Palant to lead musical concert of healing

Jonathan Palant

Jonathan Palant

A free concert of healing takes place at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 14 at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora St.

Singers from around the area will participate in a massed choir performance led by Credo, a community choir conducted by former Turtle Creek Chorale artistic director Jonathan Palant.

“We have invited members of every church, synagogue and community choir in the Metroplex to join us not only in singing out against violence, but also to sing out for peace, love, and unity,” Palant said. “The Dallas Police Choir has also been extended an invitation to perform.”

Singers from the Dallas Symphony Chorus, Turtle Creek Chorale, Dallas Independent School District, Cathedral of Hope, Temple Shalom and from many churches plan to perform, Palant said. The concert will include appearances by local opera star Ava Pine and area favorites Denise Lee, Paul Mason and Liz Mikel.

Several speakers, both religious and lay leaders, will offer thoughts and words of encouragement.

Singers who would like to participate should enter the Meyerson through the glass doors on Flora Street by 5:30 p.m. and follow signage toward the stage. There is no pre-registration. Sheet music will be distributed at the start of rehearsal. There is no charge to sing and all singers are welcome. Attire for performers is business casual.

No tickets or reservations. Tickets are open seating.

—  David Taffet

UPDATE: Fourth officer has died

Various news sources are now reporting that a fourth law enforcement officer has died — three Dallas Police Department officers, one DART officer. Eleven officers total were shot, and one civilian.

—  Tammye Nash

Police seeking suspects in attempted rape

Police bulletinDallas police are asking for the public’s help in identifying two men who broke into a woman’s Oak Lawn area apartment early this morning (Friday, April 8), and attempted to rape her.

Police say the woman was asleep in the bedroom of her apartment in the 2900 block of King’s Road, just off Cedar Springs Road, when she woke up just after 5:30 a.m. to find two men in her bedroom.

One of the men was kneeling on top of the woman and holding her legs down while the second was standing by her bed. When the woman began to scream, the two suspects escaped through an open bedroom window.

Both suspects were described as Latin males in their late 20s to early 30s. Both were about 5 feet, 3 inches tall and both weighed between 140 and 160 pounds. One suspect was wearing a black sweatshirt and the other was wearing a black jacket with blue horizontal stripes across the chest and sleeves.

Police are asking that anyone with any information regarding this case call Det. H. Barton with the Dallas Police Sex Assault Unit at 214-671-3685.

—  Tammye Nash

Study: LGBT community faces discrimination by law enforcement

A new study from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law reports the LGBT community faces ongoing and pervasive discrimination and harassment by law enforcement.badge

LGBT people of color and transgender individuals are adversely impacted by discrimination and harassment.

Key findings from the Williams Institute report based on several national surveys include:

  • More than one-fifth (21 percent) of LGBT people who interacted with police reported encountering hostile attitudes from officers and 14 percent reported verbal assault by the police.
  • Nearly half (48 percent) of the LGBT violence survivors who interacted with police reported that they had experienced police misconduct, including unjustified arrest, use of excessive force and entrapment.
  • Two-thirds of Latina transgender women in Los Angeles County who interacted with police reported that they were verbally harassed by law enforcement, 21 percent report that they were physically assaulted by law enforcement, and 24 percent report that they were sexually assaulted by law enforcement.
  • Nearly half (46 percent) of transgender respondents in a national survey reported being uncomfortable seeking police assistance, 22 percent reported that they had been harassed by law enforcement because of bias, and 6 percent reported having been physically assaulted by an officer.

Williams Institute researchers also documented widespread and frequent incidents of misconduct toward LGBT people by law enforcement in all regions of the country, including many instances of severe physical and sexual abuse.

Such discrimination, harassment and abuse undermine effective policing by weakening community trust, reducing reporting of crimes by victims in the LGBT community and challenging law enforcement’s ability to effectively meet the needs of members of their communities.

The study comes as President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing issued recommendations today (Tuesday, March 3), to build stronger and more collaborative relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Among the recommendations, numerous local law enforcement agencies should:

  • adopt and enforce policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression
  • implement training for officers to improve interactions with the LGBT population
  • improve data collection on misconduct by officers against LGBT people.

Among the Task Force members was former Dr. Cecil Alexander, the former federal security director for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at DFW Airport.

—  James Russell

UPDATE: Justice Department releases new policy to curb police profiling

eric holder.small


The Justice Department released today, Dec. 8, new policies aimed to curb profiling by law enforcement based on sexual orientation, gender identity, religion and national origin, expanding on a 2003 decision to bar profiling based on race and ethnicity. You can read the new policy here.

