Vandalism of Dallas monument, church investigated as hate crime

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by TANYA EISERER

Bio | Email | Follow: @tanyaeiserer

WFAA

Posted on June 30, 2014 at 6:18 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 30 at 8:37 PM

DALLAS — Dallas police are asking for the public’s help to find the vandals behind the bright red “666” graffiti painted over the weekend on a well-known Oak Lawn monument, a predominantly gay church, three print publications, and a highway overpass.

Police are currently labeling the incidents a hate crime, largely because it’s LGBT Pride Month and two of the locations are landmarks in the gay and lesbian community.

Vandals have struck in the Oak Lawn area following locations: The Legacy of Life Monument, which was built to honor those who died in the AIDS epidemic; the Cathedral of Hope, a predominantly gay and lesbian church; the Dallas Observer newspaper building; and an overpass at the Dallas North Tollway and Cedar Springs Road.

The taggers also struck at the offices of The Dallas Morning News and D Magazine in downtown Dallas.

So far, Dallas police detectives have not found any surveillance video that would help them determine who is behind the vandalism. Detective Kevin Janse said he believes that all of the incidents occurred Saturday night into Sunday, and they’re asking for any witnesses to come forward.

“We’re hoping somebody saw something — whether it’s a vehicle, a person walking down the street with a backpack,” Janse said. “We’ll start with the smallest of leads or tips.”

Under Texas law, it is a state jail felony to vandalize a place of worship or a public monument. That is punishable by up two years in jail.

If it is found to have been a hate crime, those responsible could face enhanced penalties in the punishment phase of a trial — a third-degree felony, which carries up to 10 years in prison.

The Rev. Gregg Alan Smith, associate pastor at Oak Lawn Methodist Church, spotted the graffiti Sunday on the monument as he was headed to work.

“It was very shocking to see something like that, particularly in a neighborhood like this which is so open and so welcoming of so many different kinds of people,” Smith said. “That is simply a blight on this part of town.”

E-mail teiserer@wfaa.com

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