Oak Lawn increasing security, patrols ahead of pride weekend

Dallas Police will add both on and off duty officers for Dallas Pride events in Oak Lawn this weekend.  The extra security comes at the one-year anniversary of an unsolved hate crime against a gay man in Dallas' largest LGBT neighborhood.

Advocates in Dallas' Oak Lawn neighborhood told WFAA on Tuesday they are focused on a successful safe pride parade this weekend despite reports of another attack in the early morning hours of September 8.

The attack was not reported to police.

Lee Daugherty, owner of Alexandre's, a bar on Cedar Springs, says the neighborhood is coming together to focus on safety this weekend in addition to the annual celebration surrounding pride weekend.

“This one has a very special connotation to me just because all the work the community has put in and the year we’ve been through,” Daugherty said.

Problems began in Oak Lawn hours after the pride parade concluded in 2015 when a gay man was attacked by four suspects shouting homophobic slurs near Sylvester and Wycliff.  DPD investigated the incident as a hate crime but made no arrests.

That incident set off a string of 14 reported attacks to DPD over eight months, three of which have been investigated as crimes of bias.

Neighborhood advocates protested outside police headquarters in November, asking for a stronger response from the city.

Dallas city council and police responded with increased patrols and resources for extra lighting, trimmed trees and additional cameras.

“A lot of things have changed," Daugherty said. "A lot of things have gotten better.  We've seen a dramatic drop in reported attacks.  This summer has been quiet."

Daugherty says he wants to do his part to ensure the atmosphere stays safe.

He, along with at least three other neighbors will use their own vehicles with decals and lights to patrol the area around the popular nightclub and bars this week.  

It's part of the Take Back Oak Lawn organization started after the attacks in late 2015.

The patrol efforts initially started in conjunction with the Volunteers in Patrol, a program facilitated by the Dallas Police Department and operating in several Dallas neighborhoods.

John Anderson was one of the first to sign up for the program and helped prevent an attack in February.

“Safety is definitely forefront of my mind,” Anderson said.

Anderson is part of the LGBT quality of life committee that meets with the city council on improving safety in the neighborhood.

Anderson says the patrol portion of the effort is now entirely handled by neighborhood volunteers and is no longer associated with program overseen by DPD.  However, Anderson says the emphasis has not changed.

"The things that have been done throughout the year to keep crime down will definitely continue this weekend,” Anderson said.

Copyright 2016 WFAA


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