Attacks against LGBT Community sees little coverage by Media

 Photo by PM10/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by PM10/iStock / Getty Images

In September of 2015 the first, of many attacks to come, took place in Oaklawn, a neighborhood in Dallas commonly referred to as Dallas’ “Gayborhood”. In the weeks following, several similar attacks occurred in the same neighborhood; some were beaten and robbed and others were just beaten without the intention of robbing their victims. Several attacks left the victims in critical condition. The succession of attacks, location and slurs used during the attack implied, to the LGBT community, that these were in fact hate crimes. Soon after, local LBGT leaders gathered at a Dallas city council with the Dallas Police and Dallas’ Public Safety Committee to address this disturbing series of events. Recent strides in gay marriage and transgender rights, along with hateful rhetoric during the Republican Primary, seemed to have been underlining these series of attacks. Fear began to rise as people believed that these incidents were fueling similar attacks and murders on LGBT people in Austin, Dallas and Houston, Texas’ major cities. One major conflict remained in these conversations with the city council; whether these attacks should even be labeled as hate crimes. In fact, of the 18 attacks, which all occurred in the Oak lawn area, 17 of the victims identified themselves as LGBT. Of these 18 confirmed attacks, only two were labeled as hate crimes, how could this be? Well, police seemed hesitant to confirm that these attacks were biased towards the LGBT community, and only categorized those two as hate crimes because the assailants used slurs during the attack. The troubling detail about the classification of these attacks as mere assaults, may reveal a deeper consequence on the victims. Local LGBT leaders suggest that there were, in fact, upwards of 30 victims, which had failed to come forward due to a mistrust in the police. The Dallas Resource Center for the LGBT community suggested that this distrust and fear of being outed thus, has kept many from coming forward. This has become more apparent when you look at the number of assaults that have been reported and compare them to the number of assailants identified and prosecuted; none. Because these attacks were not classified as hate crimes, much of the media has failed to cover the story; and of those who have covered the story, only a few directly suggest that these attacks are in fact hate crimes. Aside from The Guardian’s report and the reports of a few local Dallas news organizations, not much attention has been garnered. LGBT leaders are working within Oak lawn and Dallas to create a more inclusive community, and support bills that will provide more security in the area. These events have been largely ignored by the national media outlets, which, has in turn, seen less progress and traction in legislation and policing, than similar national incidents. As a news outlet, there is an important distinction between identifying the story for what it is and implying a truth with no substance. If this story had focused on more clearly by the police and media outlets; it may have made national news and helped create awareness and justice.