and that he was, in fact, at least bisexual himself.

He told me he only told Smith County officers that he hated gays, because he figured they hated gays, too, and might give him a break. Then a few weeks after the interview, Aldrich mailed me a piece of cross-stitch he had done. It was a pink triangle on a background with all the rainbow colors. I kept it thumb-tacked to the wall of my cubicle at the Dallas Voice offices on Carlisle for years.

But he told me something else that was — and is — very, very important: It didn’t matter whether he or Henry Dunne or David McMillan — his two co-defendants — actually hated gay men. They targeted gay men because they believed gay men were easy targets.

This is from the article I wrote for Dallas Voice following my interview with Aldrich:

“Aldrich does not deny that he was involved in the events that led up to West’s murder. And he does not deny that he was involved in a string of robberies and carjackings in the month or so before West’s death.

“What he does deny is that the crimes were committed, at least on his part, out of any sort of hatred for gays. The gay men were targeted, he said, because “Homosexuals make themselves easy targets. They don’t report these crimes, because they don’t want anyone to know they’re gay.

“Think about it,” he added. “You want to make some easy money, and you’re going to do it illegally. Are you going to rob a gas station where the whole thing will end up on videotape and you might get $40 or $50? Or are you going to go across the street to the park where the homosexuals hang out and rob them, where you know there won’t be any videotape and [the victim] won’t report it?

“Hey, you go where the money is, and that’s one reason why I got in this in the first place, to make some fast, easy cash.”

Aldrich, who was executed by lethal injection on Oct. 12, 2004, for his role in West’s murder, made it clear: Maybe he and his cohorts in crime didn’t actually hate gay people, but they definitely and deliberately targeted gay people.

(Dunne was executed in 2003, and McMillan was sentenced to life in prison, by the way.)

Want another example? I have one.

On May 18, 1997, Aaron Foust and Jamal Brown murdered David Ward, a gay man who worked as an administrator at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. Foust was convicted and sentenced to death. But before he was shipped off to the Ellis Unit in Huntsville to await his execution — which happened on April 28, 1999, after Foust refused any appeals — Foust agreed to sit down and talk to me.

I met him in a small room at the Tarrant County Jail, and we sat across a folding table from each other as we talked, with a guard sitting just outside the door. Foust told me that day that he and Brown went after Ward because Ward’s ex-boyfriend owed Foust money for drugs. But Foust killed Ward because he was gay.

“If he had been a straight, married man, with a wife and kids, I’d have let him live,” Foust said of Ward. “Or if he’d been single [and heterosexual], I probably wouldn’t have killed him. I would have kicked his ass, but I probably wouldn’t have killed him.”

When it comes right down to it, it doesn’t matter if these criminals are coming to Oak Lawn to beat and rob people because they hate gays or because they just think gays are easy targets; it doesn’t matter if the robberies are the main point of the attacks and the beatings are just after-thoughts because the victims are gay.

What matters is that gay people in the gayborhood are being targeted for whatever reason. And as far as I am concerned, that makes these crimes of bias based on the sexual orientation of the victims.

—  Tammye Nash

DPD details stepped-up efforts in Oak Lawn

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DPD’s LGBT Liaison Officer Laura Martin

Dallas Police Department’s LGBT Liaison Officer Laura Martin has just provided Dallas Voice with a statement detailing the department’s plan for increasing patrols to improve safety in Oak Lawn, following a rash of violent robberies in the gayborhood over the last three months. The most recent attack, which happened shortly before midnight last night (Thursday, Nov.19), sent Geoffrey Hubbard to the hospital with head injuries.

The attack on Hubbard came just hours after the most recent meeting between DPD officials and area residents and business owners, and the community reacted this morning (Friday, Nov. 20), with anger and frustration. Some people even announced their intentions to arm themselves with guns and patrol the area themselves this weekend — an idea Martin warned against.

The statement from Dallas Police reads:

“With a series of violent crimes occurring in the Oak Lawn area, the Dallas Police Department has stepped up its efforts to prevent any more individuals from being victimized. In addition to increased community collaboration with citizens, crime watch groups and businesses, the department has increased police presence in the area. The department is utilizing the intelligence unit and increased staffing in the area, which includes four bicycle officers, 15 police officers (some working in an undercover capacity) and two sergeants who report to the major at the Northwest Division.

