Tarrant Pride parade a rousing success, organizers say

Spectators largely ignore anti-gay protestors; police arrest, ticket Kingdom Baptist members for disorderly conduct

FW-parade

ON MAIN STREET | The float carrying members of the Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association makes its way down Main Street in downtown Fort Worth. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com
FORT WORTH — Organizers of the 30th annual Tarrant County Gay Pride celebration said this week that the events were a rousing success, despite the presence of a relatively small but loud contingent anti-gay protestors at the Oct. 1 Pride parade.

This year the parade was moved from its traditional three block route down South Jennings Street to a seven block stretch of Main Street in downtown Fort Worth. And Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association President Daune Littlefield said she was pleased by the number of spectators who turned out.

“I saw people lining both sides of the street for all seven blocks of the parade route,” Littlefield said. “I know there were definitely more people there than in previous years. I’d say we had maybe three times as many people at the parade as last year. We will definitely be bringing the parade back downtown again next year.”

Littlefield acknowledged that “there were a few glitches” in the parade and the street festival that followed on Main Street near the Fort Worth Convention Center. But she said, “I guess that was to be expected since this was our first year to hold the parade downtown. Next year, it will go even more smoothly.”

Although the Pride Week association had to raise more money to cover the higher costs of moving the parade downtown this year, Littlefield said organizers still came out ahead.

“Money-wise, it was a real success,” she said. “We paid for everything, and we still have money left over, seed money for next year’s event and money for the scholarship fund.

We made a commitment to the community in moving the parade and expanding our celebration that we would create this scholarship to give back to the community. And we will follow through on that commitment no matter what,” Littlefield said.

Littlefield also said that the annual Pride Picnic in Trinity Park — Tarrant County’s original Pride event and long considered its most popular and most successful Pride event — also went off “without a hitch.”

“We had more people there than last year. We usually have around 2,500 people at the parade and this year, I’d say we had at least 3,000,” Littlefield said. “The weather was fantastic and the event was just phenomenal. There was no ruckus, no problem anywhere.”

Littlefield said that she was pleased that spectators there for the parade for the most part ignored the anti-gay protestors, at least some of whom were reportedly with Kingdom Baptist Church, a small congregation out of Venus led by Pastor Joey Faust.

“I was on a float at the end of the parade, and as we moved down the parade route, the protestors kind of moved along with us, shouting nasty things through their bullhorn,” Littlefield said. “But we would just start cheering and yelling, and the crowd would cheer and yell with us to drown them out. I was really glad to see that everybody just ignored them and didn’t engage with them, for the most part.”

Faust and other Kingdom Baptist members also staged protests outside Fort Worth City Hall two years ago during a meeting  in which the City Council approved the addition of transgender protections to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance. Faust and his followers also confronted activists during demonstrations staged in Fort Worth by Queer LiberAction in the wake of the Rainbow Lounge raid.

And prior to the Pride parade, Faust sent an open letter, addressed to Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, to area media outlets castigating Price for participating in the parade as one of three grand marshals.

At the end of the parade, the protestors — who had started out standing on Main Street near the Weatherford Street intersection where the parade started — moved down Main

Street to position themselves near the Convention Center in the area near where the street festival was being held. Using a bullhorn, the protestors continued to harangue festival attendees, at one point calling those attending the parade “wild dogs” and “wild animals” who were “parading their perversions in the street,” until Fort Worth police officers ordered them to leave.

Littlefield said she was told that three of the protestors were arrested and another 10 ticketed. But FWPD’s LGBT Liaison Officer Kellie Whitehead said that only two of the protestors were “cash bonded” for disorderly conduct because they were using offensive language over the bullhorns.

Being “cash bonded,” Whitehead explained, means that person arrested on a Class C misdemeanor offense has to pay a set fine, or a portion of that fine, before they are released.

She said her superiors instructed her not to release the names of those arrested, but Whitehead did say she believes those arrested were members of Kingdom Baptist.

Littlefield said she had heard complaints from several people who were upset that the protestors were allowed to stand at the edge of the street festival after the parade for so long — about an hour and a half, she estimated — and harass those attending the event before police forced them to move.

“That’s something we will talk to the police about for next year,” Littlefield said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 7, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Friends remember shooting victim as strong, generous

Police arrest homeless man for using Cheung’s debit card; no murder charges filed yet in gay man’s death

John Wright  |  Online Editor wright@dallasvoice.com

Aaron Cheung
Aaron Cheung

Aaron Cheung was remembered this week as a strong, outspoken, caring person who was living his dream of owning a restaurant.

Cheung, 27, was found shot to death in the backseat of his car outside a condo in northeast Dallas in the early morning hours of Sunday, Dec. 12.

Dallas police say the motive for the crime was robbery, and they have no reason to believe Cheung’s sexual orientation was a factor.

On Wednesday, DPD arrested a homeless man who they say used Cheung’s debit card at a downtown 7-Eleven after the murder

Charles Edward Freeman, 58, is charged with fraudulent use or possession of identifying information, a felony, and was being held on $50,000 bail. As of Thursday morning, Dec. 16, Freeman was considered a “person of interest” but had not been charged in Cheung’s robbery and murder.

Cheung was a founding member of Fuse, the LGBT young men’s group at Resource Center Dallas, according to his close friend Alex Ortega. Cheung also once served on the youth board at Youth First Texas.

