For months, Dallas’s Oak Lawn gayborhood has been terrorized by a string of vicious and violent antigay attacks. Police have not been as responsive as residents would like. As a result, they are taking matters into their own hands.
The attacks began happening at random more than six months now. Over a dozen men have been punched, beaten with bats and slashed with box cutters, usually late at night when they are walking alone. In November, one man had his skull split open when he was repeatedly pummeled with a large rock while walking home from a friend’s house.
Despite all this, police have not made a single arrest in relation to any of the incidents.
Now, more than 25 recruits have signed up for the Dallas Police Department’s Volunteers in Patrol Program. The program that trains civilians the methods for monitoring and reporting suspicious activity and it’s already proving to be successful.
Resident John Anderson is one of those volunteers. He was recently out patrolling in his vehicle when he saw what he believe was a possible hate crime. Anderson told KDFW-TV that he noticed three young men walking around Oak Lawn.
“One guy had his shirt up trying to bait other guys to look at him,” Anderson said, “and when some guys walked by and looked at his body, they said, ‘What are you looking at, faggot?’”
Anderson said the three young men then covered their faces with bandanas and rushed toward the would-be victims. That’s when he snapped into action. Anderson drove over to the suspects, then his partner shined a flashlight on them. Meanwhile, Anderson whipped out his camera and took a picture of the men to submit to police. They quickly fled.
“We were really excited,” he says. “We thought it might be a break in some of the other attacks. Hopefully, that will scare them from doing it again.”
In addition to self-monitoring their own neighborhoods, residents of Oak Lawn have also begun protesting outside the Dallas police headquarters, demanding the department do more about is clearly a pattern of hate crimes.