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Police & Community Concerned About Attacks In Dallas' Largest Gay Community

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Dallas police are trying to clamp down on violent attacks against people who frequent the city's largest gay community. Partly in preparation for this weekend's Oaklawn Halloween Block Party, the department is increasing their presence in the Oak Lawn/Cedar Springs area.

Council member Adam Medrano is scheduled to hold his monthly taskforce and community town hall meeting at 6:30 p.m. Members of Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings LGBT Task Force will also be in attendance. In addition to the regular agenda, the meeting will also include a discussion about recent crimes in the neighborhood.

Michael Garcia knows about the violence all too well. He said it happened in a flash. It was an attack that left him battered and bruised. Now, Garcia knows it's happened to others in the same area.

"They kept beating," he recalled. "I can't make out his face, but he was smiling when he was beating, and it was brutal."

For the past month, in alleys and streets near the Cedar Springs entertainment strip, at least three men faced attack.

Wednesday members of the neighborhood Crime Watch group heard from police and questioned if others could be targeted during the upcoming Halloween event.

The advice given was clear. "If you're leaving, don't leave alone. Leave at a decent hour [and] take a main thoroughfare as you walk."

Police have not classified Garcia's beating and robbery as a hate-based crime, but the distinction has been given to another attack in the area. Thinking back, Rafael McDonnell, with the Resource Center in Dallas, said, "I can't remember a string like this in my recent memory. That in itself should raise people's concerns."

Dallas LGBT leaders are urging people in the Oak Lawn/Cedar Springs area to focus on safety this weekend and everyday.

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