Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk vowed Monday night to fight in court if the recent string of attacks in Dallas’ premier gay neighborhood prove to be hate crimes.
Hawk held a packed town hall meeting in Oak Lawn, where there have been at least a dozen assaults and robberies in the last few months. Meeting the hate crime standard can be difficult, she said, and it requires a lot of evidence.
“When there is that evidence, I promise you this,” Hawk said. “I’m committed and I promise to tell you this, this office will prosecute that individual to the fullest extent of the law if it’s based on hate. I promise you that.”
Dallas police arrested two suspects earlier this month in Oak Lawn, but so far they’ve only been linked to one of the crimes. They were found in a car that was stolen in an aggravated robbery.
Since the attacks began in September, police have ramped up patrols, and local businesses have begun installing lights and cameras. The neighborhood also got a visit from Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. In November, LGBT activists rallied outside Dallas police headquarters.
LGBT activist John Anderson says having the district attorney speak out is another important step.
“A lot of the things she said were things I needed to hear as a concerned citizen,” Anderson said. “So it’s really good that she’s out here and she’s being vocal, being supportive. It seems like she understands at least some of these are hate crimes, and she seems empathetic.”
The town hall came less than a week after the district attorney in Ellis County decided to continue prosecuting a lawsuit that wants to remove Hawk from office. Hawk was hospitalized earlier this year and treated for depression.