Dozens rallied in front of Dallas Police Headquarters Sunday night following a series of violent attacks and robberies in the Oak Lawn area of Dallas.
Since Friday, increased patrols and undercover officers have been part of a task force focused solely on the area, but some question how long it took to reach this point and said it points to a larger issue.
“It took this last attack, after two and half months, for DPD to come out and actually show a visible presence on Cedar Springs strip,” said LGBT Community Rights Activist Daniel Cates.
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Cates helped organize Sunday’s event through a group called ‘Citizens for a Safer Oak Lawn’.
“It was two weeks on the Katy Trail for straight white women who were robbed and we see cruisers, mounted patrol, bicycle patrols and in two weeks they have the guys in jail,” Cates said.
“We wanted to know why that wasn’t the case with people in getting their heads bashed in Oak Lawn; for two months our community has been living in terror, we find it unacceptable -- we appreciate the show we saw on Friday night and there were some visible cruisers Saturday night, but why did it take us so long to get to this point, what is the long term solution, why are these guys not in jail, we are here for answers.”
Cates said he wants Dallas police to hear the call for a prioritization of what is happening in the Oak Lawn neighborhood, an area of Dallas home to many of the city’s LGBT residents.
“There is just really a gap from the way the general public receives service from DPD and our community, minority community, receives service from DPD,” Cates said.
“We don’t feel prioritized, we don’t feel like justice has been served.”
“I walk to and from the bus stop from my house which is literally about 800 feet from where I live,” said Oak Lawn resident Sergio Lopez. “I’m scared to walk there in the morning, and I have to have someone take me to and from work – I can’t even take public transportation because I’m scared.”
“That’s why we are here to today to make sure more is done,” Lopez said.
Scott Adams, who has lived in the Oak Lawn area for 27 years, said he can’t remember a time there have been attacks like this.
He questions how police have responded compared to other areas of Dallas and response in other cities.
“I think if this had happened in Highland Park, Park Cities, Preston Hollow, it would not have continued this long,” Adams said. "We have got to find an answer as to why this is happening specifically in Oak Lawn – we need more police presence in the area."
All of this comes after about a dozen violent attacks, robberies or attempted robberies in the Oak Lawn community since late September.
Cates said the community has worked with leaders, like City Councilman Adam Medrano, and businesses in the area to identify and address some safety concerns like lighting and surveillance cameras.
Friday, deputy chiefs and majors with the Dallas Police Department met for two hours about the crimes in Oak Lawn and decided to implement increase patrols Friday night. On his Facebook page, Dallas City Councilman Adam Medrano went into more detail posting the following:
"With a series of violent crimes occurring in the Oak Lawn area, the Dallas Police Department has stepped up its efforts to prevent any more individuals from being victimized. In addition to increased community collaboration with citizens, crime watch groups and businesses, the department has increased police presence in the area.
The department is utilizing the intelligence unit and increased staffing in the area, which includes 4 bicycle officers, 15 police officers (some working in an undercover capacity) and 2 Sergeants who report to the Major at the Northwest Division.
While working to prevent any further violent offenses in the Oak Lawn area the officers have made 7 arrests, but none are related to the violent offenses that have occurred."
WHAT’S NEW SUNDAY:
The department has put together a task force that includes investigators from assaults and robbery units, along with detectives from intelligence, patrol officers and undercover officers that will all be assigned to the Oak Lawn area. Investigators on this task force will be responding immediately to the scene of any offense.
The task force includes additional officers — both uniformed and undercover — assigned to patrol the Oak Lawn area.
In addition, CrimeStoppers has agreed to double its reward from $5,000 to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and indictment of anyone involved in these crimes.