“While working to prevent any further violent offenses in the Oak Lawn area, the officers have made seven arrests, but none are related to the violent offenses that have occurred. The department has put together a task force that includes investigators from assault and robbery units along with detectives from intelligence, patrol officers and undercover officers that will be assigned to the Oak Lawn area.”

—  Tammye Nash

UPDATE: Tap House employee attacked; community members vow to fight back

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Geoffrey Hubbard

We are getting more information as the morning wears on about the attack last night of Geoffrey Hubbard at the intersection of Rawlins and Knight streets in Oak Lawn. We are also hearing from several people that they intend to take to the streets of the gayborhood this weekend, armed with guns, to protect themselves and others, and at least one man is trying to organize a kind of community watch to patrol the streets in shifts.

This is at least the 12th reported attack on a gay man in Oak Lawn since Sept. 20. At least three other attacks have taken place that Dallas Voice has heard of that may not have been reported to police.

Hubbard, in a post to his Facebook page this morning, said that doctors at Baylor stitched a laceration on the left side of his head, just over his ear, and that a CAT scan “found a temporal fracture in my skull. Got put on morphine and sent to the ICU for observation.”

Information released by the DPD’s Public Information Office this morning said that an off-duty police officer was driving through the neighborhood at around 11:13 p.m. Thursday night, Nov. 19, “when he came across the victim who was hiding underneath a vehicle.” The statement indicates that Hubbard told the officer “he was walking on the sidewalk towards where the suspect was standing and tried to go around him [and] that is when the suspect struck the victim in the head with an unknown object. The victim ran away from the suspect and hid under a vehicle.”

The statement also said that detectives were “able to confirm this morning that robbery was the motive of this offense” because Hubbard told investigators that the suspect when through his pockets after knocking him to the ground and “appeared to be looking for his wallet.”

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Geoffrey Hubbard

Police have asked that anyone with information call 214-671-3584.

But Hubbard’s best friend, Caleb Barton, said that Hubbard was attacked by two African-American men, about 5-feet, 9-inches to 5-feet, 11-inches, wearing dark pants, t-shirts and caps/beanies. Barton said Hubbard told him that he saw one of the suspects ahead of him and that a second attacked him from the side.

This description of the attack on Hubbard matches the description of the Nov. 1 attack on Tito Gonzalez. Gonzalez was walking home from his job at Quesa when he noticed a man following him. He tried to cross the street, but someone approached from that side. The two men trapped him and brutally attacked.

The attack on Hubbard, coming less than 24 hours after the second community meeting this week with Dallas Police Department officials over the increased violence, has infuriated many residents of and frequent visitors to Oak Lawn. More than one person has contacted Dallas Voice reporter David Taffet this morning, telling him they are licensed to carry concealed handguns, and plan to be on the streets of Oak Lawn with those guns this weekend.

Justin Penney, who works at Thairrific restaurant, posted on Facebook asking for people to join him in staking out “certain areas around Cedar Springs” this weekend. “Hours of watch will be 10 p.m.-12 [a.m.] to start. The more people we have the more area we can cover. If DPD won’t keep us safe it’s up to us.”

Officer Laura Martin, the DPD’s liaison to the LGBT community, this morning warned against private citizens arming themselves to patrol the streets. “It’s a bad idea,” she said.

—  Tammye Nash

UPDATE: Tap House employee attacked

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Geoffrey Hubbard

Another person has been injured in an attack in the gayborhood, according to posts on Facebook overnight.

Geoffrey Hubbard, a server at Cedar Springs Tap House, is in Baylor Hospital in Dallas after being beaten during an attempted robbery at the intersection of Knight and Rawlins streets.

“Just a casual stroll a few blocks over to a friend’s house and I get smacked in the head by some guy attempting to mug me,” Hubbard said on Facebook, posting a photo of himself with a bloody face and bandages wrapped around his head.

Hubbard said he was able to crawl under a nearby car to prevent his assailants from taking his money.

This attack mimics one that occurred on Nov. 1. Tito Gonzalez was walking home from his job at Quesa when he noticed a man following him. He tried to cross the street, but someone approached from that side. The two men trapped him and brutally attacked.