“As Attorney General, I have repeatedly made clear that profiling by law enforcement is not only wrong, it is profoundly misguided and ineffective – because it wastes precious resources and undermines the public trust,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.

Holder said the policy is necessary especially in light of numerous recent incidents involving police brutality. “It brings enhanced training, oversight, and accountability to federal law enforcement across the country, so that isolated acts of discrimination do not tarnish the exemplary work that’s performed by the overwhelming majority of America’s hard-working law enforcement officials each and every day.”

The new guidance also applies to state and local law enforcement law officers who participate in federal law enforcement task forces.

The National Center for Transgender Equality in a statement welcomed the extension but criticized its numerous loopholes. “Discrimination is not something we need to keep us safe— it’s bad police work, it’s unconstitutional, and it makes us all less safe,” said NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling.

According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 46% of transgender people say they would feel somewhat or very uncomfortable seeking police assistance, while only 35% said they would feel comfortable doing so. 22% of all trans people and 38% of Black trans people report experiencing transphobic police harassment—while 6% of all trans people, 9% of trans Latinos, and 15% of Black trans people report having experienced a transphobic assault by police.

Holder announced his resignation last month. President Obama nominated federal prosecutor Loretta Lynch of Brooklyn to replace him.

Original story:

Attorney General Eric Holder is set to announce today, Dec. 8, a new policy barring law enforcement officials from profiling based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, national origin and religion, The Washington Blade reports.

The policy expands a 2003 decision to bar profiling based on race and ethnicity.

The policy has been in five years in the making.

“With this new guidance, we take a major and important step forward to ensure effective policing by federal law enforcement officials and state and local law enforcement participating in federal task forces throughout the nation,” Holder said in a statement.

—  James Russell

BREAKING: Fort Worth Police Chief Jeff Halstead to resign

Halstead.JeffFort Worth Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead is expected to step down tomorrow, Tuesday, Nov. 11, after eight years heading the department, according to NBC 5.

His resignation is not effective immediately. He has not yet named an interim replacement.

Check back here with more information.

—  James Russell

UPDATE: Robbery and officer involved shooting at 4807 Maple

By6IMYzCIAECG7jThe DPD Beat Blog provided an update to the story I posted yesterday on the robbery and officer-involved shooting at 4807 Maple.

The suspect has been identified as Jimmy Cupples Jr. The officer involved is Ryan Walls, currently assigned to the Northwest Patrol Division and a Dallas police officer for two years, six months. Cupples admitted during this interview he robbed the business. He also stated that he was trying to force the officers to shoot him so that he could commit suicide by cop. He was charged with robbery.

According to the Dallas County Central Appraisal District, the property is a commercially-zoned property owned by the Maple C Partners Group. The center has three occupants as seen here:Screen shot 2014-10-03 at 11.52.56 AM

—  James Russell

Remembering John Lawrence, the man behind Lawrence v. Texas


John Lawrence and Tyrone Gardner

Metro Weekly reports that one-time Houstonian John Geddes Lawrence, the “Lawrence” in Lawrence v. Texas, passed away last month at the age of 68:

“In the facts underlying the Supreme Court case, Lawrence v. Texas, Lawrence and Tyron Garner were arrested under Texas’s Homosexual Conduct Law after police entered Lawrence’s home on Sept. 17, 1998, and saw them “engaging in a sexual act.” The couple challenged the law as unconstitutional”

I was 22 and living in Dallas in 2003 when the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Lawrence declaring Texas’ law against “homosexual conduct” unconstitutional. A group of over 100 people gathered in the parking lot of the Resource Center of Dallas as Dennis Coleman, then with Lambda Legal, read excerpts of the decision. I remember the exuberant electricity in the air, the crowd bubbling with joy and the relief of centuries of official oppression finally coming to an end. Similar get-togethers took place across the state, as an entire community breathing a collective sigh of relief.

That relief has turn to frustration over the years. Although the Supreme Court decision rendered Penal Code Section 21.06 unconstitutional, the law remains on the books, and efforts to remove it have met with significant resistance. During a hearing this spring on finally removing the unconstitutional law, Rep. Jose Aliseda, R – Pleasanton, lamented that repeal of the law would entail removing portions of the Health Code requiring that HIV education efforts include information that “homosexual conduct is not an acceptable lifestyle and is a criminal offense under Section 21.06, Penal Code.”

