Wife of man shot down in Oak Lawn entertainment district faced loss of car, home before LGBT community pitched into help her out
The Round-Up Saloon was full of cowboy hats and watchful eyes Sunday, July 8, as drag performer Cassie Nova declared herself to be “just a girl,” and lifted up her skirt to “prove” it.
The performance was part of a benefit put on by LULAC 4871, the Dallas Tavern Guild and the Cathedral of Hope on Sunday, July 8, for the family of a man murdered on Cedar Springs in April.
Jose Landa’s death left his wife, Alicia Luvianos, unable to afford her car payment and facing the prospect of being kicked out of her house. Now things might get a little easier for her. The benefit raised more than $10,000.
“It’s so nice to see our community come together and help someone who was harmed on our turf,” said Jesse Garcia, a LULAC officer who was one of the organizers of the event. “That could have been any of us out there on the strip that night, and I would like to think that someone would do the same for my family and friends if it had been me.”
Leading the donations was Ben E. Keith who gave $2,500. The Collin County Gay and Lesbian Alliance gave $700. Caven Enterprises gave $500. And Round-Up Employees gave $300.
But the event did more than just raise money for the victim’s family. It brought attention back to safety on the strip.
After the murder, the Dallas Police Department added 10 extra officers to the Oak Lawn area, and DPD LGBT liaison officer Laura Martin says it paid off. According to her, crime is down 25 percent in the zone since last year with aggravated assaults, motor vehicle thefts and robberies being the most decreased numbers.
“I think it is because we have increased the numbers of officers in the area,” Martin said. “We’ve increased the number of undercover officers. We’ve increased the amount of overtime being utilized and the officers are just a little more hands on, maybe a little friendlier and come in the area more frequently.”
But Oak Lawn Apartment Managers and Stakeholders Crime Watch member P.D. Sterling has his doubts about the reported decrease.
“That’s a very sore subject fore me,” he said. “Statistics say what ever the person quoting them wants them to say. For example, I just got an e-mail not 10 minutes ago that said, little known fact, all crimes committed on DART property are not reported in the Dallas statistics.”
For Sterling, crime is as alive and well in the area as it ever was.
“It seems like each day I go out my door, I see something in the streets,” he said. “Personally, I wouldn’t even live here if I didn’t have an off street gated parking space.”
Martin does say that prostitution is still “quite a bit of a problem” on Knight and Hall streets. She also says panhandling remains a huge issue for the area.
“We want to get the word out for people to quit paying the panhandlers because as long as they get money, they are going to stay there,” Martin said.
“They are the same ones who are your drug addicts that want to break into your things, steal your stuff and rob you. So give your money to a charity, don’t give it to a stranger on the street.”
Martin also says that although she feels safety on the strip has increased people should still use caution. She says to walk in groups in well-lit areas.
And if someone commits an offense against you, be as cooperative as possible so the chances of getting hurt are a lot less.
That’s one point Sterling and Martin agree on.
“Safe is a very relative term,” Sterling said. “What we try to share in crime watch is that you have primary responsibility for your safety. You need to make sure you take all of the steps needed to stay safe. It’s self preservation.”
DPD offers more tips on how to stay safe on their Web site, http://www.dallas-police.net/index.cfm?page_ID=4416.
Donations for the Landa family are still being accepted. To donate, make a deposit in person at the Dallas National Bank, 2725 Turtle Creek Blvd, Dallas 75219. Or mail a check or money order to Dallas National Bank, PO BOX 223809, Dallas, 75222.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 13, 2007