But for the last few years, Ortega said, Cheung devoted most of his time to Bacon and Friends, his restaurant in Mesquite.

“That was his dream,” said Ortega, who worked at the restaurant last summer. “His passion was food. He was always talking about watching Food Network and then trying different things. He was just really creative and a real people person. He had so many regulars, and they all asked for him. … He was very meticulous about the food, and people just really gravitated to that, all the effort he put into everything. It was always busy.”

Cheung had just gotten home from work at about 3:30 a.m. on Sunday morning and was retrieving a box from the backseat of his car outside a condo he shared with his parents in the 8100 block of Skillman Road when he was shot, according to police. The suspect ambushed Cheung from behind and shot him once in the head before making off with his wallet and several hundred dollars in cash.

On Tuesday, Dec. 14, police released surveillance video from a 7-Eleven on Commerce Street, showing a short, older black man with a limp using Cheung’s debit card to purchase cigarettes and chicken wings.

Freeman was arrested at the Bridge, a homeless shelter, after people there recognized him from the surveillance video.

Police say Freeman fits the description of a man who was seen by a witness fleeing the area of Cheung’s murder.

“It’s going to take some forensic evidence before they can list him as a suspect,” DPD spokesman Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse said Thursday morning.

“They’re still looking at him as a person of interest.”

Ortega said he was glad that police appeared close to solving the crime.

“He was the strong one of the people I knew and hung out with,” Ortega said of Cheung. “You’d never think anything would hurt him, so it was just a complete shock. He’s from the East Coast, originally from New York. He was really tough and outspoken.

“He had a lot of street smarts, and you would never think this would happen to him, ever.”

A memorial service for Cheung was held Thursday afternoon in Rowlett.

Ortega said Cheung was an only child and he hoped the service would help his parents cope.

“I think it’s a really good thing for his family to be able to see how many people he affected,” Ortega said. “He really did do a lot for people who were in his life. If he cared about you, he would give you the world.

“He would do just about anything to help you out.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Houston police arrest suspect in brutal stabbing outside Montrose nightclub

Aaron Scheerhoorn

Over the weekend we told you about the brutal stabbing of 28-year-old Aaron Scheerhoorn outside Club Blur in the heart of Houston’s Montrose area. Scheerhorn was fatally stabbed in the parking lot of the gay bar as patrons and security looked on. Police have said they don’t believe Scheerhoorn’s murder was a hate crime. Today, the Houston Press reports that authorities have made an arrest in the case:

Lydell Grant, 33, has been charged with murder. Police got his identity through a Crime Stoppers tip and he was arrested without incident during a traffic stop near the South Loop and South Main about 1 a.m. today, HOD says.

Lydell Grant

—  John Wright

Report: Dallas police arrest suspect in 2 recent armed robberies in Oak Lawn, Uptown

Dallas police have arrested a suspect in two recent armed robberies in the Oak Lawn and Uptown areas, according to an e-mail we received late Friday afternoon from Nancy Weinberger, a volunteer with the Oak Lawn crime watch group. We’re still trying to confirm the arrest with Dallas police. Both robberies involved the victim being kidnapped and forced to drive, at gunpoint, to ATMs to withdraw cash. The first incident began late Sunday night at the Office Depot on Oak Lawn Avenue, and the second occurred Monday at the Katy Trail Animal Hospital on McKinney Avenue. The Dallas Morning News picked up the story Friday morning, two days after we reported it here on Instant Tea. Anyhow, here’s Weinberger’s e-mail:

I have been advised that DPD has made an arrest related to the two recent
robberies…where the people were forced to drive to ATM’s to withdraw $$$$.
One occurred in the Office Depot parking lot about 11 pm Sunday night and
the other occurred about 6:45 am Monday in the 4100 block of McKinney.
There was an article about the incidents in this morning’s newspaper.
Suspect sounded like same person. Arrest made early this am.

Thanks to Chief Aziz and Lt Overstreet for getting me this information as
quickly as possible.

Have a good weekend!

Reminder: This doesn’t mean you should let your guard down.

UPDATE: According to a press release from DPD, the suspect is facing charges related to the McKinney Avenue incident but not necessarily the first incident on Oak Lawn Avenue. The suspect, whose name hasn’t been released, was nabbed on Thursday night after he was spotted leaving the Exxon station at Maple and Oak Lawn. Here’s the full release:

Notable Arrest by DPD

On September 27, 2010, at approximately 6:45 a.m., the suspect carjacked and robbed a complainant at gunpoint at 4151 McKinney Avenue. The suspect drove the complainant to an ATM where the complainant was forced to withdraw money.  The suspect then forced the complainant to drive to Ervay and Grand where the suspect fled on foot.  Investigators processed the crime scene and obtained forensic evidences which allowed them to identify the suspect.  Investigators walked an arrest warrant for the suspect.  After an attempt to locate the suspect at his residence rendered negative results, the information was forwarded to each of the patrol divisions.  On September 30, 2010, at about 10:30pm, Central Deployment Unit observed the suspect leaving the Exxon Station at Maple and Oak Lawn.  The suspect was taken into custody.  The identity of the suspect will not be released at this time because investigators are waiting to conduct a photo line up.  The Aggravated Robbery incident is documented on incident number 269715X.

—  John Wright