Before Lawrence several attempts were made to remove the law against “homosexual conduct.” The Texas legislature voted to remove it from the penal code as part of a complete rewrite of the code in 1971, but the measure was vetoed by Gov. Preston Smith. In 1973 the Legislature again undertook a rewrite of the code, keeping “homosexual conduct” a crime but making it a class C misdemeanor. In 1981 a U.S. District Court ruled in Baker v. Wade that the law was unconstitutional, but as that case was winding its way through an unusually torturous appeals process the Supreme Court ruled in Bowers v. Hardwick that a similar law in Georgia was constitutional, making the questions in Baker moot. Similarly, in the 90’s there was hope that Texas v. Morales might finally prevail in defeating the “homosexual conduct” prohibition, but the Texas Supreme Court decided that since, in their opinion, the law was rarely enforced, there was no reason for them to rule in the matter.

Lawrence’s legacy lives on in a scholarship named after him and Garner administered by the Houston GLBT Community Center. The scholarship “recognizes outstanding leadership shown by gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Texas high school seniors and college
students by contributing to the cost of their continuing education. Selection is based upon character and need.” Tim Brookover, president of the community center, expressed sorrow at Lawrence’s passing “John was a hero, the community owes a great debt of gratitude to John and Tyrone for taking the case all the way to the Supreme Court,” said Brookover. “They could have easily allowed it to slip away, but they decided to stay and fight and that makes them heroes and role models.”

The application deadline for the John Lawrence/Tyrone Gardner Scholarship is March 2, 2012.

—  admin

Update on Ray Hill’s arrest

Ray Hill

Ray Hill

As previously reported by Houstini, longtime Houston LGBT activist Ray Hill was arrested last night after a confrontation with police outside Treasures, a gentlemen’s club on Westhiemer Rd. Hill has been released from jail and posted the following message to his Facebook page:

I was arrested trying to stop power arrogant cops from bullying frightened and vulnerable people (this is not my first rodeo) There will be a trial; they will lie under oath; I will show the video of the whole incident; I will win and then sue and win that case. The system works if you have the tools to use it properly. My lawyer and I will make money off the city in this process. The cycle will end when the City of Houston stops trying to treat adults like they were children…

—  admin

Banks Appointed to Citizen Police Oversight Board

Kris Banks

Kris Banks

On Wednesday the Houston City Council confirmed Mayor Annise Parker’s appointment of Former Houston GLBT Political Caucus President Kris Banks to the Independent Police Oversight Board.  The Oversight Board provides a way for Houstonians to have input into allegations against police officers involving use of excessive force, discharge of firearms, serious bodily injury or death or mistreatment of citizens.  The Board also makes recommendations on recruitment, training and evaluation of police officers; and considers community concerns regarding the Department.  Houstini talked with Banks about his new role:

[Houstini] Why have you agreed to serve on the Oversight Board?

[Banks] I believe the Oversight Board performs an important and vital function that benefits all involved. Police officers are granted extraordinary powers over their fellow Houstonians. They can, under legally sufficient circumstances, detain people against their will, walk into other people’s homes without their permission, and even use physical force to make people comply. We grant police officers these powers because they are necessary for the officers to do their jobs. However, with these great powers come great responsibility, and the Oversight Board exists as a check on those powers, thereby protecting the public against the very rare officer who uses her or his powers irresponsibility or excessively. It also benefits the police department. With the assurance that the Board is providing oversight, members of the public can be more confident of the police department, and form a better working relationship with officers.

[Houstini] What do LGBT Houstonians who have concerns about police behavior need to know about the mission of the Oversight Board?

[Banks] Historically, the LGBT community has had concerns about very broad and obvious police harassment, like bar raids. Incidents like these still occur (see Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth), but they tend to not be the focus of issues that exists between the LGBT community and the police department. Concerns between the community and the police department now tend to be over specific incidents that sometimes come to light and sometimes do not. That being said, the IPOB will review internal police investigations for complaints of excessive force, any discharge of a firearm, any time there is a death or serious injury, or any matter the police chief refers to us. We make recommendations, and the chief has ultimate discretion. What I want to highlight here is that a complaint has to be made for the IPOB to have any role. Complaints have to be sworn, either by the complainant, or, if the complaint is anonymous, by the person taking the complaint.

LGBT Houstonians should also know that I take my role as a community representative very seriously. I will not only take my perspective as an LGBT Houstonian to the police department, I will also take the knowledge I gain back of police procedure back to the community. For instance, I mentioned anonymous complaints above. In the training I have received so far, I learned that organizations can be deputized to take anonymous complaints (LULAC and the NAACP are both deputized). Anonymous complaints are, unfortunately, a big concern for our community. Whether because our congress has failed to pass job protections, family concerns, or any other personal reason, there are still many, many people in the closet. But being in the closet does not mean that a person is not protected. I will learn more about the deputizing community groups and take that back to organizations in our community like the Caucus, Community Center and Transgender Foundation so they can begin that process (as a caveat, I do not have a full list of deputized organizations and any of these organizations may already be deputized).

—  admin