In this attack, one man approached from in front of him while another attacked him on the head from behind.

This is at least the 12th reported attack on a gay man in Oak Lawn since Sept. 20. At least three other attacks have taken place that Dallas Voice has heard of that may not have been reported to police.

—  Tammye Nash

No respect

Chad-MantoothLate-night brawl in the neighborhood raises questions, concerns

Chad Mantooth  |  Special Contributor

Respect is earned, not given. This is a thought I had over the weekend after a night out on the town.

I go down to the Cedar Springs area often, both for work and for fun. Because of where I work (the Dallas Voice), I think I’m knowledgeable what goes on in our community, and I consider myself pretty well informed. And the 11 attacks that have happened over the last two months have me concerned, just like everyone else. I want our neighborhood to be a safe place for everyone to come and play.

This past Saturday (Nov7), I went out with friends for a night of fun and laughs — and hopefully to find the love of my life. We all had a good time, making our way up and down Cedar Springs, checking out the various bars along the length of The Strip. The bars were full, and I had no sense of foreboding, no idea that things might go wrong.

But at the end of the night, go wrong they did. After a fun-filled night of drinking and dancing, my night turned to shit.

My friends and I decided to wind up our evening by getting some pizza at Italia Express, right there at the heart of the Crossroads.

While sitting on the patio, we witnessed a group of about 10 people got into a shouting match in front of Havana next door. The group moved to the space in front of Italia Express as the dispute continued and the argument got louder and louder — until someone threw the first punch.

I looked around, searching for any security or police on the street. In the past, I’ve seen a private security guard or two on the street (especially after 2 a.m.), or the occasional Dallas Police Department cruiser driving by.

But I didn’t see anyone of authority this time.

The argument escalated, people began punching each other left and right, with no regard to traffic or any innocent passersby that got in their way. It quickly turned into a mob scene, the fight moving from in front of Italia Express to the middle of the intersection at Cedar Springs and Throckmorton, blocking traffic on all sides before migrating over in front of Hunky’s.

I pulled out my phone and called 911.  The operator told me, “We’ve got officers on the way.”

The fight continued … and continued … and continued.

More people pulled out their phones, mostly to video the ever-growing fight. I was dumbfounded; the fight was getting bigger and bigger, but there were no police officers in sight. I heard no sirens, saw no flashing red-and-blue lights.

Considering all the attacks that have happened recently in the gayborhood, I really expected that there would be officers patrolling nearby. I was shocked to realize there wasn’t a police presence already in the area.

Why weren’t there officers nearby? We’ve been told by DPD that there would be increased patrols, more officers on hand. Were we lied to?

I called 911 a second time and the dispatcher told me there was already an officer “on scene.”  I sure didn’t see any officers there. I didn’t see anyone of authority. And the fight continued: More punches were thrown; more hair was pulled.

The while situation had reached the level of being ridiculous and sad. Why are we in the community fighting with each other this way? Don’t we already have enough problems with threats from outside our community?

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, one DPD car came rolling down Cedar Springs. The officer drove past the fight on the corner of Throckmorton and Cedar Springs and parked behind in the lot behind the Subway. That gave the plenty of time for the drunken brawlers to scatter like roaches in the night.

To my knowledge, nobody was arrested and nobody went to jail.

I left the strip that night filled with disgust. I was disgusted with those involved in the street brawl. I was disgusted by the lack of any police presence on The Strip. I was just disgusted in general. And I was angry.

I respect law enforcement; I know the police have a hard job to do every day of the week. But still I am left feeling that we — the LGBT community — aren’t respected by those that have taken that oath to “protect and serve”?

I don’t think I anyone should ever be punched, especially someone of my own community. We need to come together and stand shoulder-to-shoulder in times like this, not toe-to-toe! If we can’t respect each other, how in the hell can we expect respect from those outside our community?

Now is the time that we must lift each other up and not punch each other down. And if this infighting and disrespectful behavior continues, my fear is the whole neighborhood will go down swinging.

Chad Mantooth is associate advertising director for Dallas Voice. He lives in the Oak Lawn area.

—  Tammye Nash